by Elizabeth Conte
The sun is merciless as its golden rays are omnipresent…lingering through the dog days of summer. Constant. Hot. Days to sit on the beach, lie by the pool, or hide away in an air-conditioned room. It’s time for a hot summer read!
There’s nothing hotter than a sexy read! But how do you write about it? A writer must balance how much to say, show, and tell, because how you write about sex will decide how you are categorized as a writer.
I hate to disappoint, but I am not an erotica writer. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Nor am I a romance writer. I’m an upmarket women’s fiction writer. But I do write about love, romance, and yes, sex. Finding that balance – and the genre it best fits – has been a journey.
A Purpose For Passion
When I first started writing, I wanted to bring back the quintessential love story. I wanted my characters to develop deep relationships that gave way to passion. I thought I was a romance writer. But, after many rejections, one editor finally gave me a clue, “Your tone and pace are romance, but your story is just not that.” It was then that I realized I wasn’t a romance writer, but a women’s fiction writer. Author Nora Roberts best explained the difference, “Women’s Fiction is a story that centers on a woman or on primarily women’s issues, not necessarily the romantic relationship based books I do, but the woman’s story.”
Sex and the Writer
Writing sexual scenes is extremely difficult. You would think it would be fun and sexy. Well, I hate to say, it’s not. It’s truly agonizing.
Characters come from my imagination, but as any writer can attest, once established, they are entities unto themselves. When I say they talk to me, they really do! They move and breathe around me, and have a life even when I’m not writing. I am merely a scribe, taking dictation. I’m an observer preserving the moment, stepping into their world as a visitor.
So, when I write about their sexual encounter, it’s like I am intruding on the most intimate moment between two people. It’s raw and personal. I feel I am invading their privacy, and yet I must reveal their actions and emotions to the reader. I literally walk around the scene from all angles, watching what is going on, and then write it down. I describe what my characters are doing, feeling, and thinking. I am a voyeur.
What is Enough?
If a relationship is being nurtured in a novel, sex is usually a part of it. And any good romantic story needs passion, whether it’s a kiss, or two people enraptured in physical ecstasy. When I write about sex, it’s a part of the story; a development of the relationship between the two characters and not just a sex scene. It’s personal and intimate, and I feel like I have a responsibility to be honorable to my characters, as well as my readers. I have to say just enough, but not explain every detail. My goal is for the reader to say, “Oh my,” not “OMG!”
Ultimately, I want you to be able to hand my book to a friend without apologizing.
Happy summer reading!
When I am not writing books, tormented with poetry, or inspiring others with my blog at Writerdeeva.com, you can find some of my work published in Lost Coast Review and PennWriters, and I am a regular editor/contributor to Industry News for Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).