Writing a Sex Scene to Remember

I’m sure it’s a huge surprise to all of you, my dearest readers, but I write romance novels. 

I know, usually on here I’m talking about a television show or #BenedictCumberbatch ‘s thighs, but today I decided to be different and actually talk about my process.  This came to mind earlier in the week when I was trying to write a sex scene and failing miserably.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write it, I just felt like I was retreading the same soil over and over.  I mean, how many times can you write “put tab A into slot B”?  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  In case you didn’t know– this is a SERIOUS handicap for an author of erotic romance. 

So how can you make your sex scenes properly smoldering?  I’ve compiled a short list—

1.  The sex must be essential to moving the plot forward.  The difference between a romance novel and any other sort of book is that the center of the plot hinges on the relationship between your protagonists.  External factors must contribute to the growth of their relationship.  Sex is one of those external factors.  Think about it this way– compare Titanic with Debbie Does Dallas.  In Titanic, when Jack and Rose are gettin’ busy in the car, it’s sealing their relationship and essentially setting us all up for a good cry when Jack dies at the end (sorry… spoilers for all you people that have been living under a rock for the last 15 years).  That relationship changes Rose’s life by giving her the strength to follow her dreams.  In Debbie Does Dallas, there is no relationship.  The main characters’ impetus for having sex is well… to drive them toward the next sex scene.  Remember, if you want to write a memorable sex scene, go for Titanic, not Debbie Does Dallas.  There has to be something at stake.

2.  Vocabulary.  In my sex scenes, I tend to have a lot of inner dialogue from my POV character.  It’s not all about describing the act itself, though that’s part of it.  Taking a cue from Anais Nin, I always find that using decadent language sparingly adds some heat without having to say a lot.  No purple prose, mind you, but words and phrases that tumble from the tongue.  I always have the gravelly baritone of my muse reading aloud in my ear as I write.  If it doesn’t sound good to my ear, I rephrase. 

3.  Coarse language should be used sparingly.  Consider the mood you’re wanting to project.  You want your readers to be titillated, enticed and wishing that they were the characters in the story having this magnificent experience.  At no time have I ever wanted my lover to say “show me your dripping wet love hole.”  Eeeewwwww…. Sex and love is beautiful, not gross.  No gaping maws of love or meat daggers, please. 

4.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that erotica is the same thing as pornography.  They can have the same affect, but they are NOT the same thing.  So here’s the Jeff Foxworthy portion of the blog post. Presenting: You might be pornography…

*  If “butt blasting” is in the title of your story, you might be pornography.

* If your characters’ names are Daddy, Mom, or First Cousin, you might be pornography.

*  If your book has a woman in a leash sucking a riding crop on the cover, you might be pornography.

*  If your heroine is pursued, captured and ravaged by a dinosaur, you might be pornography.

Just some food for thought, kids!  Happy writing!

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5 thoughts on “Writing a Sex Scene to Remember

  1. I like your list of sex scene advice, although I break the first item all the time. I write erotic stories, and much of the time, the sex is the plot. However, I do try to not go crazy on the vocabulary and phrasing. Thankfully, I haven’t written “gaping maws of love or meat daggers”! Though, I might’ve used lance or arrow as a descriptor with that Robin Hood story 🙂

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  2. AngeliaSparrow says:

    Sucking a riding crop while on a leash? That’s not pornography. That’s Tuesday.

    I used a couple of saucy arrow metaphors in a Robin Hood story, (“Oh, I seem to have drawn forth a shaft other than the grey goose one” Marian gasps when he rubs against her.) but mostly i stick to what works in scene. My lady inventor thinks of her clit as “the master switch.”

    I would say if “Butt” appears on the cover, you’re doing porn. (and yes, I know, I have Butt Pirates In Space on my biblio)

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