WHY is Sex So Hard (no pun intended…)?

by Leslie McKelvey



sexIs it just me, or is writing sex scenes difficult (I almost wrote HARD again)? I mean, seriously, most adults have sex. A large percentage of teenagers have sex. It’s a natural part of life, required for procreation (and orgasms), and it’s so easy a caveman can do it. Think about that. Ancient homo sapiens, who had no written or spoken language, could communicate effectively enough to continue the species. So, why does it take me almost as long to write ONE sex scene as it does the REST OF THE FREAKIN’ BOOK?

I must admit, I know part of it is my own personal code. I thought if I read more erotica it would gradually desensitize me to certain words and I’d be able to expand my sex vocabulary (there are only so many ways in English to describe anatomy and genitalia). I was wrong. There are certain words (co**, pu**y, cu**, vagina) that, to me, are just NOT romantic. I can read them in other people’s work (although I’m probably the only woman in the Western Hemisphere who hasn’t read 50 Shades), but when it comes to my own writing my brain refuses to tell my fingers to type them. In my world a co** is a male rooster, pu**y is an archaic name for a feline, and cu** is a derogatory curse word that makes bitch sound like a compliment. I wish that manhood and member were allowed in contemporary romance, but my editor and publisher say NO (darn it). Am I limiting myself by not using more “crude” terms for sex organs and the act of sex? Probably. Am I likely to change? Hmm…doubtful.

I’ve been told I write a good sex scene. My best friend, whom I’ve known for 30+ years, said it creeped her out that something I wrote got her hot and bothered. The sex scene in my debut novel, Accidental Affair, wasn’t my first, nor was it my last, but time and experience have not made the process easier. Is it the subject matter? Sex is, for most people, a private thing. It doesn’t matter that I’m writing from a fictional character’s viewpoint. Writers draw on their own experiences when they write (at least I do), so perhaps my unease comes with letting strangers have a look inside my head at my sexual history. Part of being a writer is baring one’s soul and, in the process, one’s secrets. It is not for the timid or fainthearted, and, in spite of my unease, I have NEVER been accused of being either of those things. This is when my husband’s favorite phrase must come into play, I suppose: “Suck it up, buttercup.” Again, no pun intended.

If any of my author friends, or any authors in general, or, heck, READERS, have ideas that can make this process less traumatic I would LOVE to hear from you. I love romance, I love sex, I love reading sex in romance novels (most of it, anyway), and I love writing romance (which, most of the time, includes sex). That means unless I plan to do the “fade to black” when things get hot and heavy, sex must be written, and the soul must be bared (hey, maybe I don’t like it because I don’t want to be naked in public, lol). Is it hard? (Snicker) It is (and it’s better when it’s hard, snicker, snort). Is it worth it? I think so, but the readers make the final decision. Whether sweet or smokin’ hot, there’s something out there for every palate. Thankfully, despite personal difficulties, there’s even an audience for mine. Life is good!


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Leslie McKelvey

Leslie McKelvey read her first romance at 12 and was hooked. A Gulf War veteran who served with the US Navy, she was among the first women to work an aircraft carrier flight deck. Her police officer husband taught her all she knows about firearms and tactics, and SWAT and Sniper training have given her even more story ideas. She has three boys, and spends her off-time reading, taking pictures, and sending lead down range. One of her favorite scents is the smell of gunpowder in the morning.

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