Writing About Sex vs. Romance

By Marlette Bess

Writing about sex is fraught with danger; for every reader and every writer it is subjective, depending on their personal point of view.

Writing about romance and sex are two different things. Romantic encounters may lead to sex, but you don’t always need romance to write a sex scene. In writing, romance is often tame and sex is the body unleashed. My characters generally have a sexual encounter that advances their relationship thus advancing the story, but not every sex scene makes it into the book or even needs too.

Sex scenes used to be called smut or bodice rippers, like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence. Now we have erotica and women’s porn, for example, Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.  Character development is the basis for all good stories and all good sex scenes. If the characters are not well developed then the sex scenes almost always end up as nothing but titillation. 

Romance is written by innuendo, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks and draw their own conclusions. Describing graphic sex, where nothing is left to the imagination, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. When I write, my description of a sexual encounter depends on the connection between the characters and the evolution of their relationship.

 In all my storylines, the buildup of tension begins with the spark between the couple.  I continue, along with my characters, to learn new ways to express intimacy.

Marlette Bess

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