Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Finding the Entrance to the Secret Garden

by Lisa Hughey

This topic isn’t, as Dr. Peeler so eloquently said, about tab A in slot B. Most high schoolers understand the mechanics of sex. Writing about sex and being sexy has to be much more than about moves and positions.

But what is sexy? The truth is that every person has a different vision of sexy.

Sexy is about defining, for the heroine, the emotional component that allows the hero entry into her secret world. In the context of romance novels, whether closed door or fully described in intricate detail complete with naughty words, sex only packs a punch if the emotion is present and (almost always) amplified.

Engaging in sex is about vulnerability and trust. And the most intense sex scene is one that explores the trigger for allowing this other person into the character’s inner sanctum or as the title suggests, their secret garden.

A truly excellent scene is one that delves deeply into the character and what makes them vulnerable.

Sometimes it’s about longing for something they don’t have: family, love, protection, happiness. Sometimes it’s about power they want or power they hate. Sometimes it’s about fear. Fear of happiness, fear of being hurt again.

Sex frequently turns the story just as it turns the relationship. The physical dance of intimacy, that first tentative foray into an emotional connection, the withdrawal back to the ordinary world which no longer fits quite right, and the glide back together again, is the foundation on which the successful romance story rests.

I love reading about people finding the person they find sexy. Even more, I love writing about characters who find their own version of sexy. The evolution of that initial attraction to a deep and enduring love is the most interesting and fun of all.


ps. Yes, that is a Bruce Springsteen reference. I love this song.


Rachael Herron said...

You're SO good at this whole sex-writing thing. I admire you so much. You GET it. I'm learning. :)

Mysti said...

That makes sense! At UCLA, we learned that if there's going to be a story-turning sex scene (one that alters the protagonist's relationship with the sex-ee AND is a story beat), it'll happen at about 60 minutes, the traditional middle of the second act.

Learning that just about ruined sex scenes in movies for me :)

If the movie is *about* sex, then of course different rules apply...

Sophie Littlefield said...

oh, i love that you illustrated this with a bruce springsteen recording. He's got sexy down...in all its shades and layers. remember that one old song of his, "Prove It All Night" - i always thought that was one of the sexiest songs out there. and....I *know* you can write sexy scenes!

Juliet Blackwell said...

Love this -- feel like I'm learning so much from the posts this week! Can't wait to read some of your sex scenes ;-)

L.G.C. Smith said...

I listen to anything you have to say about writing sexy very carefully because you are sooooo good at it. Note to all: Read "Blowback." Now. You'll see. :)

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