Writing can be a rather lonely occupation, unless you are lucky to have great writer friends to help you. Zelly Jordan, is one such a friend to me.
That is why it is such an awesome pleasure to have her guest blog for me today. I loved her novel: FRACTURED, and recommend it to anyone who is looking for something to read. Reading her book made me aware of how easily a writer can veer into the wrong direction when describing love scenes. Zelly is one of those few writers that can do it without making it seem sleazy, and that is what I asked her to write about.
So, here she is…
Hi there. Thank you for having me as a guest blogger
For those of you unfamiliar with me, my name is Zelly Jordan and I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Rita and I met online a few months ago and began supporting each other as we’re both new authors and we each had our debut novels launch late last year. What better way to get into the author world than connect with other authors, right? Even when we write very different genres from each other which Rita and I do. She’s a girl who likes her horror and poetry and I’m writing a romantic fantasy/suspense. I’ll always appreciate that she was willing to read my novel despite the fact she doesn’t usually read my style of book. Thanks Rita!
When she asked me to write on the topic “how to write sex scenes without being sleazy” – quote unquote, I have to admit I was quite tickled pink. She said it was because she loved how I’d written my love scenes in a hot and sexy manner without the sleaze factor. That’s quite a compliment, I thought and was delighted by her request. But then it made me question – what’s the definition of sleazy ? How and where does it cross the line from being sexy-smexy ( as I like to call it) to sleazy? There’s no clear and easy answer to that and I had a bit of thinking to do on this subject, I decided.
So I pondered for a few days, inspecting the question from this angle and that viewpoint.
Ultimately, I returned to what I’ve always thought – the definition is entirely subjective. Unequivocally. What suits one does not suit all. Example – one reviewer of mine said this:
“Zelly is a powerful, graphic writer who sees situations clearly and is brilliant at putting them into words. The graphic language and heady sex I skimmed over, although those who enjoy this in a story will be in their element. Well written, fast moving, showing this new author has well-developed skills as an author.”
While another said this:
Zelly Jordan has a natural talent to capture the true essence of her characters in such a beautifully written story. A story packed with action, tension & desire has to be READ, recognised, applauded, shared & expanded …. books 2, 3 etc…
So one sees the “graphic language and heady sex” and skims over it and others see it as “beautifully written story packed with action, tension and desire.” Who’s right
They both are, of course. Because what is considered sexy or viewed as sleazy is very much a reflection of the individual reader and not the writer.
I have read many books where I thought the sex scenes were purely gratuitous and did nothing to move the story forward. I’ve read books where it seemed like it was just sex scene after sex scene with a flimsy story line stitching them together, sometimes barely that. And for me, they were completely boring. Yet surely, they were entertaining to some out there, weren’t they? Yes, they were – many people are titillated by such stories. There’s a definite market for them.
I’ve also read many stories where the sex/love scenes fade to black or are glossed over entirely. Personally I find that boring too – I want something in between those two extremes. But again, there is a definite market for those as well.
When I began writing my stories a couple of years ago, I sent out the warning that I wouldn’t be doing any “fade to black”. That way, the reader had prior knowledge and if they weren’t a fan of heated love scenes, then they had the choice – to read or not to read.
When you have everything from bodice-ripping historical romances to the wealth of Fifty Shades of Grey Dom/sub stories out there as options, then you’re bound to find a level of heat that suits you. What makes you blush may not even earn a raised eyebrow for someone else. And that’s entirely okay – that means there’s something out there for everyone’s taste. Your job as a writer is to find the level that suits you and your style.
So….how DO you write a sex scene without being sleazy?
You write a sex scene. Or a love scene… whichever description suits you best – The “sleaze” factor is gonna be determined by the reader, not you.
Having said all of that, in my honest opinion there are some guidelines you should follow, however:
Be true to your own voice as a writer. Write what you feel is the right mix of heat and raunch. I discovered when I began writing that penning a sex scene came quite easily to me (let’s not overanalyse that, please, lol). But what I considered hot and heavy could be mild for someone else. In fact, I know it is – I’ve had requests to ramp it up even more! And perhaps I will….depends on my characters and how their story unfolds. I also know that I couldn’t write certain types of sex scenes well, not because I can’t write but because it wouldn’t feel right to me – it would feel like I’m writing something purely to appeal to a certain demographic of people and that wouldn’t work for me. At this point in my fledgling writing career, I couldn’t pull that off successfully. I can’t say with any surety that it works for other authors or not but I am completely convinced that when you write with your genuine author’s voice, then you will succeed in finding your audience.
Another thing that works for me personally is to have the sex scenes mean something – the protagonists are developing feelings for each other or the scene moves the story forward in some direction. Perhaps in some future storyline I will have characters engage in sex without feelings for each other and that might challenge my own level of “sleaze factor” but I would hope that there is a solid rationale in writing it that way and that it moves the story forward, the characters evolving in some way at the very least.
Write your scene with whatever level of graphic language and descriptions of skwirly body parts that suit you. If you like soft and romantic language, go with that. If you like a little bit of naughty swearing, then go with that. Or if you like all out graphic rawness, have at it. I personally like a mix of all three.
A sex scene can be many many things – funny, emotional, exciting, raw, needy, scary……. To write one, it’s more than just “Insert A into Tab B”. Even if the only prevailing emotion of the people involved is sexual need, describe that need – it’s still an emotion.
Above all, write what you would enjoy reading. As a writer you will never satisfy every single person out there. Even the most successful authors have their critics and non readers. However, writing what you would enjoy, writing from the heart – that is what will bring you the most satisfaction and bring forth the quality you’re striving for.
I hope this is in some way helpful to other writers out there. And I also hope it inspires you to check out my debut novel, Fractured – a romance mystery/suspense story set in contemporary New York with a paranormal twist to it. It’s available in both ebook and paperback from my publisher Xlibris, Amazon worldwide, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and many other resellers. I’m also on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and my own developing website so please come and sign up for email notifications for upcoming release news – Fractured is Book One of the Unbreakable Series – yes, a sequel is on its way!
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/zelly309