Sex (or not)

IMG_3788I love my publisher. I really do. They are lovely people and they’ve just partnered with Amazon to bring their authors out in audio. I’m not a fan of audio books, but apparently there’s a huge market. We don’t HAVE to get our books onto audio, but why wouldn’t you? It costs the writer nothing, it’s no work for the writer, the writer collects royalties. All we need to do is sign a contract for each book we want to go audio. It’s for 7 years, but I wasn’t planning on taking those books anywhere else. Seemed like a clear win to me.

Then I remembered the other contracts I signed. There was a clause I wish had not been there. I didn’t remember agreeing to it. My eyes must have gazed over the words about my being required to write a “consummation scene.” Or maybe I didn’t exactly know what it entailed–maybe I just thought, okay, sex scene. Check. So I wrote my first book and sent it in and my editor wrote back to say “you know, you need to write the consummation scene.”

Me: “How is that different from the scene I wrote the first time they had sex?”

Editor: “You don’t describe the moment of consummation.”

Me: “Like, graphically?”

Editor: “You can be euphemistic. But readers need to see it.”

Me: “That was in my contract?”

Editor: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay.”

I checked. It was. Listen, I’m no prude. I have nothing against sex scenes, although I usually skip them. Because nobody knows how to write a good one. Or it’s rare. So why not just shut the bedroom door and leave it at that? But I’d signed the contract so I researched how to write a good sex scene. I learned that romance authors call these scenes “love scenes” ~ there’s got to be a romantic build up to the scene. The characters must be in love. Consummation is about emotional surrender. Sex is about allowing your character to be vulnerable, to trust, to hope, to need. And you don’t want it all to sound like stereo instructions, but neither do you want the metaphors to obscure the reality of the physical thing happening.

That sounds difficult. And it is. That’s why almost nobody does it well. So how will the consummation scenes I wrote (one for each book)  play on audio? I don’t know. A contract extension is a simple document. However, it assumes all language of the original contract. So what I do know is that the bedroom door will be wide open.

12 Comments on “Sex (or not)

    • Well, I was writing romance, so there is a progression in the relationship. They are adults, so the culmination and expression of their love, trust, etc, is illustrated by a love scene. I came around to it Jaye. It’s a little embarrassing for me though when my mother says “what page is the love scene on so I can skip it?”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think it’s better to leave the bedroom door closed and let readers use their imaginations. However, I sometimes do write a sex scene when the plot calls for it, but if I’m asked to read and review a book where a sex act is described too frequently I must admit that I find it very boring…

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    • You’re right Stevie, sometimes the plot calls for it. I would much rather leave bedroom door closed, but I had to learn the rules of romance writing. There are “sweet” romances where no sex happens on or off the page, and then there are the other kind. I do get to control the degree to which I use love scenes and I keep it to one scene. It’s really not about sex but about letting all defenses down and being totally vulnerable emotionally which signals complete trust between two people. So they’re naked in a couple of ways:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • The ‘other kind’ is dreadfully boring if it’s one you’ve been asked to read and review where the couple are having sex on virtually every other page. I remember one particular book which left me about as aroused as a dead mackerel. I stipulated after this that I wouldn’t review any more erotica! Yuck.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear! And how rigid are those lines of instruction, too – still, at least it shows their target market! I’ve just written a mild sex scene between a woman having illicit sex behind her back with a partner who doesn’t love her. It’s much easier. Raunchy is easier to write than erotic. What I hate about most ‘love’ scenes is that they’re so damn cliched. The ALWAYS use the all the same expressions. I think the best thing to do, sometimes, is to think back to when you were young and madly in love, and write it from there. That’s what I do, ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree Terry! I had a sex scene in one of my books between a man in love and a woman who was damaged as far as intimacy–that was so much easier to write. She was indiscriminate about her lovers and didn’t really get the intimacy part of it. I found that so much more fun to write that the old in and out. I don’t have a sex scene in my latest–I am hoping that now I’m writing mystery they won’t require it!

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