Ryan A McHargue

Writing the Intimate Reaction

It has been a while since I uploaded a blog post and this one came out of the process of editing my second book in the Factionist Series. The topic may be full of “spice” but it isn’t meant to spark anything more than a discussion on the emotional make up of people.

I can say from my personal experience writing the intricate facets of the human experience has been very cathartic. It has allowed me to delve into the depths of topics like love, loss, and hate in ways that aren’t just surface level but full of complexity for me. However, there are challenges and nuances that come along when crafting these intimate and complex scenes, especially when characters find themselves entangled in the throes of need after the devastating loss of a significant other.

The challenge for me is writing a character that resonates with readers, and that requires a well-developed understanding of the character’s emotional make up. As a character faces the death of a lover, their grief will be a complex journey that demands time and space to heal authentically. But that doesn’t always mean it will be a straight forward process.

In many genres of books, it is common to find a trope where a character seeks intimacy with another after experiencing the loss of a loved one. Despite being frowned upon by the writer community, this trope remains prevalent. Why?

For my writing, I have attempted to only use a trope when I see it as fitting to the character(s) involved. With that being said, having a character experience a devastating loss of a significant other should, in my opinion, be a period of a reeling roller coaster of needs. In fact, I would wager all people have this internal reaction while going through loss. Of course, not everyone will look for sexual release, but most will look for some kind of relief.

According to many psychology blogs I found online, for some, their libido heightens as their body craves endorphins and oxytocin. The so called feel-good chemicals have a powerful draw on us as biological creatures. And the need for these hormones can create a very real craving. Because the 7 stages of grieving often mean repeatedly coming back to a stage, the over-all process can be very taxing on a person. It is my goal when writing to create a sense of this struggle. I endeavour to give the depth of this process in what the character vocalizes, whether outwardly or internally, and in how they act or react to various stimuli.

I see characters as vessels with needs and wants and put them into situations that will force a reaction out of them. Sometimes that means giving into tropes like intimacy seeking and sometimes that means punching a stranger. lol!

Ultimately, my goal as a writer is to get my readers to feel something. I just hope that feeling isn’t that my writing sucks. If a reader connects with a character that is wonderful, if they are disgusted by a character that is just as great. I am not picky about how readers react as long as I can strum an emotional response out of them. When I read, I want to feel and I write with that same goal. So do you feel when you are reading my work?

In conclusion, the goal of integrating intimate scenes into my writing, particularly after the death of a significant other, is no minor effort. I suspect I am not 100% successful in my attempts, but I hope to be at least more successful than not. Balancing sensitivity and realism, and exploring themes of healing and loss is my hope, but creating a work that resonates with readers on a profound level is my dream.

So have you read my first book? Did you feel something? Would you feel anger over the use of a trope like sex after loss? Tell me what you think and feel.

Ryan A McHargue

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