My name is Ember Leigh, and even though I write erotic romance and love it, I’ll be the first to admit it can be a little awkward sometimes.
My current release Carlos and Casey features two ex-lovers seeing each other for the first time after four years. The short story features a very uncomfortable, awkward start as neither of them knows if that spark is still there. Four years is both so long and no time at all, but it’s certainly enough time to need to get to know a person again.
As I wrote the story, I could feel the weight of this awkward scenario – it even made me cringe, sometimes. Haven’t we all been there, in some situation where you just don’t know what to say, and that silence is almost deafening?
I like awkward moments. Call me strange, but I find them fun. Not necessarily to live through all the time, but awkwardness is fun to recreate in stories, and fun to talk about after the fact. Once you can laugh about it, that is.
It got me thinking about other awkward situations in my writing career in general. And I thought I might shed some light on the actual awkwardness of being a romance author at times.
With so many throbbing things, pulsing fill-in-the-blanks, rock hard oh-yeahs and whispery whatnots bursting from our pages, how could it not be?
I’m referring to the behind-the-scenes aspect, of course. The hours whiled away in front of our respective computers, mulling over the benefit of jubilant sigh in this particular block of text, or if perhaps straining member can slide just this once.
The awkward part is a necessary predecessor to the steamy, take-me-baby-now, perfectly polished part. Because I’ll be honest: writing sex scenes is hard sometimes. Not for lack of experience, not for secret shame of content, not for unexpected stimulation requiring a time-out (though that does happen occasionally!).
Sex scenes are the hardest scenes to write for me, because I am a perfectionist by nature (god, what writer isn’t?) and my inclination is to make my first draft as sparkling as possible.
Which means I can get hung up for hours, or sometimes days, debating how I want to describe the arc of a pectoral, or what words to describe penetration that haven’t been used before.
The old writing adage goes something like this: “JUST WRITE, and then improve it later.” I’ve always struggled with this, but have been able to reach a healthy compromise with most of my writing. I can spew out the majority of a novel without looking back these days, restraining the critical eye until Revision #1.
But the sex scenes? They still get me hung up.
Sometimes, my first draft sex scenes are so unsexy that I feel like throwing in the towel. They can be downright boring, and awkward.
Plenty of these first draft horrors overuse basic words like “hard” and “moan.” The result can look something like this:
John moaned hard and deep into her shoulder. Katie arched her back against him, hard, and let out a gravelly moan as his fingers danced around the prize. She knew that the hard heat of his chest would be the thing to unravel her britches. She moaned again.
Let’s all chuckle quietly for moment. In three lines, we see both ‘moan’ and ‘hard’ three separate times each. Unacceptable, in Polished Final Draft Land.
Luckily, these things get revised out and improved and perfected. That’s the beauty of the editing process.
But for me, the mere experience of writing such lackluster, unsexy sex scenes is a wholly awkward experience. Just reading back over them after some time has passed, before the revision process, is, well, how can I say it?
No matter, though. Plenty of opportunities for me to laugh at myself after the fact. And definitely good fodder for a book of hilariously awkward first draft sex scenes down the road.
Are there any awkward parts to reading or writing for you? Do awkward scenarios make you just want to shrivel up and disappear? Do you have any awesome awkward tales involving reading or writing romance novels?
BIO: Ember Leigh has been writing erotic romance novels since she was far too young. A native of northern Ohio, she currently resides in South America with her Argentinean partner, a detail she uses to justify her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Literature. In addition to romance novels, she also writes travel articles, maintains three blogs, and continually attempts to complete a mildly-gripping short story. In her free time, she practices Ashtanga yoga, travels the world, and eats lots of vegetables.
Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EmberLeighAuthor
Blurb: Recently divorced, Casey has been longing for a man’s touch. So when business brings her back to Carlos, the one that got away, it has to be fate. The four years apart have only done him better, and all she can think about is having his arms, and body, wrapped around hers. But Carlos is not the same man he was four years ago, and Casey too is feeling the weight of too much time gone by. Can Casey help reignite his fire or has time left them behind?
Her breath caught as she followed him up the staircase, tucked to the far side of the house. Carlos had always been fit enough, but it looked like he’d taken up some new form of exercise in the past four years. He was beefier, yet still lean. His ass moved round and tight in front of her as they climbed the stairs. At the landing, he gestured in front of them.
“This is my studio, but it’s all yours for tonight.”
It was a rec room that took up the whole second floor, and far more standard male than the ground floor alluded to. Movie posters, gaming systems, books scattered on floors and coffee tables, and, off to one side, the trumpet, asleep in a bed of sheet music. In the corner there was an overstuffed couch just about as wide as she was long – it would be great to sleep on, even better if he could bend her over that armrest and fuck her until dinner was ready.
She cleared her throat, deciding adult friendships could be fun, even after four questionable years. “I thought I’d be sharing a bed with you?” She tried to keep her tone playful as she sauntered toward the couch. She tossed him a smile and she caught a glimpse of him looking very stricken. Shit. Too far. Things are too different now. Abort!
Maybe too much time had passed in general. Maybe he was courting a girl and wanted to take it slow with her. Maybe he no longer found her attractive, four years becoming the dagger in the heart. Maybe he’d become celibate, or found her life too normal and boring. There was a whole list of reasons why she shouldn’t make the first move.
“I was just joking,” she said after a moment, rolling her eyes. “Come on, lighten up.”
He exhaled slowly, looking down at the ground as his tongue found the corner of his mouth. “I know it was a joke, Case.”
“In case you forgot, we used to share a bed.” She looked at him pointedly, already horrified that the words were coming from her lips. What was the getting at? Who had authorized this dialogue?
He squeezed his eyes shut and laughed softly. “Oh, I remember.”