Is (a) Sex (Scene) Necessary (Here)?

So I don’t want to write the first sex scene between Nick and Nita.  I need to know if I’m just being lazy/a coward/prudish (the last is not likely), or if it’s really unnecessary.  Plus this first scene is not very good even for a discovery draft.  Actually the second one isn’t very good, either.  ARGH.  So the first of the scenes below happens after the nightclub stuff I posted months ago.  Then Nita takes the dog out in the next scene, omitted here, and Bad Things Happen, and then she talks to Max in the bar before she goes back up and falls asleep, also omitted here.  She does not mention the sex in either scene nor does she think about it because both of those scenes are in Max’s POV.  The second scene below is the fourth scene in that sequence, when she goes downstairs the next morning and runs into Rab.  The question is, does skipping the sex feel like a copout?  Tell me no.  Also tell me why the first scene is so awful.  And the second.  Well, you know, the usual.


Nita followed Nick into the apartment as he tossed the ledgers on the table.  “I still think it was wrong to hit Tommy.”

“Tommy is fine.” Nick sat on the edge of the bed and took off his shoes. “I think I can get enough from the ledgers to straighten out all the blackmail.  If not, I will go out and torture the Lemmon brothers.”

Nita sat down on the other side of the bed and kicked off her shoes. “I should be against that, but I’m too tired to argue. We’ll discuss it at breakfast.” She rubbed her feet– Keres’s shoes were real killers–and then swung her legs up on the bed.  “Are you okay?  You’ve been crabby since this afternoon.”

“I’m dead.” He stretched out beside her, looked at her, and rolled away from her.

Nita took off Keres’s tunic and shoved off Keres’s leggings and pulled her poodle pajamas out from under her pillow.

“Will you quit thrashing around?” Nick said, his back still to her.

“I’m not thrashing, I’m getting ready for bed.  If you’re going to sleep there, you should get pajamas.  It’s not good to sleep in your clothes.”

“I’m not sleeping,” Nick said.  “I’m thinking.”

“About what?”

“About how I’m going to strangle you if you don’t quit talking.”

“That’s crabby.”

She got up, stripped off her underwear, and put on her pajamas.  Then she pulled back the covers and got in bed, which was harder than usual because Nick was lying on top of them on the other side.  She yanked at them a little bit and then gave up.  “So what exactly did you mean by ‘torture’?” she said to his back.  “Because I’m almost positive I’m against it.”

Stripe waddled over to the bed and looked pitiful.

“Stripe wants up,” she said.


“Or maybe he wants out.”  She started to get out of bed.

“Rab probably took him out.  You’re not allowed to go out alone.  Go to sleep.”

Nita settled back into bed.  “You know, we did good work tonight, except for hitting Tommy.  That one’s on you.”

Nick didn’t say anything.

“Did you get the bank codes?  Were they in the ledgers?”  He didn’t say anything, so she poked him in the back.  “Bank codes?”

“I got them.  Go to sleep.”

“Because I don’t understand how we’re actually going to give the businesses back.  I mean those were real transactions.   It’s not like you can say ‘I’m the Devil so this deed is null and void.”  He didn’t say anything so she poked him in the back again.  “How–”

“Go to sleep or I’ll kill you.”

“No, you won’t.  What happened this afternoon that upset you?  You were perfectly fine at breakfast. Was it something with my grandmothers?  Because you had to open a hellgate for Grandma Keres?  Or was it Grandma Angelika?  Because she’d make anybody crazy.  I knew there was insanity in my family but I had no idea–”

“Shut.  Up.”   

“I just think if you’re that upset about something, I should know about it. There’s been entirely too much stuff that I don’t know about, and it always seems to come back to me, so I am against secrets.  I know you’re the tall, dark, and silent type, but not with me, New Guy, we’re partners, so tell me what’s wrong.

Nick was silent.

“Come on,” she said and poked him in the back again.  “I–”

“You poke me one more time, we’re going to have sex.”

He lay there, his back to her, while Nita sat stunned. 

“Wait,” she said finally.  “That’s an option?”

He ignored her, so she thought about it.

Something must have happened at Grandma Angelika’s and it wasn’t anything he’d found out about her because while that had been upsetting, it wasn’t about anything he had anything to deal with and it certainly wasn’t about sex, at least not with her.  But she’d gone out into the hall and he’d been weird, and then in the car, he’d smacked his head into the steering wheel, but she hadn’t said anything to upset him, so how the hell did they get to “we’re going to have sex”?

And much more important, now that they were here, did she want to?

Kinda,she thought. 

Okay, he was dead, that was a drawback, but he was more alive then most guys she knew who breathed.  Angel and Spike were dead, that hadn’t stopped Buffy.  Thousands of people read vampire romances and never said, “Ew.” 

This is reality, Dodd, she told herself, but reality wasn’t what it used to be.  And he’d been fighting for her for the two days she’d known him.   Okay, that was a little fast to hit the sheets, but technically they’d already hit the sheets, he was right there, and warm and evidently willing and really gorgeous and she trusted him and god knew she’d had sex for worse reasons with worse men, even if they had been alive.

And she loved it when his arms were around her, it was her favorite place to stand now, so lying down would probably be good, too.  Why was she even hesitating? 

There wasn’t a lot of passion there, she decided.  That “if you don’t stop poking me” was not a declaration of overwhelming lust.  On the other hand, he wasn’t a passionate person.   He’d been completely calm when he toasted Rich.  He’d been stony cold with Sadie.

