One of the things I learned early on when writing romance (and after having read many, many good romance stories) is the judicious use of the sex act.
That’s partly what sets erotica apart from romance as well – erotica spells it all out to the nth degree because that nth degree is really the entire point of the book. A good romance (either in a romance novel or as a story arc in a book of another genre) might show you characters making the beast with two backs, but having it spelled out every single time actually detracts from the real goal: showing a growing relationship.
There are many ways to show that your characters are having great sex without them having great sex. For instance, in Someday In Dublin, my characters Michael and Amy have been happily shagging each other across two continents. It was time to move onto something more important, but it didn’t make sense for them to be in a hotel room and not taking advantage of that. So I wrote this scene:
“I think we need to revisit the subject of your juvenile tendencies,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I could have sworn you were a grown man.”
He moved the laptop over to the side table, and pulled her across his lap on the bed. “I’ll be happy to demonstrate my manly ways,” he offered, running his hand up her leg and under her shirt, shifting his hand across her belly and breasts with slow and maddening sweeps of his fingertips.
Amy squirmed underneath those talented fingers, deliberately rubbing her backside into him.
“Two can play that game,” she said.
“Oh, this is no game,” he assured her, nuzzling into her neck as he pushed her onto her back. “This is very, very…serious. I’m proving my manhood, after all.”
Sometime later, Amy made a half-hearted move to push the matted mass of her hair off her face with one hand as she tried to smooth out the tangle of sheets that had come off the bed and were bunched under her naked behind. She finally gave up when the effort was just too much. Her hand flopped uselessly on the bare mattress, and she slowly rolled over to give a baleful glance at Michael, who was sitting cross-legged on the bed, munching the last of a bagel.
“Aren’t you supposed to be jet-lagged?” she mumbled.
“That was days ago,” he said incredulously. “And I’m feeling quite refreshed, thanks.” He looked down at her with an overly smug smile that would have set her teeth on edge – if she could summon up the energy.
So here we have two flirtatious, healthy, red-blooded people who did the deed with such gusto, the woman is essentially wrecked for the evening. Come on…what woman doesn’t fantasize about that? And I’m sure your imagination has them swinging from ceiling fixtures, hanging off the bed, slamming naked against the sliding glass doors, gripping the railing on the balcony….damn. The possibilities are endless, because you, the reader, get to fill in the blanks.
Sometimes, it’s better to let your readers fill in the blanks.
Now, if you’ll excuse me….I need something cool to drink….