You can’t blame it on Fifty Shades Of Grey because explicit sex scenes are far from new to the fiction world. Think Marquis de Sade’s book or Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Back in the 1980s, Shirley Conran shot up to fame with blow-by-blow accounts of sexual encounters in her bestseller Lace, Jackie Collins did it with Hollywood Wives and Judith Krantz shocked us in Princess Daisy. Today, we’re still asking the same two questions: why write sex scenes at all, and how to do it skilfully?
Why Bother With Bedroom Scenes?
Many romance novels, chick lit and thrillers work without venturing past the bedroom door. Just think Gone With The Wind, where one scene ends as Rhett carries Scarlett up the flight of stairs, and the new scene picks up when she wakes up in bed, alone: “… had it not been for the rumpled pillow beside her, she would have thought the happenings of the night before a wild preposterous dream”. The reader gets left to fill in the blanks, probably in a more rewarding manner than Margaret Mitchell ever could. Not that Margaret Mitchell wasn’t a terrific writer, it’s just that sometimes the power of our own imagination is all we need.
So why take the trouble? Answers offered by authors include:
- It’s challenging and fun to write a good erotic scene.
- Sex sells books.
- Bedroom scenes lend your novel more realism and power.
- When done correctly, a sex scene can create conflict, make the characters for three-dimensional and propel the plot.
- Being an erotica writer gives you something to talk about at parties. (“And what do you do for a living?” / “Oh, my job is to sell sex.”)
Overcoming Your Reservations
Writing about something so intensely private and socially taboo is bound to be awkward for most people. Even the word choice presents a problem: should you use the term sex, lovemaking, erotica, bedroom action, what?
We’re not comfortable writing sex because, by convention, it’s just not a topic we discuss in polite society. It’s too close to home. It has the potential to reveal personal things about the author.And what if your mother reads it?
Choosing to write bedroom books under a pseudonym may be the easiest way to conquer the embarrassment factor, and I myself use a pen name (Eve Summers) to help my readers differentiate my romance fiction from my crime novels.
Nevertheless, here’s a nugget of wisdom that’s helped me look my fans in the eye during many a public book reading: remember that the bedroom scenes in your books are only about your hero and heroine – they are not about you.
In other words, if you have your hero and heroine “at it” while swinging from a crystal chandelier on a cruise ship, it’s kudos to your mind as a creative writer. It says nothing about your private life.
PS: How Not To Do It
No, I don’t mean how not to write a sex scene. This I will teach you in my online course. Instead, I will show you how to write nothing at all. It’s easy! Listed below, you will find seven ways to stall your writing. It’s called the Seven Step System.
Step 1 – Every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself you can’t do it. You can’t write. Even if you’ve written good stuff before, it doesn’t count and you’re past it. Repeat it to yourself every time a writing idea rears its tempting head.
Step 2 – Use every occasion to tell your family and friends about your idea – in meticulous detail. Once told, stories typically go away, because they don’t know the difference between speech and the written word.
Step 3 – Change your mind about the story every day. Experiment with settings, different sets of characters, plot, point of view and narrative voice.
Step 4 – Research all your ideas and alternative scenarios. Preferably on the Internet, where you can get distracted by your Facebook page and emails.
Step 5 – Devote days or even months to organising your research findings into neat, colour-coded folders and into creative scrapbooks.
Step 6 – Use up all your free time to read every novel you can find in your chosen genre – all in the name of market research.
Step 7 – Oh, no! Did you succumb and actually write the first chapter? Not to worry. Stop writing immediately and edit what you’ve written: it’s a sure-fire inspiration killer.
Good luck and happy not writing!
Yvonne Walus writes romantic and erotic fiction under the pen name Eve Summers (20 titles with Red Rose Publishing). She believes that words are the greatest aphrodisiac, and the best lover is the one who will play with your mind… though it doesn’t hurt if he looks like a movie star.
Yvonne’s first attempt at erotic writing was a newsletter for a porn company called Private.com. Her brief was to write hot non-fiction that would appeal to their target audience of straight men aged 35-50, which is as different from writing erotic fiction for women as iced tea is from a mug of hot chocolate. After a year of writing blogs, news and movie reviews for Private.com, Yvonne was sick of writing about sex that meant nothing and set out to write her first steamy romance novella.
In an ideal world, Yvonne would write on a tropical island with a bottle of French champagne and a bevy of sexy hunks at hand. But she’s happy enough to write out of her home overlooking native bush and the harbour.
Why would a massage session in a Fiji holiday resort make Tanya the Ice Queen so sex-starved that she would actually consider paying for sex?
It can’t be her project of researching Internet dating sites! Those losers wouldn’t be able to turn on a woman even if she came complete with an ON switch.
It can’t be the delicious island cocktails of tropical fruit, cream and vodka… even if their names (like Sex On The Beach and Hot Screaming Orgasm) make you blush when you order them.
What is making Tanya lose her focus? Could it be the tight black jeans on the tight black arse of Randy Andy, the alleged con artist?
Buy ‘Fiji on Fire, Fiji on Ice,’ at Red Rose Publishing.