A while back, I decided to try something new in my writing. Something guaranteed to push me out of the writing comfort zone and straight into Awkward Town.
That’s right: a sex scene.
God, it was hard.* Not only trying to keep the characters in character, but trying not to end up with something that sounded like: a) a Penthouse letter or b) a Harlequin romance. A scene from Preacher kept playing in my head, when an angel is discussing his love affair with a demon with the main character:
Angel: It was a tornado. A hurricane. A tsunami crashing down upon a tower of rock. Our juices fell like rain on the inferno.
Angel: We were not meant to even meet, let alone achieve such union. We were not created —
Jesse: Hey! How much more of this horseshit have I gotta listen to?
Don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy.
Anyway, it ended up taking me most of the day to get five hundred words I was happy with.** And I will note that a thesaurus leads you to some interesting but very strange word choices in this context. There were a lot of deletions and re-writing in that afternoon, and a lot of questions:
How much detail do I put it? Is that too much? Or is this coming off like it was written by a virginal choir girl? What adjective appropriately describes how breasts move? (Pokes own for inspiration.) Wobbled? God, that’s terrible. The hell is wrong with me?
And so on.
In the end,*** the biggest challenge was making sure the characters acted like themselves. Which means I had to consider how those characters would have sex.
That was an awkward afternoon.
But I’m glad I did it.**** It helped define some parts of their relationship for me, which made subsequent moments, sexy and otherwise, easier to write. The sex scene ended up being less about the act and more about their reactions to it. In that sense, it had to do the same job as every other scene: either advance plot or illustrate character. Thinking of it like that helped me get it right. I had to make sure it was them having sex, not some faceless interchangeable Mary Sues.
So she trips on the way to the bedroom, almost taking them both down, and then laughs about it. He can feel the scars on her back under his hands, and finds it kind of a turn on. And it’s all tangled up with who they are and what’s happening in the world around them, even if only as an escape from it. It’s part of the story then, not just a random add-on. It serves a purpose.
And, you know, it’s hot.
*Save the jokes until the end, folks, or this will take forever.
**All written with the curtains drawn, lest the neighbours become aware of what I was doing. Stupid Catholic upbringing.
***Seriously? Too easy.
****So were they.