But then he yelled at me when he thought I’d kept Sadie from him.  In fact, the only person he’d really yelled at in the two days she’d known him was her.  So that was passion.  Of a kind. 

What it really came down it was, did she want him?

He was smart and beautiful and he backed her up every time they hit trouble and he was very effective at problem solving and he had a great body which wasn’t real—

Wait.  She tried to parse out what not having a body meant for sex, especially since he had a tendency to overestimate his physical dimensions, and then decided the only way to find out was to have sex with him.

So did she want him?


Well, then the rest was just waffling. 

She held up her finger, closed her eyes, and poked him again.

“What?” he snarled.

She poked him again.

He sat up. “What?

She held up her finger, showed it to him, and then slowly brought it close to his chest and poked him again.

His eyebrows went up.  “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I just did the pros and cons.  Keres is never going to stop with the necrophiliac jokes.”

He leaned in and kissed her, almost like a question, a little cool, but then, dead guy, and who was she to quibble about a drop in temperature, even if it was just emotional?  She kissed him back, definitely an answer, and he put his arms around her and pulled her down onto the bed, trapping the comforter and the sheet between them.

“Wait a minute, the sheet’s in between–”

“Would you let me do this?” he said, crabby again.

“You bet.”

She kissed him again, and after a minute he said, ‘Okay, you’re right, this bedding has to go,” and she helped him pull it away, thinking, Please let this work.  Everything else in her life had gone sideways that week, she should at least get this one thing . . .

He leaned his elbow down on her hair as he threw the comforter on the floor, and she said, “Ow,” and tried to jerk her head away and smacked her eye into his hand as he reached over her.

“Are you okay?” he said, and she nodded, one eye watering as she pulled her hair free, and thought, This is going to be a disaster. 

He brushed her hair back from her eye.  “This is not going to work.” 

“Of course, it is,” she said, and kissed him again because the last thing she needed in her life was a frustrated Devil.  Just lie back and think of Hell, she told herself, and moved his hand up to her breast as a hint.

The next morning, Nita woke up, still freaked by the night before, especially losing Stripe—such a good dog, damn it—and then the guy with a gun that she was pretty sure was a Lemmon–God, I hope Max can keep a secret–and then she looked at Nick and remembered they’d had sex the night before, and that had somehow been only the second freakiest thing—maybe the third considering Grandma Angelika– that happened to her on Wednesday. 

Go to work, she told herself.  Work was normal, even if in this case it was hunting down anti-demon psychos.  She got up and got dressed, careful not to wake Nick because if there was one thing she did not want to do, it was discuss the night before.  Any part of it.  At any time.

Rab was behind the bar as she headed for the street and he stopped her. “I went up to see if Stripe needed to go out last night and heard . . . noises . . . so I didn’t go in the apartment.” He hesitated.  “Did you sleep with him?  And by ‘sleep with’ I mean ‘have sex.’”

“None of your business,” Nita said, and considered telling him that was Stripe was gone.  I’ll cry, she thought, but Rab was talking.

“Yeah, it is my business,” Rab was saying.  “That’s a big change for him.  It means he’s regaining his humanity.”

“Well, that’s good right?” Nita pointed at the door.  “I have to go now.”

“It’s not good,” Rab said.  “Not if it means he’s going to be alive again because that changes everything.  I just need to know if he’s acting like a normal human man.”

Nita hesitated.  “What’s normal?”

Rab closed his eyes.  “Did it work?”

Nita took a step back.  “Yes.  Everything worked.  It was a little . . . .”  He was all thumbs.  “I don’t want to talk about this.

“I don’t, either,” Rab said.  “But if he just had normal sex, we’re in a lot more trouble than if things didn’t . . . go well.”

“Things went . . . fine.” Nita hesitated again.  “It was kind of like he’d read a book about it once . . . .”

“Oh, god,” Rab said. “Go away now.”

“Is he going to be all right?”

“I don’t know,” Rab said.  “Watch his back with Mammon and Max.  They’re the big threats while he’s down here.”

Max.  She trusted Max.  Really she did.  She had to. If he started blabbing . . . 

Rab was still talking.  “Once Nick goes back up to Hell, it’s all a threat.  Maybe he can work through it before we go back.”

“But I’m not helping,” Nita said.

“Not your fault,” Rab said.  “I think. There’s something hinky going on. What’s he doing now?”

“He’s asleep.  I figured he needed the–”

“He’s asleep?

“Yes,” Nita said patiently.  “That often happens to human men after sex.”

Not dead ones,” Rab said. “Oh . . . fuck.

“Obscenity,” Nita said.  “Not like you.”

“I gotta find Jeo,” Rab said and turned to the archway.

“Rab,” Nita said, hating it.  “Stripe died last night.”

He turned back.  “Aw, I’m sorry, Nita, but that was bound to happen, he was so very old.  He’s back in Hell now, right?” 

“Yes,” she said, trusting Max. 

“He’ll be fine.  The Devils will put him in the Elysian Fields and he’ll be–”

“Chasing rabbits forever,” Nita said.

“I was thinking more peeing on every tree in Paradise,” Rab said.  “That dog really enjoyed peeing.”

Nita laughed, she couldn’t help herself, and her eyes filled with tears again. “Such a good dog,” she said, and then her cellphone buzzed,  and she saw it was Button and answered it, as Rab went back to the stairs.

