Shrugs, Smiles and Sex

by Kimberly MacCarron

As writers, we’re supposed to write what we know. Apparently I know lots about shrugging, smiling and sex.

If I do a find and replace with the words ‘shrug’ or ‘smile’, there would be a gazillion replaces going on. Now, the sex is another story. I don’t use the word much, but, boy do I like to write about it.

This poses a significant problem for me because I write YA. Teens tend to smile and shrug a lot. I’m sure they even have sex. But shouldn’t it be a little bit harder writing sex scenes for teen readers?

Apparently not.

During this month of NaNo, I started writing a paranormal adult contemporary. I’m about 9,000 words in, which totally bites when we’re way past the halfway mark. On the other hand, I started a YA book at the beginning of October, which I had trouble writing. I’ve gone back and forth between these two books like the fickle woman I am.

Yesterday, I got to the halfway mark in the YA. Want to know how I did it? I decided my characters would have sex. Then I wrote almost 5,000 words leading up to it.

For all you writers out there who are stuck in your manuscript: write what you know.

I apparently know sex. After all, I am a mom of five kids. 🙂 I think sex makes the majority of people happy. Maybe I shouldn’t advocate that as a YA writer, but, hell, let’s be honest. Teens go back and forth between being on top of the world and being in the pits. That was most of us as well at that age.

I’ve written five YA romances now, and I always intend for my characters to have sex, but it never happens. It came close–just about as close as possible–in my last book, but it didn’t happen. I do plenty of hinting at the end that it WILL happen, but I’ve never written a sex scene for teens. That made me rethink things. I shouldn’t be writing FOR teens. I just need to be honest in the story and write it that way.

I think this is what motivates me today to write. I am going to write that sex scene. And I’m going to curb the smiles and shrugs. Unless they’re really, REALLY sexy smiles and shrugs. Today it’s all about the sex.

What about you? Do you write what you know? Do you get stuck when you’re trying to make your characters NOT do what they clearly want to do? What infuses excitement into your writing day?

Off to smile while I write. No shrugging allowed.