NaNoWriMo: Making A Mess of Sex Scenes

NaNoWriMo 2017

There are only a few days left, but I’ve officially won NaNoWriMo!  It happened suddenly on Saturday when I realized I had forgotten to update word counts a few times.  Like 10,000 words worth of forgotten updates.  A huge chunk of those words made up three sex scenes.  Today I want to share my history with sex scenes and why Missing Auggie might change it.

NaNoWriMo 2017

There is a very good reason why there are no sex scenes in Modern Persuasion and won’t be any in Phi Alpha Pi.  The fact is, I suck at writing them.  Sex scenes require a delicate balance of ambiguity and details as well as fantasy and reality.  I don’t even get that far because my problem is simply words.  I decided, this year, to make a good sex scene a goal for Missing Auggie.  I wrote three and tried to reflect on where I was struggling.  A lot of my main problem is the connection between my brain and my fingers.

For most scenes I write, I can see the scene and then write it later in time.  I can stop writing, play the scene again, and go back to writing.  Sex scenes seem to work differently for me.  I am trying to see the scene in my head and write it at the same time.  This has resulted in:

I relled hering the beep of his card alarm engages.  I let hi pull ofmy raincot.

WTF?  This wasn’t even the sex part of the scene and my fingers clearly couldn’t do what my brain told them.  For the record, it’s something about hearing the beep of his car alarm and him pulling off her raincoat.  The scene is the first time for sex in the couples relationship.  I’ll get to those issues in a bit.  This is what often happens when I write a sex scene and somehow, as I clean up the text, I end up with things I shouldn’t have – extra hands for example.

Learning my problem was very helpful because it allowed me to slow down and make sure I clean up the text quickly.  It helped and I was able to focus on other issues in each of the three scenes.  I spent a lot of time debating the balance between detail and ambiguity.  Part of me wanted to account for every movement, but I know that too much detail could lead me away from reality.  There is also the detail of language and the cliches of sex scene language.  I wanted to avoid that language in the scene.

Finally, there is the balance of fantasy and reality.  This is especially important for a sex scene that is a couples first time together.  It has to be a little bit of a mess, but not a complete mess (like it can really be).  A couple, especially if they are a good couple, need to be sexually compatible.  I also like my men to be giving sexually.  I believe that many girls and women learn about sex through romance novels, so I want the men I write to not be sexually selfish.

It’s a lot to think about.  This is how I lost about 10,000 words.  I focused on the writing and not on the word count.  This was also my approach to NaNoWriMo this year.  I wasn’t a slave to the word count goal, but to the story and its needs.  The end product was three sex scenes I wasn’t completely embarrassed by.  Will all three make it into the book?  I hope so!  There is one that could be held back for bonus material after publication  Aside from the first-time-sex scene, there is the last one before Auggie disappears and the one that might be removed.

Next steps including letting some people read the scenes.  These are people who enjoy reading sex scenes and can help me make sure the fantasy/reality and ambiguity/detail balance is right.

What about you?  What do you like and dislike in sex scenes you read in books?  Tell me in the comments!


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