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or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Sex Scenes  
by Marissa Day

Hello, everybody. My name’s Marissa Day, and I write romance. Not just any romance, either. I write the hot stuff.

(Hi, Marissa).

When you come out to others as an erotica author, you tend to get a lot of questions about writing the sex scenes. After the one about whether you worry about your mother, or your grandmother, or your widowed aunt reading your book, comes the one about, well…how do you write that…stuff?

Actually, it took me awhile to learn how to write “that stuff.” I found out fairly early writing explicitly hot sex came with complexities unrelated to whether my relatives might read my novels. Actually, my widowed aunt is pretty cool and carries my books around with her on airplanes. But those complexities did have a lot to do with not making the sex scene feel like…well…like a commercial break. You’ve probably seen what I’m talking about. We’ve had some story, now we’ll have some sex, and now back to the story…

At first, I thought this was just my problem. I come to romance from other genres where all my romantic interludes (such as they were) ended in a clinch of some variety, and from there went straight to the scene break. That, of course, does not fly in the world of Romance, especially in the hotter parts of the fire. I had work to do.

So, I did. I worked on language and atmosphere. I worked on progression and pacing, and all the same sort of things you have to work on for any given scene in any given book. But as I wrote the sex, and the story around it, I realized I’d been looking at these scenes wrong. I’d been approaching them as isolated incidents within the story, something that was a requirement of this part of the genre but had very little to do with the rest of the book. I just needed to keep finding excuses for the hero and heroine to get together in private.

This was, and remains, a mistake. A big mistake.

Because, to my surprise, it was turning out that the sex scenes, even graphic scenes, maybe especially the graphic ones, were immensely useful to both plot and character development.

A good sex scene — no matter what its level of heat or descriptive detail — is a chance to see characters at an extreme. It’s a lot like a good action scene. In a good action scene, the real depths of the character come to the fore. The strengths and weaknesses of the character are tested, and possibly overturned. A good sex scene can accomplish something similar. Intimate moments, after all, put characters on an emotional cliff, and, of course, a particular sort of physical extreme. It does not usually involve life and death like in an action scene, but it is a moment that can change lives as well as attitudes. It affords the author an opportunity to show characters at their best, or their worst. The timing, the reasons, the emotions, and the actions and the reactions, will have all kinds of character repercussions throughout the remainder of the story. All genres have their own expectations, of course, but the requirement that the author tell a satisfying story remains the same across the board. This means that if there’s going to be a sex scene, it need to be tightly woven into the rest of the story. It needs to carry its share of the plot and the character development, no matter where it’s set, no matter when, and no matter how hot.

Pleasure was an elusive dream…

Alicia Hartwell has never experienced the pleasure of passion. Despite all her efforts to comprehend the notion of romantic love, it has remained an utterly foreign concept to her. Resigned to the life of a spinster, Alicia is therefore stunned when she receives a marriage proposal from the highly eligible bachelor, Lord Carstairs. …until she met him.

But Lord Edward Carstairs is not a normal nobleman. He’s a Catalyst–able to draw magical power from the natural world for use in spells by human Sorcerers. He senses that Alicia is a victim of enchantment, one that has suppressed her erotic urges.

Powerfully attracted to her, he’s certain that he’s the one to help her experience pleasure for the first time. But as Edward and Alicia’s mutual passion burns hot, their fragile love and trust could be threatened by family secrets and a new magical intrigue neither imagined.

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  1. Good guest post. I agree, a well placed and well written sex scene really can move a book’s plot forward. Written wrongly it can really break the reading flow.