“We have a problem,” Button said. 

“A normal problem, please,” Nita said, blinking tears away as she headed for the door to the street.  “A normal, human problem that any police department on this planet would have.”

“Marvella Witherspoon just filed a complaint.”

“That’s normal.  She complains a lot.  She once tried to get Justin Ashton arrested for vandalizing a book.  Justin is ten.”  Nita opened the door to the street.  “Have you had breakfast?”

“No, I haven’t had breakfast.  Her complaint is that demons have blown up the historical society.”  

Nita paused outside as the cold air hit her and made her colder.  I need a bigger baph.  “I did not hear an explosion.  Also Marvella actually said ‘demons’ to the captain?”

“There was no explosion, somebody set fire to the Stitch N Bitch room and did some kind of graffiti over the white power symbol, and she told the captain hoodlums had blown it up.  She told meit was demons and that I should go kill them.”

“I’ll meet you at the Stitch N Bitch room,” Nita said and went toward the diner to get two takeout breakfasts.

Some things could not be handled on an empty stomach.

75 thoughts on “Is (a) Sex (Scene) Necessary (Here)?

  1. If a stranger’s opinion helps…this is all yours
    I don’t think a sex scene is necessary her, you get more character and plot development from referring to it in before/after conversations. Additionally, you put so much emotion in your sex scenes that I don’t think that would work with the characters as they are now. They are both kind of frozen up at the moment and need a bit more melting before they can sufficiently sexify to Crusie standards. It will be funnier and better when they do the epic rerun in person and refer to this. I think the Button and Max conversations are a little bit too … on the nose… they don’t flow up to your normal standard but the basics are there. I like the Nick/Nita banter and Nita’s thought processes.

  2. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t need more of the sex in this scene. I think you get enough of what was going on there, and sufficient suggestion of what didn’t work.

    What I’m tripping on, though, is the lead in to it. I’m not feeling any viable reason why Nita would have sex with Nick at that point – he’s crabby, he’s being rude and dismissive, and when he says if she keeps poking him they’re going to have sex it doesn’t sound like interest, it sounds like a threat. None of that sounds like a turn-on to me. And when Nita thinks ‘Just lie back and think of Hell’, I know that’s a cute line, but I was wondering why on earth she would be doing this if that’s the attitude she’s going into it with. I get it if Nita goes into it, and then the sex goes south (like Tilda comes to the realisation that sex on the couch with Davey just isn’t working for her), but why start out with such a strong sense that it’s not going to go well? And Nick’s really not giving her anything in this scene to go on. I’d need to see a heck of a lot more from him coming into this scene to accept that Nita really should want him at this moment, because just on the basis of this scene, he’s being a jerk, and that attitude from him would have me slamming my knees together with a clang.

    I loved the paragraph about ‘Okay, he was dead and that was a drawback…’ That gives a great sense of what’s going on in her head, and how her view of their relationship is shifting. I also loved the conversation with Rab, although it feels like it needs a little more polish, and the moment where he swears and Nita is surprised by it is great.

    1. This is pretty much what I was thinking, too. I don’t really get a sense of what Nick wants or why–mild surprise seems like his most positive emotion. And Nita is being very… intellectual about it. In other circumstances, I can see that working for her, but with this set-up, it seems more logical for her to shrug and go to sleep and think about it some more in the morning.

      And now I’m worried about the dog! Please tell us the dog is okay!

      Still thinking about the scene with Rab. But it’s time to work, so I will have to come back to it.

      1. Note: My little guy hasn’t been sleeping well, so it’s possible my reaction is colored by sleep deprivation. I can’t imagine why anyone would do anything else if they could be sleeping right now…

    2. Agreed. There are some fun lines to read- “that’s an option?” , the deliberate pokes, “lie back and think of Hell”, “did it work? and the description that it’s like he read a book once”, but it doesn’t feel like there is a reason for both to decide to have sex.

  3. It feels impossible to judge from isolated scenes like this. I didn’t want them to have sex in the first scene because neither of them – and especially not Nita, whose head we’re in – is that keen. So it’s anti-romantic/loving.

    But then (given that they do have sex) in the second scene, it seems to really matter exactly how it went, since that signals what state of being Nick’s in: in which case, I need to have been there, because describing what must be a partly non-human interaction is not something I can easily reconstruct, so I’m thrown out of the story: I feel excluded from the nitty-gritty of it.

    Could their first encounter not be a real failure, due to Nick’s changing state, and perhaps to Nita’s existential confusion? Although I do think they need to want it more if it’s going to work (you’re not the only one who doesn’t really want this sex scene).

  4. I’m all in for Nita and Nick to shift their relationship to a sexual one as well as a crime solving partnership. The line “Wait, that’s an option” from Nita was great but I’m in agreement with the other commenors that the line “there wasn’t much passion there” is more reflective of the scene. Either Nick’s POV about being attracted to Nita needs to be intercut with Nita’s POV on discovering sex is an option or we need something else in an earlier part about that. Why are they getting into bed together to start with? That may be in another scene that preceeds this one but some reflections about sleeping next to a dead man would seem to be in order here or some internal comments during other scenes about how great it would be to have someone alive who was so supportive and attractive. Otherwise it feels as if she is talking herself into sex and his motivation is unknown. Hope this is helpful.

