By Vonna Harper (Guest Blogger)
A few minutes before sitting down to write this blog, I finished the rough draft of a sex scene. Bet you think I'm fanning myself and eager to get back to the editing.
Think again. Psst, don't tell anyone but writing erotica is damn hard work, especially the sex part. As someone who has written well over 30 books, novellas, and shorties since jumping onboard the erotica bandwagon, I know what I'm up against as soon as my characters walk into the bedroom. (A correction: my characters are more likely to be in the woods than a bedroom but you get the idea) Because I strive to make each sex scene representative of my characters, there's no plugging in a scene I wrote in the past. Each one has to stand on its own and satisfy my readers.
Does writing about intercourse satisfy me? I'm shaking my head as I write this because not long ago I was much too modest to reveal all, but since I started this subject, I have no choice but to finish. Of course I become emotionally and physically involved in what my characters are doing—why do you think I keep that fan nearby? But no way is the experience of writing a sex scene the same as reading one.
First and maybe foremost, I have to keep body parts straight. Because I only write m/f, at least I don't need to track more than four arms and four legs. Just thinking about a crowd scene makes my head spin. I need to keep track of what clothes are where, (years ago I wrote a lovemaking scene for a category romance publisher. If not for my critique partners' eagle eyes, my heroine would have removed her bra three times) what the lighting's like, the temperature, whether I packed a blanket so even though my characters are in the wilderness, they aren't going to wind up with a rash or bug bites.
How do I go from point A which is the moment of setting eyes on each other to point Z where man and woman can't do anything but pant? Here's where I have to orchestrate the dance that's foreplay. Who takes the dominant role, who the more submissive one or are they equals? Who makes the first move, who the second, and how are they carried out? (The scene I just finished included a first for me—a recliner) When or if is the condom pulled out and put on? Are clothes slowly peeled off or ripped? Whose hands are doing what to who? Where are the legs?
That's just the physical aspect. Equally important is the emotional component. Where are my characters in terms of their relationship? Is this act a quickie or the ultimate in commitment? Because I can't develop characters without burdening them with emotional baggage, I have to keep that baggage in mind. If the hero is afraid he's going to shape-shift, that's going to impact his performance. Maybe (I write a lot of capture and bondage) he has to take his captive/lover back to his war chief. Can he shove that responsibility to the back of his mind while getting it on? As a captive, can my heroine forget her lot in life and embrace pleasure? Is she hung up on wanting back her freedom or surrendering to her submissive nature and will that dilemma cool her libido?
As if those considerations aren't enough, I have to keep an eye on word choice and sentence structure. I don't want to pound a word or words into the ground until readers become sick of them. Sentences need to be shaken up and turned around for variety. I write for Kensington Aphrodisia, Ellora's Cave, Samhain, and Loose-Id and they have slightly different requirements and ways of handling edits. One publisher is fine with certain descriptions and terms, another not so much. Yep, there's another layer to the juggling act.
Hmm. It sounds if I'm complaining when I'm not. After all, there's nothing I'd rather be doing to pay the bills. I love writing, love writing erotica. At the same time, like every career, writing is a profession. No publisher will have anything to do with me if I don't bring my job skills to the table. It's quite a juggling act.
Right now I have two releases hot off the presses so to speak. Available in print is Falcon's Captive with Aphrodisia. Whitewater Hunter is an ebook with Ellora's Cave. In addition, I've just released my first Kindle only novella called Wilderness Night. (A great price BTW if you have a Kindle)
I'd tell you what's in the pipeline and about the novella I sold last week and the hot, hot, hot cover I just got a sneak peak of, but I can't keep all that straight. That's why I'm obsessive about keeping my web site up to date. It has become my cheat-sheet.
Before I wander off to tackle some writing contest submissions I've agreed to judge, does anyone want to comment on my confession?
~ Vonna Harper