The Morning After

The hardest scene to write for many romance authors is the sex scene.

For some writers, it's an agonizing choreography of phallic synonyms and awkward dialogue. At least, that's what it's like for me. Maybe other authors have an easier time putting body parts in the right places.

"Sex scenes probably get easier to write over time," I thought.

"Sex scenes never get easier to write over time," said one of the speakers at the Emerald City Writer's Conference I went to in October.

Oh well.

So far, my strategy's been to write my book with [insert sex scene here] sprinkled liberally throughout. Now that I'm in the dreaded revision stage, I'm faced with the daunting prospect of going back and filling in all those dick superlatives and breathy moans. So I decided obviously the best way to make these scenes realistic is to get super high and draw a panel-by-panel stick figure cartoon strip to help visualize each sex scene.

I write with fingerless gloves on in the winter because my roommates are boys and have weird superpowers, like the ability to generate their own body heat, and they don't think setting the thermostat to 80 degrees is reasonable.

But when it comes down to it, sex scenes aren't the most important scenes in a romance novel. The hardest scene is the "morning after" scene. Or the "afternoon after." Or the "trip to the mini golf course" after.

What are these two smugly-satisfied individuals doing now that the spectre of sexual tension has been temporarily banished? Do they even like each other? How has their relationship progressed now that they've seen each other naked? Can she make that hole-in-one on the eighteenth hole so they can get another free game, even with a stupid windmill in the way?

Mini-golf is a great way to rekindle sexual tension between your characters. 

This is a long metaphor for how I felt after the Emerald City Writer's Conference (ECWC). At the conference, I pitched my book to an agent and an editor, and they both professed their love for my concept! They requested I send them the full manuscript once it had been through beta-readers and editing!

My pitching outfit. I was so excited! I even wore the cat shirt I'd bought at a thrift store the day I'd decided to start writing this book. 

"They like me, they really like me!" I crowed to my fiance when I called him that night.

This ego-swelling thrill fueled me for the next week after the conference. I wasted a good deal of imagination time picking the outfit I'd wear for when I took an instragram photo of myself first holding a paperback copy of my published book.

This is what I settled on. Still pretty confident in this choice.

Then I wasted some more time fantasizing about quitting my part-time serving job and lounging around the house in expensive yoga pants and having servants do the dishes for me (because the next logical step after getting published is to become rich and stop working).

Also leg warmers. You know you've made it when leg warmers are a casual day-to-day accessory.

Then I wasted some more time planning 10+ sequels for my as-of-yet-unpublished book, because obviously I'm going to have to answer to a rabid fan base who will demand I explore the stories of every single secondary character, including the lady at the magical grocery store and the guy who takes care of the fae horses who doesn't have any lines.

Then the thrill wore off and I realized I still had a lot of work to do on my book.

I'd spent the week prior to the conference speed-writing my butt off. I'd written some 15,000 words in six days just to finish my novel. I wanted to be able to say my book was done when I pitched it, and for some reason I didn't think about just... lying?

I know, it makes no sense to me, either. But at the time it seemed very important that I'd gotten to "The End," even though I was missing huge chunks of plot. Character development was spotty at best. And I still had all those [insert sex scene here] placeholders.

My "finished" novel was glorified swiss cheese. The shitty, low-fat kind.

A surprisingly inadequate number of "books made out of swiss cheese" stock photos available on the internet. 

But without the incentive of a hard deadline burning down my door, I just didn't feel motivated to go back and fix anything. I made the mistake of pretending I was done with my book so I could feel confident pitching it, and now the allure of my own fantasy was preventing me from getting my book in actual working order.

Over and over again, writing technique books discuss the daunting challenge of the EMPTY PAGE!! Like, oh-em-gee, where to even start, am I right?

But what about the daunting challenge of 85,000 words you've already written? How does one go back and, with cruel precision, excise the bullshit? I love my bullshit. I want to keep it ALL. I'm not even mature enough to actually delete anything. Instead, I secretly cut and paste all my excised text into another document so the brilliance of my words doesn't disappear into the void.

I know how you feel, buddy. I also keep all my deleted chapters under the couch.

Like sex scene writing, draft editing gets easier with time........ right?