People often get women’s fiction, the genre in which I write, confused with romance. I could go on and on about the difference between a romance novel and women’s fiction. For example, in the former, the focus is on the love relationship, whereas in the latter, the focus is on a woman’s inner journey.
But, when it comes down to it, the difference is in the sex scenes. In romance, sex scenes are mandatory. In women’s fiction, they are optional, but highly encouraged. And they can’t be too explicit. The mood and emotions–tenderness, humor, or frustration–are more important than the play-by-play. And wit is more important than muscles. Think rom-com. PG-13 or maybe R, but definitely not X.
I used to resist writing sex scenes. I would describe them entirely off the page, as a point of passing in the narrative. But I soon learned I couldn’t get away with that. After all, I wanted to write realistic stories about women’s lives and relationships. Not an episode of Leave It to Beaver (ha, ha, I said “beaver”).
I don’t have any sage craft advice for writing the perfect love scene. Sex is one of those things that’s so intensely personal that what works in my own writing might not work for yours. But I will say this: relax, pour yourself a glass of wine, and don’t take it too seriously. And, if you’re a virgin to writing sex scenes and need a laugh, read Delilah S. Dawson’s 25 Humpalicious Steps for Writing Your First Sex Scene. I promise it won’t hurt.
Image credit: from cover for A Love for All Seasons by Denise Domning
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