Fade to Black (The Sex Scene)

Warning: I’ve tried to keep it clean, but discussion of mature themes to follow.

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Venus guessed. “Since you two have…been together?”

Ross paused, hand hovering over the electric kettle. “A bit,” he admitted.

She offered him a slow nod, glancing down at the edge of the counter space, where there was a stash of pens and a flip-pad scribbled with future meal notes. “Well, sex shouldn’t be the most important thing in a relationship.”

He shook his head as he filled the kettle with water. “I know that-”

“But it is important,” she said, and here Ross raised his head in quiet surprise.

I’ve never shied away from sexual situations in my stories. I don’t consider a sex scene in and of itself pornographic, though it can certainly be used for that purpose. In most of my stories (as in life), sex is a way for two people to communicate beyond the use of words; the intense intimacy forged by being sexual with another person creates all sorts of interesting conflicts and realizations.

Venus, here, is stating my own opinion: Sex should not be the most important aspect of a relationship. But it is important.

Sexual compatibility can mean different things for different people. A couple with low libidos may have sex once a month…and it will be wonderful every single time. A couple with strong libidos may have sex once a day…and that can be beautiful every single time, too. Relationships are as unique as the people in them, and it’s the part of stories I really enjoy examining.

I like a sex scene to mean something, though. A conflict of interests. A learning experience. A personal enlightenment. Even a casual or detached sex scene can have important meaning for a character, at that moment in the story. I like using all of these approaches to sex in my stories.

What I’ve been enjoying with this latest endeavor, though, is the fade-to-black, or glossing, technique. Sex for its own sake doesn’t do anything for a story; I’ve always agreed with that. But sex also doesn’t have to happen “on-screen” for it to be worthwhile to a character’s or relationship’s development.

For Fearless, let’s say there are four sex scenes that are important for the development of the plot. Does that mean the characters have sex only four times in the story? Hell, no! But, I can show in a paragraph – or a sentence – what’s happening between them, without going into detail. I know what’s going on; the reader knows what’s going on. And I can get to the really important part – the ramifications or repercussions of that sex scene – that much more quickly, than if I delved into the detail.

Some writers and readers don’t like sex in their stories. That’s fine. I do like sex, though, when it means something. Just like in real life.

How do you feel about sex in stories?


8 thoughts on “Fade to Black (The Sex Scene)

  1. Personally, I’ve never had a problem reading about sex in stories, since it (usually) requires a lead-in, and buildup and a plotline of its own. The act itself is never the whole story.
    Writing it, however…yea, that’s a lot harder for me.


    • Depending on the situation, writing it can be difficult for me, too. For instance, I would be uncomfortable writing a rape scene, since that is so not about intimacy. (It’s not even about sex, really, save for the physical act.)

      If it’s not necessary for a story, I don’t see a point in pushing that envelope.

      Thanks for stopping by, Shade!


  2. I agree that a sex scene needs to mean something, otherwise it is gratuitous. I don’t really care if it’s explicit or not, I’m not offended by detail — but it has to be written for a purpose. A girl’s first time is going to be described much differently than a middle-aged woman having an affair. And the detail could be less or more depending on the situation.

    I have a fairly involved sex scene in my novel that I have agonized over. It’s relatively detailed but I am aiming for passion over raunch. Certain acts and behaviors can seem over the top when you have two people who finally get together towards the end of the novel. That means there are 250 pages of sexual tension leading up to the big moment. So, the question becomes do I really need the detail when I’ve already built up reader anticipation?

    Less is more in most instances, but sometimes I feel like when you’ve made the reader wait for 200+ pages, they deserve a little treat 😉


    • They certainly do, Kate! 😀
      As a young adult, I tried writing “erotica” and it was horrible. LOL! I have a young writer friend who’s doing the same. I think it’s natural for people who are curious about sex to want to explore it in a safe way, in their writing. That’s how I saw it, at least. It made for some harsh realizations when I finally did feel my first real crush…but I think I was ready not to be sexual for reason of my imagination, too. 🙂

      As much as I think sex is important in a relationship, it’s what it means for the people involved that is more important, in fiction and real life.

      Thanks for commenting!


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    • No, no! Don’t delete them! 😀 Keep them in a separate document of scraps, if you want to take them out of the story proper, but don’t just get rid of them. They can be valuable teaching tools.

      I know a lot of people who have trouble writing sex (and reading it). I enjoy it, personally, but it’s more integral to the stories I’m trying to tell. That may not be the case, for you. But, the more practise you get doing anything – even writing sex – the more comfortable you become with the process. So, when you finally do want to have that big old love scene, you can feel better about it.

      My first sex scene was God-awful, by the way. But, I kept trying, and – I think – I’m pretty good at it, now. 🙂


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