Thursday, 10 November 2011

Writer's Corner: Let's Not Talk About Sex!

A few weeks ago, while at work, I suddenly came up with a new book idea that I've since been tossing around in my head. It's going to be an adult paranormal, which I have to admit isn't a genre that I'm overly familiar with. But I was thinking that it can't be all that different right? Just take my MC and add five to ten  years to her age. After all, if I'm going to start reading adult books, I should try to write adult books as well shouldn't I? Then I remembered that pesky sex thing.
        Whilst I haven't read a huge number of adult paranormals, the ones I have read can get a bit hot and heavy. In fact, when the heroine isn't kicking ass, she tends to be doing something else with it. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of bedroom action in my books. Sometimes it gets a bit annoying when there is so much tension in a young adult book and no follow through.  
        It's just that I am not good at writing great romances and as an extension of that, I am not good at writing sexually charged scenes.  Granted I haven't really tried, but even  the tiny bit of romance in my young adult novel had me cringing a little. Like when you're watching a movie with your parents and there happens to be a sex scene. I don't know about anyone else, but this whole situation makes me feel terribly awkward.
        Have you guys tried writing any sexy scenes in your books? If so do you have any tips?


  1. Well, I'm not a writer but as a reader, I get really awkward when I stumble across intimate scenes-especially when they're in young adult novels! :S Maybe it's the difference between Western and Asian perception, or it could just be due to my age, but too much intimacy in a book gets a little tiring and uncomfortable to read. This is even more so when the characters are underaged :O

    So actually, I think you don't really have to write sexually-charged scenes for your book to be great. As long as the two leads have sizzling chemistry, I'd still love the romance just as much (or maybe even more haha^^)

  2. Okay, so I was in high school and read a lot of the sex books. I barely wanted to read anything else. (I think I may have been a nasty kid. I didnt do anything, but those books made me feel like I was grown up or something. Like I knew what sex was when in fact I knew absolutely nothing but what people say it is) I then decided that I should write a book about it. (Most horrible book ever written if I must say so myself. I ripped it up a few years ago, It was written in a spiral notebook. ha!) The book was obviously written by a child because everything seemed like too much going on. Physically impossible, and all around stupid. I am so glad it didnt get into the wrong hands. Nonetheless, as I grew older, I went through another stage where I had quite the sexual mind. I could craft stories that I told to my friends that had them wanting to run to their boyfriends immediately, so I guess I was good at it. My tip in that situation would be to imagine yourself in the situation completely. You are the character. Play out exactly how everything happens in your mind from the way the person leans to the closing of eyes, to a noise, scratch or bite. Dont be shy and think of what people will think of you when they read it because honestly, they wont be thinking of you at all. Imagine you are with someone you trust wholeheartedly so that you let your mind go and write down every little detail. Once you have finished the scene, wait a day or so and reread it as if you are the reader and dont know this mysterious Lan author person and try to see if you can get back into the mood of the story. If so, it's great. If not, you may need to add more details. Just remember, there's a fine line between the romance novels and the explicit novels so figure out which one you would prefer to write. If you feel awkward, try to stay on the romance side, its a little less um, slutty.

    Hope this helps!

  3. I've never written any sexy scenes, I'm actually a little worried about an approaching kissing scene in my WIP for NaNo. I do love reading a well written kissing/sexy/intimate scene, but writing one scares the mess out of me. I definitely think you need some hot scenes in a paranormal romance, because that is what many adults that read this genre are looking for. You can do it! Not really advice, just a little cheerleading :)

  4. I think it's very much about finding a balance - it's got to be real, but unless you're going for erotica don't go into the downright dirty details. If the attraction/love/lust feels right to the reader so will the sex scene.
    Personally I found that my writing improved dramatically once I actually knew what I was writing about. Sex, love, physical attraction, etc. - they are difficult things to write about if you haven't experienced it yourself. Probably why most of the best selling authors are well over 30, if not 40 or even 50. The more you know of life, the better you can write it.

  5. Just because it's an adult book doesn't mean there HAS to be sex in it. Not that I mind a little lead up to scene in a book but I think it needs to be handled carefully. Otherwise, it comes off sounding like you're just going for erotica. I hate reading a book and there's a very detailed sex scene and I feel like the author made up some crap story just so they could write some steamy love scene.