    1. Yeah, if you have to talk yourself, that much, into having sex, it’s not the right time/place/person.

    2. This. I wasn’t really rooting for them to hook up just based on this scene. BUT, if there’s an earlier scene from Nick’s POV that tells us he’s fighting sexual urges for/thoughts about Nita (and that’s why he’s been crabby towards her), then all this works much better for me.

      I’m a fan of the sex scenes in Jenny’s stories, so I would normally want the play by play – but in this case, I think it’s more entertaining to read Nita’s cringing account of what happened the next morning. I’ve been there, Girl! I can totally relate, lol.

  5. I’m good with the fade to black. We got the banter and the shift in the relationship, so I don’t need the mechanics. I love the bit about overestimating dimensions. Now I have to go read the rest.

  6. I agree that neither one seems particularly interested in sex here. Her response seems very intellectual. I don’t understand why he thinks sex is the appropriate threat to shut her up. Is he cranky because he is horny? Is it because that’s how a 16th c guy responds to being cranky?
    That’s the other thing—nothing in this scene says Nick is flashing back to the 16th c.

    I love “is that an option?”

    But also this scene doesn’t really advance their relationship except insofar as it says “now we have sex” . And I guess “Nick is bad at it.”

  7. For me, it seems too cold and too fast. I think if Nick had dropped the “we can have sex” bombshell earlier in the day, then Nita could have thought the situation through, just like she did in bed. The realization that she wanted to have sex with Nick would have started to build the anticipation and the tension so that by the time they end up in the bedroom, we know they are both turned on and awkwardness could ensue.

    For me, personally, when I meet a man, I put him in box – friend, co-worker, comrade in arms, possible date, hookup, etc. If I’m really attracted to him, I would be looking for signs that he wants to be moved out of one box to the other. The only reason I would be caught off guard by a declaration that he wanted to have sex would be because I wasn’t attracted to him and so had never considered the possibility. I might question his motives and the wisdom of moving foward, but I would have known what I wanted much earlier.

    Also, I agree with Bookgeek, I need to know a little bit of what Nick is thinking. Is he just trying to shut her up so he can go to sleep? Has he just started to feel human sexual thoughts? Has he been fighting them off all day? Is that why he’s being such an ass?

  8. I’m left with questions from the scene. Why is Nick cranky? Nita keeps asking and he never answers. How does this work? He is putting up a facade, so he shouldn’t have a functioning penis. I understand how sex works so if Nick was an ordinary man, the fade to black would be fine, but he’s a dead skeleton so more details would be needed for me.

    I’m assuming typo corrections aren’t helpful yet as these are likely to change?

    Also, slight nit picky comment. When Nita removes her underwear to put on pj’s, I paused because I would only remove my bra. If I’m wearing bottoms more than once, I’d have underwear on.

    1. Just for another perspective on this: I was raised *not* to wear underpants with pajamas for health reasons (better air circulation).

      However, also slightly nit-picky: Nita’s actions of putting her legs up in bed then taking off her clothes seemed awkward. It seems like it would be easier to get leggings if she were still sitting on the edge of the bed. Then she gets back up anyway to put on her pajamas. It didn’t seem natural. But if you changed it, you’d lose the “thrashing.”

      I agree with other comments. I don’t see why either of them is having sex, and without the sex scene, I’m left wondering about the logistics (dead guy), changes (if any) to the relationship, etc.

  9. It felt like you were talking yourself and Nita into it. 😛

    I don’t feel that there’s any zing or anticipation. It feels more like he could be a human sized vibrator that she was all “should I? it’ll tire me out for bedtime, which would be nice. I guess I could be horny. Ok, let me grab it. …” I wasnt feeling the instant lust of “omg, sex IS an option!” I also agree with previous comments, he wasnt really inspiring the mood at all.

    So I can see the importance of the scene afterwards, but definitely not during. And if there’s an interlude of her talking to Rab scene wise, then it seems weirdly placed.

    Hope that helps!

  10. Okay, this is exactly the feedback that I needed. I knew something was terribly wrong and that I didn’t want to write this but I shoved through it anyway.

    Nick’s PoV was set up in a couple of earlier scenes, one at her grandmother’s where he gets knocked for a loop with new information and then when she goes out into the hall to talk to him about it sees her as a body for the first time and realizes he has a vascular system. He leaves her and goes out to the car and does a silent primal scream and then she gets in the car with him, and he babbles mentally. Then there’s a scene when they get back to the bar and he’s still coping but now he has to hide his reaction from everybody including Rab and Jeo, and he also has an interaction with Rab that’s kind and supportive and Rab panics because that’s too human. And then he and Nita go upstairs to the scene I posted. So his reaction is set up, and the reason he’s so awful at making a move is that he’s trying not to.

    But yes, that scene is bad. Everything you’ve all pinpointed is dead on. So thank you very much.

    Tell me it’s cheering that after twenty books, I can still write scenes this badly (g). Hope for everybody.

    1. Thanks for this context. I was in the “why would she want to have sex with someone who so clearly either doesn’t want to have sex, or doesn’t know why he wants to” camp. I had liked Nick in everything else so far, but didn’t like him at all in that scene.

  11. This isn’t related to sex, but I am wondering how Jeo is pronounced. Is it an alternate spelling of the Italian Gio? Or Korean Revised Romanization and pronounced Chuh? (The Winter Olympics led me to some language googling.)

    1. Yeah, it’s the Chuh sound. My theory is that people hear the name they expect so they hear “Rab” and make it “Rob” and “Chuh” and make it “Joe,” the closest sound to the actual.

