Let me start this by saying that sex is awesome. I love doing it, I love writing it, and I love reading it – most of the time. One of my pen-names is of the brown-chicken-brown-cow variety. (In case you’re not familiar with the reference) It’s fun! But, let’s be honest – it can be boring in real life, and it can definitely be boring in our fiction.
I’ve been struggling recently with a scifi series I’m working on. In the first book, the protag and his love interest are driven apart. It’s necessary for the plot and for his growth as a character. But, when the split happens, it’s just meh.
This is supposed to be one of my ‘clean’ series. I have two aborted sex scenes in the book. They get right up to it – then I end the chapter. This has made me start thinking about when sex scenes are necessary parts of the plot. Should I include a full-out sex scene to anchor their relationship with the reader? Would it make the emotions fell real when they go their separate ways?
I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I try to walk at least two hours a day so I don’t get writer’s-butt, and other people’s characters are my companions on those treks. One series sticks out like a beacon when this subject crosses my mind – Jordan Castillo Price’s Psycop series. The premise is great, the writing is good, but the damned sex scenes make me want to pull my hair out… and there are a LOT of them. I highly recommend the series, but… out of all eight books, only one sex scene was memorable and had anything to do with the plot.
It’s not often that the narrator says, “And he reached for his zipper…” and I yell, “Jesus Horatio Christ! Not again!” The story was compelling, I was on the edge of my seat (or toes of my sneakers?), and the whole world stopped for a blowjob. Damn.
Anyway, that makes me skittish about adding it to this story. I see this as an open ended series and sex in the first book would set up that expectation for all the ones that follow.
Anyway, here are my recommendations for sex scenes (outside of erotica, obviously):
- Make sure it drives the plot by
- Cementing the character’s bond
- Showing that they are drifting apart
- Adding a comedic element (interrupted sex can be funny)
- Heightening a character’s frustration (interrupted again)
- Make it short
- Pages of licking and rubbing and things are boring
- Setup is everything!
- Make the lead-up as hot as the sex itself
- Consider your characters
- The virginal guy or gal is not going to be great in bed
- If your character is an asshole on the streets, he or she will probably be selfish in the sheets. Unless you really want to show that difference, then point it out. (Once! Don’t dwell!)
- Consider your audience
- Writing sex between characters from Victorian England will be way different than a bathhouse in San Francisco. All the jiggly parts are the same, but the reader will be vastly different.
- Keep it in one POV
- This is good advice for any scene. Don’t confuse me.
- I get frustrated easily and will slam a book (or my Kindle) closed in a heartbeat.
I’ve got some possibly sexy work to do now.
Best wishes, happy sex, and good writing to everyone. (I really need to come up with a tagline)