February Featured Article
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Sex: The Good, the Bad, and the Purple
by Nan Jacobs                                 (Continued from THIS PAGE)

"Stand, man, 'afore I cut yer ballocks off!" a gruff voice above them ordered. Cold steel scraped Bryce's beard-roughened cheek.

He leapt to his feet. Ellen followed slowly, a satisfied smile playing about her mouth. She gathered the ragged remains of her clothing and shielded her tingling breasts and the still throbbing, twitching mass of nerves at the juncture of her weakened thighs. She scratched her ear.

"You're late, Cedric."

"Sorry, mum." Cedric prodded Bryce's splendid buttocks with the tip of the sword. "You'll be spendin' time in the dungeon, scourge-of-the-earth. You'll not be soilin' another maiden in this district!"

As Cedric marched the buck-naked Bryce down the mountain trail at sword-point, Ellen shouted, "And you thought you were getting fresh fruit!"

Bryce stopped, yelping when the point of Cedric's sword poked into him. "Not a maiden! You conniving little--"

Ellen's peal of bitter laughter cut off his words. "Men. Think they want a virgin, but can't tell whether they've had one or not."

Broken, humiliated, Bryce stumbled away, his head hung as low as his sagging manhood.

Near as I can tell, most who read about Ellen's adventure--oops, love scene--fall off their chairs and spill their sodas laughing. Wouldn't you prefer your love scene to leave readers sighing?

What constitutes a "good sex scene?" It's not the body parts. It's not who's touching whom where and with what. It's not cliches, nor laughable euphemisms. It's
emotion. Sex is the natural extension of the hero and heroine's love for each other.

Your love scene should move the story forward, not be tossed in for more heat. Something should be at stake that will affect the outcome of the scene, perhaps even the story. And that "something" must be inextricably bound to
emotion. Even if the characters haven't consciously admitted their love, the reader must believe their emotions are involved.

As you critique your love scenes, look for elements of goals, motivation or conflict (GMC) relating to the scene or story question. I think you'll discover that involvement of GMC in the love scene will pave the way for...you guessed it...

Skip the gratuitous sex. Sex because you've reached Chapter Ten and it's supposed to happen there. Sex every time they see a blade of grass. Sex anywhere and everywhere, heedless of scorpions and fire ants. And skip the love scene clichés. Here is a list of words, phrases and situations to avoid

  • Manroots. Throbbing staffs. Velvet shafts. Velvet-on-steel. Turgid manhood. Pulsing members (of Congress?). Hard evidence of his arousal (may sound offensive to legal minds).Honeyed sweetness. Silken sheaths.
  • Saucy breasts. Breasts that swell, all by themselves. Nubbins. Orbs of desire.
  • Laving tongues. Tongues laving nubbins. Tongues plunging in mouths at the same frantic pace as foresaid velvet shaft into silken sheath.
  • Arching backs and raking nails.
  • Independent body parts ("His hot eyes fell upon her escaping breasts." Really.
    Picture it...).
  • Elasto-man syndrome (physically amazing positions).
  • Play-by-play action (insert Part A into Part B).
  • Mounds of desire.

Now, get rid of those euphemisms, keep that purple tongue out of your cheek, and go write a compelling love scene. This may be a case where real-life practice makes for perfect writing. If you feel the need, practice first. But when you stop practicing and start writing, write passionate prose, not purple prose!

Nan Jacobs is a member of the Bucks County, PA chapter of RWA. She dedicates this article to the memory of Betty Balog, 1-8-2000, poet, romance writer, and friend.

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