This post, by R.J. Keller, originally appeared on the New Wave Authors blog on 7/2/12.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about Fifty Shades Of Gray (aka The Book Everyone Is Probably Tired Of Everyone Talking About By Now…sorry), and there seem to be two general conclusions being drawn about its popularity: 1) It’s now "okay" to write about sex; 2) Sex sells.
Regarding conclusion 2, all I can say is: DUH. Seriously, everybody knows this. Everybody. Probably the cavemen knew this.
Regarding conclusion 1, I have to say it: Ha! I was waaaaay ahead of you! A casual perusal of reviews of Waiting For Spring (originally published in 2008) is enough to alert potential readers to its sexual content. It was even tagged as vulgar on Amazon. (I’d like to take a moment to thank the reader who did that for me, by the way; see conclusion 2.) So there.
But seriously, folks, it’s not suddenly okay to write sex. It’s always been okay. And FSoG’s insane popularity probably isn’t going to change the way most of us write. But it does seem like a good time, since everybody really is talking about it, to explore the unscience behind writing a good sex scene. And since I’m vulgar and stuff, I’ll volunteer to be the tour guide. Not to the actual writing, of course–that part is up to you, sport–but rather with the, uh, preparations.
* Nervous? Open up a bottle o’ wine. Or Jack Daniels or Smirnoff or beer. Or do some yoga. Whatever will help you to relax a little, that’s what you should do.
* Think about sex scenes you’ve read. What was it about them that worked? What didn’t? Was it the emotion? An unconventional setting? The words the author used to describe the characters’ pieces and parts? It’s not a sexy thing to analyze what makes something hot, but it is a necessary thing.
* Don’t think about potential readers. What I mean by this is don’t imagine them reading your sex scene as you’re writing it. Especially don’t imagine your best friend or grandmother or second-grade teacher reading your sex scene. Thinking about those dear loved ones while you’re in the throes of real-life passion is a certain way to kill a mood; so it goes with your fictional impassioned throes. This is between you and your characters, period, and if you do it right it’s really just between them. Go into a room where you’re all by yourself. At this moment, nobody else in the world exists.