Let’s Talk About Sex

by on 01.07.2009

in writing

This is not the sort of post you want someone reading over your shoulder, so I’m going to slip a fold in here.  You click it when you’ve got a few minutes of alone time.

They climbed the concrete steps together, the sound of their footsteps eerily absorbed by the rock.  Justine took a calming breath and exhaled slowly.  “Will you walk me to my room, Sawyer?”

“My room is next to yours.  I couldn’t not walk you to your room, unless I stopped here like a two-year-old and waited for you to go inside.”

“Right.”  They stopped and she leaned against the door, looking up at him.

“What?”  He frowned, confused.

She scowled at her purse, digging for the black plastic key fob.  “I have a coffee maker.”  She lifted her eyes, still digging.  “You know, one of those little ones?  I can make us some coffee.”

“It’s kind of late.”  He tilted his head like she was telling some joke he didn’t get.

“I have decaf.  There’s both kinds.  I can make decaf.”  Finally, she felt the diamond key chain and yanked it out.

“Hey, decaf is for wimps.  Go big or go home, right?”

She grinned.  “Exactly!”

He followed her into the room.  “Who am I to argue with the coffee wench?”

Justine filled the tiny pot with water from the bathroom, carried it to the coffeemaker on the dresser and then just stopped.  She could do this.  She wanted this, she wanted this right now like she wanted to breathe.

“Justine?”  His voice sounded worried, confused at least, and she could understand that.

She’d frozen in front of the coffeemaker, apparently struck by coffee anxiety, unable to move.  Settling the pot on the warmer, she turned and leaned her hands back on the low dresser.  “I don’t want coffee.”

He’d sat down in a leather lounge chair beside the bed,  low and slightly reclined.  “We don’t have to have coffee.  Are you okay?”

“Do you remember what you said at the airport?”

“Since whatever I said convinced you to come back here and announce yourself to the whole town, I think I must’ve blacked out parts.”

“No, no, no.  After that, the kiss.  What you said about the kiss?”  She struggled to catch her breath and wondered when she’d started trembling.

The clear concern on his face shifted and he studied her.  “I remember.”

“Good.”  She nodded, took a breath, and that first step was like diving into a pool.  She’d climbed out to the edge, the risks were flying through her head, and yet once she took that first step… nothing else mattered.

Justine kneeled in front of him, looking up, and damn it,  if she could just freaking breathe.  Her hands on the chair arms, not quite touching his, she leaned forward, slowly tilted her head, and let her eyelids flutter closed.

She kissed him, just grazing his lips with her own, then deeper, letting her tongue dart over his bottom lip.  When she pulled back to look at him, to gauge his reaction, he wasn’t scowling, so that was good.    “You asked me if I thought about you, if I stayed awake nights thinking about this.”  She tugged at his shirt, pulling it out of his waistband and exposing his stomach to trace the curves and planes there.  “I can’t think of anything else.  I want you and I don’t think I even knew what that meant until I met you.”

He tilted his head back and looked at her from under his lids, and she couldn’t stop exploring him, because she’d waited her whole life, it seemed.  Days, weeks, forever—it all felt the same now.  She licked her lips, mouth suddenly dry, and unbuttoned his pants.  “I kept telling myself I had to ignore it, pretend it didn’t matter, because that’s the safe thing.”

Justine shook her head, even as she pushed open his jeans and felt him, hard and perfect against her hand.  “And then I realized… the safe thing is for wimps.  So I’m doing what feels right.”

She looked at him, waiting for a reaction, but he continued to watch her, his eyes half-lidded, all black ringed in a green dark as the ocean after a storm.  “Sawyer, this… you and me, in this horrible hotel room in the middle of nowhere, this feels perfectly right.”

Sawyer’s hands shot up to grab her by the shoulders, pushing her back from him, until his arms were straight.  “Justine.”

She stood quickly and stepped back.

His shirt forgotten in the floor and his pants unzipped, he raised himself from the chair.

Her breath came in quick pants and she knew, in a minute, she was going to be horrified, but maybe not so badly if she could just think of something witty to say.

“Shut up.”

“Oh-kay.”  That was it?  A lifetime of mouthing off, and that’s the best she had?

His hands shot up to fist in her hair and his mouth covered hers.  Justine gasped, and then she moaned, and it was all swallowed in his kiss, his kiss that was everywhere and everything until she wasn’t panting, she was trying to remember how to breathe.

Sawyer tugged, tilting her head to the side, and he kissed her neck, grazing his teeth over the tendons and her eyes rolled up.  A sound escaped her, part sigh, part moan, but she frowned because she had things she needed to say.  “It’s… oooh… it’s okay, if that scares you, a little.  It scares—oh!”

A hand still buried in her long hair, he pulled away from her, tugging at her hair.  It didn’t hurt, not quite, and heat flooded her.  “Do I look scared?”

“Um… no.”

“Then shut up.”  He took the opportunity to peel her shirt up and toss it in the direction of the diversionary coffeemaker.

When he cupped her bottom with both hands, lifting her, she was through with trying to tell him how she felt.  She wrapped her legs around him and tilted her head down to kiss him, letting go of all the words, all the reasoning, and his taste washed over her, in waves, until she throbbed with them.  He dumped them both on the bed and they were naked before she knew what had happened.

His hands, the hands she’d spent weeks staring at and thinking thoughts exactly like this, slithered over her body until he plunged his fingers inside her and she threw her head back on a moan.  He bit softly at her shoulder, his mouth roamed over her, sometimes nipping her, sometimes lapping her, until she didn’t know what sensation to expect next and his fingers tickled and plunged until everything inside her tightened and then broke around her.

Before she could form a thought, while everything in her still tingled and spasmed, he raised himself above her and then buried himself inside her.  So.  Damn.  Deep.

Okay, so sex scenes.  Sex scenes are awesome.  And, if you’re in the mood, they’re probably one of the funnest things to write.  They can also be the hardest, but we’re not going either of those places today.

As sex scenes go, that one’s not so bad for a first draft.  It was in character, there was definitely some chemistry happening, I got all tingly writing it and rereading it.  But, when I looked back over the act, because I was freaking stuck, I realized something.  My heroine would NEVER have had sex with my hero at this point.  Sure, she wanted to.  Clearly, the desire was there, for both of them.  But it just wasn’t part of her character to go blindly into something she knows is likely to get her hurt, desire or not.  What I ended up replacing this scene with is one of connection, but the emotional sort.  I finally realized that it’s too easy for my hero to make a sexual connection, but he never makes emotional connections.  He pushed himself out of his comfort zone, he took a tiny step toward change.  And she distinguished herself, in yet another way, as different from any other woman.

Sex scenes are all about connecting in the most intimate of ways.  Except sometimes, they’re all about the sex and there’s no emotion in them.  Like this one.  Sure, they want each other.  But can you tell this is going to cause conflict?  No.  Can you just feel the emotional resonance in the air?  No.

For some writers, they can write those babies every chapter, and it works for them.  For me, I need the emotional connection first.  I need the risk of not just wanting someone, but loving them, and knowing this–making love–will only make that need for that person stronger.

So, if your sex scene has all the bells and whistles, but it still isn’t working, stop and consider this:

  1. Will sleeping together cause conflict?
  2. Will there be conflict just in the act of sleeping together, even internally?
  3. Just like real foreplay, have you made the reader care whether or not they actually have this moment?
  4. Have you made the reader care deeply, only to give the payoff too soon?  (There’s a word for this… premature somethingorother).
  5. Could you make the scene stronger by making them emotionally naked as opposed to physically naked?

Comments, as always, are encouraged.

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