Tag: writers’ block

Sex Or No Sex

sunshine-girls=product-photo-new  Half way through my first novel, Sunshine Girls I realized I had four      22-year-old female characters in 1973, but no sex. How could that be? After all wasn’t, sex, drugs and rock & roll the mantra of the decade? I took the problem to my writing group.

“You have to have sex,” one person said.

“No one wants to read a book without sex,” someone else added.

Since I’d never written a sex scene before, I headed to the romance section of the nearest bookstore. The first book I picked up, a bodice-ripping historical piece gave explicit descriptions of body parts. I perused a few paragraphs and put it back on the shelf. Too much like porn for what I had in mind. The next one about a woman being coy in 2011 was a little unbelievable for the era. Then I remembered the best seller, Fifty Shades Of Grey. Women loved it, so I bought a copy. I read one chapter and browsed through a few others and put it down. I’m picky about dialogue, maybe too much. From the way Christian Grey spoke, he seemed more like a vampire than young, good-looking and rich. Not the kind of person I wanted touching my protagonist. Besides my four characters were not into kinky. Or maybe they were, and my protagonist didn’t know about it.

In the four years of creative writing courses, not once did our teachers give us any hints on how to write sex scenes. And none of the articles I read on the subject seemed to fit what I wanted. I was on my own. It took me five hours to write one sentence. Mainly because I felt I needed to be careful with the protagonist, after all, she was a naïve twenty-two year old in 1973. Women still had a long way to go to lose the slut label. Once I got through the first scene, the others were easier and fun to write. I even laughed and enjoyed stretching my imagination.

paper-sun-product-photoThe sex scenes in Paper Sun were stress-free. The characters were fifty. By the time we get to forty, the word promiscuous should no longer exist. I even put my character in a no commitment sexual relationship with a man twelve years younger.

I still don’t know everything about writing sex scenes. But here’s what I figured out:

  • Relax.
  • Make sure no one else is around when you’re writing the scenes.
  • Unless it’s erotica or a bodice-ripping novel, keep it tasteful and simple—no need for long drawn out details.
  • Don’t forget the characters’ emotions.
  • Use your imagination.
  • Sex scenes do not have to be romantic.
  • Most of all be playful, laugh  and have fun with it.

In my third book, the characters are 65 years old and older. I’m dealing with bodies that are no longer youthful. Not to mention the up and down feelings that go along with aging. Up to now, my research describes all the physiological problems of people sixty and over. I haven’t found much on the emotional part of older adults having sex with a new partner or someone they haven’t seen in years. So, I’m back to asking myself the same question: sex or no sex.

See: https://sheilahorne.com


Imperfect Perfection

When I’m working on a novel or short story and the words aren’t flowing I don’t see it as an obstacle. For me it’s a time do something different, something out of the ordinary, something wildly creative. It doesn’t have to follow rules or be correct. It is what it is: Imperfect and Perfect at the same time.     


Photo by Sheila Horne


Take a bite, make a list, pretend I’ll complete it. Turn on computer, turn on music,

get into the groove. Check email, open pen, open book, scribble word. Search

for another pen. Write about obstacles, scratch out line, add line, gaze

outside—snowflakes float.


Take a bite, check plant, check window, check paper. Write, about dogs,

about cats, about slippery with bad news rising. Count paper clips.


Take a bite, stand at window. Look south, north, east, west,

shift from foot to foot. Sit down. Write Jasmine blooms: brilliant,

too brilliant, too too brilliant like desire, un-attachment,

aversion, lust, scratch out blooming Jasmine.


Take a bite draw flower add stem and leaves. Scratch out flower.

Write about loves lost, beaches, Beach Babies they called us.

Summer Boys I named them—he laughed. What were their names?

Forgotten—so long ago.  Open holy water, sprinkle, make sign of cross,

visualize. Visualize what? Visualize chakra. Scribble word on new blank

page. Scratch word, scratch head, scratch arm. Write deluded deadline 

on calendar.


Take a bite, move box black and white with polka dots. Climb in-jump out.

Write goals pretend I’ll meet them, meet, meet, meet who? Where? When?

How? Kill adjectives,adverbs, verbs. No. Need verbs. Prepositions maybe.


Take a bite, look at John Lennon framed on the wall. Look at Bob Dylan

framed on the wall. Ask them their thoughts on stifling people at tables

in restaurants. Watch a man shake off winter and tramp through slush searching

for house number nine. Number nine. That’s it—Beatles. Number nine. Dig deep

into my soul, my essence, my being. Write about spades about shovels, about hoes.

The ho reached for the john. The john reached for the ho. No soul. No essence.

No being. No ho. No john.


Take a bite, close pen, close book, shut down mind—Perfection.