Yes people, after a lot of debate and researching “how tos” and “how not tos” and giving serious thought to those types of scene that I do and don’t like, at the weekend I finally took the plunge and wrote my very first sex scene. I knew it had to be done as the physical act is pivotal to the development of the character in question. I don’t want to give too much away but those of you that have read parts or all of my first novel will probably figure out which character I mean. This was not have been his first time, but it would be the first time that he had emotional feelings toward the woman involved.
He is a complex character, very guarded and untrusting due to a difficult personal life but he has fallen head over heels in love with her. The thought terrifies him; he has become so used to trusting only his own instincts and has no friends. For the first time in his life he has met somebody who is his match in every way and he is blindsided by her intense personality.
Building Familiarity Before the Act
It was important for me that the first time was between two characters who were familiar to me and for whom I had created the female specifically for the male to fall in love with. The only person who has read it so far described it as “steamy”. What I was looking for was “realism” and I think it does the job. I wanted to avoid the absurdly flowery language of Mills & Boon, the perfunctory descriptions of so many other novels where there is no passion and the crass metaphors and unerotic wording of everything else. I’m actually quite pleased with the result. It certainly flows well and feels rather organic. I think/hope I’ve avoided all of the pitfalls of bad sex writing. It isn’t perfect and I’m sure I will rewrite some of the narrative and part of the build up but the bare bones seem to work.
If I’m feeling generous, I may post part of it here.
Assuming that I will write no more sex scenes featuring those two characters, I intend to write one more for the book. For this pair it will come more as a shock to realise how much they desire each other. They are distant cousins who have not seen each other since childhood. In the story, the male arrives seeking help from the female to halt a political marriage that he does not want to enter into (they are both very high society – those who have read my book will probably guess which female character – in this case, the female is the familiar character and the male is a new addition). It will be far less romantic in tone, will have a dash more urgency and perhaps some (intentional) humour. It will feel quite different and I’m looking forward to the challenge of writing another.
We’ve already discussed what makes a bad sex scene, so what makes a good sex scene? According to this group, good writing, seamless flow and something that engages the reader in the act itself rather than treating them as a remote observer. These values should always transcend our personal tastes. As mentioned previously, Jeff Vandermeer says that it should be treated as any other action scene. I’m inclined to agree. A good action scene certainly flows and you don’t want to feel “held up” in the text and you want to feel part of the action in the way it carries you along.