      1. Thank you! It hasn’t affected the reading of the drafts, but Jeo tickled my extremely amateur linguistics/translation logistics interest.

      2. This pronunciation is completely new to me: there’s no significant Korean presence in Britain, so I’ve no familiarity with that culture at all.

  12. The thing I’m really hung up on is Stripe. He waddles to the bed and wants up in the first scene and in the next scene he’s gone. What happened to him? Is there another scene in between?

    Regarding the sex, whether it’s on page or off, I’m not really sure why they are having sex since neither of them seem to want to all that much.

  13. I’m terrible at timelines, but guessing that this is ~ 24 hours after the Chinese take-out birthday party and ~16 hours after naked Lilith/Nick’s innards showing.

    • Are you asking us whether this scene needs more explicit detail, or whether this scene is needed at all? At this point, without knowing more context, I don’t see how it advances the plot.

    • Why is Nick carrying all those ledgers? Hasn’t Hell learned to use PC’s and spreadsheets?

    • Why is Nick in the same room and in the same bed as Nita? Has he now learned he needs sleep? It’s not exactly clear to me where Nick is on the becoming-more-human spectrum. Probably context would have made this clear.

    • The personalities of both Nita and Nick seem too intense for casual sex or even grumpy-and-bugging-each-other sex. I suddenly realize that I’d been unconsciously assuming their first time would be a fierce fight with screaming and name-calling resolved by sex. My unconscious is undisciplined.

    1. Point about advancing the plot is key; it shows Nick’s evolution but I can do that other ways.
      Nick is carrying those ledgers because he stole them from a nightclub.
      Bed was set up in Act One, Nita being there was set up at the beginning of Act Two. You may have missed those scenes when I posted them. It’s been years in the making.
      I’ve been working with them both being repressed, which they are, but it’s not working.

      1. The joy btw of physical ledgers is you have to steal the actual ledgers, hacking won’t do it.

        So once they’re gone, you know they’re stolen.

        And you’d be surprised at how many small businesses fought Lotus and then Excel. Because they were going to blow up their computer.

      2. Repressed is not how I think of Nita. Controlled, yes. But part of that might be because I’m not the author. 🙂

        1. She doesn’t let herself get angry, she just gets colder. That’s one of those things I’ll polish up in the rewrite.

  14. I have to start by saying I always love reading your stuff, even when it’s in the tinkering stage, there’s so much good stuff there to be mined .

    I agree with what’s already been said regarding Nick in the scene. Obviously, some of my confusions about his reaction and thoughts could be that I’m reading this in isolation without the surrounding events that might give more context and clues.

    If I’m Nita, I’m not sure I understand why I’m bother talking myself into dead guy sex when he’s so cranky/angry. She seemed like the day had been long and exhausting…and I’m not sure what she thinks she’s gonna get out of this. She’s curious, he’s hot…there’s banter…so ok I get the point and interest in testing it out and she talks me around to that….but then there’s like no foreplay and he’s all this isn’t gonna work and I’m not understanding why she doesn’t bail out there. Or be like, if we’re gonna do this, we need to talk. It’s like a Big Misunderstanding moment to me otherwise.

    She essentially says in this excerpt that she doesn’t bail because she doesn’t want a frustrated Devil …I’m not sure that would feel like enough motivation for me, especially this early in their relationship. And while I love the line about lie back and think of Hell, it feels maybe out of place in a first time sex scene to me. That seems more like maybe a feeling you have when you’ve been in a long term thing and you just want to get it over with because you have a long term love that you’re affirming and maybe every time can’t be epic fireworks when you’re just trying to be quiet and not wake up the kids…it doesn’t seem like the type of thing you think in a two day old relationship – especially when the guy seems so ambivalent about it too – it seems like just a giant sign to bail out of an awkward encounter. And it also seems maybe more passive than I’ve thought of Nita being in some of the other excerpts I’ve read. I feel like she’d call him on his shit more – she keeps calling him out for being fake earlier – why not here?

    I’m getting that he thinks mentioning sex will scare her off or get her to retreat, but I don’t understand why he wants to do that to her – is he afraid of his feelings or hers? (both?) Does he have performance anxiety ? Is he afraid of physically hurting her or himself? Would it make him more human and he isn’t sure that’s a good thing or if with a sexual release and burning energy like that might he might revert back to a la Angel? Does he feel stupid and that’s what’s making her worry he’s going to be frustrated?

    And then there’s strangeness to me because he’s trying to control the situation, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing and when she tries to help (move the sheets) he snarls about it and then later she moves his hand to her breast to help him figure things out, I was interested in what his reaction to that would be…but it fades out at that point.

    Is he just trying to remember sex? Is he trying to make it good for her or just trying to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing. It’s almost like I’d rather be in HIS head for the scene than hers, maybe for the actual sex part to understand what’s going on.

    The fade to black had me confused as to whether or not they actually went through with it until the recap. There seemed to be such a sense of this is gonna suck on both sides, that I thought maybe the fade to black was because it was turning into a no go until I read the “recap” with Rab.

