It’s no secret that love scenes in romance novels have gotten hotter over the years. When it comes to your hero and heroine, many readers want to know it all. Today I’m examining, why write sex scenes at all? From an author’s perspective, what is it about the sex scene that makes it such an integral part of many romance novels?
Here are just a few reasons why an author might want to write a sex scene:
- To Show Characterization
Sex is the ultimate intimate act, so by having your characters engage in sex you are revealing much about their characters. Is the man focused and giving, or is he self-involved? Does the woman view the act of sex as a stepping-stone to a more intimate relationship, or is it just good sex? Do the two characters greatly desire each other, or might they have ulterior motives for their actions? What sort of insecurities about themselves do the characters have?
- To Show Emotion
Writing a sex scene isn’t just about describing the mechanics of what’s going on. Pretty much everyone (at least everyone who reads a romance) knows what happens when two people have sex. Reading a clinical description of it would get pretty boring. What a reader wants to know about, and an author wants to show, is the emotion behind the actions. How do the hero and heroine feel about each other? What emotional bond is forming between them as a result of their lovemaking?
- To Change the Characters’ Relationship
Having sex changes the relationship between two people. It just does. Either it will make things easier for them, or more difficult. So an author who wants to take the characters in a certain direction can use sex as the impetus for that. Maybe they are engaged to others but realize they cannot be apart, or maybe they have an antagonistic relationship, and the sex makes it worse. There should be some measurable difference in their relationship after they’ve engaged in the act.
- Demonstrate a Character’s Play for Dominance or Control
This is especially useful when writing historical romance, where there is an obvious difference in the level of power between a man and woman. Maybe the man is determined to prove his control over the woman, or perhaps the woman seduces a wealthy, titled man to force an offer of marriage. There are a lot of reasons besides love or lust that might cause one character to want to engage in sex with another.
- To Speed up your Pacing
A sex scene is ultimately an action scene. Just as with a fight, you are describing action between two characters. A sex scene can be used to speed up your pacing.
- Because People in Love Have Sex
If a romance is a true-to-life depiction of two people falling in love, sex will be a natural part of that.
- For Titillation
If you write for pure entertainment purposes, maybe the scene is thrown in there for titillation, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
For you authors, why do you include sex scenes in your novels, or if you don’t, why not?
For more about writing sex scenes, check out Sex Scene Viagra presented by Elizabeth Hoyt during RWA’s 2009 conference, where I picked up much of what I discussed today.