Today, I welcome to my blog romance author Aria Glazki. In addition to fiction, Aria recently released a collection of poetry, Life Under Examination. Today she is sharing a guest post on including sex scenes in your novel. Sounds interesting!
Shifting the Spotlight on the Deed
Sex. There, I’ve said it. Is the awkwardness over?
As a collective, writers have broached all topics through their characters, from intimate bodily functions, to horrifying glimpses into criminal minds, to the excruciating reality of chronic illness, and more. Yet, somehow, many of us still struggle with writing about one of the most basic human experiences: sex. This affliction is so common among writers that we even have the “Bad Sex in Fiction” awards.
For many, the idea of writing a sex scene leads to either literary paralysis or a sense of obligation. Sex described euphemistically or kept behind closed doors is frequently treated as old-fashioned or prudish. In other cases, writers fear that sex scenes between their characters will be interpreted as a literary representation of the author’s own sexual experiences, and preferences. Perhaps worse still are the detailed yet disengaged reports of what went where and when.
So when and how should a writer include sex in a novel? I don’t claim to be an expert, but in my mind the answer is deceptively simple: it’s all about the characters.
In a fundamental way, sex scenes are not unique; they do not differ from every other scene that we write. The scene should offer a glimpse into the characters, advancing the main character’s (or characters’) development and furthering the plot. Otherwise, it is useless – just like any other scene which doesn’t meet at least one of these basic requirements.
What writers need to accept is that sex in fiction isn’t about the mechanics or even the writer. It’s about the people involved: the characters. Like everything else we write, sex scenes should be about opening a window into the minds and experiences of our characters, transplanting the reader into that moment in a meaningful way. Depending on the characters involved, this portrayal could be explicit, euphemistic, or a veil of hints. We should feel no more pressured to include the particulars of physical intimacy than required to avoid them.
At the same time, we as writers do have an obligation: to write as openly and deliberately about sexuality, and every way it affects our lives, as we do about the rest of the human experience. Each encounter should be about staying true, not to abstract questions of morality, but to the characters who have been granted life through our words.
By thus refocusing our priorities, we ensure that our stories and characters transcend the page, sex and all.
About the Author
Aria Glazki’s writing story starts with one of those cliché beginnings when an English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked! Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, completed her Creative Writing degree, been published a few more times, and of course spent countless hours writing. After a brief hiatus, Aria was a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, which re-inspired her to pursue writing as a career.