Lately I've been pondering sex. Well, sex in my writing, that is. If you've read Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, you know it's there, but there's not a whole lot of it. There just wasn't enough time for it in the story, because Cat's always running off to cause shenanigans somewhere and I didn't want to have to justify something like "okay, we're going to take a break from fighting vampires now to get it on in your car." Not so much. Though I'll admit I really wanted to write a sex scene between Cat and Zach, but I knew that would take the story places I wasn't prepared for it to go. That, and my critique group threatened to hurt me if I wrote it... But speaking of the critique group, this was my original inspiration for this post:
Writers, do you have more trouble writing love scenes than you do the rest of the story?
Because it seems like many of us do. I discussed this a bit over Twitter recently as well, and it seemed like there was a split between those who are squeamish (like me) and those who have no fear. For my writing, it almost falls into the same category as a fight scene--love to include it, hate to write it. I've been working on a fantasy romance novel that has more love scenes in it than Cat's book did, and it makes me nervous. I'm not entirely sure why that is. There was a great interview of Angela Knight in the August Romance Writers Report, where she talked a bit about how to be comfortable and confident writing erotic romance. (Angela Knight is awesome, by the way. I really recommend her book Passionate Ink, and I've taken several of her workshops, which I also recommend.) Angela explained,
"I want to depict what love is really like for these two people. Sex is a part of love--it's the physical manifestation of the spiritual passion between the couple. By holding back and glossing over the physical part of the relationship, you're cheating the reader and the characters of that vital dimension. And I think some romance writers do so because they want to preserve the illusion of being a 'nice girl' who doesn't really like sex."
That really resonated with me. As an author I struggle with a need to be true to my characters versus my lasped-Catholic conditioning that tells me I'm going straight to Hell for this (do no pass "Go", do not collect $200). Becoming a published author only added to that, because that same voice of guilt likes to remind me that there are people reading the sex that I wrote. GASP! OMG NOOOOOOO! And worse, there are people I am related to by blood or marriage reading it. Excuse me while I go die of embarrassment...
Moving on! Aside from the "will I or won't I?" of including sex scenes in your writing, there's also the "is this any good?" of it all as well. Because romance readers read tons of romance on a regular basis, and these are savvy readers. They're not going to settle for boring sex--not that you need to reinvent the sex scene or create wacky settings to make it interesting, it means it needs to be well written. As AK said above it's the spiritual passion between your couple. Good sex scenes are concerned with writerly details like character development and plot, and this to me is the definitive explanation of why romance novels aren't "porn for women." Porn doesn't care about character development or plot. "Hi, I'm Staci," is not character development. "Pizza's here!" is not plot. Anyway...
Do you suffer from "eep, am I really writing this?"-itis? Or are you one of the brave "I can't wait to write this!" types? Do you worry that you're writing the same-old, same-old? Or do you avoid it entirely by "and then he closed the door, end of chapter"?