Hello, my name is Ruthie, and I like writing about sex.
Sadly, this is not the case for every romance novelist. Once, I read a post in a forum by a romance author who said she disliked writing the sex scenes in her books so much that sometimes she just skipped them to fill in later. She said she'd once sent a chapter to one of her friends to critique that included the words “<insert blow job here>.”
That made me laugh and laugh.
But the sad thing is, she wasn't kidding.
A few months ago, someone I didn't know well asked me whether I just kept a file of sex scenes and sort of stuck them in wherever I needed one. That made me laugh, too, because I imagined a whole folder on my hard drive full of files with titles like WomanonTop.doc and SwimmingPoolSex.doc and the like.
But then I explained that no, I didn't have a file like that, because every sex scene I write is different, and each one is crafted for the particular characters and the particular situation I'm writing about. The sex scenes have a role beyond simply giving tingly feelings to my readers' private parts. (Though of course I also aim to cause tingly feelings. I think a romance novel that causes no tingly feelings is rather a disappointment.)
When I first started writing romance, I hadn't figured this out yet. My early manuscript drafts had love scenes that were all choreography, with very little emotion. He put his hand here, she made this noise, thrusting happened, there were climaxes, and so on and so forth. And you know what? Those sex scenes were interchangeable, and they were extraordinarily boring.
Indeed, they were boring in exactly the same way that pornographic stories or Internet kink is boring after the initial thrill of discovery wears off. Yes, yes, another sex-against-the-wall story. Another three-way. *yawns* *wanders off*
So what makes a sex scene in a romance novel good? Why is the sex in some novels riveting, while in other novels it just begs to be skipped?
It's not a matter of choreography, or even a matter of infusing the sex you're writing about with sense impressions and emotion--though it's important to do both. Rather, good sex scenes serve a narrative purpose. They move characters from Point A to Point B, break down their defenses, build up their trust, destroy or create inhibitions. Good sex scenes are often followed by huge arguments or tearful confessions or major plot twists, because they act as catalysts for all of these developments.
Which is to say that when I sit down to write a sex scene, I always know what it's for. I could never type “<insert blow job here>” and then carry on with my writing, because in a good erotic romance novel, the blow job means something.
Oh my God, I can't believe I just typed that.
But it's true. Write purposeful blow jobs in your romantic fiction, or don't write blow jobs at all. <Insert blow job here> simply doesn't cut it.
Ride with Me, available from Loveswept on February 13, 2012!
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger -- a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she's spent years planning.
Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn't want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn't want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom's stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can't stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn't looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she's put to remarkably little use.
These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Ruthie abhors an epilogue and insists a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes.
One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital copy of Ride with Me. Winners will pick up their copy through Net Galley.
Click here to read my review (the book is awesome!)
Good luck to all!
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