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Writing Sex Scenes 101

writers guild

I’ve been writing professionally for more than two decades, so what took me so long to discover the St. Louis Writer’s Guild? Established in 1920, this group has more than 320 members—the most famous one was playwright Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie) who won the short story contest in 1935.

So one recent Saturday morning, I dragged myself out of my warm, cozy bed, even though the streets were still snow covered from the night before and the mailbox was frozen shut. Who in their right mind would sit in a classroom for two hours on a bitter cold weekend, I thought, besides me? I must be crazy. But my purpose was two-fold. One, I wanted to see for myself what the St Louis Writer’s Guild was all about, offering monthly workshops, open mic nights, and an author speaker series to support local wordsmiths. And two, as a co-producer/director of the 2nd annual Listen To Your Mother, I wanted to promote this opportunity for local writers to read their original stories about motherhood in front a live audience.

I expected only a few people at the meeting, and I got there late. To my surprise, after I rushed to the second floor of Kirkwood Community Center, I noticed the room was packed with men and women, dressed in slushy snow boots with their heavy coats and scarves draped on the back of their folding chairs. Everyone eagerly took notes and seemed engrossed in the topic of conversation: “Love Scenes: When to Turn Out the Lights,” presented by local author Lynn Cahoon.

Let’s put it this way. It might have been freezing outside with icicles hanging in the windows, but it sure got hot in here.

50 shades

50 Shades–Mommy Porn?

Even though I write mostly parenting humor pieces and Jewish topics, I admit the subject was intriguing. So, the instructor asked us questions, such as:

“What’s another name for intercourse?”

 “What page should a sex scene start?”

“What are the 12 stages of intimacy?”

 “What’s the difference between erotica and a romance novel?”

When she continued to probe, “What’s another name for “men’s junk,” I was tempted to yell out “schlong,” but I chickened out. It just wasn’t the right crowd.

I didn’t bring a notebook with me, but I found a receipt in my purse and scribbled word like, “velvet glove” and “bumping the uglies.” I started to feel dirty.

I learned a few interesting things. Your characters in the story should always wear condoms, or “readers will nail you” for promoting unprotected sex. And if you want to know where the word “muffin” originated or other fascinating sex tidbits, go to this historical romance resource, A Bit O’Muslin.

Some of the participants took turns reading a few lines from their manuscripts. One elderly man with thinning gray hair and a flannel plaid shirt proudly recited his latest revision, “they sat on the edge of the bed….their thighs touched…”

After a five-minute bathroom break, it was my turn to stand up and talk about Listen To Your Mother, a national movement to give Mother’s Day a microphone, and how submissions are open until February 21. Suddenly, the word “submissions” took on a new meaning.

But the best part? The next day my mom asked me for her receipt from the furnace repair, and I gave it to her without thinking about my notes on the back of the piece of paper.

If she asks, I’ll tell her “boner” refers to a shank bone I need to buy at the grocery store for my pea soup.


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