This morning while washing up, I began thinking of the second novel in the Perceval series, Perceval’s Shadow. The first draft is done. With my success in the revision of Perceval’s Secret, I’ve been thinking of plunging right into the next novel and revising the first draft. It surprised and dismayed me that the first challenge (or problem, depending on your point of view) that would pop into my mind would be the one sex scene in the book.
The first draft of this scene sketches out the who, what, where and how, and the conflict of the scene. I chose to do that rather than taking a stab at writing it out. I had no idea how to write it. At least, not at that time. I hoped that by the time I sat down to revise it, I’d know how to write it. And that’s what came to me this morning in one of those lightning bolts of ideas that usually makes me wonder if I’ve just had a seizure. Especially when the body tingles of rightness follow….
Sex scenes, by their very intimate and private nature, are difficult to write. If you focus on the physical action, it can come off as mechanical or worse, like porn. I’ve considered reading a lot of romance fiction to get an idea of how other writers step up to the challenge. Ugh, too much time for that! Instead, I decided to let the characters tell me what to write. And that’s what hit me this morning — how Evan wanted me to write the scene.
Suddenly, the whole scene was right there in my mind, playing out like a scene in a movie. The solution to what I thought was a problem turned out to be so simple I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. Ahem, Evan hadn’t told me before. But I guess I wasn’t open to it before.
Fear had kept all the doors and windows locked on that scene. First, I dreaded writing a sex scene. Then, I feared I wouldn’t be able to do it. Then, I feared what I wrote wouldn’t be true to the characters. And I wanted to focus, too, on the emotion in the scene — not love, in this scene, but affection — and Evan’s fears. A lot of fear going around this scene!
This morning I felt great about the revision of Perceval’s Secret. I felt ready to tackle the next novel in the series. I felt that I knew Evan better, also. And now I know better why the first novel ends the way it does, which affects the next novel. And wow, that sex scene just popped into my head and played, showing me what I needed to write to make Evan real and happy with me.
Whether writing a first draft or working on a revision, writing — creating — is a process. Our thoughts and emotions affect our individual creative process, whether those thoughts are the detritus of a busy day out in the world or fear of screwing up a scene that’s important to the main character and the novel.
Now, I know what to do. I’ll write notes for that scene so when I get to it during the revision process, I’ll be ready to sail through it with Evan at the wheel….