Tag Archive for: Confessions of A Dirty Blonde

How much raunch to put in sex scenes :: Confessions of A Dirty Blonde

I like it here. I have a great view and I can put Kahlua in my coffee before heading into the office, so that’s badass.

For those of you who missed the memo, I just left my career as a high school English teacher – so I could be here with you. And after my first post, you’re already sending me sweet vibes via email. How cool is that?

The first note I received was from an Amazon bestselling author who is concerned about how much raunch to put in her sex scenes. How to make the pages steam without burning her career.

So you’re telling me I get to talk about nasty things every week, while drinking morning cocktails? Yeah. Yep. Yes.

Bitch of a job this.

Here’s the question:

“I need tips on writing a love scene. I can write fuckhot love scenes when I’m writing erotica, but I can’t publish erotica. (Long story, but it comes down to I’m a teacher in a tiny rural community and omg-the-drama-it-could-cause.) But more than that, I don’t want to have to write erotica in order to write romance.

“Because of that, any love scenes I write are fade-to-black or vague, and even my own mother said she wishes I’d write something a little dirtier. (Isn’t she great?) So I’m wondering if you have any tips on how to write a decent love scene without having to cross the line to erotica.”

She had me at ‘fuckhot.’ And at the bit where she details her concerns because of her career. I taught in Podunk, Missouri (shout out to MoCo) in the beginning of my career, which is part of the reason I chose to begin writing with a pseudonym. Juggling professional and writing careers can pose problems if you’re supposed to be seen as a role model. So I understand entirely why she’s bound to PG-13 material – and I think her mom is badass.

Still, I’m not entirely sure there is technically much difference between writing romance and erotica. Most of us assume one is dirtier and kinkier, but they both have a similar goal, right? To arouse their audiences’ sexual desires.

The difference, I believe, is between an entire manuscript and a scene. Here’s my thought:

There is something smoldering hot about a sex scene refusing to give away all the details, letting the readers’ imaginations run wild.

Because of that, I don’t think she really has a problem at all, but an awesome opportunity to play with her words and flirt with her readers (like foreplay).

Here’s my suggestion:

I always love detailing bodies coming together, using verbs (enraptured, danced, grazed, etc.) to describe their placement, without coming out and saying anything about penis-and-vagina action (or other combinations of sexual organs).

An example?

“His hand grazed the curve of her lower back as she sank into the down comforter. She blossomed for him underneath his broad shoulders with her smooth legs intertwined and buckling around his waist.”

We’re not talking about penetration. Frankly, blossoming for him could mean many things. But imagery makes the reader see something and they will go wherever their imagination wants. That’s exciting (for them and you).

The rule I write sex scenes by is simple. If I would cringe saying it to one of my former bosses, I probably need to leave some of the dirty work up to the readers.

Erotica is great, if that’s what you want to write, but you don’t have to write an entire book of it, if you don’t want to.

Playing with unusual verbs and putting a metaphor on its proverbial back are two ways to get the point across without giving away the goods.

Funny, this is the second post I’ve referenced giving it all away (and my refusal to), yet here I am dishing out tips on how to make your work dirtier while avoiding a mud bath.

You guys sure put out one hell of an initiation.

Got writing questions for Lindsay? Email capo@rebeccatdickson.com. Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.

Teaching Writing Formulas is GARBAGE :: Confessions of a Dirty Blonde

In middle school, we’re told our paragraphs must be three sentences long. In high school, we’re told five sentences will suffice, but only if you use a hook, a lead in, something of substance, a lead out and conclusion. It’s systematic.

Then as upperclassmen, we’re allowed to lengthen our paragraphs, to add three more sentences (for a total of eight). Providing guidelines is two-fold for teachers, so writing becomes formulaic, easy to understand for the math wizards in the classroom and approachable for every other student who thinks their writing sucks.

Teaching writing formulas is total garbage.

We’re teaching kids all paragraphs should look the same, begin and end the same and, consequently, bore readers in the same way. So what happens when you’re no longer in school but you had to follow these rules through most of your formal training in writing? You’re writing similar paragraphs, fearful to color outside of lines you were once graded between. It sure as shit isn’t easy to break bad habits. Hello, smokers.

Writing paragraphs in a variety of sentence lengths can and will make your writing more interesting. (One sentence.)

Don’t believe me? Pick up your favorite contemporary author and dig around in their book, noticing how many sentences are in each of their paragraphs. (Two sentences.)

Then play with your own writing. Make long paragraphs with short sentences or make a short paragraph with one complex sentence. Either way, you’re breaking the habit of writing cloned paragraphs. (See what I’m doing?)

Writers sometimes lose focus on the fact we are meant to entertain our audience. To do this, we must employ techniques to make navigating our work easy and effective. One of those techniques is as simple as mixing up your paragraph structure, playing with where to cut one and start another. But the key is to play, to pick apart your own work and see if it’s more effective divided in a different way.

If you can do this, it will become second nature. You’ll realize you can have a long paragraph, detailing the sights, sounds and smells of your hometown. Showing us the stars sparkling in the night ocean or the lighthouse beam, dizzying your step as you focus on each twist around the harbor. But the light always brings you home, reminding you you’re alive and present.

Except the grueling scent of Pier Seven Fish Market, which suffocated your throat – and reminded you why you made the trip back to the northeast.

And THAT one sentence paragraph just gave us a complete juxtaposition of the feelings and memories you displayed in the first paragraph, stirring questions and responses from your reader, instead of being the conclusion of a single paragraph about the setting of your scene.

One thing I’ve learned from teaching students in generation Y, and being a student of generation X, is education has never given students enough creative outlets. We don’t value what isn’t practical at this point. And sure, plenty of people could argue they don’t teach this way. But the vast majority do. Which also means the vast majority of writers were taught something similar. And if there is one habit that’s easy to break, it’s this one.

Start digging around in your work. Play and reconstruct and make the words you already love more interesting by simply putting them in different places.

It’s that simple.

Got writing questions for Lindsay? Email capo@rebeccatdickson.com. You might see your answer here. Confessions of a Dirty Blonde goes out every Thursday.