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.

20 thoughts on “Shrugs, Smiles and Sex

  1. LOVE this post! While your characters are shrugging and smiling, mine are rolling their eyes and feeling their heart rates race. Sigh! 😉

    1. Kerri, I was posting a reply to you when Denny was posting, so it looks like I ignored you, but I didn’t. Lol. Just scroll down. 🙂

  2. Kerri said run on over here to read your fantastic post (which I was about to do anyway), and yep, she was right – great post Mermaid Kim! I, however, struggle with sex scenes (and not because I don’t enjoy sex, or have a lot of things to right about:), but your post made me wonder about why that’s a challenge, and I think its because most of my adult characters have issues with their sexuality – like its either gotten them in trouble, or they use it to mask their fears about intimacy, or they are vampires who can’t accept sex without bloodlust – so clearly, my characters have issues. But when they get to the lovemaking – those scenes are more fun to write…

    1. Sometimes I think the sex scenes are way more powerful when there are issues. If it were easy peasy, nobody would even be interested. When it’s just the next logical step in the journey…BORING. Give me the issues. Give me some obstacles.
      It sounds like your vampires have some issues. 🙂 And sometimes the intimacy is even a greater challenge. I’m not all about the sex. I want to see and feel that intimacy. I would much rather read a book where the characters don’t have sex but have an amazing connection than one where they have lots of sex without a true connection. I see that plenty, but it always leaves me cold and not interested in more books by that author.

  3. Oh, Kerri. I have the rolling eyes galore. But I figure that IS something teens do ALL THE DAMN TIME. I have two at home who roll their eyes with my every other word. 🙂 I have hearts racing and so many lumps in throats that it’s a wonder my characters’ throats don’t look like a camel.

    1. That’s what reading and writing is all about, Mary Jo. Imagining. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post, Kim! You always make me laugh. I absolutely think there is a place for sex in YA novels; it just has to be appropriate to the story. I have no doubt that yours is! I can’t wait to read this particular scene, so get cracking! 🙂

  5. You know what? I am so glad you wrote the words honesty and sex up there in that totally awesome post you wrote for us today. Teens are having it. Not sure I know where else to go from there…but I admire the heck out of you Hot Mama. Today, you are my hero. 🙂

  6. I love honesty and sex. Both of them rock! 🙂 And to be honest about sex is a double whammy. Lol.
    I admire you as well, my redheaded Hot Mama. You’re my hero for all the research you do for a book–dying hair and all. 🙂
    I know I still owe you for the BIY thing.

  7. Great post, Kimberly! You’re totally reading my mind — I’ve been struggling with “should they or shouldn’t they” in my current manuscript. I think I’ll let my characters decide and see what happens. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. That’s always the best policy, Bonnie. Every time I thought I would have my characters go “all the way,” they never did because it just wasn’t right. This time, it was. Good luck on your WIP! Thanks for visiting, Savvy! 🙂 Miss you.

    1. Thanks, Dana! A big shrug and a smile back at ya! No sex though. I have to draw the line somewhere. Lol.

    1. Nan,
      I’ve been through the hands in the hair thing as well. And running fingers through hair. And flipping hair. Oh, the things we can do with hair! Lol.

  8. Yes, like Nan, except it’s my hero who is trawling his hands hands through his hair way too much. Kim, you bring up an important point–characters sometimes have minds of their own and sometimes it’s a good idea to let them do their thing!

    1. Miranda,
      I agree that it’s important to let your characters do their own thing! Many times their ideas are far better. Lol.
      One book I had characters looking in mirrors all the time. Checking themselves out. Comparing their looks. Talking about the coloring of their hair or eyes. Of course that was my first book when I had no clue how to get descriptions across without coming right out and saying it. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

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