Nicole was kind enough to let me stand on my soapbox on her blog instead of mine. The occasion is the release of my first novella, Blue Moon House, through Naughty Nights Press. With a publisher like that, you might guess I have a little experience writing sex. I do! In fact, I have written YA novels under my real name, as well as a family saga dealing with sexual abuse, so I've dealt with sex in many different styles. I thought I'd share with you how I go about writing them.
When dealing with an under aged audience, sex isn't off the menu, but it must be dealt with carefully. Teens do have sex. Having your teenaged character in a book written for teens have sex is not beyond the pale. On the other hand, if you wanted to be accepted by the parents of those teens, they should probably have a good reason for having sex, or the outcome should properly reflect the risks that come with sex. In any case, you cannot describe graphic sex. That will get you thrown right out of the genre. How do I write YA sex? I don't. I write about my characters kissing, sleeping next to each other, waking up feeling different than they went to bed. Leave it to the reader. They can put the pieces together. You might delve into a little fore-play, describe some light touching, but even that can damn you from the shelves. Any sex in a YA book should be delicate and appropriate to the story. If you can avoid it, it's probably for the best. If you can't, tread lightly and remember that those kids are smarter than you think they are.
They are going to know what you didn't write and probably pause in reading to fill in the blanks.
Then they'll come back eager for what happens next.
In classic romance novels, even 'bodice rippers,' graphic sex isn't normally on the table.
Euphemisms, shadowy action, foreplay are used to build the atmosphere for the sex and then, like in YA, we fade to black and put the onus on the reader to fill in the scene. A man would take a woman, kiss her and tear her clothes, moving her to the bed... and she falls asleep on his arm, satisfied. Here you can get away with broad strokes, emotions rather than actions, and some description of sex. Again, it's usually vague: he entered her, they became one, etc.
Next on the scene come those writers and readers who say, “but I don't want to fade to black! He is kissing her breasts and I want to describe that!” Fair enough! So in this scenario we have a romantic story, focusing on these main characters and their relationship, but rather than gloss over their activities in the bedroom, we describe them in detail. We talk about how each makes the other feel by their actions or inactions. We discover more about them by what they say and do in the bedroom.
I recently read a post by Keta Diablo about the difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica. As Blue Moon House is erotica, I thought I'd highlight that difference as well. In Erotica, the aim isn't the stable relationship of the main couple. These can lead to satisfaction without a relationship, which as consensual adults know, isn't always necessary for mind-blowing sex and self-discovery. That's the road my novella takes. Julia is working her way through the vampires of Blue Moon House to prove herself worthy of joining them. She has to reach each of these Dominants in her brief encounter with them and show them who she is and why they want her. Of course, along the way, she discovers a lot about herself as well as them. Erotica has a story. This is a difference between it and porn.
So, what type of sex is appropriate for your book? In the end that decision is always up to the writer, but hopefully, by laying all the cards on the table, you'll be able to choose wisely.
Thank you to Angelica Dawson, author of the newly released book Blue Moon House. Make sure you go by her blog and check out her book!