I wrote my first Sex Scene this week... spelled with a capitol "S" because the idea of writing about it makes people tremble with fear.
I've already mentioned that it's difficult for me to decide what's appropriate and what's not. However, once I decided what I wanted to write, I discovered a trick to make the process easy; just say what happened.
That's what we do with every other scene. A couple is sitting in a cafe drinking coffee, you describe it. But a couple starts to be intimate... oh no! What do we do?! Chill out. Say what happened. It's a scene just like any other.
I did notice, however, that if you just say what happened, it can get overly graphic. People expect you to blush and turn away at some point. I've decided on a good rule of thumb; there's a difference between describing actions and trying to arouse the reader. If you finish your scene out of breath and searching the house for your husband, you probably took things too far.
What really bugs me isn't so much people who can't write sex scene as people who insist you have to. It's not a staple. I know people who made a big deal out of how there was no love affair in Sacred Fire. I'd always say, "It's about a Vestal Virgin, not a Vestal Skank."
This really got under my skin when I got into an online conversation about me writing a book on Joan of Arc. Everyone adores her, and she's more of a marquee name than most heroines in historical fiction, but she doesn't show up in the publishing world as much as she deserves. There are no bestsellers about her. (Everyone keep your fingers crossed for The Maid by Kimberly Cutter, which came out last month.)
Someone said she's probably popular in non-fiction and not in fiction because she was a virgin. I was shocked. First off, you don't need a man in your life to live a good story, and second off, her life was full of war and miracles and visions and torture and sacrificing for God and country. I'll take that over a sex scene any day.