I’ve been struggling all day today to write one of those scenes for my romance novel. Yes, one of those. I thought this would be the fun part of writing romantic fiction. Fun and easy. After all, I’ve been married for nearly seventeen years and I have three children; it’s safe to say that yes, I’ve had sex. I know how it works, which parts go where, what makes the good stuff happen.
Write what you know, they tell me. Well, I’m no sex therapist, but I’m far from being a blushing virgin.
I got this.
So I’m baffled as to why I spent most of the day staring at my computer and blushing myself into a Rosacea flare-up. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am going to have to write a squeaky clean romance novel, where the sex takes place behind closed doors. Either that or I’ll end up writing a novel that contains “real” sex scenes.
And that will never get published.
In romance novels, characters say passionate things to each other during the act. “No man has ever made me feel this way!” the heroine shrieks at a key moment, and the hero tells her things like, “I’ve wanted to do this to you from the first time our eyes met across the room at that party.” “I’ll love you forever,” she whispers as they roll over and start again right away.
Conversations like that just don’t happen during real sex. If there’s any talking at all, it’s usually along the lines of “shhh, don’t wake the kids” or “ow, ow, ow, elbows!” On a really special night, someone may utter a throaty “No, my left” but there’s no calling out of names or frantic declarations of undying love in the midst of things. Frankly, there’s just not always enough air in one’s lungs to do all that talking while everything else is going on.
Sort of like jogging and carrying on a conversation at the same time.
Besides, I don’t know about the romantic heroines in those novels, but I just can’t focus on that many things at one time. Forming words takes thought processes that I may not have right then. If I stop everything to try to form intelligible words at crucial moments, I’m likely to forget what’s going on and simply end up in a conversation. I’m easily distracted.
Real people have conversations before and after. Not during.
Sex in those novels is always so pretty. Bodies fit perfectly with no fat parts making slap-slap noises against other fat parts. Nobody ever gets an inner-thigh leg cramp or whacks their head against the headboard, and God forbid those perfect bodies emit any juicy squelching sounds when parts start working in tandem.
In romance novels, the sheets have always just been changed. Hotel bedding never has bedbugs. Couples can romp on a beach in the pounding surf without making mental comparisons to sandpaper grades. Sex can last for hours and hours, moving from the kitchen table to the bedroom floor to the shower stall and then finish up in the neighbor’s begonias, after which they just happen to have the right ingredients on hand for one of them to whip up a five-course gourmet breakfast while the other showers.
Seriously, don’t these people ever have to get up for work in the morning?
I’m not trying to criticize the entire genre of romantic fiction. On the contrary, I love reading romance novels and I’m doing my best to write them. But I have to wonder: am I the only one who reads them for the love story and not the naughty bits? Or am I like the man who claims to buy Playboy for the articles?