    It’s also a bit surprising to me that we didn’t get a little more of the mechanics of it either with them or with Rab because Nita was sort of wondering how it would all work too. If we’re all asking the question….maybe a little more of the scene is needed. And then I was confused about how bad/strange was it – because Rab needed to know that, and I wasn’t a witness to what actually happened and Nita said it was…fine which I get means not good, but I don’t know why it was not good. Physically bad? Emotionally weird? Unsatisfying for her? Her answer to Rab’s question made me wonder more about what really happened because the questioning made it seem like knowing that answer was important to the plot. I think I need her to explain about the he was reading it in a book comment. In most of the books I read, the women orgasm, so even if it was like something he read, it seems like the mechanics could have been good? Was he unconnected? Too concerned with ticking off boxes in a certain order? Not listening to her? I thank that;s what I keep coming back to. She was THERE – was she unable to explain to him what she liked? She poked him to start, but then she lays back and plays possum, I don’t understand that. I think it’s her passiveness in the whole thing that’s sitting weird with me. Why bother having bad sex with someone you have to continue to see and work with if neither of you is having fun. Nita doesn’t seem like she’d have time/patience for that. Why is she laying back…because she doesn’t know what she can do because of the mechanics?

    Those are my rambling thoughts. Hope something in there’s helpful to you!

  15. I can hear Nita’s voice clearly. It sounds like her rational character. I’m not sure about Nick’s voice. That makes this scene too dry.

  16. Reminds me of How I met your mother episode, the naked guy, Robin slept with a blind date she had nothing in common with, because he was naked, in her apartment and she found it funny and convenient.

    Nick’s grumpy and dark (threatening to torture people) and Nita isn’t exactly desperate to have sex and exhausted, so she says yes, because they’re already in bed together?

    I think the foreplay is missing (for the reader), or at least the witty banter and some snark between them that would make it seem like a foregone conclusion, still love some of your dialogue as always

  17. Couple of thoughts.

    How long has it been for Nita? And am I hallucinating or is Nita not always cold – Nick was not? Yes, she’s talking herself into it but to be honest, if the last couple of guys had been disappointing, and I was cold, I might talk myself into trying a new type of guy. (Is she still seeing bones? Because it would not even be a possibility if we were just talking facade.)

    I think there’s a scene here – I think you just haven’t found the twist that makes it your scene.

  18. I haven’t read all the scenes you posted because I want it to be fresh and new when I read the whole thing but I did read this one and besides the valid points everyone else here has mentioned is one that bothers me. If I had a dog (or cat, I don’t know for sure what Spike is) and he wanted to climb up on the bed with me and my current “S/O” said no, and in the morning my pet was dead, I’d be really upset with the S/O because he first of all denied my pet some cuddling and then my pet died and I would blame him for not letting me have the time with my pet. As I said I haven’t read everything you’ve shared so this may not even be relevant

    1. She takes him out in the next scene and somebody tries to kill her and bad things ensue.
      Also Stripe is sixteen thousand years old. Hellhouse usually only live to twelve thousand. His number was up but he went covered in glory.

      1. Jenny, you know us by now.

        Do you really want us to take a poll to see how many people have never watched Old Yeller twice? Or even once?

        Or Marley & Me?

          1. Yes, he was. There was a cartoon on a blog today (Jezebel maybe?) about a dog telling his owner good-bye and thank you for the great life, and I thought of Wolfie and just lost it. And Lyle and Rosie and Bernie and Lucy and Mosey and Jasper . . . .
            Dogs need longers life spans.

  19. Wait a minute. What the heck happened to Stripe? I don’t care about skipping the sex ( well, I do) but the damn dog died?

  20. Ok, I’m back. Still freaked out about the dog, because, you know, sex good, dog better.
    Originally I was fine with ending the scene there. But as I read the next scene, not so much. If Rab and Nita are going to go into so much detail, then I want to have been shown that detail, rather than hearing about it secondhand. Because that’s a long conversation to hear without having been there, feels infodumpy to me.
    But I have the same problems as everyone else- the sex itself doesn’t feel compelling, can’t see what’s really driving it.

    1. I actually liked the scene with Rab – especially since watching the competent guy get nervous is always fun.

      1. It isn’t that I don’t like the scene. But if one character needs another to rehash the interlude, I want to have been in on it.

  21. I’m ok with fade to black but you need more presex buildup or kissing or say, she doesn’t believe it’s possible and wants to test it a bit. What does he feel like? Are his lips or fingers chilling or what. How is this sex better than a vibrator? There has to be something that feels different or good or right even though logically she knows he’s dead.

  22. I think I’m just trashing the entire scene and starting over. My reluctance to write it probably kneecapped it from the beginning.

  23. The first scene worked for me right up till Nita decided to actually have sex. I laughed at the banter, especially at “Wait, that’s an option?”, and totally got that Nick was trying to push down his feelings. It just didn’t feel like an emotional setting where Nita would agree to have sex, especially because the last few times she’s got entangled with her partner it’s ended badly. It felt to me more like a scene where they’d both lie there awkwardly saying nothing and thinking heaps. Not sure if that would progress the plot enough to be worth keeping it, though.

    The second scene didn’t work for me at all. Maybe that was the lack of context but it felt pretty info-dumpy to me, like the only purpose of the scene was to establish to us that Nick’s becoming human. I reckon that doesn’t need a lot of words or the sex having been functional. Rab reacting to Nick being asleep would do it.

  24. Like no one, ever, had to rationalize themselves into having sex.

    Mechanics of Nick sex are the point of the scene with Nita, then Rab, so *something* oughta be shown.

    Loved the scene with Rab.

