Sunday, September 5, 2010

Love, Sex, and Writing

Okay. So I'm not so good when it comes to writing love scenes. It's not that I haven't had a few 'love scenes' of my own. After all, I've been married three times. (That, however, is truly another story.) It's just that I don't feel comfortable writing sex scenes. I realize there's a difference between sex and love, but somehow, one seems to follow the other. Mostly, I just fade to black since I can't write a scene where music swells and the reader sees a field of daffodils.

Maybe it's my fundamentalist upbringing or maybe it's simply not my forte. Either way, when the heroine falls in love, somethings got to give and usually, it's her. I'd be interested to know how other authors deal with this problem. I can write tender. Tender's not so hard, literally and figuratively. My characters brush a cheek with their fingertips. They stroke the hair of a weeping partner. They look deeply into someone else's eyes. I got the hang of tender long ago.

I can't write down and dirty, that pulsing thump-thump, that sweat beading on the forehead, that heat beating its drum between the thighs stuff. Just as if I were in middle-school again, that stuff makes me giggle. I feel a tinge of guilt, a flash of fear, and then the heat stops beating its drum and I'm left with characters unfulfilled. Bad for them and bad for my work.

Needless to say, my writer friends think of me as a prude. Maybe I am. Who knows? I, personally, don't think of myself that way. I'm a modern woman, albeit some of my ideas about how to live life run toward the archaic by 21st century, American standards. I've always thought a reader felt the burn from a hint more than from a club over the head. But let's face it, sex sells.

From Suzanne Summers stint on Three's Company down to Beau and Hope between the sheets on Days of Our Lives, most people in charge of television programming believe that without a few naked bodies, the modern viewer would flick channels faster than Elizabeth Taylor flipped Eddie Fisher for Richard Burton. To make that clearer to the younger crowd, just substitute Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton and their personal flavor of the weeks for Liz and her paramours of the past. I'm afraid the written word is no different. One very famous writer in my circle of acquaintances wrote a wonderful historical novel. He sold it to an agent who subsequently sold it to a publisher. The editor wasn't happy with the work as my friend had written it. The editor asked for the infusion of a love story, complete with that hot-and-bothered love scene. My friend complied with the editor's request, as do all clever writers, and $3.5 mil later, my friend no longer spends his days as a teacher. He's usually on the golf course or writing the next tome.

I've read many steamy scenes in other authors' works. I've read steamy scenes in the books of yester-year. I've watched ... well, I've watched movies noted for those scenes, but I still get giggles, guilt, and gut-wrenching fear of my inadequacies as a writer. I'm hoping all good things come with practice, practice, and more practice. Who knows? Some day I might venture into the world of Anne Rampling/ Rice. It could happen. Right?

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