This is part 3 of a 5-part series on writing sex. If you haven't read the pervious parts yet, you might want to consider it.
In the last installment of this series, I talked about shame and pseudonyms, and I posed a few questions for you.
Those questions were secretly a different question: "What do I need to do in order to free myself enough to write sex honestly?"
Because that's what it's about. Everything you write needs to be honest if you're going to achieve the effects you want. (If you feel that you don't need to be honest to your readers, you maybe shouldn't be writing, yeah?)
So, now that we've confronted our shame and discomfort in writing sex, let's talk about what your job is and is not.
Your job is NOT:
- to write things that turn you on.
- to write things that turn your readers on.
What you say!!
Exactly what I said. With very rare exceptions, the writer is not in the story. The writer writes the story and puts it out into the world, and from there, the writer is no longer relevent. And - again with very rare exceptions - the reader is not part of the story, at least not explicitly.
"Well, what is my job, then?" you have the audacity to ask.
Your job is:
- to write a story with compelling, believable characters, such that the reader becomes invested in the hopes and fears and desires of the characters.
Which is to say, when the character decides to go on an epic quest for the mysterious Gold Monkey, you need to make the reader feel what the character wants enough to want to go along for the ride. And if the character wants to hear her/his lover's breath catch as s/he tugs a hardened nipple between gentle teeth, you need to make the reader feel that need enough to want to go along for the ride.
Which is to say, write sex with the same amount of care, and with the same goals and objectives (relatively speaking), as you write any other scene.
Which is to say, your job in writing a sex scene is not to turn on the reader because the reader is interested in that kind of sex. Your job is to turn on the reader because you've made the reader identify enough with the character that what turns on the character will turn on the reader.
It's not the sex that turns on the reader. It's the characters' reaction to the sex that turns on the reader.