  6. LOLOL I know what you mean!! I watched No Strings Attached with my parents -- the only reason they allowed it in the first place was because we had no clue what it was about when my aunt bought it -- and it was honestly the most awkward thing ever! x)

    And I LOVE a good romance in my YA books, but to be honest, reading even a hint at an explicit scene kind of makes my face turn red! Those scenes are the only reason I'm wary on reading adult books (because I'm only 15 now and still trying to keep my mind untainted LOL).

    But I guess... Well, there never HAS to be a sex scene in a YA book, but if it's handled properly, then I'm okay with it. I don't even think there HAS to be one in an adult book, although I guess it makes so much more sense there! :P

    Awesome post, Lan! This is such a great point and I'm really glad you blogged about it today! :)

  7. I agree that there doesn't *have* to be a sex scene, just because it's adult paranormal. Although I haven't written a sex scene myself, I've read plenty and I would say it's the stuff before the sex scene that's important - the build-up and the sexual chemistry between the characters.

  8. Felicia: Totally agree about the sizzling chemistry. I’m afraid I’m not very good at that either! Maybe I should have included that in my post as well. I remember talking to someone about being able to write a murder scene no problems but a love scene? Not good.

    Sherre: Your comment made me laugh. I read a lot of adult romance when I was young as well so you weren’t a nasty kid at all. It’s natural to be curious about that sort of thing. I think I’m going to need your advice bigtime when I start writing this book. And it’ll def be light on the slutty stuff. I just want it to be as realistic as possible…well as realistic as a paranormal book can get.

    Lauren: I’m glad someone else is going through the same thing and knows what I’m talking about. Thankfully my NaNo project is YA and sexy scene free.

    Noia: No way could I do erotica. I’ll just end up laughing at how pathetic my writing is! Other people do it well and I applaud them but I’m just not gifted in that area. I’ll wait till I’m older as you said to try that kinda stuff.

    Jenny: No details. I might try and do one of those vague scenes where it’s implied but there’s no actually description of what’s happening! I’ve read a few YA books like Raw Blue that do it very well so I might use that as a guide. I know what you mean about books that just seem to throw erotica at you. I’ve always been more about the plot than the romance.

    Mimi: I still can’t get over how young you are! There is nothing more mortifying than watching a love scene with your parents. I usually try and crack jokes to make the tension go away but it doesn’t really work! I love my romance in YA books too but I just feel like in adult books, readers just expect some physical stuff.

    TG: I’m all for the whole chemistry thing instead of having to write a full blown physical encounter. I just hope I do my characters justice because I’m afraid I’ll fall into the “he’s so hot, I love him” category rather than being able to write some real tension. Any suggestions for books I can read that do this well?

  9. Hahaha! No tips from me. I'm the one that NEEDS them! (Come on over to MG. It's nice and sexy scene free.)

  10. I'm one who leaves sex completely out of my writing as a rule, so I can't help you there much. I have nothing against romance or some sensuality, though. I just like subtlety in things of that nature.

    Perhaps the "less is more" concept can still apply to you because leaving some things to the reader's imagination is more exciting.

  11. Try writing a short story that is all smut. Seriously. Have a glass of wine first, then just shut down your inner censor and write it! Once you've gotten over the initial awkwardness, it gets better. (just like the real thing...LOL)

  12. "when the heroine isn't kicking ass, she tends to be doing something else with it" HAHAHA. Seriously, Lan, that part had me cracking up.

    I've never tried writing a sex scene, but I can totally imagine that it would make me feel awkward. I honestly don't know how romance writers do it. I mean, I definitely don't mind if it gets a little hot and heavy in a book, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be comfortable writing it myself. But I'm sure you'll handle it great!

