When writing romantic scenes where does one draw the line? E.L. James certainly took those boundaries to another level and even the most timid romance readers were picking up her books and diving in. The critics went nuts, but hey ya know what? Everyone, yes everyone, was reading the Fifty Shades trilogy.
I love a well written love scene, and I make a concerted effort to read a lot of them. Why? Because when I write a hot scene I want it to be hot. I don’t want it to fall flat, and for the reader to roll their eyes with a grumbling “Eh…” tumbling from their lips. But not everyone is comfortable writing the kind of scenes like that of Christian Grey’s “playroom”. As for me, I find myself walking a very vigilant line. Let me explain…
When I published my first book, Deadly.Com, I informed my husband over dinner one evening that there were a few “suggestive” scenes within the pages. He stopped with his fork almost to his mouth, looked at me over his glasses, and said, “What do you mean by suggestive?” Uh, oh, I could see this was going to be a problem. You see my husband and his family are an extremely conservative group of people, and I could see in my husband’s face that he didn’t want to have to explain to his family that his wife was writing dirty books. In fact after Deadly.Com was published and the family read my book, they have never mentioned my writing or my books again. It is sort of a taboo subject at family gatherings. Hmmmm.
Okay, so while I was writing my second book, Hot Coco, my husband decided to broach the very sensitive subject over breakfast on the deck one morning. He very casually said, “I hope you’re keeping those suggestive scenes in check. I mean you spent twenty-six years as Miss Cindy, the dance teacher in this community. People entrusted their children to you. What would they think?”
Wow! That put a whole new spin on writing romance—which is exactly what Hot Coco is, a romantic comedy. And yes, there are suggestive scenes in the book. I was taken aback. Should I concern myself as to the position that I used to hold in the community? Is this a problem for romance writers in general? Are their reputations in the community tarnished because they write books with sex or suggestive moments? I had never thought about it before. When E.L. James’s neighbors see her in the grocery store, are they wondering if her playroom is red? Are they speculating as to how many different kinds of whips she might own? Yikes!
You may be asking yourself, what is this writer going to do? Is she going to allow her in-laws and her former occupation to dictate what she writes? Nope.
When I posted the excerpt from the third book of my series, Dangerous Deception, on my website I featured a very sensual scene between Ava and Lugowski. As a matter of fact, it is also the featured excerpt announcing the book at the end of Hot Coco as well. That said my scenes are of a sultry suggestive nature. I have never written an in-your-face sex scene naming body parts or taking the reader into the steamy tangle of desire between the sheets with the characters—yet.
My Unbridled series has been mainly murder/suspense storylines with one romantic comedy thrown into the mix for fun; however I have an ardent desire to write a romantic suspense series, and have decided to do so in 2013. I have some decisions to make as I write my new series. Will I cross that line to pen those hot sex scenes? Or shall I protect my sweet Miss Cindy dance teacher reputation and remain steadfast on this side of the line: very sensual yet strictly suggestive scenes?
I think through it all an author has to find his/her own comfort level, without becoming too comfortable, too complacent in one’s creativity. I truly admire writers like E.L. James, Cindy Gerard, and Maya Banks. They are able to toss all inhibitions aside and write smokin’ hot romance. I am toeing the line. My eyes are fixated on it like I am waiting for someone to shoot a pistol into the air so that I can leap forward. Can I cross it? Do I want to cross it?
Contacting Cindy McDonald:
Twitter handle: @cindymcdonald7