The difficulty of writing sex

    This image was purchased, not stolen.

    Back to our regularly scheduled program... Kind of.

    I want to thank each and every one of you who posted below. I'm sorry I didn't answer individually. This week was another special edition, and my son's girlfriend came to visit, so between getting 100+ pages to press, I was running to the airport and sending off copyright infringement notices. Still, I read and appreciate all of your posts. It means the world to me that you understand and care. I adore you!!!

    Thanks to those of you who took up the topic on your blogs, as well. At the very least, people who see those posts might think twice before giving in to the temptation of downloading.

    Illegal downloading is the topic of this week's poll! Yes, there's a new poll. I can't see who answered or how — it's completely anonymous — so you can confess and be absolved. It's merely for curiosity's sake that I put it up, not to scold anyone. I think we've all done something at one point or another, perhaps not realizing what we were doing constituted a copyright violation.

    Enough of that for now.

    Foot update: I hate having a broken foot. I need to go back for more x-rays, but I haven't made the time yet. I've been going without the cast on occasion, which last Sunday night resulted in my waking up in abject agony. I believe I almost screamed in fact. I woke up shouting, "Oh, my God!" And it wasn't in the good, orgasmic sense, either.

    Speaking of SEX...

    Last weekend I wrote a different sort of sex scene. It's an act I've not included in my books before. Aha, you say! She's finally writing anal sex! Um... no. I'll let you guess what it was. (The excerpt is below.) The thing that was fun about it was that it was new for me and therefore an interesting challenge to write.

    Despite what Cosmo tries to tell us, there really is nothing new under the sun when it comes to men and women getting it on. I see their covers with teases like: "The 10 newest sexual positions! Cosmo tells you how!" Well, those 10 positions are probably in the Kama Sutra, if nowhere else, and we all know how: Get into a funky position and then do what you always do — insert Tab A into Slot B and let the spirit move you.

    This image was also purchased. With money. That I earned.

    The point is that writing interesting, compelling sex isn't easy. I think it's the hardest component of a story. Any time I come to a sex scene, I know it's going to be a tough bit of writing and I'm going to want to pull my hair out. How many ways can you describe a tongue inside another person's mouth? How many ways are there to describe an orgasm? How many ways can you describe the sounds a person makes when they're sexually aroused or climaxing or sexually contented?

    The more books I write, the harder it is. I keep meaning to create an Excel spreadsheet to use to organize the adjectives, verbs and other descriptive terms I use so that I don't repeat myself. We all know that some books get that way — it's the author's 15th novel and every love scene is starting to sound the same. I so desperately don't want that to happen to my books, though it probably already has!

    Of course, the key is to have each sex scene develop from the characters' own unique personalities. So Nicholas and Bethie have their slow, healing progression from "don't touch me" to "No Man But Me." And Julian all but assaults Tessa on his bedroom floor, believing, until he faces his past, that he is the kind of man who could do that kind of thing. And Marc just wants everything he can get after years of deprivation (provided it's Sophie), especially a mouthful of the taste he's missed while in prison. And so on...

    But even so, there are only so many ways to describe it. Most difficult of all, there are only so many words you can use to name the organs involved. I refuse to use things like "sheath" or "velvet center" in contemporaries (and even historicals). But if you use "p-ssy" or "c-nt," you're going to irk your readers. So what does that leave you with? "He thrust his cock into her wet heat." Been there, written that, probably have the T-shirt.

    It's a conundrum.

    So let's talk about this: repetitive love scenes and ridiculous language. Where do you draw the line with language, and how do you deal with sex scenes in an author's work when they start to feel canned? Those of you who are writers, please share with me your patented secrets for dealing with this conundrum.

    And to all my American readers: Have a good Memorial Day. Prayers and thoughts for our veterans and those who've been injured or lost their lives fighting for their country.

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