I began writing my first polyamorous romance eight years ago, when I was pregnant. It was a wonderful outlet for my hormonal creativity, and the stories immediately demanded to be erotica, or at least erotic romance.
In a well-written book of any genre, the sex scenes are there because they need to be there. It is not a sprinkling of titillation on top of the ‘real’ story, it is part of the story. Although some people regard sex as something secret or dirty that, of course, just happens to come along in a relationship after everything else is in place, in reality, sex is an integral part of the development of most romantic relationships.
For some people (this is a stereotypically male thing, but not limited to males) they need some kind of physical intimacy in order to feel secure in offering emotional intimacy. Some people interpret this as emotional hostage-taking, threatening ‘I won’t open up to you until you give me sex.’ Although this situation can be true for some relationships, for most people it is not a threat but a genuine need. Like someone who won’t feel comfortable crossing a narrow bridge unless someone else holds their hand. Sex is more than a primal, physical need like hunger or shelter, sex is something we need in order to fully integrate ourselves with those whom we love.
That first poly romance I wrote had too much sex. Or rather, the beginning chapters had too much sex. It was about an arranged marriage of four men and four women (very traditional on this world) and I used a spreadsheet to figure out how an eight day honeymoon would work if the tradition was that they were paired off for the first seven days and nights, and only came together for the final night. My main character was a female, so she was with one of her new husbands the first night, a wife the second, then a husband, then a wife etc. The sexual encounters were all very different, from the husband who was not attracted to women but considered it his duty to consummate the marriage and continue with that sexual relationship until he impregnated one of them, to the young virgin who’d never had a romantic relationship until his arranged marriage.
It was too much. All these scenes were integral, not only because they happened in a certain timeline, but because they represented the stepping-off point for my main character’s relationship with each of her new spouses. But simply describing what each pair did during the day and their intimate experiences each night felt almost as bad as an info dump in the opening chapters.
That novel is unfinished, and on the shelf.
The story going through Revision 02 right now is a polyamorous romance that comes together in stages. Characters A&B and B&C reach a certain level of emotional and sexual intimacy before characters A&C reach that point. Actually, there are six characters in the romance, so it’s A, B, C, D, E, & F. Last night, I reached the end of the story, but still had one scene I wanted to go back to. Or rather, it was a lack of scene I wanted to return to. Although the final intimate breakthrough is the climax of the story, the penultimate intimate breakthrough was simply mentioned as ‘oh, and this happened.’
This penultimate breakthrough really didn’t feel like a breakthrough. It was a rather quiet, sweet consummation of their relationship. Yet, during Revision 01, I read the ‘oh, and this happened’ and thought that maybe it wasn’t enough.
I’m still waffling.