Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to Write about Sex & Respect Yourself in the Morning

Welcome, Alice Orr

Human beings are whole beings. They are born, grow, learn to use their bodies and minds, often have sex, procreate, create symphonies and novels, slow down in time and eventually leave the home planet…

Few topics breed as much controversy as sex. Some like it cold. Some like it hot. It's as different for each person as individual appreciation of the stars and moon…

Alice Orr has a long and distinguished history with Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. Award-winning author, literary agent, editor, lecturer - she is highly regarded by many writing institutions. She has been one of the strongest guiding lights in the development of Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter, for many years. I am honored that she shares her expertise in so many areas of the publishing world with our very talented team at CWC today!

I recommend her book
NO MORE REJECTIONS - 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript That Sells - to both new and experienced writers.

Thelma J. Straw

A glib title for a serious subject. Serious because it affects the quality of your storytelling. Badly written love scenes turn the reader off when they should turn the reader on. Specifically they turn the reader off to the rest of your story no matter how well it’s told.

Badly written love scenes are often written solely to titillate the reader. They don't deepen our understanding of your characters or advance your story in any real way. They aren’t about authentic real life because they don't reflect the complexity of human sexuality.

Worst of all badly written love scenes turn off editors and agents who’ve already suffered through reading too many of them. Though they seldom read them to the end. Those authors cared too much about tweaking the libido and not enough about touching the heart and that sent them to the rejection pile.

Notice I refer to love scenes not sex scenes. When these scenes work they’re about love in its many facets not just sex in its single facet.

I'm obviously not talking about writing pornography – a perfectly legitimate genre if you choose it but not my choice here. Not because I’m going all moral on you but because I’m going all market on you.

The readers of novels are mostly female. Romance. Fantasy. Literary. Even Mystery. All read mostly by women. Fifty Shades of Grey not withstanding – most women readers aren’t captured – hooked in storytelling terms – by slam-bam sex-only lust-making devoid of love.

The sales potential of pornography also has its limits though erotica is now finding a mass market. Nonetheless mainstream fiction – both commercial and literary – has broader potential for book sales over the broad expanse of a career. Note how few pornography titles become bestsellers – Fifty Shades of Grey not withstanding.

I don't mean you should write lukewarm love scenes. You should write hot love scenes. Love scenes are hot when they’re passionate. Passion isn’t only a physical turn-on. Passion resonates throughout your characters’ lives far beyond the bedroom.

It's okay to be honest about the turn-on. In fact it’s essential. Well-written love scenes turn readers on sexually. They also turn you on when you write them. If they don't you should probably rewrite because you’ve probably failed to create true passion between your characters.

If you fail to communicate passion to yourself how can you communicate it to your readers? And if you fail to communicate with your readers how can you respect yourself in the morning?

My current novel is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – available at This is my 13th novel and if you don’t like passionate love scenes you should avoid Chapter 26.

Alice Orr


  1. i connect Alice with organizational skills and hard work! I will never forget working on her team in setting up for the annual MWA symposium when we used to hold it at the law building of NYU... we workers got there at the crack of dawn to assemble the various materials, handouts, etc. under Alice's direction... we worked so fast and furious that by the time the participants rushed in the door my just-coiffed hairdo was totally soaked from the work pace! Alice's enthusiasm made us want to be right on time! tjs

    1. Dear Anonymous. I wish I knew who you are so I could picture you as I send a virtual hug. I remember that day so well and how wonderful all of you were leading up to it. I hand-picked each of you for your talent and your dependability. I gave each of you an aspect of the event to handle as your own. My bet was that you'd do that extremely well and I won that bet. It was a glorious day and I have always been grateful for the way all of you made it so. I was only the ringleader. I apologize if I cracked my whip too much. Thank you for that day - the memory - and mostly for your good work.

  2. Reading a badly written book with limp romance scenes and outrageously stretched out, lousy plot is like being stuck between two boring people at a long and badly prepared dinner party. At least I can throw the book across the room when I can take no more of the gibberish. I totally agree that passion is a characteristic of a good character whether in the sack or driving a car in heavy NYC traffic.

  3. Dear Margaret Mendel. I agree with every word you say here. Badly written love scenes are boring. Passion is the key. To everything. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Dear, dear Alice, I am the Anonymous! But I feel in no way anonymous on this green earth! My initials TJS are usually at the end. God bless your work! Thelma - tjs... anonymous