Yeah, I thought I’d keep the title simple. What I mean is the purpose of sex in a story and why we should use it/shouldn’t use it. Explanation/Disclaimer type thingy: I’m not an expert on writing or on writing sex. This isn’t a writing blog but the blog of a writer so what I say works for me as a writer and a reader. Your mileage may vary yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m not a “one true wayer” as some are – this is just my perception.
I love to write sex. I think sex is a marvelously rich way to develop a story, to move characters from one place to another personally and as a couple. Sex can be moving – should be moving whether from tenderness, anger, closure, taking the next step, taking the last step, etc. If sex is just a marker, something tossed in because you’ve reached page 57 and you think it’s time – that’s going to show.
This is, IMO, really true in erotic romance/erotic fiction when sex is much more prominent on the pages than in a non-erotic work. I read something recently and I skimmed the sex. The sex was boring, it was flat and it did not connect the people having it at all – not through any emotion or physical action. It was as if the author just tossed it in there and I felt that.
Show me something with the sex other than penises and vaginas. Why are they having sex? Is he mad? Sad? Does he want her with every part of himself or does he hate that he wants her? Does she want him? Why? *Show me* why. Why are they fucking?
I think sex is a place people get really sloppy with their writing becuase they think it’s filler. Well nothing should be filler in your book. NOTHING. Sex is like any other scene only you’ve got a high powered focus on your characters.
Even if your characters are fucking to pass the time that’s something to work with. Every time I read a pointless sex scene in a book I see something the author failed to capitalize on.
Think about the sex scenes that have remained with you long after you put the book down. They don’t have to be thirty pages long or hyper graphic – but think on those scenes that remain in your memory and then ask yourself why. Ask yourself what they did for the book as a whole.
For instance – the dock scene in Welcome to Temptation. It’s not an exceptionally graphic scene, nor is it very long but it’s a scene where we begin to peel layers off Phin and Sophie – they’re both very defended characters for a whole host of reasons but Phin wants under Sophie’s skin and Sophie wants that too, even if she’s not really aware of it. The dialog back and forth, the premise of the dare – it’s perfect for the feel of the story and for the characters and in the end, there’s movement into totally scary territory for both Phin and Sophie. Cruisie doesn’t waste that scene at all, in fact she uses it perfectly.
Now think of the scenes you may have read and then skimmed over because you thought, “oh god, not another sex scene!” Or you forgot about it five minutes later. Because it was filler. Or worse, the characters did something totally out of character – the 35 year old virgin who suddenly got all kinky and knew every position in the book for instance.
That’s not to say a character doing something unexpected can’t be perfect for a scene – when a very dominant alpha male does something very tender or even allows the heroine to be the dominant, strong one while he steps back, when the shy heroine does something very bold – this works in the right hands because it’s *still* in character, just unexpected.
Sex isn’t something to toss into a book because it’s new/hot/now and you think it sells. BDSM isn’t something to write because it’s new/hot/now either. Or vampires or whatever else. If you write it, make it count.
March 29th, 2007 at 6:15 am · Link
by the way, i’m patiently – ever so patiently waiting for your next book. I need a Lauren fix. Off topic…slightly.
March 31st, 2007 at 9:17 am · Link
Thank you so much! I’ve got a fantasy novella coming out from EC next month on the 25 and then it’s all the way until June but there’ll be two in June!