Sex Sells, Baby

Sex, Sex, Sex

Are you picturing that on a flashing neon sign in the blacked-out window of a shop on the bad side of town?
Stop it!
Seriously, unless that’s just where you like to hang out, of course.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I have always thought I had a pretty healthy opinion of sex. Fun, consensual, not hurting anybody – go for it. But sex in fiction? Frankly, I used to just skip over those sections. There always seemed to be too much something, or not enough of something else (no, not what you’re thinking, get your mind out of my gutter). I wanted to feel that the sex scene was there, not for the sex itself, but for the reason we have sex (at least, when we have it with someone we love, rather than that club pickup just was just too hot for words) – to physically express the feelings of that couple. To see them falling in love, watch them learn each other, feel how each makes the other feel. Just like you put your favorite people into awful situations to see how they react and what decisions they make, you put them into a sexual situation to show how they treat each other, see how they show their feelings to each other, and to figure out what they hide, and why.
I’m merrily writing my way through The Devil’s Cross, and having SO much fun with Hart and Remi. They are each just a hot mess in their own ways, but they are so perfect for each other! At some point these crazy kids are going to have to get it on – it’s a romance novel, after all…so, off I went to research ‘how to write a sex scene that doesn’t suck’. No, that’s not a website, sadly. I did manage to find a couple of books on the topic though. I’m now just over halfway though Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane. Loving it! Stacia writes with humor and wit, and with a healthy appreciation for all things deliciously fun and a just a bit naughty. Or, a lot.
But you know, in a good way.
Think back to the first time you really wanted somebody…not just ‘oh my god he/she’s so hot’, but when you wanted to wrap yourself around them and crawl inside them and learn them. All the moments leading up to the actual sex, those are delicious.
A frustrated conversation, an interrupted kiss, a hand on a waist pushing someone out of harms way.
The scent of them when they lean down to whisper something in your ear, the warmth of their hand on the small of your back, that yummy curl of heat low in your belly when you lean in for a kiss.
That builds tension, and tension, as we all know, must be released at some point.
That’s what I want to read. Technically, we all know how it’s going to end. It’s the journey that counts, actually.
However, while my goal here is to write what I would want to read, I do have to acknowledge that there are readers out there that want different things. (What?!) So I researched, meaning I read tons of reviews of highly rated and popular books in the romance category on Amazon.
And holy wow, are readers passionate (see what I did there?) about their romance! More sex. Less sex. Better sex. (Not one request for worse sex though, oddly.) The two constants seem to be that there must be some sex, even if it’s kind of hinted at and happens off-page, and that it needs to mean something. Not just inserted (geez) at a certain number of pages into the book, but at a point where the logical progression of your character arcs take them there. Where they just can’t come up with one more good reason not to. Where they can’t help themselves.
You know, almost like, life.
And boy howdy, does that sell a book. Like hotcakes. Or whatever we eat now instead of hotcakes that are super yummy and irresistible and pretty much crack – but legal. (So far).
While caught up in the throes of my research (really), it occurred to me to check in on the blog of a friend of mine, just in case she might have posted something on this topic. It turns out, I’m not the only one that appreciates tension. Sarah Hoyt (Author, Blogger, Beautiful But Evil Space Princess) says, ‘Sexual tension – as opposed to sex – makes the reader continue reading, makes us interested, makes us crave the moment when the two would-be-lovers, yearning for each other but holding back, finally kiss or even touch.”
See? It’s not just me!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll end up with some thrusting and grunting in some of my books somewhere, but it’s that thick feeling in your throat that makes your voice husky that I’m really after. I want your cheeks flushed after reading their first on-page meeting, I want you to tell your kids to have pop-tarts for dinner so you can get through one more chapter.
Guilty pleasure, here I come.
May have to line up the VodkahubbyTM for some research. I’m sure he’ll be sad about that, but you know, the things you do for love. And writing!

Please let me know what you think…more, less, none at all? Do you skip the sex scenes? Or do you seek them out? Why?

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