May 14, 2011

Dirty Writer

Lilly slipped sensuously out of her long-johns...

Every now and then writers should branch outside of their comfort zone. Work on the areas we're weak in. My stories all contain some humour, a dog and are usually aimed at the kids - YA market. Last year during NaNoWriMo, I wrote the first draft of DIGGING UP DEATH, a paranormal mystery. I surprised myself when my protagonist, being in her early 20s, jumped into bed with a hottie from her dinosaur dig site (who may or may not turn out to be a murderer). Woah. I don't write sex... do I?

I don't know if I do or not. This story might get scaled back to YA level in the edits. What I do know is I don't write romance well, which affects my ability to write passion, which dictates how well I could write a sex scene.

When I saw the ACT Writers group was hosting a workshop called 'Turn up the heat' - I knew I had to take the opportunity to try it out.

Well, you think you know things.... The workshop leader, Nicole Murphy opened my eyes to some important elements and techniques of writing about getting hot and sweaty.

One key piece of advice applies to all types of writing - READ lots of the style of writing you want to write. Find great examples to imitate and find woeful ones to learn from someone else's mistakes (I made quite a few mistakes you could learn from in my writing exercises today, e.g. 'pungent' not a great word for exploring the scent sense in lurve making).

Nicole Murphy also tells us to consider the emotional intensity in any sex scene - how much do your characters have invested in this, does that show (to the reader, if not to the other character)?

There was lots more advice and exercises (which I am hiding well under a stack of literary books so my kids don't find them, partly because they're raunchy, but mostly because they're BAD). If you want some reading to give you some saucy examples, check out Nicole Murphy's paranormal romance novel:


  1. Hi Charmaine. This is a great idea, move out of the comfort zone. I'm planning to head over to the Brisbane Writers Centre which is at the STate Library just across the bridge from me (where the annual Festival takes place in Sept.) Might see you there.


    Romantic Friday Writers - Second Challenge - Lost.

  2. My current WIP contains love scenes. It was the first time I attempted to write about sex. Took me SEVERAL tries before I got the emotional aspect of the scene to be the primary focus. Duh. Once I figured that out it was a little easier to write, but I have to say, love scenes are some of the most difficult for writers to do well. It's tough.

  3. That would also be out of my comfort zone, too. Good luck. and, good for you trying something new. My new play is totally different form of writing. I love it, though. I might go wild and crazy and have two characters kiss.

  4. I recently wrote a sex scene in a Women's Fiction novel in which I went the playful route. I felt very comfortable with the way it was executed and hope that - at least some - readers will agree. :)

  5. I like your advice. I've never thought of writing a sec scene. But long ago I wrote a short story, where a sex scene would actually fit in. Maybe I'll give it a try.

  6. My nano novel has an antagonist who's uh, bad. Just bad. And there is a scene where he's watching himself and his only love. It's pretty explicit and understated at the same time. I'm kinda proud of it.....and disturbed. That I wrote it and what it's really about.

    Great idea-getting out of the comfort zone. Great post!

  7. Good point about going outside your comfort zone. Really, we're frequently putting out characters outside their comfort zones, right? What better way to get that than to be sure we're also uncomfortable while writing it. However, I have yet to write a sex scene.

  8. Denise - so cool! We'll have to stop for a cuppa during the Brisbane Writers Festival.

    L.G. - It surprised me how hard a sex scene was to write - had to keep giving myself that good old advice that a first draft is allowed to suck.

    Mary - Most of my books star pre-teens, so a kiss scene would be a big step for them too.

    Suze - During the workshop I got to see some really good examples (sadly, not mine) and I think playful works well (so does food, but then I just forget about the sex and want to eat).

    Myrna - Trying to write them is quite an experience. We were told to only add sex scenes if they actually move the story along, like any element. But I do like trying to write things I'm not usually good at (I just like to torture myself).

    Words Crafter - I know, it's a funny feeling, I'm used to sharing my writing attempts but I'm a bit too embarrassed to do that this time. Good for you for getting it right - I've a long way to go before anyone would find my writing 'hot', at the moment it's just... pungent.

    Shannon - Doooo it. That's a dare.


  9. Pungent??? Yup - I think that word can be moved to another type of scene!! :)

    I've written a few sex scenes, but they were all in a Nano novel that was just for fun. Although it niggles at my mind sometimes, clamouring for attention. It's been a while - might be fun to go back and see how bad those scenes are! :)