I’ve written blogs previously on sex – for example see here. These articles have covered the topic of how to construct a sex scene. What is enough sex? What is not enough sex? Generally the focus is how to construct a sex scene.
However, that begs the question of should you have sex, in your writing, at all?
Many would say that basically anytime you want would be a good time to have sex – again speaking of having it in your writing. Others, most certainly, would say there is no need to include sex in your writing at all.
So what is a writer to do? Sex or abstinence? Which is the road to literary fulfillment? Or perhaps, which is the path to literary enlightenment?
As with any question of a literary nature, the answer is somewhat less that clear.
Likely it would be safe to say in the opinion of many there is no formulaic approach as to when to or when not to have sex. There is many a literary masterpiece out there with not a single scene of intimacy. The same is true on the other side of the equation. Many a literary masterpiece has an overload of intimate scenes.
Different strokes for different, well, writers and readers.
Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question of whether or not to have sex in your book is to understand that a sex scene alone will not automatically make bad literature good, but it may make good literature bad.
In short it is not simply breaking up the work for a sex scene. It is more about weaving a sex scene into the tapestry of the literature.
What? How do we do that? Well, write about it to start with.
First and foremost, don’t make the sex awkward. Simply put, you don’t want to end up with sex scenes, even well written ones, that are gratuitous. These will add nothing to the work, will seem contrived and will likely hurt your characters and the work as a whole.
Perhaps the most important tidbit of guidance a writer can have is that a sex scene is not and should not be an isolated scene in a book (generally speaking).
For the most part, an effective sex scene builds, sometimes perhaps for a goodly amount of time, over several chapters. While there will be occasions where the sex scene comes out of left field, if there are two characters in a sex scene, there needs to be some prep-work. Readers want to identify with the character and their efforts.
For example consider two characters, perhaps a male and a female detective. Say they’re working a case and suddenly end up in bed. That’s certainly not out of the question, but imagine how much more effective the scene would be if one of the two, or perhaps both, had been harboring thoughts of their encounter. Perhaps they had dreamt fantasized about having sex with their partner. Perhaps one thought about it and one didn’t. Perhaps one of them is married.
This give you a vehicle to build tension prior to the sex scene, but also allows you to lay the groundwork for what happens afterwards.
Also keep in mind that just because the sex is over it doesn’t necessarily mean that the tension between the characters has or should end. A sex scene between two characters can give you tension fodder for the rest of your book (and into the sequels if you play your cards right.)
Take the example of our detectives. Sure the actual sex scene is tremendously important; however, the options for sexual tension leading up to the actual sex scene provide for a sub-plot all their own. Then there are the consequences of the sex for the characters.
Perhaps the detectives discover that they’re great as cops, but lousy as lovers. Perhaps they discover their soul mate in each other that causes problems with their professional relationship because now instead of a partner in harms way it is a loved one. Perhaps one loved it and the other not so much and the feelings end up in contrast. Loads of possibilities.
The lesson is that sex allows for the opportunity for a great individual scene, but also for build up and aftermath. Sure, a talented writer can evoke some incredible thoughts and emotions on the part of the reader with a well-crafted sex scene, but the real measure of the writer is how they are able to weave in the changes in the relationship between the characters as a result of the actual sex.
Experiment and be creative, build some tension, release it and let the characters guide you through the changes in their relationship post-sex. You may just see that the book you started got a little better along the way.
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