Like a Virgin?

Yesterday, while working on a pivotal scene in my WIP (four more chapters, ya’ll!!!) I realized a major shortcoming in my writing.

I can’t write sex scenes. I mean, I know all about the birds and the bees, it’s just that I feel sort of dirty. Which I guess is the point, right?

My writing is just general commercial fiction, so unlike other genres that need to have a bedroom scene, it’s not anything I’ve really studied in other novels or really given much thought to until I got to this one. There is a scene in my first novel in which my main character has sex on a bus (that little tramp, I know) but I didn’t get into details because really, Amanda wasn’t that in tune with what was happening to her physically but was instead focused on her on thoughts.

In the scene I wrote yesterday (*spoiler alert!*), she has a long overdue reconciliation with her ex-boyfriend. Sitting outside on a dark bench, they talk through their issues and well, one thing leads to another. They only round second base before they are interrupted (her sexual frustration fuels what happens next), but I asked myself this morning: if the story needed it, could I have let them go all the way. Or, am I too much of a prude and am I holding the characters back?

It’s not that sex embarrasses me. I love the steamy vampire sex scenes in the Sookie Stackhouse books as much as the next girl. And, I just read a friend’s very steamy sex scene the other night, so I can work with her on how to make it feel like bow-chicka-bow-wow isn’t playing in the reader’s head as they are reading it. So, what is my problem?

Well, first and foremost, it’s my parents. No, they are not puritans, but they will read my novel when it’s ready. I shouldn’t let that bother me, they read the first one without bringing up the bus scene (although I was quick to tell my dad “for the record, I’ve never had sex on a bus.”).

Part of me feels like I’m invading Amanda and David’s privacy. Then again, I’m here to broadcast their private thoughts to the world so I need to get over that.

And, maybe it’s because in high school my girlfriends and I giggled over the “throbbing members” of the Harlequin books and I’m afraid that somewhere, a group of 15-year-olds will giggle over my writing.

For now, I’m safe and my writing can remain virtuous. At some point I have to ditch the dowdy writing and break out that sexy little notebook and let Amanda and David have their moment.

But I wonder, is it really necessary to have sex in a non-genre novel? If so, how do you guys push past “my parents will read this”?

About Kimberly Packard

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of womenโ€™s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years. When she isnโ€™t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, Oliver the cat and a 75-pound lap dog named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors.
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10 Responses to Like a Virgin?

  1. Frank Bishop says:

    If you have a hard time doing it, keep writing about it. Maybe not in your WIP but little snippets of separate things, to see if you can get the…….rhythm and flow down, no pun intended.

    Sex is a large part of human life. It needs to be reflected upon. I look at it like this; characters are people and the readers are people, anybody who gets inflated over something as natural as the wind should reconsider some things in their life. Sex is a great tool for a character, like anything else I think it really depends on how you use it.

    I mean seriously, Lolita is a classic. That book is about a man’s obsession with diddling little girls. I hate that book quite emphatically, but it works.

    • LOL! Guess writing about it is sorta like doing it the first time. Awkward all around, but after a little practice it gets better.

      I agree, sometimes it’s necessary in a story, especially if it moves the plot forward.

  2. Pete Denton says:

    Write for yourself and your characters. Other people will have opinions about your work but you can’t control what they think. I understand your predicament but think the bigger picture. Let the characters do whatever they want. It’s their fault not yours! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I agree that you need to keep practicing the writing and expanding your skills as a writer. How else are you going to get comfortable with it and make it stronger? But I also believe that you need to do what feels right in the story. Its perfectly acceptable to ‘close the doors’ right as you get to that point, particularly if it’s not relevant to advancing the story.
    But writing little snippets as Frank suggested is probably a good way to start. Sex is part of human life and healthy relationships. Writing is supposed to be fun, just like sex!
    And as for your parents: FYI- they’ve had sex. They’re adults, just like you. They’ll be fine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kimberly, an excellent post! I’ve stopped myself for the same reasons (parents), figuring that I would write more detailed stuff when they’ve both passed on. But then I thought, “Fuck it,” no pun intended. I got in touch with my darker side, the side that allows for brutality, sex, etc. and wrote “Hawk” under the acronym Ban Yankee Jim. It’s up on Kindle (you don’t have to buy it – I can email you the PDF, just let me know). I also submitted the same story to a fiction writing class, in part because I was bored half to death with the goody goody crap that everyone else was turning in. What a catharsis (again, no pun intended). As some of your other comments suggest above, sex is a very integral part of human existence. Moreover, sex sells. We tell ourselves “no” but it’s true. Sex, violence, drugs … the whole gamut of things labeled “taboo” by the puritanical part of our psyche is what makes a story really genuine and gripping. Although first ask yourself, is this act an integral part of the story? The answer to that question should almost always be the guide. As for what Mom and Dad think, I have reached the point that they will no longer really care for what I write – and I’m fine with that. I’m not writing for them.

    • Hi Benjamin! Thanks so much for your thoughts. Oh come on – you meant the puns, admit it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree, sex does sell and really, I think the reader would have been let down if I didn’t let them at least have a good serious make out session.

      Oh and I’ll check out your stuff on Kindle. And no, you don’t have to send me the PDF, I’m all about supporting my fellow writers.


  5. A very long time ago, when my parents were still alive (neither are now), I knew that if I was going to change what and how I wrote because of them, I should simply stop writing. Now I have children, and the same thing applies. If I am going to worry about what my daughters might think, I should stop writing.

    That is my advice: write what the narrative (the story) demands; if you can’t do that, stop writing.

    • Thank you, Donigan! You are so right. And, I should append this post by saying that the chapter in question and the following chapters weren’t gelling, something just wasn’t working. So, I revised it taking them all the way through the act and you know what, it was what the narrative needed. I was holding the story back, and once I got over it, everything was fine.

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