So you want to write a sex scene.

First, bravo for your bravery! It took me years to get to where I was comfortable writing anything explicit. And even now I have trouble letting go of words like “organ”, “core” and “delicate folds”. But, dear reader, know that there’s nothing wrong with writing a steamy, sex scene.

What is a sex scene?

Just so we’re all on the same page here, I’m writing this post about explicit sex scenes. The kind you read in erotic romance. Smut. Kindle Porn. Whatever you want to call it. I’m NOT going to teach you how to write purple prose or dance around the dirty stuff (that would be another post).

What should a sex scene contain?

Sex? Yeah, that would be a plus 😉

Recently I read in a how-to-write-romance type book: “A sex scene is about mechanics, not emotion.” The implication being that “love scenes” are about emotion. Personally I’d argue sex scenes should be about both. The reader should have an insight into both the body and mind of the characters plus all that dirty, explicit stuff.

However, if you’re writing for men, you might want to leave the emotions at the door and concentrate instead on describing in excruciating detail how large the male’s cock is. 😀 (No really, watch Authors@Google: Ogi Ogas if you don’t believe me. [Long but mostly SFW.])

Also, a good sex scene–like any scene–ought to address all five senses. It ought to transport the reader into the space the characters inhabit. Your reader should be able to picture it, but not in such detail that it clutters the action and interferes with the flow. And there needs to be heaps of action.

An important note is sex scenes should arouse their readers. Unlike in any other book genre, this is a scene you WANT your reader to drop your book during or after…you know, because they’re so overcome with desire? Not because it’s bad! Oh, and if you aren’t aroused writing your sex scene, chances are your reader won’t be either. So if you’re having trouble, you might want to set it aside until you’re “in the mood” 😉

In any case, here are some bits to help you along.

Are we ready for sex??

Before you say “YES!”, I’m going to borrow a bit of advice from the romance writing book here… First, make sure you’ve reached a point in your story where a sex scene is necessary. What is it going to bring to the table? How are the characters going to change during and after? Will they be closer? Or will it push them apart? If it’s not going to change them, and it brings nothing to the table apart from being salacious, then reconsider.

Moving on… You’ve worked out the plot points, you know the intimate moment is inevitable for the characters, and you’ve noted how they’ll change as a result. Great!

Preparation

Now comes the preparation/research portion. (I know, I know, you’re probably screaming, GET ON WITH THE DIRTY SEX! Bear with me!)

I like to work in adjectives related to my characters and story. So if the story is about Fire witches, the sex scenes will contain words such as searing, scorching, and fiery. If the male character is heavily dominant and dancing on the edge of violence (I swear, sometimes this is suuuuper sexy), describing his love making will include terms like pounding, hammering, invading, and piercing (metaphorically speaking, not with actual daggers–unless that’s the kind of erotic romance you’re writing). If he’s a nice guy, concerned with how his female feels, I’ll use terms like feather, graze, and drift. Getting the idea?

If you want to mix in some metaphors for good measure, try to keep up the theme. (e.g. fire-related metaphors for Fire witches.)

So you’ve got your story plotted, your adjectives/metaphors decided, now it’s on to writing the dirty stuff! w00!

Setting the Mood

Setting the mood in your writing environment might assist in a better scene. Find sexy music to listen to. There are loads of “chill out” CD’s. There’s a whole series called “Erotic Lounge” that might help (I only like a handful of those though). My personal favorites are over here on Music to Smut by.

If you require visual inspiration, search your DVD library for hot love scenes. Here are some posts to help if you’re stuck on visual inspiration (they’re safe for work with the exception of the word “sex”) Best Sex Scenes and Top 10 Sex Scenes of the Decade. I’d make the suggestion of porn here but to be honest, I find them formulaic and unhelpful.

Once you’ve set the mood, get out your computer or paper and get ready to go to town!

Some notes on writing in general

Please, don’t forget how to write! All of the same rules–show don’t tell, active versus passive voice, using active and descriptive verbs–they still apply!

I’ve happened upon stories that were lovely throughout until the love scene popped up. At that point, everything was “He thrust his turgid length. She moaned. He threw his head back in ecstasy. She soon followed.” Every sentence should NOT begin with “He” or “She”. Switch it up, people!

Also, head hopping in the middle of a sex scene can be confusing. If you’re going to do it, and I do believe you ought to show both points of view, it should be done with a line space (an extra blank line). Be careful here because some publishers frown on any head hopping within scenes whatsoever. Check your intended publisher’s guidelines to be sure.