  13. Oh, Lan, I am SO there with you. It's not even possible for me to consider writing a sex scene. Actually, strike that, it is possible, but it's just so...scary. To be honest, I don't think I could pull it off, and it'd probably just end up being horrible/funny but not in a good way :/ I've always wished I was able to do it, though. It just seems like that's all erotica really needs. Great sex lol! But seriously, I give props to those authors who can do it b/c it scares the bejeezus outta me.
    Ninja Girl

  14. Hi there, Lan. I'm not comfortable writing these kind of scenes, so I subscribe to the Alfred Hitchcock theory of suspense: if it's offstage, and you make a big long dramatic point of NOT showing it, then maybe it's more effective. Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

  15. Hey Lan I'm back. I'm glad I wasn't a nasty child. (I was a little worried about my child sanity) Yea of course I'd help with the normal/not normal sexy/not slutty love scenes. I'd also suggest doing like the books I'm reading from Karina Halle. There;s definitely sexual tension there, but he has a girlfriend and its not our beloved main character, so of course nothing happens. It's not that the main character doesn't want him, or even that she's not sure if he'd accept her if she tried. Its very realistic with her knowing he has a girlfriend and so she shouldn't want him, but she does and they're always alone, and she knows he likes her and she's not sure if she should try because then what happens? I love it. Its like sex without the sex.

  16. Peggy: I love MG and have a renewed vigor for it since reading My Big Berkett. I'd love to try writing MG one day but once again don't think I'm that prepared. I'll wait for your book to come out to get some pointers!

    Cathy: Less is more works for me! If I don't have to do it I'll stay well away.

    BJ: Great advice. I haven't read a romance in so long that I feel a bit out of touch. Maybe I can do some research first.

    Karen: It was so hard to write this post and even some of my comments without accidentally stumbling on puns and innuendos! I'll try my best but if it's a lost cause I might go the scene fadeout route.

    Ninja Girl: I have so much respect for romance writers because of the way they can weave it all together without turning it into all out erotica. I'm going to give it a go and if it's abysmal, I'll creatively edit the scenes out :)

    Michael: LOL! I haven't seen many sex scenes written by men but the ones I have read tend to be very minimal and methodical. It gets the job done though!

    Sherre: Thanks for the recommend. I'll try and get my hands on something from Karina Halle. I'll try and get my sexual tension writing skills up but I'm usually one of those readers that's shouting "just get it on already!"

  17. Haha. As am I. I find myself doing it more and more as I read her books too.

  18. Sherre: I think that's a sign that the author is doing something right! If I don't care if the characters to get together than there's no point.

    PS. In other news, I've just worked the name Angrish into my story :)

  19. as a reader, I love the sex! haha.

    No but seriously, I think if you're writing a fictional character, they are way more believable if they act like a normal human being. Usually an epic story has at least a male and female doing some crazy things together, slaying dragons, outrunning evil sorcerers, etc. Point being, going through that with someone is definitely going to make some sort of bond between them. If it were me, it would probably involve some sex.
    Now yeah it does get weird. Especially when it goes into too much detail. when you start using descriptive words like ' swollen' 'pulsing' and 'throbbing' ( not that you would) it just gets a little There are other genres for that sort of thing. So I think what im trying to say is a little subtle bedroom action is only normal. Or you could write it with some humour, I think that kind of covers up some awkward.

    fun topic. wahoo.

  20. I'm a writer for children and young adults and I can't even begin to imagine why anyone would even WANT to write for adults if they were capable of writing for younger readers. I know some YA writers do write the odd adult novel, but really - why?

    The only adult fiction I write is short spec fic and that hasn't any sex in it because the story can stand without it.

    You're absolutely right about adult paranormal, which doesn't say much about adult paranormal. I had to read one a few months ago because I was on a con panel with the author. Her, I liked. Her book I hated. She had a perfectly good story to tell, but interrupted it every few pages with a totally irrelevant steamy sex scene. Her characters were likable. I would have been happy to read more if it wasn't for all those scenes. Boring!

    It reminds me of all that R-rated fan fiction people used to write years ago. Yes, i read some of those fanzines, even wrote the occasional story, though mine were romances and the sex happened offstage, between rows of asterisks. But honestly, if you could have seen some of the stuff written about characters from Star Trek and Blake's Seven! I rolled around laughing at utterly serious scenes. And Spock's organ described over an over as a "jade tower". It was all unintentionally hilarious.

    Even if you do want to write an adult book, if you're not comfortable with sex scenes, don't write them. It will show - and writing is all about loving what you do... isn't it? :-)

  21. Great discussion! And who says there have to be sex scenes in an adult paranormal book? Like others have mentioned, sometimes the sex scenes get in the way of a good plot!

    I've read plenty of awesome books where there weren't any sex scenes per se, but you knew it was probably happening off-screen. Why not stick to flirting if needed, but not try to force anything?


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