I worked on a sex scene for my novel all morning. In case you’ve never written about sex, let me tell you that it’s not as easy as you might think. I mean, everybody’s done the deed, so it should be just a matter of recreating experience, right? That is definitely not the case.
There’s a balance that’s sometimes hard to find in writing about sex. You don’t want to come off as a play-by-play on ESPN, but you don’t want to sound like something on the Playboy channel, either. And National Geographic’s tone is really not an option, at least not in my book.
What do you call the various body parts involved? Unless you’re writing a romance, the whole heaving bosom and throbbing member thing just won’t cut it. But the technical route doesn’t work for me. While I’m not opposed to saying penis and vagina, somehow those words don’t flow well on the page.
For those of you who think maybe I’m prudish (total strangers?), let me assure you I’m not. I’m probably way more open about things than many of my friends are comfortable with, and I’m certainly not opposed to using some offensive language every now and then. OK, frequently. Anyway, it’s not Puritanism that makes sex hard to write about. It’s the fact that most people make it out to be such a serious act, when in reality there are knocking elbows and knees and misplaced parts. Sex is sometimes plain out ridiculous.
So I decided that my sex scene would be where I have fun in the book. Where I let things be ridiculous. Or at least moderately so. Once I decided that, I had a great time writing it. The point of putting a sex scene in my book is not to describe a private act with minute accuracy, but to use it to show the relationship between two people. Good relationships are full of fun, and so is good sex.
Oh, and no offense meant to the heaving bosom and throbbing member crowd. Just not what I’m going for.