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A recent conversation that I had with a “gentleman” of my acquaintance raised a question in my mind.  Well actually it raised a multitude of questions in my mind, but the relevant one for this blog is how early do you introduce sex into the romantic dynamic in your writing?

My theory of life (and novels) is that everything is about the balance of tension and release.  The trick to a good novel is to keep the tension at that magic place that’s on the edge between frustration and anticipation.  And then hold it there.  Through various machinations, whatever your plot is.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that each conflict leads into another, never letting tension drop even if tension on one issue drops.  There can be calms during the storm but it’s my belief that a fast-paced, riveting story comes from proper maintenance of tension.

In a romance that generally means a hold off to the introduction of sex.  (Not sexual tension, which should be there.)  But sex.  There are exceptions.  I have some stories where the sex happens early and the tension isn’t so much sex as it is being in a relationship.  Showing emotions was their sex.  Also the related issues of who controls the sex or what kind of sex you’re having can become it’s own tension.  But most of the time the story lends itself to putting sex later in the story line.

Is there a perfect formula for which page it should happen on?  The answer is, in my opinion, no.  There is no magic line before which it is verboten and after which it’s blasé.

What do you think?  Is there a magical zone in a novel that lends itself to the perfect time to introduce sex?  Can you wait too long?  Go too soon?  How do you deal with it in your own writing?