The Bad News

I have some bad news. If you’re writing erotic romance, your sex scenes should be long. None of these “they tumbled into bed, rut a bit, and then had an orgasm” stuff. Nope. These scenes better be thousands of words long (for me this includes the foreplay).

Own your inner lowroader

I you want to write erotic romance, you are going to have to own the smutty part of you. I’m still working on that. Editors send back “Please consider using a more explicit word like pussy” when I drop back into the old standby of talking about the female character’s “core”. Don’t do what I did! Do write about clits, pussies, tits, nipples, dicks, balls, and even come.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty. That’s what this is all about!

Don’t forget the little things

My tendency is rush through these scenes by only writing the action–the ripping off of clothing, the thrusty parts, and the tongues. I often forget to describe the zinging sensations that travel through the body upon experiencing a particularly nice caress. Don’t forget those goosebumps! The frissons of desire. And warming of skin. All of the little bits combine to create the sexy mood for your reader.

Have you read a book in which the author described how the hero finally kissed the heroine after five chapters of merry chase, and she felt the spark of desire course down her body to curl around her clit? And you felt a little stirring too? Well, the author did her job! (Okay, maybe what you read said something like “woke her desire from an indolent slumber.” But in erotic romance we talk about clits! Remember, OWN it!)

Putting it all together

Admittedly, I’m no pro. I’m just starting out. As evidenced by the difficulty I had finding a decent excerpt to pull for you so we could dissect it. Here’s one from my upcoming release Y’s Punishment:

Moments later he had a healthy dollop of flowery scented lotion on his hands. It felt much better than his dry, calloused palm stroking his dick. He could almost imagine she was touching him. She’d probably stroke him from shaft to tip and back down, hitting every bit in between with magnificent, steady pressure nearly the match for his own grip. But she wouldn’t neglect his balls like he was. Her attention to detail would demand everything be satisfied.

Here we’re addressing two senses. Scent is indicated with “flowery” and touch is addressed with “dry, calloused palm stroking”. I could have written “Chris squeezed the bottle of lotion. He rubbed it on his dick. It felt better than no lotion.” BORING! We also have a little insight into his respect for Amber’s abilities in and out of the workplace all while continuing with the sexy smut of a little masturbation (I hope).

I should note here that I’ve since learned beginning a sentence with “It” isn’t the best of ideas. Instead, I might have written: “The cool substance coating his skin was preferable to a dry, calloused palm stroking his dick.” However, now we’re getting into a different problem: wordiness. *sigh* so many things to consider!

Here’s another excerpt from my current WIP:

The snick of his zipper sliding down broke through the brief hush. She drew in a long breath to steady her nerves. Next came the rustling of fabric and then a dull thud against the floor. The soft whisper of his shirt landing atop the slacks was like a gunshot, heralding the start of the race.

“Faster then,” he said a split second prior to pouncing beside her. The bed bounced and Gemma’s insides wobbled with it.

Warm hands closed over her knees, guiding them as he spread her legs. And then he paused. “Gemma, am I your first?”

This excerpt concentrates on sense of hearing. However, I’m also working on “eliminating the frame” per my editor’s suggestion. As in, I used to write such things as: “Gemma heard the snick of his zipper sliding down.” Now I’m trying to put the reader in Gemma’s place. This link from kidlit.com can explain the frame issue far better than I can. I’ve since found another nice resource about “Deep POV” that further discusses the frame issue. Click it! It’s an AWESOME link! 🙂

 

If you’ve made it down this far, wow, Thanks! 😀 I think the post is plenty long. Drop me a comment if you want to hear more about a specific section or something I completely avoided. I’d be happy to elaborate!

In the meantime, here are a few active and descriptive verbs I love to use in my sex scenes.

Hands

  • drift
  • dance
  • graze
  • glide
  • caress
  • slide
  • slip
  • scrape
  • stroke
  • sink
  • dig
  • float
  • sweep
  • hover
  • sail
  • feather
  • trail
  • cup
  • ease
  • trace
  • steal

Mouths, lips, & teeth

  • nibble
  • nip
  • bite
  • gnaw

Tongues

  • lave
  • dart
  • flick
  • bathe
  • invade
  • pierce

Pelvises

  • thrust
  • pump
  • slam
  • smack

Dicks

  • thrust
  • pierce
  • invade
  • nudge

Pussies

  • weep
  • swallow (lol! Sorry, I can’t type that without giggling, might not want to use this one.)

Clits

  • throb
  • pulse