"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Write or Not to Write?

My oldest daughter is at Mother’s Day Out, my youngest is napping and I find myself with a few minutes to write.  I sit here with my diet coke lamenting the lack of M&M’s and wondering where to go with my current manuscript.
This one is a romance and I find myself hesitant to write a sex scene (something that has been requested). I’ve written romances before and while they have contained some steamy moments, I’ve NEVER written a “consummation” scene.
I might not have had a problem writing one before becoming a mother. I read romance novels, as well as many other genres that include such scenes. However, now I know my girls may one day read my work.  Do I want them to read something like this from my own hand?  I can always make the couple marry before the consummation scene, but that isn’t possible at the moment since my couple is in the middle of nowhere (almost).
It’s strange. I knew a lot of things would change when I became a mother, but I never thought about the effect it would have on my writing. Have any of you found this? Has becoming a parent changed your writing style? What are your thoughts on this?


J.L. Campbell said...

I'm sure you'll work out how best to get that scene written. I think about those things too when I have to write an intimate scene. It's not my style to write graphic sex. I like to see such scenes tastefully done and so I strive to write that way as well.

E.J. Wesley said...

Have you considered writing under a pseudonym? By the time your children are old enough to figure it out, they'll probably be old enough to ... well, "figure IT out." :-)

All kidding aside, chances are if you're not entirely comfortable writing a certain type of scene the writing won't be as sharp or believable as it needs to be. I'd skip it for now and see if you can figure out how to make it work. If you can't, then maybe the story isn't the one you should be writing?

If a tough spot for sure.


Laurie Kolp said...

I know exactly what you mean, Sylvia. If you find a good way to get around this let me know.

li said...

Agree with E.J. above. Writing, above all, has to come from deep within you, and if you are uncomfortable with subject matter, or writing style, it's bound to show. And I don't think a luridly detailed account is absolutely necessary; most readers are perfectly capable of filling in the details themselves. Sometimes a few tantalizing hints are all that's needed.

Paula Martin said...

Sylvia, my daughters are now in their 40's, but even so I'm wondering just how they'll react to the sex scene in 'His Leading Lady' (my recent release). I can already hear them saying 'Did my mother really write THAT?' I'm also wondering what my friends' reactions will be! But the other commenters are right, you should only write what you personally are comfortable with. I've become more comfortable with writing sex scenes, but I still remember my first attempt when I curled up in embarrassment at what I was writing - and of course that showed in my scene too.

Sylvia Ney said...

Thank you all for your thoughts. There is a part of me that feels like "it's just another part of life, I shouldn't be so uncomfortable writing about something between two people in love". Somehow I haven't been able to complete the scene. I think I'll finish the rest of the story and see how it feels.

jan said...

I'm pretty sure your kids will know all about sex by the time they're old enough to read your book. In this day and age they may even be able to concede that Mom knows a little something about sex. Steamy is OK, but tender and aching work well, too. I say, go for it.

Jenni Merritt said...

Uhg yes. This is something I have been wondering about as well. My kiddos are still quite young and years away from even potentially reading my writing. But when the day comes, I want to know that whatever I did write, I will be comfortable with them reading.

That said... sex is a part of life. I believe that if you do include it in your WIP, and make it artful, not pornagraphic, it will be fine. As everyone else has said: Do what YOU are comfortable with. This is your piece. If you truly want that scene in there, do it. You can always warn them. But if you really aren't sure... think about potential other ways to get the same affect across that you want.

Phew. Ramblage. Can't wait to hear what you end up deciding.

anthony stemke said...

I see your dilemma. Think about: what if you are the daughter reading the scene- how would you like it to read in that case. The most romantic writing involves the imagination, sort of like pre-television radio shows.
Explicit sex is cheap and tawdry, but romance is something else.
Think about your scene, I bet you will come up with something "They" and your daughter would like.
Good luck to you.

Tonja said...

I tend to keep my writing "clean" for the same reason. I let my daughter read something that I didn't realize had "f*(@'d up" in it. She suggested I change it to something softer like "screwed up." It was better with the change.

Good luck on that. :)

Kimmel Tippets said...

As mother's, it's impossible to not let our children's existence affect what we write. Children look up to their mother's, it's a fact, and if you don't want them reading a steamy scene like that, you shouldn't write it. There's nothing wrong with it. I think that sometimes a steamy scene can actually take away from the specialness of the moment. I like simple and sweet, but that's just me.