Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The First Sex Scene

Sasha is a romance of sorts. There are romantic elements, at least. I haven't pinpointed down exactly how I'll market it, but it's definitely a romance. Romance means sex. Since before I even began to write, I've been toying with how to handle the sex scenes. Do I have a fade-to-black sort of approach? Do I have a detail-by-detail approach? Something in the middle?

I've gone back and forth on this more times than I can count. On the one hand, I like to read romance novels with sex in it. That is, in fact, one of the top reasons I don't want to read YA romance/fantasy: no sex. On the other hand, my mom is going to read this book. So are my friends. I know that the sex scenes I read in novels are not pulled straight from the author's life, just as Eva and Justin's sex scene wasn't pulled from my life. But sex scenes are pulled from the imagination. The imagination can be a pretty private place sometimes.

Today I got to the first sex scene, and I decided to write it out. The whole thing. Each move, each sensation. To write what I would want to read. If I chicken out later and take a more Janet Evanovich fade-to-black approach, so be it, but at least I'll have this written so later I'm not coming up to a sex scene dry.

In fact, I was at my word count minimum at the start of the scene. The first kiss put me over 2,000 words. I considered stopping, but the echo of Laurell K. Hamilton's advice about writing sex scenes came back to me: don't start them cold. She's written often in her blog that she's learned to not stop writing in the middle of a sex scene, because it's hard to recapture the mood when she comes back to it. A very valid point, I thought. So I continued to write. The seduction had begun; I couldn't just cut it off there and hope that tomorrow would bring a similar mood.

Which is why I finished at 3,422 words for the day (over double the traditional NaNo daily word count)! I'm pleased with the choice I made, and though this sounds weird to say, figuring out how my main characters have sex told me a lot more about them than I thought it would. So hooray for getting a large scene down on the page, and hooray for adding new depth to my characters.


Shaida said...

Re: sex scenes in YA romance/fantasy: NOT TRUE! Why do you think YA books get banned so often? ;-)

A lot of times, they do take the "fade to black" approach, but the good ones still manage to include all the romantic tension and mood you could want. You can't let a certain sparkly vampire eunuch color your opinion on ALL YA romance! ;-)

TikiBird said...

Agreed! If it's handled well (meaning at whatever level the author is comfortable with and is enjoying writing), the scene will feel, uh, satisfying even if all that happens is the characters' first kiss, first hand-holding, or first whatever.

Also, just like I think even a slow reader like me will tend to speed up for the naughty bits, I think they're a lot faster to write--which is why I threw so much "romance" without regard for pesky details like plot in my NaNo novel! LOL

Rebecca Chastain said...

Shaida--You're right, I shouldn't be so hard on an entire genre. I used to love YA novels when I was younger. I imagine some pretty good stuff is being written in it now. Probably even some good romance. My tastes are shifting again, away from the darker urban fantasies now, so maybe YA is next up on my must-read list.

TikiBird--You're soo right about how fast that scene wrote! I wonder if erotica authors have the same time-warp speed on the sex scenes. It would make for some quick novel writing if they do. ;) Maybe that's what you could turn your NaNo book into...