Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing Sex Scenes: AKA My Fear of Mortifying My Mother

- "Oh, the things I'm going to do to you, woman!
-"Things? I know nothing of said 'things.' What kind of girl do you think I am?"
I have a confession. When it comes to writing sex scenes, I'm a huge chicken.

It's not that I have a problem reading them, as long as they're realistic and not terribly raunchy. It's not even that I feel my characters are too young, because they're in college and let's face it - there are 14-year olds these days who could teach us all a thing or two where sex is concerned.

So what's my first thought when I debate whether or not to put sex into one of my own stories? My mother will die if she reads this!

My lovely crit partner Leigh Ann was the third person to read my completed MS, but the first to hold me to the fire for taking the implied route when it came to "the deed." She'd invested a lot of time and emotion in these characters, damn it, and she wanted the payoff (see why I totally heart her?).

I sent Leigh Ann a scene I'd had a ton of fun writing, but had no intention of putting in the novel. I'd toyed with the idea, but in the end, it just didn't fit. Not to mention I kept thinking, What if this book really does manage to get published one day? What would my mother say to the fact that his hands are not only on her boobs, but she's the one who put them there?

Don't get me wrong. My mother has obviously had sex, or I wouldn't be here. And with my 5 year wedding anniversary coming up, it's pretty obvious I'm no virgin either. But my mother is SUPER OLD SCHOOL MODEST. We never had "the talk." She never got dressed or went to the bathroom with the door ulocked, let alone wide open like I've heard some mothers do. And she's insisted, ad nauseum, that I'm to put her in a nursing home when the time comes, because she'd rather die than have her daughters bathe her, or worse, change adult diapers.

And she kept me in Catholic school for eight years. Does that tell you anything?

So how am I supposed to imagine this woman - the same woman who refused to relieve my bewilderment every time a pad or tampon commericial came on, until I was almost old enough to need them - reading a scene that I wrote, describing such an intimate act, and not blush?

Maybe in future novels, it won't bother me if my mother has proof that I think about sex. But for now, I'll take the copout fade-to-black (sorry Leigh Ann!) Do any of you get sex scene stage fright, or am I crazy?


  1. Okay so I've been thinking a lot about this for my current WiP, which we've already talked about a little. I told you my hesitation was that the characters were 16, but the more I've thought about it, the more I realize that's not true. In fact, by the end of the book they have a close enough relationship that it would actually make *sense* for them to DTD.

    But. Sadly, it just doesn't fit in the book anywhere. Like, if I put it in, I think it would be mega contrived.

    Although I do have one half-written. Duh. So when you CP it...maybe try to find me an opening that doesn't make me look like a skeezebag? Hmmm?

    (I actually do have mild stage fright, but not bc of my mom - because of my STUDENTS. I don't think they'd be super wild about seeing their rabbi write that way. But because I'm reasonably sure TT will never be pubbed, I'm not stressing about it just yet.)

    Also: I heart you too. And that scene from the LBD cutting room floor? Amazing. (though I have to call you on this - even that scene fades to black. ;)


  2. Guh. You guys do realize I never had ANY INTENTION WHATSOEVER of writing ANY kind of sex scene for TN before I met you? Because it FREAKS ME OUT. I loved both of yours, but it still gives me the chills to think that ANYONE will be reading that.

    btw, I'm siding with Leigh Ann. That scene did fade to black. ^_^

    (Okay, and for the record? The word verification for this was 'conking'. Make of that what you will.)

  3. I haven't had this problem yet because 1. sex hasn't fit the story and 2. my mom doesn't read my stuff. Even if I were published, she wouldn't read it . . . unless I wrote an article in a quilting magazine. But since I don't quilt, the likelihood of that happening is a big fat zero.

    Having said that, the YA horror book I'm planning will have sex in it. I just have to figure out how I'm going to approach it. :)

  4. Leigh Ann & Chessie- too bad! That's as graphic as it's getting. I draw the line at trying to think up euphemisms for male & female reproductive organs that don't make them sound like machine parts or animals. There will no intercourse described in LBD. Uh-uh. Not happening.

    But I'm glad all three of you share my heebie jeebies at having someone read your sex scene!

  5. I've never written a sex scene either. Heavy petting and making out!? Sure! But I tend to be kind of vague about it. I'm not writing genre romance or erotica for crying out loud. Although my mom is a fan of those kinds of genres so I doubt she'd mind. LOL

  6. I have a difficult time with sex scenes too. It isn't about who will read them for me--my mom will deal--but just about how far to take it.

    I did write a hand job scene recently. I gave it to Marie and she had the same response Leigh Ann did to you re fade to black.

    But how do you make a hand job romantic and sexy? Sometimes that fade to black is just necessary to keep from having to clean up the messy reality.

  7. LOL! My mom has this amazing ability to pick up a book and flip to the worst scene. I don't know how she does it. It's a gift! But I inevitably get the raised eyebrow and the, "You read this?" look. I didn't even write it, and I get censured for reading it. Gotta love my mom.

  8. Haha, oh wow, I definitely have the same reaction. Fade to black is definitely my solution.

  9. I used to worry about this. My mom asks to read all my new projects. My last one didn't have a sex scene, but the one before it did. Thankfully she didn't draw attention to it. If she had, I'm sure I'd have been mortified!

  10. I came over here from CQG's blog. I wonder if there is a female writer who hasn't thought about this very thing.

    If it belongs in there and is tasteful done, I have no problems writing/reading sex scenes. If it's just dropped in there for no reason I can figure out, then I'll have a problem. I guess you'll work your way around to it, in time or maybe not, if you continue to think about your mother. :)