Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Yes, I finished the sex scene. My editor tells me I didn’t embarrass myself, which is, frankly, pretty much all I was hoping for out of that experience (this means the scene was otherwise fine as well — all my other quality standards still apply). Writing sex scenes is not a naturally comfortable process for me, because (among other things) I tend to find most sex scenes very poorly written; the response they produce out of me typically is not arousal but impatience, as in please get these nipples and dicks out of my way so I can get back to the story. My reader consciousness is definitely engaged when I’m writing about sex and mostly it just wants to me to wave through to the next thing.
(I’ll note that erotica and porn are largely exempt from this exasperation because, after all, that’s what erotica and porn are about. Complaining about an over-abundance of nipples and dicks in erotica is really missing the point. In those cases, I just hope the descriptions of nipples and dicks aren’t goofy.)
If I get exasperated with sex scenes, you say, then why put in a sex scene at all? Well, naturally, I’m putting it in because I want to use it to make a point (stop it) about something; in this particular case some insight into the character which is best achieved in a sexual situation. Mind you, I’m not scared of writing sex — I’ll do it if I need to — but I really do need to have a reason to have it in there. I had a reason. In it went.
The way I eventually made it work to my satisfaction, incidentally, was to put a little bit of humor into it. Part of the reason it was giving me a real headache was the character was dealing with it in a deadly serious manner, and that was difficult for me to write. Just a tiny bit of humor in the scene, on the other hand, gave both a narrative device to frame the scene but also allowed me to a place where the character could get to the reason for the scene, which was to meditate on the nature of desire. It’s a not-unserious look at that particular topic, I should say. But using a little bit of humor to get there made it work. Or at least, made it work for me. Who is the first person that this sort of thing needs to work for.
Just as a bit of expectation management, the scene didn’t end up all that graphic. It’s clear what they’re doing, and it’s clear they’re having fun doing it, but the “nipples and dicks” quotient is very low. No throbbing manhoods or heaving bosoms or aureolae crinkling in delight or bursting dams of orgasmic orgamicosity or whatever. Honesty, I think I would choke on my own tongue trying to write that sort of verbiage. And, you know. I don’t want that.