Is it okay to put sex scenes in your love story?
That depends on several things. How adept are you, the author, in describing a sexual scene? Does it fit comfortably with your story and character images? How appropriate is it for your target age group? How will it be received and perceived by your readers? And finally, does it meet any publisher’s or seller’s restrictions.
For me, it’s a “Yes, sex is definitely okay in a love story”. Then, I’m going to add a lot of: Only if’s.
What works and doesn’t
Let me first comment on what I’ve seen others do, that I thought didn’t work. Don’t try and play it too safe. If your couple is going to make love, have them make meaningful love. Let their touching, petting and actual love making express their love and feelings for each other. If you try to avoid being graphic, the scene is going to lose its meaning.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t be too graphic. This is a love story, not porn. Make the scene realistic and meaningful but not too explicit.
Less is more
If you’re going to add a sex scene, use the reader’s imagination as much as possible. Lead them to where you want the scene to go but don’t take it there. Let them get there on their own. For me, less has always been better where a sex scene is concerned.
Undress your couple in a provocative way. Describe the trail of clothes they left. You’d be surprised how much you can say just by painting a picture like the one below.
Next, lead them to a bed, a couch, a wall, or table and leave them locked in a passionate embrace. Your reader will fill in the rest. And, trust me, they will do it better than any words you write can. Especially if you lead them to someplace other than a bed. Remember, there’s an unspoken message and image in where you lead them.
Keep your characters in character
Be certain the scene you paint and the characters’ actions fit the characters you’ve created for your reader. If your male MC is only 5’ 8” tall, don’t have the female MC amazed when she sees he’s hung like an elephant. Unless of course she’s noticed early on that his jeans don’t fit quite right.
Also, if he’s been gentle and caring, keep him that way. Contrary to the belief of some, most people don’t change when they lose their clothes.
Make sure your sex scene is done tastefully and that it fits comfortably into your story line. Don’t just dump them into bed on page three. Let them get to know each other and the reader get comfortable with who they are and their feelings for each other. Finally, be sure the scene’s appropriate for your target age group. If your books are aimed at teens, back off on the explicit descriptions. Make them age appropriate. (Yeah, I know, teens these days know more than you and I but it’s not your place to get them there.)
I’ll end with a few Only If’s and several No-No’s.
- Never exploit one sex or the other in any way.
- Always make it obvious that it’s consensual, and enjoyable to both parties.
- No drugs or violence, ever!
- Make sure the partners are clearly past the age of consent.
- Finally, unless they’re trying to start a family, make sure they have safe sex. Especially if they only recently met and don’t know if their partner is disease free or who they might have been with.
Remember, this is a love story! Making love should not just be a physical act. It should enhance and convey to the reader the love, trust and feelings they have for each other.
Oh, and happiness too!
One final point. As soon as you put a sex scene in, stand by for the seething reviews to roll in. No matter how tasteful and careful you are with your love scenes, you will surely offend someone. Actually, a few someones. So, be ready.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours? Am I too prudish or not prudish enough?