Romance and sex in your non-romance novel

As a writer of fantasy novels, romance is not in the forefront of my plots. So when it comes to writing a bit of romance into the story, I begin to wonder how much to include and what exactly to do with the sex scenes if any come about.

This topic can come up for any author – mystery, thriller, historical – and well, even the romance author. There are tons of books out there that include fiery sex scenes but do you need to do that too?

Not necessarily.

romanceBasically, you need to write whatever fits the overall plot. Even in a romance novel, there is no hard-and-fast rule about when the characters should be having sex, or how much you want to show. The romance of a story – and any sex scenes – should flow from the events of the story. Remember that every scene needs to advance the story forward or expand the character. So hot, passionate sex just for the sake of adding sex to your story is not a good idea (unless you are writing erotica).

When I wrote my trilogy, the most risqué thing was just a little kissing. If anything else happened, it was never mentioned in the story. In that series, I think adding sex – or even just more romance – would not have added to the story.

In my current work-in-progress, there is an attempted rape at the beginning but the main character fights off her attacker before anything graphic can happen. As for romance, I have one building but nothing but a single kiss has happened so far. I expect more to go on later. And that leads me to wonder how much to show the reader and how much to leave up to their imagination?

Tips for writing sex scenes

1)      Decide how much you are comfortable writing. Just because others write steamy sex scenes that leave nothing to the imagination doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Don’t force yourself to write out of your comfort zone. Your discomfort will show in your writing.

2)      Let your characters decide on the level of intimacy. Don’t worry about publisher guidelines or what is popular. There are readers out there who like all sorts of levels of romance and descriptions (or lack thereof) in regards to sex scenes.

3)      However, do give the readers what they expect. When reading a romance novel you expect romance and at least the hint of something more. If the romance is secondary to your story and doesn’t progress, your reader won’t feel cheated. But if they are expecting a steamy book and there is no steam, then your reader will be upset.

4)      You don’t always have to focus on what is physically happening. Write about what the characters are feeling rather than what they are doing.

Remember there is a difference between sex and love. You can write a story about finding love without having sex in your story. You can have a steamy scene with nothing more than a kiss. It is all in how it is written. Remember sometimes less can be more.