So, let’s talk about sex for a moment. Way back when I started this blog, I made a couple posts about the differences which I perceive between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and I still stand by those opinions, but sex sells.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to start writing paranormal romance novels. Just because a story features sex, or the suggestion thereof, doesn’t mean that it’s a romance, and, if you ask Jane Austen, just because a story is a romance doesn’t mean that it has to feature sex.
Some of my more recent stories have contained sexual situations, though there has not been, as my father would put it, “naming of parts.” Nor have I actually described any sex, leaving it to a scene break and to readers’ imaginations. To some extent, this is due to the nature of the markets which I target with my works. There’s many a magazine that doesn’t publish explicit sexual content.
Further, I shy away from gratuitous sexual content. Even if I were to feature explicit sex in a story, I would only do so if it served the story in some way. Kurt Vonnegut has been quoted as saying that “every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action,” and this is especially true when it comes to writing sex. Action in this context refers to the action of the wider story, and if the scene isn’t advancing the story in some way, then it should be excised.
In the case of sex scenes, consider why the characters in question are having sex. What does it tell readers about the characters? How does sex serve to advance any of the plots or subplots of the story? If there’s a romantic subplot and the characters are finally ready to admit to themselves and each other that there’s an attraction, for example, Kaylee and Simon from Firefly, then go for it. If your characters are having sex because there’s nothing else to do, consider skipping to the next scene that will keep the story flowing.
How far you go in writing your sex scenes is entirely up to you and how comfortable you are writing sex. Just keep in mind that the level of sexual content in a given story will play a part in which markets you’ll be able to sell your work to.