On January 2nd, the "Hearts and Handcuffs" blog had a post about resolving to write more sex scenes, and some interesting discussion ensued.
Finding myself between projects, I fiddled around with writing an 'out of the blue' sex scene just for fun. On a whim, I sent it to a writing buddy, and it turned into a round-robin exercise.
In the ensuing exchanges, I learned a lot about myself as a writer who writes sex scenes.
The opening was short and simple, a mere 400 words. Woman alone in the bathroom, getting undressed and putting on a silk nightgown. It was primarily a sensual scene, and, as always, I wasn't really sure where it would lead. I ended the scene with this:
She runs a brush through her hair, then tucks an errant lock behind her ear and smiles. Quietly, she opens the door wide enough to slip through, leaving it open barely a crack. Just enough to show her the way to the bed. Where he waits.
The response moved the encounter to his pov and definitely transported it into 'sex scene' territory. And since there was little, if any, character development, it leaned toward my definition of erotica, not romance.
The gauntlet having been thrown, I was faced with a couple of character details I hadn't considered, but hey, I have no problems writing hot and heavy, so I started writing section 3.
And hit a wall. There were two consenting adults in bed together, but without knowing who they were (or at least who SHE was, and a little more about him,)I couldn't write the scene. Absolutely couldn't. I realized I wasn't in her head, and that I couldn't write the physical parts without the mental parts. I had to stop, create a character with back story, with a reason for being where she was – even if it was a casual one-night-stand, I had to know WHY she would do it, and so on. All I 'knew', and this was thrown at me by my writing partner, was that she was an "older" woman. Until I knew a whole lot more about her, the writing wouldn't happen. I simply could NOT write a 'Tab A into Slot B' scene.
Once I created the character, I found it easy to move forward. Of course, the taking turns approach tosses some challenges as it's impossible to plot much in advance, because you don't know what will happen next (even more than my normal 'seat of the pants' writing surprises), but I wasn't looking for plot when I started writing. But without the emotional connection, without a deep understanding of the character, the writing is flat and darned hard to pull off.As a matter of fact, on round 4, after seeing where my partner took the scene, I put the brakes on entirely, and made the two character take time to talk. Even with some character back story in my head, I needed to show it on the page. I shall await my next installment, but I'm sure my writing friend will have kicked the action back into high gear.