. When writing in a genre which includes the words, historical and romance you are going to have to face it, your characters, be they hetro’ or gay are, sooner or later, going to gravitate to the bed chamber and from there to the curtained intimacy of the four poster. Yup! They want sex, and you as the author are going to have to let them indulge one way or another.
As a beginner writer in the M/M historical romance genre I was totally in the dark about things of that nature. I mean, most of us think we know what goes on between male lovers, but believe me we don’t. So as my characters are male and do eventually become lovers I had to find out as much as I could about the subject. Because I don’t suppose there was a great deal of difference between what guys liked then and what they like now just the same as ‘straight’ couples. So off I went and after a few ‘hands hovering over the keyboard’ moments, I dived in and learnt much and more besides. Yes, there are sites which explain all to writers of this genre. Well you have to get it right and it’s no good being a shrinking violet. If it makes you uneasy, don’t go there.
But there again, you don’t have to include full on sex in your novel. You can stop at the passionate kiss and a fade out, as in this extract from my very early short story Ned & Will, A love story. Will has told Ned that the loves him and eventually Ned confesses that he returns his love. They kiss gently at first and Ned says;
“Oh Jesus, it is the sweetest sensation and I begin to relax and respond at last, melding my body to his, moaning with pleasure as he moves his hand to cup jaw and cheek, caressing my neck and throat with gentle fingers as his mouth closes over mine, and as the kiss deepens the last of my doubts and inhibitions are gone and I return the kiss with the intensity of feelings too long denied as he pushes me back onto the bed”
And we can use our imagination as to what happens next without describing it in great detail. Recently I have read two novellas in the M/M genre and both use very different approaches to sex scenes. One left very little to the imagination and the other was more subtle. But both were lovely stories and I was able to see how other authors handled ‘that’ subject.
And what the Hell do you call the various erm, bits and pieces? Well, read other books of the genre, but steer clear of proper names, it sounds too clinical and euphemisms sound too coy. Try to use terms that the people involved would use and bear in mind that what we consider rude today was the norm in times past. Even ladies talked of ‘pissing’ a term we would not consider using in polite society.
I have experimented with both approaches to sex scenes and I really think it depends on what you as the author feels comfortable with. And lest we forget, some of the greatest novels ever written never go beyond a kiss. ( and bags of metaphors!)
I can recommend a website for further books and articles on the subject, ‘Speak it’s Name’ which reviews mostly M/M novels and Novellas and lists loads of sites on researching the subject.
Ah well, back to Tudor England and my boys.
Until next time.
Illustration from the cover of ‘A Promise of Tomorrow’ by Rowan McAllister. Cover art by Paul Richmond.