Friday, October 30, 2009

On Writing Sexy Stuff

Most of my writing is pretty clean. But occasionally, sensual situations come up and depending on the mood of my novel, I go ahead and write them.

In Forging a Legend, things got pretty steamy, but I keep the sex scenes short. In A Spy and a Lady, the most sensual scene is a make-out scene on a rooftop. Which I tried to make more humorous than sensual. In future novel, when Tory actually gets married (in a scene long envisioned!), there will be no sex scene whatsoever. These novels are definitely have a "sweet" heat level. I have not run into any sex scenes yet in East of Yesterday, and I'm thinking it would be mildly sensual at most.

I have a brief sensual situation in my flash fiction, “Under Observation”. (That reminds me—must find another market!)

But my novella, The Sevenfold Spell, is turning out much more sensual than anything I’ve ever written. As some of you know, it’s a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. However, it’s told from the point-of-view of a homely young woman who, along with her widowed mother, made her living by spinning before spinning wheels were banned. It opens with the confiscation of their spinning wheel. With the loss of their livelihood, they must live on her dowry, thus ruining her chance of marrying a certain homely young man, who cannot afford a wife without a dowry. He gets sent off to join a monastery, and she and her mother must fend for themselves. Woven into all this is the actual princess, the prince, the evil fairy and the good fairies.

As with Forging a Legend, I’m trying to keep the sex scenes short. I don’t like reading long, involved sex scenes, so I’m not going to write them either. I am going for short and powerful, without using any explicit language.

Here is a scene that shows the mood of the novella.
My infrequent confessions went something like this:

"I have not been chaste, as a maiden ought," I would say to the priest.

"With whom have you not been chaste?"

"A butcher. A baker. A candlestick maker. Plus those I've mentioned before."

"And are you sorry for this sin?"

"No, I can't say that I am."

"Then until you are, your soul will bear its burden."

The local bachelors talked about me, I know, they traded stories--but they always went happily to my bed.

To the aisle? Never.

I spoke of it to Harla, sometimes.

"I would make a good wife," I said.

"I've no doubt of that," she said.

"I'm ready to be faithful to a good man who would have me," I said. "I would devote myself to him and his children."

"You're thinking of Willard."


"Did you love him, then?"

"Love? I didn't think of it as love."

"We all thought you went mad for him."

"I did. I wanted his child."

She looked at me in shock. "Out of wedlock?"

"I couldn't have him, so I wanted a piece of him."

"You were mad."

"Maybe," I said.

"Either that, or you really did love him."

And I wondered about that. Why did I offer myself to him? Although to lie with him had been my own choice, it would have never been a choice I would have made had we been able to marry. I often thought of the child I had wanted so badly, of little Aurora who was never conceived. She would be coming on her menses about now, had she been born.

I was picky about men, in my own way. True, I did look for the men so often rejected by other women: the too thin, the too chubby, the too pocked, the too graying. But I also looked for shyness, for awkwardness, for the socially inept. Was I looking for another Willard? Perhaps. I never found one, but I did find some men who stayed with me for lengths of time that measures in months rather than weeks. One even stayed with me for over a year.

Only one was handsome.
The scene that follow surprised me. I thought I’d have at least one more sex scene, but it turned into a scene where my plain protagonist turns down the most handsome man of all. She walks away. With no regrets whatsoever. I figured that my character needs to grow, and while she turns to men to ease her loneliness in her past, at some point she must grow beyond this. And I didn’t even realize that the story needed this until I wrote that scene.

Don't you love it when you muse takes over?


  1. The muse is a powerful thing. I never imagined I'd need to write a sex scene, either--never wanted to, in fact--but when the muse commands, I obey.

    Hope all goes well with the novella!

  2. I guffawed at, "A butcher. A baker. A candlestick maker." That's spectacular, right there.

    At first whenever I wrote any scene that could be qualified as remotely romantic, I got all embarrassed and felt silly. But I've slowly "grown into it" as a writer, and when I wrote the most romantic-tension-filled scene in FLAWED (which you'll see very soon!) I had SO much fun with it.

    And then it ended in a way that surprised the heck out of me. Because the muse took over. And yeah--those moments are the ones I love the most. =)

  3. I felt terribly awkward about it at first as well. But now I just try to keep in mind what I like reading as a reader, and to avoid superfluous detail. An erotica writer (or reader) I'm not.

    I've been thinking . . . if I can't find an e-publisher for this, I might self-e-publish it. Only a few e-publishers take novellas, so I might not find any takers. This might be a good way of experimenting with how my Fantasy Debut/Debuts & Reviews platform might translate into sales.

  4. I'm glad it's working for you. {Smile}

    I'm smiling at the scene you posted. Now this gal has interesting taste in men. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  5. To each her own! I'm hoping it all makes sense by the time the reader reaches this point.


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