    I read the first scene as high comedy, both Nick’s non-reaction and threats as deliberately set against Nita’s OTT motor mouth and fevered analysis, and the no talk/talk understood and enjoyed by both as their at-this-moment form of shared banter. I recognize previous scenes set up Nick’s state of mind and Nita’s responses.

    Works for me. More polish, more integration, and you’re there.

  25. I’m with the group that doesn’t see the sex scene as necessary, but I also find Nita’s spunky confrontation of Nick less admirable and just more irritating. Plus, she’s a cop, so based on the cops I’ve known, I’m expecting her to be relatively terse and repressed.

    I think I would like the scene better if Nick’s issue is that he finds himself THINKING about having sex with her and tells her he is, which makes her turn over, stop nagging him, and start thinking about having sex with him. To me that would be a better area of tension to build up towards their eventual coupling. Because if that’s not stirring in some way, I don’t think it’s going to be fun to read about.

  26. Here’s what I would change: more heat.

    She pokes him 3 times. She shouldn’t have to. He should know that his threat + her poke = they poke (heh). Plus he should be excited at the chance to jump her.

    And she should be at least subconsciously interested in him. They’re lying in bed together! She took off her underwear! To put on p.j.’s, but still. What does he smell like? Does he give off heat? Is she curious about his equipment? I’m curious about his equipment, and his skin, and if he’s lose control.

    But I like the structure, and the banter, and Stripe. And I want them to get it on, if you do. Just needs more enthusiasm!

    1. You know, I’m not sure I do. I think that’s part of the problem. I gamed out the sexual arc and this scene was the start of it, but it was never a scene that I was invested in. Except I did like the poking part.

  27. Here’s what I would add: more heat.

    She pokes him 3 times. She shouldn’t have to. He should know that his threat + her poke = they poke (heh). Plus he should be excited at the chance to jump her.

    And she should be at least subconsciously interested in him. They’re lying in bed together! She took off her underwear! To put on p.j.’s, but still. What does he smell like? Does he give off heat? Is she curious about his equipment? I’m curious about his equipment, and his skin, and if he’s lose control.

    Crabby is not a sexy word for me, especially if repeated.

    But I like the structure, and the banter, and Stripe. And I want them to get it on, if you do. Just with more enthusiasm.

    1. I agree, but I do like that his not jumping on that first poke following his threat shows that a) he’s resigned to her not being interested, mirroring the way she didn’t realize sex was an option and b) you get to see him double-checking for clear consent from Nita.

  28. I’ve been reading all the posts but haven’t always read the scenes, as I want to wait and read the book fresh once you’re done. I’ve read a few but, due to lack of familiarity, might be way off with my interpretation here, so . . . big grain of salt.

    Have you considered telling the first scene from Nick’s POV? Nita has a ton of dialog, so we know what she’s thinking (I love the “That’s an option?” line, but she could say it instead of just think it, along with maybe a couple other lines). What’s missing is Nick and his internal dialog. I imagine he’s having a similar reaction as Rab in the second scene posted, like he’s aware of the significance of having sex and falling asleep. But we don’t see that. A scene should be in the POV of the character who has the most at stake or changes the most (duh, you know that), so maybe your reluctance has to do with writing it in the “wrong” POV? I don’t think you necessarily need it to be more explicit sex.

    I think it would make the second scene even better when Nita has that conversation with Rab, that she doesn’t realize the significance of certain things, but Nick and Rab both do. And maybe Nick and Rab have different opinions as to whether those are welcome or worrying changes (conflict).

  29. I always love the privilege of seeing your writing.
    I don’t think you need to have sex in the scene. These two read kind of like a Nick and Nora Charles couple. They seem more about clever dialog than sex. Can I say how much I love your dialog? The second scene does feel a bit info-dumpy. But again I love your dialog, so it’s hard to mind.
    Did you see the musical Waitress? The is a song in it called “Bad Idea.” I think you might enjoy it.
    The lyrics are great.
    Thanks for letting us read this.

  30. My biggest thing is that it’s romance and there’s vulnerability in play so if we’re going to do a fade to black I need to know either a) they’ll be ok or b)it’s bad in a way that doesn’t prevent the relationship continuing. If it’s bad I need to know WHY it’s bad right away. Because if all I know is it’s bad, immediately my brain goes to “Shit, he’s a selfish jerk who doesn’t really care that it’s NITA he’s having sex with, he just cares that it’s a hot woman and doesn’t care what will make her happy.” If it’s bad because they want it to be good for each other but they’re still learning each other and don’t know how to do that yet, I can root for them. If they don’t really care about pleasing each other, but they click anyway and have great sex, I can root for that too. What I can’t root for is bad sex because he doesn’t really care about his partner’s experience. That tells me this man is not worth investing in. To butcher Tolstoy, I think happy sex is pretty much the same. Unhappy sex can be unhappy in lots of different ways. I like reading the scenes, but I’m tense, because Our Girl is in a vulnerable spot, and I can’t fill in the blanks.

    Although I’m sure some of that is my own personal bias. Sex, even a casual hookup, would have an element of vulnerability to me. Maybe it doesn’t feel vulnerable to Nita. And maybe if I’d read all the preceding scenes I’d know Nita & Nick well enough to not worry.

    Thanks for letting us see the process!

  31. I think the basic thing wrong with these scenes are that they are early drafts. I see something in there, but it’s not there yet.

