Happy Wednesday Writers and welcome to Hump Day. If you haven't been able to glean from the title, today's post is a bit tongue in cheek as we round out our month of Romance with a nod to something author's either dread or flourish at: writing the steamy scenes.
Now this post is NOT a how to guide on how to write a sex scene as there are numerous books and resources out there to help you do just that, but rather, we are exploring why you should or shouldn't include steamy scenes in your story.
To Steam or Not To Steam?
No, whether you are writing straight up romance or another genre that has a progressing romantic relationship in the text, you may find yourself at the sexy crossroads of physical interaction. Some authors have no trouble making that leap and indeed have fun writing steamy scenes between their characters. Writing sex can be a fun, cathartic experience, a form of escapism for the writer as much as it is for the reader, but for some, myself included, it can feel a bit awkward. I've read plenty of steamy scenes but there is something about writing them that just leaves me feeling put off, a feeling I am not alone in. And there can be several reasons for that feeling.
Sex sells, but, is it necessary? Does it work in the confines of the story? This isn't just about age an genre, as there are plenty of steamy scenes in upper YA fiction and there are plenty of clean romances. Does it fit with the overall tone of the story or would a sex scene feel wedged in and off kilter? I have read stories where the steamy bits came out of left field so if you intend to include them, make sure the ground work is there. Not only in the character chemistry but enough physical hints to imply these characters are going to get physical at some point, even if you have a few episodes of coitus interuptus moments. There are also varying degrees of steam to work with in the parameters of romance and romantic relationship, everything from make out sessions to fade to black to a full on horizontal tango. With such a variance in physical interactions, you may find a steamy make out scene suits your paramours and your story better than all the bells and whistles.
Your personal comfort levels. In the same way there are varying levels of steam, you, the author, may have varying comfort levels with what amount of steam you want to write and that is okay. You might not enjoy writing or reading steamy scenes though still wish to produce a sweet romance story and there is a market just that niche. Your personal comfort level in writing steam is very much something to consider when embarking into the wide and varied genre that is romance along with some caveats to the process. 1. It does get easier to write sexy scenes with practice, but you should never feel pressured to include them. 2. An author's discomfort with steamy scenes usually translates through the writing, don't force it. 3. Vegetable euphemisms are always a no go.
Does Including This Scene Enrich or Enhance the Story? Ah the dreaded question we all ask ourselves in the editing room. Does my story really need this scene? When it comes to steamy scenes, well, there is a take it or leave it prerogative because yes, your romance will need some heat, in varying degrees, and the hard choice is going to be whether having your characters engage in this moment, or after some varying plot point meshes with the over all progression of the story. Does the heat come too early? Too late? Does it make sense for these characters to get physical in their current environment? These are all factors to consider and when you are trying to create a relatively smooth romance in a story, these can prove to be rather difficult decisions to make. As always, have fun with your writing, and if you have to leave a few smooches on the cutting room floor, don't sweat it. Make sure your characters have fun too.