What Goes On Behind the Bedroom Door

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InsecureWritersSupportGroup I’ve just joined Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and fortunately just in time to do a ‘first Wednesday’ posting. Check the link for details on this group, and how to join.

I got the idea for this post from Jacqui Murray’s posting on writing about love. The hang-up for me is writing about the physical manifestation of love, or to put it mildly, sex. This is a problem, really, because I do a mystery series about an unmarried private detective who has a live-in girlfriend, who also happens to be relatively attractive to the opposite sex.

There are, therefore, times and scenes when sex would be appropriate, but whenever I come to one of those points in a story, my fingers seem to freeze. I’m not a prude, I’ll have you know. But, I do have some regular readers who I know would be shocked, and perhaps even offended, if my finger should slip and I became too graphic.

I’ve wrestled with this problem over 17 books in the series; on occasion straying a bit into the slightly detailed description of the act, sometimes just alluding to it with euphemistic language, and sometimes having an entire story without one amorous encounter.

After a long time of experimenting, I’ve finally hit on a way to handle the delicate aspects of relations between characters in my stories; one that I hope works. Firstly, I don’t include a sex scene in a story unless it is germane to the particular story; either to show the developing relationship between characters, or is somehow related to the events of the story. An example of the last is, a character’s motive for murder might be that the victim once sexually assaulted, jilted, or cheated on her.

Once I’ve decided that sex should be a part of the story, the next challenge is how to handle it. Unless you’re writing a romance or porn novel, a blow-by-blow description is, in my view, inappropriate. I find, rather, that a description of the actions characters take in the early stage of a seduction (conversation, eye contact, etc.) sets the scene, and when the characters finally head for the bedroom, like the old movies from the 1950s, you can fade the scene out – most readers will know what’s coming next. This has the added benefit of allowing readers to use their imaginations, which is a plus for your writing.

This way of handling physical relations might not work for everyone. I have to confess that I’m of a generation that grew up in a more inhibited era than kids of today, so my way is comfortable for me. If you happen to be the bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving type who loves to write long, steamy encounters that are the mainstay of romance novels, more power to you.

As for me, excuse me while I turn out the lights. I’ll see you in the morning.  (lap dissolve to crashing waves, then fade to black)

One thought on “What Goes On Behind the Bedroom Door

    joylene said:
    October 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Oh boy do I understand how you feel. I ended up inserting a love scene in my first book. I swallowed, shook off the fear. Five years later I’m blushing whenever anybody mentioned those scenes.


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