"Sexy Times" 101
Well, we made it! The final installment of my Tell-All Tuesday Q&A series Romance Writers Tell All is here. This has been so much fun, and hopefully we’ve saved the best for last.
To borrow a term from one of our panelists, some romance novels leave you hanging until page 100 before you get to the "sexy times." In others, it’s hard to get a real sense of the romantic relationship in the half a page every chapter that isn’t sex. There is no creative right or wrong. But there is an art to making your love scenes sizzle as part of a meaningful love story. So, how do we romance writers do it? How do we keep it fresh? Where do we get our inspiration? How does it feel to have people we know read our love scenes? Well, you’re about to find out!
Q: I don't know about the rest of you, but one question I've been asked is whether or not I get inspiration for my love scenes from personal experience. Personally, I don't think it's classy to kiss and tell, so I'm not going to ask you that. But I will ask, have you ever gotten embarrassed when people you know personally read your books because of the sex? At what heat level do you write? Sex is sex, so how do you write it so that it's just as fresh, romantic, and fun every time?
Bella Andre: As far as I'm concerned, sex is a natural, beautiful part of life and a very important part of any relationship whether or not it's openly shared. Why should anyone ever be embarrassed? Sex is life, literally. ;-)
JJ Ellis: Oh my goodness. I get so embarrassed sometimes knowing that friends or family are reading my smut (oops, I hate that word, but yeah that his how I feel when I think of them reading it). My sister-in-law was actually struck speechless after she read my first book and it embarrassed the heck out of me to know that I made her uncomfortable with my sexy rated book. I have ten books out there…all with sex in them and my mother has been the first to read each and every one. Talk about embarrassed! But you know, for me, it comes with the territory so I’ve learned to blush and move on. My books have been called ‘sexy’ as for a rating. I’ve also been told that it is like reading erotica without all of the harsh language…I’m not sure how comfortable I feel with that but it is what it is. It is so hard to keep romance scenes fresh! I try not to use too much harsh language and my readers love that aspect, and I use a lot of dialogue (internal monologue too) during my scenes to make it more exciting or erotic. I mean if I want to let the reader know the character is more excited than ever, it is more s howing to do that through dialogue (internal monologue) than to just say – he was more excited than ever because of x, y, z. I’ve had compliments on it so I guess I’m doing something right and will continue to use this method although I did let it slip a bit in my last few books. I learned my lesson! Sex scenes are hard to write because it is hard not to repeat yourself but if you just throw different things in you can do it. I even know one author who assigns her characters birth dates and uses the astrological traits of that date to determine how her characters act in bed. I could go on and on…I love sex scenes!
Kallysten: Truth time? No one I know 'in real life' has ever read any of my books - not even my husband! He knows what I write, and how graphic it gets - he once 'caught' me researching pegging and had this lok of pure horror on his face that still makes me chuckle to this day! - but romance or erotica is not something he cares to read, which is just fine as far as I'm concerned. A couple of friends know I write for a living, but I chickened out in front of both and only mentioned my Young Adult titles. I'm not ashamed of what I write, not in the slightest, and I am proud that I get to call myself a writer, but I'd rather not have my friends wonder if this particular sex act or domination game or whatever other scenario I write about is something the hubby and I enjoy doing or if it's pure fantasy. As for writing sex scenes and keeping them fresh and fun, I think it's all about the characters and the connection they have. For most of my stories, and even when I write erotica, I write the actual sex at the very end, which sometimes means I leave placeholders that say 'sexy times happen here' in the text. This way, I have the characters firmly in mind, their banter and smiles and arguments, so that it's not just two bodies writhing on the page but two people who've come to this point step by step, and who will leave this bed (or wherever else they happen to be...) transformed by the experience.
C. Deanne Row: My first book which I published with two other authors and friends, Magnolia ‘Maggie’ Rivers and Glenna West, as one of The Stiletto Girls, titled ‘Blue Jeans and Stilettos’ was a very sexy story full of hot love scenes. Since it was the first time one of my stories was available for everyone I knew to read, yes it was a little embarrassing. Of course, my mother, sisters, brother, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, coworkers and friends all bought a copy of the book. I believed everyone would think I was writing from firsthand experience so I intentionally stretched the boundaries so if they were going to think along those lines, they would look at me and think ‘wow’. I stretched them so far that there a few scenes I had to ask my daughter if it was even possible. It has become easier to write a love scene with each story I write. Each of my stories have the level of sex that is appropriate for the story and my characters. I have also learned what boundaries I’m willing to cross and what my comfort level is and what type of sex I’m willing to delve into. If you really know your characters, writing a love scene should be as easy as any other scene in your story. You know what your characters are like, what lines they would cross, and how they would react to a given situation. If I have developed my characters well enough, after the first few chapters they pretty much write my story for me. Same with love scenes. Give your characters a chance to tell you what you need to know. Sit back, enjoy and be a voyeur.
Susan Stoker: I hear from other authors all the time about how hard it is to write the sex scenes. They will be writing along, then SKIP a chapter and just put a note in that says *sex scene here* and then keep going. It IS hard to keep it fresh and new. I know there are lots of ways to put X into Y, but after a while, it all starts sounding the same. And yes, it can be very awkward to know that my parents are reading my books at times. I don’t write completely sexy…but there is at least one major sex scene in each of my books. I also wrote an erotic novella, and forbid my father from reading it, lol! As to how I write sex scenes that are different, romantic and hot book after book? My imagination for sure, and I’ve been known to look at the occasional porn video a time or two! Ha!
NDG: There you have it—great answers, ladies! First of all, I’m glad I’m not the only whose husband hasn’t read my books! I’ve been tempted to use the placeholders (Kally, I love your “sexy times here” label), but for me, it’s such an intrinsic part of the emotional development of my characters and their relationship, and I write chronologically for the most part, that I can’t leave a hole and come back to it later. I have a lot of fun writing my love scenes. But boy howdy, when I finally sent my mom a copy of my ms of my first book after she asked me to let her be a beta reader, I held my breath for a week while she read it! Thankfully, she never said a word about the “sexy times”—not to me anyway. I love that some of your love scenes are over the top, Deanne, in case people wondered if you wrote from real life—that’s great, lol! True, like Susan said, it can all start to sound the same. If I’m feeling that way reading a love scene (whether or not I’m the one writing it), I think it’s because not enough of the character’s personality, or the way they would do things, is coming through. Body parts and terms for acts of sex aren’t going to change—but our characters are, and that makes all the difference.
Well, I hope this has been as much fun for all of the authors and readers of this series as it was for me to put together. I’m thinking I’ll do it again next year. Don’t forget to check out all of the information about these fantastic authors below. Thank you for tuning in to this special Tell-All Tuesday blog series!
About the Authors
For more about Bella and her books, visit her here:
You can find more about JJ and her books and upcoming projects at http://jjandtaellis.weebly.com and look for her personal blog on this site – coming soon!
Learn more about her Baby Boomer Romances at http://babyboomerlovestories.weebly.com
Visit her promotion blog at http://livingindiebooks.blogspot.com/
The Serenade Serial http://original.kallysten.net/2016/serenade-serial/ The Blurred Trilogy http://original.kallysten.net/2016/the-blurred-trilogy/ Biting The Vampire http://original.kallysten.net/2016/biting-the-vampire/ website - http://original.kallysten.net/ FB - https://www.facebook.com/author.kallysten Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/510084.Kallysten Newsletter sign up -http://eepurl.com/kiWSb
C. Deanne Rowe
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Nina Day Gerard