Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Lurve Scene

Kat is determined to get us all into trouble with the latest question for the blog chain.

How do you feel about love scenes? As a reader, are you put off by the gratuitous? As a writer, do you shy away from spelling out the down-and-dirty? Or do you write until your computer lights a cigarette?

That's right, we've talked about romance and we've talked about love, but now it's time to go there. Kids, it's time to talk about s-e-x.

I love that Kat asked about our feelings about love scenes from both the prospective of a reader and as a writer, because for me they are very different. It is kind of the same way I feel about fried foods. Now like most people with working taste buds and no history of heart disease, I love french fries, fried mozzarella, and believe in miracles every time I eat a fresh from the conveyor belt Krispy Kreme doughnut.

However, as much as I enjoy the distinctive taste of foods cooked in hot fat, I refuse to fry at home. Not in a fryer machine and not in a deep pot with a thermometer attached. It's too messy and too dangerous. Not to mention the health risks. Wait... are we still talking about frying food or did we switch back to sex?

As I've mentioned before here I am a fan of the romance genre. I first discovered romance novels towards the end of my middle school years, and if it wasn't for the sex scenes in them who knows when or where or how I would have eventually filled in the gaps in my sexual education. You see I grew up in a house that not only lacked HBO but any kind of cable television at all. And I went to a Catholic school up until eighth grade where when we did have our boys and girls separated sex ed classes their information was so out of date that the film reels (yes!) showed us girls how to attach our sanitary napkins with belts that kind of acted like garters.

Sex scenes aren't merely for educational purposes though. In the best written romances they should work in much the same way as a musical number in a Broadway musical does. It should advance the plot, reveal character, and entertain.

So when I wrote my first novel and it was a romance novel and it came time for the sex scene of course I wanted it to be good - I wanted it to be great. And it was. Probably. In the alternate universe where I actually wrote it. Yeah, there was sex in my book, but it was closed door - as in I wrote the before and I wrote the after, but the in-between was left to the reader's imagination.

And I think that is just the type of writer I am, because when I tried to write the in-between or when I even thought about writing it, I started shaking. Not with fear, but with a terrible awful case of the church giggles (these, of course, are the giggles you get at a time place when you are absolutely NOT supposed to be giggling, and this then causes you to giggle all the more).

I have a terrible time taking myself seriously sometimes, especially when something is very serious, but at the same time - if you look at it from a slightly different angle - very very silly. And sex scenes can become incredibly silly, incredibly quickly. Even at the very basic level of dealing with anatomy - you either get flowery and euphemistic and that is unintentionally hilarious. Or else you are very technical and sound like a stuffy textbook, which is once again hilarious.

I don't think it is possible to write a good, believable sex scene when you are giggling and snickering behind your hand like a sixth grade boy (no offense to sixth grade boys, but c'mon guys, you know how you are), and since I cannot at this time summon the necessary gravity, for now I'll leave the sex scenes to those who can.

So what about you? Are you a reader of sex scenes, a writer of them, both, or neither?

And if you love reading about love scenes, continue reading with Sandra and Cole.


  1. OMG! I didn't got to a Catholic school, but I DO remember those reels they showed about the pads. I feel ancient now.

    Even at the very basic level of dealing with anatomy - you either get flowery and euphemistic and that is unintentionally hilarious. Or else you are very technical and sound like a stuffy textbook, which is once again hilarious.

    You've said it exactly. I think thats why I've never gone full blown about writing about these scenes. They'll either turn out flowery or too technical. Both make an unbelievable scene in the story, which isn't a good thing.

  2. I love your fried food analogy! And yes, sex scenes can become silly very easily if you're not careful.

  3. I remember those film reels too.

    My daughter now calls those sanitary napkins Airplane Stickers because they have wings. :-) I think that comes from an old episode of AFV.

    I like the excerpt Michelle pulled, too. That's exactly why in my post I said I have great respect for authors who are efficient in their love scenes. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner (yes, that's her name) are two of the best I've found.

  4. What you mean by "we boys know how we are"? LOL, just kidding. You women have no idea just how hard it is making it through that period of time, when all the hormones are going crazy and us boys are trying to remain decent human beings (at least us good ones).

    Great post though. No snippet to share? You should have put up an example of one of those "giggle giggle scenes", just for grins!

  5. Wonderful post :) Interesting question, one I've been thinking about lately. I'm probably on the way over conservative side when it comes to this, both in reading and writing. I am very put off by the gratuitous, and in writing I like to keep things on the Gone-With-The-Wind, carry her up the stairs and cut level of doing things. I think its romantic :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  6. Great post! I like the writing of the "before and after". That sets the mood well. AND, I went to public school but we had that oh so fabulous sanitary napkin video as well. Oh boy...

  7. haha! LOVE this answer. And dude, I nearly spewed all over everything with your description of those stupids videos. LOL!

  8. If you thought the sanitary napkin videos were bad, you should have seen the videos they showed the boys. It took me months to figure out what that cartoon was doing under the blanket with a flashlight.

  9. LOL! I love your take on the this topic. I love the pic too--so cute!

  10. lol awesome post...and I am sooo craving Krispy Cremes now!

  11. You said exactly what worries me. I'm scared to death that if I write a sex scene it with just make people laugh. :)

  12. I'm definitely not a fan of gratuitous anything. Gratuitous sex, violence, whatever has no place in a story. If it's gratuitous, it's extraneous, and, ultimately, self-indulgent. As a reader, I much prefer scenes written just the way you've described them.