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Why I Won’t Write Sex Scenes

Now let me be clear: I don’t mind when other people write sex scenes. You wanna write it? Go ahead. You wanna publish it? Go ahead. I honestly don’t care. There are issues with the way it’s often portrayed for sure, but then again, there are always issues with the way women are portrayed. Sex scenes are just a good, easy way to show women being submissive, yada, yada, yada.

This is not supposed to be a rant about women’s rights. Sorry.

I personally will never write a sex scene for publication. Have I tried to write them before? Yes. I was curious. I wanted to know what it would be like. My characters have sex — some of them quite often — but I always imply that it happens. I stop when the clothes come off. Sometimes when the making out happens. It used to be that I was embarrassed. I had no idea what I was talking about, and I didn’t want people to see me mess up.

Now it’s more of a personal choice that has to do with two things: how I view actions and scenes in books, and personal privacy.

I believe that every scene needs to have a reason to be there. Dinner and eating can show closeness of people. A family, for instance. Inside Out actually has a really good example of this (no spoilers because it’s in the commercial). Riley is clearly not doing well. She’s annoyed and pissy, and very clearly being an upset teenager. At dinner. She’s picking at her food, snaps at her parents, and then is sent to her room. This not only shows a change in the family dynamic, but also shows Riley’s annoyance with her family. Why is it important that it happened at dinner? Because eating together is a sign of closeness and happiness.

Riley no longer wants to be close to her parents.

The same is for scenes about sex. For me, it’s not just about two people getting it on and having a great time. I mean, sure, it is fun and a great time if it’s consensual. Sex has never exactly been taboo in my family (I read The Color Purple when I was 7 because my step-mom gave it to me and told me it was a good read, we talked about sex and the dangers of it a lot, but also about what it should be like), but the main thing we talked about, especially as I got older and it became just me and my dad, is that sex should be something special. Not because a woman’s body is sacred or whatever, but because it is literally the closest two individuals can physically be. I don’t view sex as something you should only do if you want to have children, I view it as something you should do to feel that closeness. It’s a way to make yourself vulnerable in a way you can’t normally.

I don’t want the public to see it when I’m in that place, and I don’t think it’s fair to push that on my character’s either. To me, it is something private. It’s beautiful, and amazing, but I’ve never felt it’s something to just show off to the world. I don’t read eroticas, I don’t watch porn, the only reason I read sex scenes in other books or watch them in movies is because they often have character development I can’t miss or want to read about. It’s not because I don’t support the freedom of people to write what they want, it’s because I personally don’t want to read something so personal and private.

I’m kind of weird in that sense. I openly talk about the act of sex in person and in my books, but I won’t write the scenes. To me, it’s too personal. What happens between the sheets is between the two people who committed the act, and I like it to stay that way for my characters.

Now, I only write this post because I’ve seen a recent trend in a lot of agents and writers that I follow on Twitter that they either want sex in the books we submit, or they’re writing steamy sex scenes. And that’s okay.

I’m going to reiterate on a separate line: THAT’S OKAY.

Write what you want! Read what you want! Request what you want!

But let’s not make it something people have to write to get published in YA, NA, or Adult.

Sex is a serious topic. There’s a lot that goes on physically, chemically, and emotionally. It’s something I think should be treated with respect — talked about, and we should be informed, but with respect — and I personally would not feel comfortable sharing those moments with the world. Not in detail, anyway.

Thanks for reading!

~Lin

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5 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Write Sex Scenes

  1. I think you hit it on the head when you said, “they often have character development.” For me, if they don’t have that, what’s the point? There’s nothing more boring than “tab A in slot B.” Because of that, it’s the rare author whose sex scenes I don’t skim. So you’d think I wouldn’t write them either, wouldn’t you? But I do. And if “tab A/slot B” scenes are boring to read, they’re even more boring to write, which is why, so often in my stories, the sex can be, uhm … challenging for my characters. (It helps that I write rom-com.)

    1. I agree! Whenever I make an effort to put even an implied sex scene into my books, it’s always because something happens, good or bad. It has to do something to the characters.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. In my writing, I’ve yet to come across a sex scene that had a legitimate purpose other than to show my characters getting it on. Not to say that other writers haven’t accomplished that, but it just hasn’t happened for me. I agree with you that all scenes need to have a strong purpose to stay in the story.

  3. Well said. Every scene should have a purpose to propell the story. Graphic sex — though it can be fun — rarely does that. To the extent that a sex scene does drive a story forward, it should be included.

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