For this #WritingWednesday we're talking all about writing steamy scenes. I'm a very private person and writing these scenes can often feel awkward. I'm not a fan of PDA, and steamy scenes feel like a violation of my characters privacy -- and also mine. People will know this came out of my head after all! I refer to steam scenes as one of the things in writing that makes my lip lift and nose twitch. Today, I have three tips to help those new to writing steamy scenes, those comfortable with them and those who aren't (like me!).
1. Know Your Genre and Your Audience
The level of intimacy, depth and description of 'steamy' scenes will often vary genre to genre. This often sets the expectation of your audience and your reader. I've had many people ask me if I write 'dirty' novels because I write adult romances. Romance is not synonymous with sex, and there are many levels of what can and is expected in the different genres. You should also keep in mind your audience and platform. For example, if you've always faded to black and are suddenly anything but that, you may alienate your current market. By the same token, people may be less than thrilled with your work if they expect a certain level of intimacy and don't get it. Levels vary widely genre to genre, but if you're writing YA, in-depth may not be tolerated as much and if you're writing erotica, you should probably go all out. Keep in mind, those that aren't happy with your take, may not be the audience you want to reach and don't take it personal!
2. Make Sure it Adds Value
As with every scene in your novel, your steamy scenes should add value to your story. Ask yourself:
- Does this show something to my readers that they wouldn't know otherwise?
- Does it move the story forward?
- Does it reveal something about my characters?
- Would the story be materially different without it?
For me, I write romances, mostly for adults. Adults have sex. My readers know that. One can imagine that my characters probably are intimate more than the times that I show in my novels, but not every single time they bonk does it add value to the story. Sex for the sake of sex can say something important about the characters, but if it doesn't, then is it really needed(unless you're writing a genre were lots of sex is an expectation)?
3. Write What You're Comfortable With
When you write a novel, you're exposing some of your innermost thoughts to the world. The only thing more intimate is writing steam scenes! That's why you should write what you're comfortable showing to the world, otherwise, you won't be doing yourself or your readers any favors. Have you seen the episode of Big Bang Theory where Leonard is trying to talk dirty to Praia? It is crazy awkward for him, for her and for the viewer. That is exactly what can happen if you try to write a scene you're not comfortable writing, reading yourself or having other people read.
BONUS: Read books with varying depths of intimacy up to what you're personally comfortable with. If you dont have any interest in writing or reading a certain level, then don't torture yourself. It is good to understand the different levels within your genre, though. That being said, as you read you'll be able to find things that you think are done poorly or well. For me, I hate it when things are sugar coated or called everything and anything but what they are. I also write scenes for their emotional development of the characters, so it's good to see how others do or don't accomplish that goal.