I don’t know about you, but there are certain scenes that give me trouble as a writer. Everyone’s “trouble scenes” are different; for me, they’re sex scenes. Unfortunately for me, those are some of the most important scenes that need to be written.
There are all kinds of variety and heat levels to sex scenes, and the type of story and characters determine how explicit they should be. I get that. In my first book, A Heart of Little Faith, the hero is in a wheelchair. Now, I’m not making any conclusions about how people in wheelchairs have sex—I know from the research I did that they do. But I made the decision to put sex scenes behind closed doors because I didn’t think I could write the scene well enough, with the additional difficulties that there might be, without making it sound clinical and unwieldy. Yes, that might be a reflection of me as a writer, but it making that book a “sweet romance” really worked. It fit the characters, the story, and the mood. However, reaching that decision was very difficult for me. I didn’t want readers to think I was making any kind of social judgment—I wasn’t. And once I decided to put the sex behind closed doors, I wanted there to be enough sensual scenes so that the reader was completely confident in the sexiness of the hero.
That night, after Lily paid Tara and looked in on Claire, she lay in bed and thought about Gideon’s kiss. She touched her lips, which still felt marked with his imprint. The kiss had been soft, gentle, yet filled with so much promise. His lips had been smooth and dry, with a trace of stubble that scratched her mouth. She ran her finger over the spot, back and forth until she ached with the memory. Hugging Gideon had been like hugging a rock. His hard chest and vise-like arms had pinned her against him. His heart thumped against hers and created a complementary rhythm, as if to warn her how futile it would be to resist him. As if she had wanted to.
In my second book, Skin Deep, the sex scenes were more explicit, and that created a completely different problem for me. See, I can’t help thinking about who is going to read my books after I write them. Sure, I really hope there will be lots of strangers reading it—who DOESN’T want to be Nora Roberts—but I’m confident that my parents will be first to do so. Yes, I said parents, plural. My dad likes to read what I write too. With the first one, there was nothing I could do to stop him from reading it. With the second, I was better able to convince him that since he isn’t a romance reader, even though the book was written by his daughter, he really wasn’t going to like it very much and I would not be offended at all if he chose to skip it. He did, luckily for me. Because I blushed, literally, every time I pictured him reading the sex scenes. I blushed writing them—yes, I’m probably a prude—and knowing that he might read them sent me over the edge. I wasn’t even that comfortable picturing women I knew reading them, but my DAD? No way!
John handed her the soap. She rubbed it between her hands and washed his body. Her touch was like a caress. She began with his broad chest and ran her fingers through the curly black hair that tapered off by his navel. He closed his eyes as she soothed his skin. It tingled as she slipped behind him and soaped his broad shoulders and back. He fought the urge to grab her hand as she traced the tan line at his waist with her soapy finger.(You’ll have to read the rest for more—this is a PG-rated blog!)
So, what scenes do you have trouble writing?