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Sex Scenes on Paper

July 8, 2009

Sex scenes are one of the hardest things to allow to flow naturally when writing fiction. However tempting it may be to include throbbing parts of the anatomy or internal fireworks coupled with screams of ecstasy, don’t be too graphic in your sex scenes, as it may be the difference between literature and cheap porn. Create vibrant, sensual sex scenes by including these aspects within your writing and you will have your readers hungering for more.Passionate Kiss

Less Is More

There is something about writing romance which forces even the most efficient writer to pull out as many adjectives as they can and shove them all together into lengthy paragraphs. Too much description cheapens the text and overall message.  Editors generally describe rejected love scenes as being mechanical, overly physiological, hackneyed or sentimental.

Use Sensual Language

To set the scene leading up to the sexual act, engage as many senses as possible. Include the sense of smell, texture, and taste as they will draw your reader into the experience. Flavour the story with references to how your main character perceives life, but take care in utilizing cheesy references ( unless that is your intention) A great sex scene is more than just the plumbing, as it explores the emotional and sensual response to what is happening.

Slow it down

Desire is a lot sexier than the actual act. Great sex is a dance, whether written or real. The uncertainty of sexual tension which eventually leads to an innocent touch which leaves the characters wanting more is far hotter than explosions of surprising and unwarranted passion. Don’t be afraid to leave the reader hanging, wondering, along with the characters how the immediate future will be played out.

The First Time is the Hottest

In every story, tension is the key. The best sex scenes create tension in the midst of the dance between two characters longing for each other. Although the first time a couple has sex is nearly always awkward, readers hunger for the tension, the uncertainty, rather than the details or a rushed scene. Your readers want to be brought along the journey with your character as they express the angst that makes first-time sex so memorable and nerve racking. Passion gestates over several encounters so ensure there are a few “near misses” and lost opportunities. Involve your reader with your characters experience and nervousness of the newness of the “first time.”

Utilize Your Toolbox

Tantalize, provoke, and tease your reader utilizing short sentences, break the flow of your prose not only with the words you use, but with its structure. Just in the way your characters may be short breathed in a specific moment, reflect this with your writing. Be suggestive rather than descriptive through the use of metaphors, simile, and imagery founded on your characters psyche. Delete the word “suddenly” from your writing toolbox when writing sex scenes. Not only will it leave your audience feeling unsatisfied, but nothing in a simmering sensual act happens quickly.

Whilst you want to make it obvious that sex is taking place, describing the curtains flapping in the wind may be too vague an illusion and to intimately describe each action may border on low grade porn. There is a very thin line between writing good romance full of passion and emotion and that of smut. The challenge is to set the scenes and permit your developed characters explore the tension, revealing just enough to give the reader the romance and allow them to imagine the rest.

Image “Passionate Kiss” by Firestoned via Flickr

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Annie Evett is guilty on many occasions for the over use of adjectives and long winded paragraphs in romance scenes. Now she needs to go and have a long cold shower after thinking too deeply on the content of this article. Catch her growing amount of websites and blogs here
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  1. July 8, 2009 10:46 am

    Very true that less is more. I also need to be in the right frame of mind to write sex scenes well. If I’m in a bad mood or overly tired, they become really difficult to complete.

  2. July 8, 2009 6:20 pm

    Reading some good erotica is a great gauge for how sex can be written well – and it ticks all the boxes you mention. One of my favourite writers who does smouldering sex withotu cliches is Tobsha Lerner – thought she does lots of showing as well as sexual tension build up. What may be smut from another writer’s pen comes across sizzling from hers. Truly an art form.

  3. July 9, 2009 2:48 am

    Speaking of erotica, the genre has taken something of a hit in the UK with Random House mothballing the Black Lace imprint, another victim of the latest round of bad news in the publishing industry.

  4. July 9, 2009 6:04 am

    My guess Paul is the Black Lace readers are now reading what my soul sister calls ‘vampire porn’ instead.

  5. July 9, 2009 2:15 pm

    I don’t know, a lot of the criticism of it comes from people saying that there isn’t anything like it on the market and the loss will be keenly felt. I don’t think the readership was especially down, I think it was probably felt to be too niche by Random House to continue supporting.

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