Writing “Those” Scenes – How to Avoid the Mom Embarrassment Factor During Smexy Times Writing

Oh boy, I’m embarrassed already. Mom, if you’re reading this, stop it. Right now. Same goes for my mother-in-law. And my coworkers. AND MY BROTHER. Oh hell, why am I writing this again?

Oh, right–because it’s an issue that writers have in their writing process. Sometimes authors have to include a little bit of smexy time. And some readers adore that kind of stuff. Me? I turn all Stuttering Stephanie and skip to the next important plotline.

In case you didn’t figure it out already, I am one of those weird introverts that can turn awesome when I need to, but usually float somewhere around the lines of “totally awkward.” This is especially obvious with sex scenes in TV, movies, and books. You know hard it is for me to sit through certain scenes in Game of Thrones? I’m all “c’mon, this lesbian sex scene adds nothing to the storyline!”

Smexy times makes me blush.

(By the way, we’re assuming these sex scenes are for consenting adults. I’m not into writing high school sex scenes and not just because it’s awkward as hell in real life. A post for another time, but here we’re talking with the grown-ups.) It’s not that I don’t appreciate the work authors put into it and it’s not that what they’re writing isn’t hot as the sun (ever read Kendall Grey’s work? Yowza). And I suppose someone might describe it as a “prudish” stance, but I’ve never been big on talking about throbbing members and dark spaces (although I’m secretly a 10 year old because those terms still make me giggle). I didn’t get the teen-and-parental sex talk and romance in stories was never my favorite part. Because I’m such a fan of action and comedy, I didn’t bother with the romance.

But now I’m beginning to write different things. The next piece to be finished will probably be my Witchy WIP, but it’s definitely an adult book. The characters are in their late 20s, hearts are being ripped out, and the heroine’s desire for the hero is bigger than butterflies and high school crushes. Do I want to write a sex scene? Not particularly, no – but not because I don’t think I can.

Is it that I fear what others think of me? Possibly, but not necessarily. I’m a married woman and lived with my husband for 4 years before we got married, so my mother is certainly smart enough to figure it out. My coworkers secretly read 50 Shades, so they probably wouldn’t be scandalized but so much if they read a sex scene in another of my books. What if writing sex scenes just wasn’t for me? Is it bad for a writer to “fade to black” instead of giving details? Are readers going to think of it as the coward’s way out or be upset because they desperately wanted a description of the hero’s pulsating…um, organ?

I say, why not have readers use their imagination. They already use it for how they see the characters or what a setting looks like. We all have different shades of red in mind for the heroine’s hair color and the villain might often change height and build when the reader is sketching out the scene. Also, if a writer is uncomfortable writing something, I’m of the firm (har har) belief that it’ll show – readers can tell when something is forced just for the sake of having it in there and that’s not fair to the writer OR reader!

When I asked for opinions on how to write those scenes when you’re already blushing in your seat when considering family will read it, I got quite the mixed response. While some, like me, hope to god we can just skip over it and never, ever talk about it (please!), there are others who are understandably proud of their work and don’t care who gets all hot and bothered over their work. HUGE thanks to the amazing Laura Howard for her help on Facebook in getting some fantastic (and hilarious) answers!

@LizCLong I just write what I write. When family asks to read, I warn them of anything that might be awkward

@LizCLong I blush and go “can we talk about literally anything else”

It’s not that I’m a prude and I don’t judge others for reading smutty romance – sometimes it’s simply what the reader wants! But as an easily embarrassed author, I don’t want my writing to come across as fake if I don’t really want to write it. What’s so wrong with leaving it up to an imagination?

What do you guys think? When it comes to sex scenes and the people you know, are you comfortable knowing your mother in law is reading about your hero’s giant…accessory? Or does the entire idea make you want to create a new pen name in hopes they never discover it’s you?

13 thoughts on “Writing “Those” Scenes – How to Avoid the Mom Embarrassment Factor During Smexy Times Writing

  1. ginnylurcock says:

    You know what my problem is right now? I want to write a story where it’s implied that there’s sex, but I don’t go into in detail… how is this an issue? Well because I’ve already written a smutty book, will people consider me glossing over “those” scenes as a cop out? GAH WHY IS WRITING SO HARD?!

    • LizLong says:

      Ah see, there’s the opposite side of the coin! Interesting – I would hope they wouldn’t, but if you’re known for writing them…I can name an example. When Charlaine Harris released a new Sookie book, there was no sex scene. She’d included crazy hot ones in the series before, so readers were REALLY disappointed.