    First scene is like watching someone play tennis with a wall. Nita is really giving it her all, and Nick is dead, dead, dead. Then Nita thinks (and thinks and thinks) about having sex with the wall. And then . . . lo and behold, the wall finally shows he cares! Best part of the scene, but entirely too short. The other thing I think this shows is that Nita really likes sex, and is willing to put up with a lot to have it. After all, she’s in trouble for breaking the hearts of all her former partners; if she’s been like this with all of them, no wonder.

    I didn’t realize there were missing bits before the next scene. So, my first thought was, “WHAT WENT ON? YOU CAN’T LEAVE WITHOUT EXPLAINING!” And, she did explain, eventually. And the dog died? Needs a lot of fleshing out (which apparently did happen). What worked in this scene is Nita being so soaked in misery about the bad sex that she didn’t have any curiosity about what Jeo was getting at. (And to be honest, I’m not sure if you want that to work.)

    I think all of these words will be gone, but the idea of bad sex, and the death of a beloved dog probably will remain (although, I’m not sure if you’ll keep Stripe’s death or not — not enough information on my end). I don’t think I want to see bad sex, but I’m sure you can show bad foreplay, and then the consequences of the bad sex. That line about it was like he’d read a book about it somewhere . . . oh, that’s a good concept! If you are going to keep the bad sex, I hope you keep that idea as well.

    Watching you kill your darlings gives me a better handle on how the process is supposed to go. I wasn’t crazy about the scenes, but this is a fantastic blog post.

  32. I see things to like in the nearly-sex scene, that’s partly summed up by ‘that’s an option?’ – to me, it’s a mental shove that’s a gateway into a relationship. And given that, then I think the door can’t be that closed. I know I’m in the minority here, but it’s a turning point? As a reader, it would leave me feeling a disconnect between ‘this thing happened, and it was a big deal for the story’ and it not actually being IN the story. Too detached for me…

  33. Reading everyone else’s comments about heat made me realize that whatever else happens between Nick and Nita in bed, she is always cold—in the body temp sense, he is warm and that probably has to be part of it.

  34. Looks like you got your answer (which was in your own back yard all along).

    Count me among those who skim sex scenes – but the first time Nita and Nick have sex, I want to know more about the mechanics before the door closes.

  35. I sincerely hope that, “Wait, that’s an option?” and “It was like he read about it in a book once…” survive somewhere in some form.

    But, yeah, it feels like all of the emotion was sucked out of this scene. Is Nick crabby because he’s horny and kinda freaked out about it? Because if he’s just plain old crabby…why does the dead guy even bring sex up?

    Also, I just want to go on record to say that if there IS a sex scene–especially bad sex–it needs to be on the page. Because nothing contributes to character development quite like bad sex. Especially Crusie bad sex.

  36. Sounds like you got all the feedback you needed already, but I finally had time to read this. I loved:
    “Okay, he was dead, that was a drawback, but he was more alive then most guys she knew who breathed. Angel and Spike were dead, that hadn’t stopped Buffy. Thousands of people read vampire romances and never said, “Ew.”

    This is reality, Dodd, she told herself, but reality wasn’t what it used to be. And he’d been fighting for her for the two days she’d known him. Okay, that was a little fast to hit the sheets, but technically they’d already hit the sheets, he was right there, and warm and evidently willing and really gorgeous and she trusted him and god knew she’d had sex for worse reasons with worse men, even if they had been alive.”

    All of that is gold – especially “reality wasn’t what it used to be” Everything before that I could lose – except that there would be no way to arrive here. Being told to shut up is never a relationship builder for me. Or poking. Then the stuff that follows is… ok. I think you are right – you don’t want this scene at all. But if you can cram any of the good bits in somewhere else, I’m in favor. I know, kill your darlings (sigh). At least we got to read them 🙂

  37. I think it is necessary, because it illustrates that he’s regaining his humanity. But, I think you went wrong because you are telling not showing. You say he’s gorgeous, but you don’t show Nita noticing or responding to those things about him that made her conclude she is attracted to him. You barely describe her physical reaction to him at all. Maybe you need to talk more about the warmth she feels, and also the awkwardness, and how these conflicting things are leaving her somewhat confused. Basically, you’ve got the banter, but you need to spend a bit more time describing the physical details. And, no, not suggesting you should go into anything moist or squishy or whatever, just those things that create physical tension. But you know how to do this. You got this. 😉

  38. Gut impression is that it makes no sense. You even lampshade that by having Nita think it makes no sense. And then we see her thought process, which helps, but I think the whole thing feels off because we don’t know why Nick is in that headspace. I don’t care that it’s awkward, your other first time sex scenes have been awkward too, that’s part of the character growth, but we actually believed the parties wanted to be there. Do we see Nick’s reason in some prior scene? And, actually, because I’m sitting there going, how did we get sex?, when the sex doesn’t happen, a part of my mind really is thinking, wtf just happened?!

  39. I see you’ve decided to cut the scene, but I did like some of it. I get that Nita is invested enough in the relationship that she’s not bothered that Nick is crabby, she’s just upset that he isn’t telling her why he’s crabby. Which is a whole other relationship thing not related, but sometimes is related to sex.

    And, I am good with a fade to black scene, but not a slam the door in my face and “GET OUT” transition. That was my internal reaction as I read, then tried to re-read the scene and see where I kept getting off track.

    Also, every time I read Jeo, I stop and ask myself how that should be pronounced. Mostly I go with GEO and it seems wrong every time.


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