2014-12-25 15.57.29Lot’s of writers focus on the before of a scene. The apprehension, the build-up, the moment before a first kiss where hearts are fluttering like a steel drum. It’s fun and scary and exciting, of course it is, if things aren’t going horribly wrong they’re bound to be.

But the moments afterwards are a different matter and something that seems to be underappreciated.

Many things can happen in the moment after orgasm. In some books it will be the precise moment at which the plot wakes up and suddenly drags the reader along for the other reason they’re meant to be here. Sometimes (many times in my own experience) it can be a moment of clarity. The sexual tension and build-up of body chemistry suddenly dissipates and this can leave people feeling a huge range of things: vulnerable, scared, cold, remorseful, giddy, or simply happy and content. It’s a golden opportunity to reflect on the characters and their underlying emotions and can be a much more powerful tool for examining personalities than people getting hot and sweaty.

For example, a character is coming down from an amazing bout of sex. They suddenly feel exposed and unsettled, a desperate urge to get out of the house seizes them, why? Is it their severe moral upbringing reasserting itself? Have they suddenly remembered the rice pudding from two chapters ago? Or is there something in the way she grunted that tipped our protagonist off that they may be the killer after all? It could be one or more of these and it doesn’t have to be spelled out.

I think this might be one of the few moments where having a sudden inexplicable shift in tone might be acceptable purely on the grounds of art imitating life?