Stepping Outside My Writing Comfort Zone

So I’m knee-deep in my latest project, trying to balance my passion and enthusiasm for it with a demanding new job. I want to keep the writing going, particularly as I’m sending this one out to my critique group chapter by chapter, and they are keen to keep reading.

Writing Sci Fi is so far from my usual fare it’s presenting a number of challenges – exposition or total world immersion (I went for the latter) How much is too much? Is it overwhelming? Impossible to understand? Am I the only one who knows what is going on or cares?

Having loyal readers, even if most are family and (I would hope) naturally a little biased in my favour (and it’s not that I don’t trust them to be critical when necessary – I just always worry that our shared experiences come through in my writing, things they understand that most others wouldn’t), has done a lot to assuage these worries, allowing me to get down into the actual story. Which has taken me even further from my writing comfort zone. Starting at and not ending with a near-miss sex scene in the second chapter.

Seriously, how do romance writers write sex scenes and not die laughing? I nearly died laughing and all my characters do is take a few clothes off.

The premise for the scene is this: two characters meet for the first time, both a little intoxicated. They spend the night dancing at a club and eventually head back to one of their houses. They fool around for a bit, but before anything serious happens they get distracted.

This is told in flashback. At the start of the novel, the two characters in question are fast friends, but not an item. This is the one and only time they’ve ever come close to anything like that. Whether or not they will in the future is up to them and the course of the book. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.

Now, I find it hard to write anything explicitly sexual. As I’ve already mentioned – it just makes me laugh. I write things, read it and think ‘that sounds so ridiculously funny’ and delete it. A friend and I, during one of the more drunken/hyper/stupid moments of our uni career decided we would try writing a sex scene – not with the intention of ever showing a tutor, just to see if we could. We couldn’t. It was after reading No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong which, despite my love of all things Kelley Armstrong, has one of the most mind bendingly ridiculous sex scenes I’ve ever read, second only to a scene in Hunter’s Prayer by Lilith Saintcrow, which actually mentions kissing of the ‘carotid artery’. Yes. Is it just me or is ‘he kissed my neck’ much sexier than ‘he kissed my carotid artery’?

I couldn’t be one of these writers who details the exact hows of sex in that ‘romantic’, flowery way of Romance novelists and Urban Fantasy writers. I prefer allusion. Or total bluntness. Tabitha Suzuma is the master of completely warts and all bluntness in her novel Forbidden about an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister. Gross, yes, but wonderfully written. Wonderfully written enough to keep reading despite the sick factor.

My characters aren’t related, but at the time of their near miss one is underage. (Yes, underage and in a club, with no parents in sight – all part of the world set up: a dystopian future where the majority of the population is under twenty five or incapacitated.) I decided bluntness would be the best approach.

I think it worked out well in the end. Still waiting on feedback from a couple of parties, but generally the consensus seems to be that it wasn’t gratuitous and was necessary to the story. If my uni friend can read it without laughing, I’ll take it as a win!

Next time on ‘Liberty Chronicles Her Writing Struggles For Anyone Who Cares To Listen’…

The challenge of the word challenge and alpha-male face-offs. Or, ‘How Liberty tried to write about two characters rubbing each other up the wrong way and ended up writing ‘challenge’ twice in five words…’


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