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Guest Blogger: Corrina Lawson
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

What Makes a Good Sex Scene?

I can tell you that question occupies far too much of a romance writer’s mental space. :)

We all know the usual responses:

1.It has to be true and specific to the characters.

2. It should be a part of their emotional as well as physical attraction.

3. There should be a reason for the sex itself to be on the page.

But the deep dark secret is that we all want something we haven’t seen before. A tall order for a writer but since I want that as a reader too, I spend a lot of time thinking about that extra special thing I can add without losing the essentials of the emotional connection.

Some writers go with unusual sexual positions, added partners, added toys and not quite mainstream ways of having sex.

I’ve done some of these scenes.

Two of my books, Freya’s Gift (Samhain) and Dinah of Seneca (The Wild Rose Press), feature a fertility ritual with at least three participants. And maybe a little pagan-style historical drugs to get things rolling. I say this jokingly but I wanted those sex scenes to be earthy and intense. If they were hot to the readers too, great. My first priority was to convey the experience of what it was like for the participants because the rituals meant a great deal to them and were part of their emotional healing after great tragedy. The ancient world was not often a nice place.

But pagan rituals only work in pagan times.

Modern romances have modern ways of looking at sex. When I decided to write a superhero romance series, I admit that part of the attraction for me was coming up with unique ways to use those abilities during sex. Because, really, what’s the point of having a superpower if you can’t put it to good use? :)

In Phoenix Rising, the first book in the superhero series, the hero is a fire starter and a telekinetic. Now, telekinesis is very helpful during sex. It’s somewhat like having another hand. :) But since Alec Farley also had an explosive power and could control fire, I wanted the other big sex scene to also be literally explosive. One near-nuclear explosion and a little bit of flying and I had it. I think it worked pretty well for the characters and for the readers.

Luminous, the second book in the series, is a more down to earth story, The first tale is more like an X-Men story. Luminous is a Batman-inspired urban story with a heroine named Noir who hides her invisibility under layers of intimidating black leather. Emotionally, shedding those layers is big obstacle for her. Because at least when she’s wearing them, she can be seen. When naked, there’s nothing to see.

Her hero, Aloysius James, is a police detective with a sarcastic streak and a hidden idealism. He has no powers other than he’s unusually perceptive and he sees right through Noir’s tough shell. Still, he’s not sure how to approach a woman he can’t see, even if he does think she fills out the black leather in all the right ways.

Aha, I thought. Now there’s a challenge. Write a sex scene where one partner literally cannot *see* the other. No facial expression, no clues from physical movement. Touch alone.

We often overlook the importance of touch. For example, when I was walking in the woods with my son the other day, I closed my eyes. Instantly, the ground beneath my feet felt different. Before, it had seemed solid and flat. But now that I was paying attention to what my feet were experiencing, it felt like anything but a flat surface. All the slight rises and dips were there. I felt the twigs I stepped on through my sneakers.

It seemed to me that a sex scene by touch alone could offer an entirely different perspective. They’re both naked, only one is physically exposed while the other is emotionally naked. It’s tender and sweet and, I hope, hot. It suits both of them and the story. So I have high hopes that it will suit readers as well.

As for the next sex scene, in the third book, Phoenix Legacy (coming in November), I went in a completely opposite direction. Tender isn’t a word I’d use. At all. But when you’ve got a hero hopelessly addicted to pain because of the adrenaline that flows when he psychically heals his injuries, sex becomes an entirely different kind of challenge.

You can find Luminous either at the Samhain store or the major ebook retails like Amazon. Information and excerpts about the other books can be found on my website, www.corrina-lawson.com

Links:
My author page on Samhain
My author page on Amazon
My website

Corrina is former newspaper reporter with a degree in journalism from Boston University. She turned to writing fiction after her twins were born (they were kids three and four) to save her sanity.

Corrina is currently a senior editor of GeekMom and a core contributor to its brother site, Geek Dad, both on Wired.com.  She also writes for Sequential Tart, a webzine about comics and pop culture written solely by women. Often you can find her hanging out on comic book writer Gail Simone’s forum on Jinxworld.

She has been a finalist in the national Golden Heart contest sponsored by the Romance Writers of America and is the winner of several regional RWA contests. Phoenix Rising, her first full-length novel with Samhain, was a Samhain bestseller.

11 comments to “Guest Blogger: Corrina Lawson”

  1. Diane Sallans
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    1
      · May 30th, 2012 at 11:55 am · Link

    I always find it interesting to read about a writers process – thanks for sharing yours. There are a few new writers I’ve read recently that would do better if they were as thoughtful as you.



  2. Zina
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    2
      · May 30th, 2012 at 12:43 pm · Link

    Very interesting reading about the differences in these three books and the third one definately sounds interesting.
    Z



  3. Diane
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    3
      · May 30th, 2012 at 5:36 pm · Link

    Thank you for the great perspective on this! :lol:



  4. Gail S
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    4
      · May 30th, 2012 at 10:30 pm · Link

    Great article. Thanks for sharing :-D



  5. Corrina
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    5
      · May 31st, 2012 at 8:14 am · Link

    Thanks for reading. And, yeah, I think readers can get bored with similar scenes, just as writers can get bored. The key is to go as deep into the characters as possible.

    And maybe give them some supernormal tools that use normals wouldn’t have. :)



  6. Maria D.
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    6
      · May 31st, 2012 at 12:57 pm · Link

    Good post Corrina! I always like know just how an author comes up with the different plot devices and have to admit that an invisible heroine certainly would pose a challenge for both the writer and the reader. From the excerpts and snippets I’ve read from Luminous, it does sound like you did a really good job with both Noir and Al’s character and I look forward to reading their novella.



  7. Corrina
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    7
      · May 31st, 2012 at 6:54 pm · Link

    Thanks, Maria! I just like to try something different. And I thought concentrating on touch without sight would be a cool approach for something new.

    Plus, Al trying to be what he saw as noble and failing amused me. :)



  8. ELF
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      · June 1st, 2012 at 2:53 am · Link

    Great twists on common themes. I am impressed that you named a hero Aloysius…not a common name (-: I look forward to reading your works, good luck with the upcoming release, it sounds very interesting.



  9. Corrina
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    9
      · June 1st, 2012 at 10:52 am · Link

    That name just came to me, all from the unconscious. I have no idea why but I like the rhythm of it.

    I tend to imagine a younger Denzel in the role in my head for some reason.



  10. Fedora
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    10
      · June 1st, 2012 at 7:39 pm · Link

    Great post, Corrina–thanks for giving us a peek at your writing and thinking about writing ;)



  11. Corrina
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    11
      · June 5th, 2012 at 1:28 pm · Link

    You’re more than welcome!