Yesterday, my boyfriend, who was reading through the new version of that story I keep whining about, said to me: “I’m on the dirty part. Even in a short story you managed to work in a dirty part.”

To be fair, it’s not all that short. It’s over 20,000 words and nearly 60 pages printed! That’s enough for a dirty part, right?

Still, I did go a little red in the face and tried to explain how I anticipated hearing something about the dirty bit. I’m pretty sure I just ended up blaming my writing partner in crime. (Sorry, Laura. You know how it goes. Blame the one not present and all that.)

The sex scene is an interesting beast. It sort of gets a lot of baggage piled up on it. Most writers say they have trouble with the sex scene. In fact, when I mention anything about including sex in any of my stories, I sometimes seem to face this unconscious attitude that a sex scene suddenly turns a book into erotica or something. I can’t really explain it, but I’ve hit on it more than once and the person speaking never seemed aware of the assumption, so maybe it was just me reading into things. But there does seem to be some sort of bias against the sex scene in regular fiction that is not romance or erotica.

Sex scenes are fun for me to write. I’ll confess, sometimes, as one of my exercises, I’ll write a sex scene between two characters who may or may not be involved. Some surprising things about a character can come to light from these experimental romps. Either about their character (Do they lead in bed or are they led? Are they pushy? How far do they push?) or about the situation.

I do have a couple of tips when it comes to the sex scene.

1. Assume the reader has basic knowledge about sex. I never write about organs or how they fit together. I don’t talk about positions. The focus is instead on the physical details of the scene as the characters are feeling it. I consider these anchor details that will help elicit a memory or a fantasy from the reader.

2. It’s not really about the sex. Okay, so maybe it is, but I find that boring. I prefer to get a deeper glimpse into the character. (Wow, no pun intended there, but feel free to snicker away at that!) Sex is a moment where the character may let down their guard or even pull their guard up more. How they behave in bed can speak volumes.

I’m not a pro, but I do enjoy an interesting sex scene. (Again with the snickering.) It’s sort of a strange topic and a little embarrassing. The next story I’m working on might also have a sex scene. Oh man, I don’t want to hear what my boyfriend will say when he reads that one.

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