      • ginnylurcock says:

        I think when it’s in the same series and there’s either no sex (which is one issue) or a fade to black (another issue, Women of Otherwold I’m looking at you) it’s one thing. But hopefully a different pen name and different series would alleviate some of that? Maybe?

  2. ginnylurcock says:

    Also, writing turbo awkward romantic scenes can be more fun that I care to admit. And giggling while you’re trying to find funny words to use for genitalia. Less fun when some dude you’ve known your entire life goes “intimate pleats” but who thinks about consequences?

  3. Laura Howard says:

    I’m in kind of the same boat as you Liz ma’dear. I think a lot can be said for the lead up… I refuse to write about body parts. I just won’t do it. I don’t mind reading it, although I admit some terms either a) make me roll my eyes or b) make me giggle.
    If you’ve ever read Flat Out Love by Jessica Park, you’ll see that one of the most romantic/tense scene on the market takes place during a Facebook chat (ie no BODY PARTS) so if you flex your writing muscles it can be done YOUR way!!!

  4. kendallgrey says:

    While it may *appear* that I am made of creamed testicle and testosterone paste when it comes to writing fearless sex scenes, I was scared to death when I got ready to publish for exactly the same reasons you mentioned, Liz. What will my mother-in-law think? OMG, what if my DAD reads this!? *Faints* I snapped up a pen name and prayed no one would notice it was me cowering behind those bold, saucy words. But who was the first person to ask my pen name? Yep. Mother-in-law. *Dies*

    I suck at lying, so my solution was this: I quit giving a crap. People are gonna read my books and judge me. Or not. I can’t control who squashes that “Buy with One-Click” button any more than I can cook without burning down buildings. For god’s sake, my GRANDMOTHER told me she was gonna buy INHALE! *Triple death threat* I gave her a post card with the cover and blurb on it, patted her hand, and told her this was all she needed. Still crossing fingers she hasn’t taken the plunge. HA!

    To me, it’s all about what makes you comfortable as a writer. You’re exactly right about readers knowing when you’re uncomfortable. It totally shows. So write what you know, and don’t worry about the consequences. Someone will ALWAYS have something to say, but you don’t always have to listen. 🙂

    • LizLong says:

      Oh my gosh I love everything about your comment. I didn’t want my grandmother reading my book because of the cursing – and I didn’t even consider her reading a sex scene! Egads!
      You have such a good attitude about it though and I think for writers who want to write sexy stuff, that’s the right way to go, by just not caring about what other people think and writing what you want to write. After all, they’re going to rate us either way, so we might as well write what we want to! ❤

  5. ameliajamesauthor says:

    Shortly after I published my first erotic romance, Tell Me You Want Me, my mother-in-law told me she was a little uncomfortable knowing the hero was based on her son, but being the devoted fan romance fan she is, she somehow got through it. It never occurred to me that she might be embarrassed. I’ve been writing sex scenes for so long, I’ve forgotten what shocks people.

  6. Ciara Ballintyne says:

    The same rule applies to sex scenes as anything else in a story – if it doesn’t advance the plot, create conflict/tension, or show something about character, it shouldn’t be there. And yes, that even applies to erotic novels – hello, people, if you’re writing a story, make sure it HAS a story. The sex in 50 Shades titillates the readers, but it’s not why they keep reading – everyone I know who has read it said they ‘just needed to know what happened’. That’s story. The writing of 50 Shades is mediocre, the sex is what got everyone intrigued, but it’s the story that has kept everyone reading.

    So, if it’s important the reader knows they had sex, but not how, by all means skip it. Please do. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey is an excellent example – although an ‘erotic fantasy’, there are times the protag mentions a sexual encounter but says ‘the details aren’t important, so I’ll not mention them’. Yes! Thank you!

    That said, sometimes it’s unavoidable, even in a book that isn’t erotic. My novel isn’t, it’s straight up high-fantasy, but the protag is a woman who was sexually-abused as a child and tends to kill men who even touch her. How believable would it be if she just suddenly had sex? Not very, I think. I had to carefully build up to the moment, and then I had to show how bittersweet the expeience was for her – amazing, but so, so difficult at the same time. I didn’t go into pulsing members and the like, but some detail was necessary.

  7. bibliogal997 says:

    I am literally at a point in my Historical Romance where a “scene” is about to occur. I had planned on it being a sweet/clean romance, but I’ve built up all this tension! The only way to back out now would be to change a massive part of my storyline…gah! My mom knows I’m writing a romance and she reads some pretty racy stuff, but I don’t want her looking at me and saying stuff like “How do you know about THAT?!” lol so hard (no pun intended 😉 )

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