Writing about sex can be very uncomfortable. Right before you get to the scene, you realize your mother, father, and/or partner will read this. Yikes. You start to sweat, especially when you write kinky stuff, and before you know it, you can’t put it up.
The key to writing a good sex scene is treating it like any other. Follow the pace of the story. Don’t rush into it, but don’t linger either. Use experiences from your own life, movies, tv shows, and scenes from books you liked yourself. Let go of fear and other people’s expectations. Sex is a natural part of life.
It’s easy to get paralyzed at the thought of having to write a sex scene. It’s almost like performing. The idea that people associate you with what you write can be daunting. Before you know it, they think you share an obsession with your character, are lazy in the sack, or they think they know your love language. That’s why this is one of the hardest things to write.
And then there is that pressure of not making it off-putting, not making it too lame, and finding the right pacing. Shit. It’s almost like your first time, isn’t it? Here’s how you write your next sex scene, comfortably.
Just another Monday
The stress around writing sex scenes is overrated. There, I said it. The truth is that if you treat it like something scary and daunting, it will automatically become just that. When you are nervous, your writing decreases. So when you finally have the guts to show some people what you worked on, it might not be as good as you like. The same fear enters your mind again, and now you are stuck in a downward spiraling loop, headed for writer’s block. Let it go!
A sex scene is like any other slightly uncomfortable scene. It is just a part of the story. So approach it as such. Do you even need to write it, or is an insinuation enough? Does it move the story forward? What is the goal? These are all questions that need answering.
If you approach it from the analytical writer’s POV (see what I did there?), it becomes a part of improving your work. A necessity. It serves the storyline and the character. And suddenly, it is not half as daunting anymore but the only logical next step.
One size does not fit all
Okay, so you have established that your story needs the scene to progress. But… how do you approach writing about sex? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to writing a steamy sex scene. You can write a nice steamy one, a slow one, a rough one, a detailed one, a gory one, the possibilities are endless.
Do not worry about what your reader will like either. Some of them will close the book as soon as you hint about a penis while others roll their eyes because you are a prude. So what now?
The solution is a lot easier than you’d think. Just write the scene as you write the rest of your book. If you have a slow pace all over, don’t just suddenly rush your scene. If you are being straight to the point all over, don’t start writing in synonyms now. Keep it in the same style, and you’ll be just fine.
Keep in mind that even though you keep the writing style the same, your character can undergo progression. He can be a mean son of a bitch in his daily life, but a warm and caring person to his lover. She can be sly and cunning during the day, but meek and submissive during the nights. Just make sure that the changes are logical and not abrupt.
Keep it classy
This for me is the hardest one. I love it when the imagination is sparked, but you can fill in the details yourself. Maybe I am a bit of a prude, but to direct language puts me off. Certain words make me cringe (who the hell likes the word moist!?).
Reading a sex scene that is too blunt makes me feel uncomfortable. It is as if the writer doesn’t even try to paint the picture but just wants to get it over and done with. But that is very personal of course. That’s why I think the advice to keep things classy is the biggest bullocks ever. If you like it, I can guarantee you that there are people out there who will too.
Don’t let people tell you how to write your scenes. Write them in all freedom, especially your first draft. Keep in mind that this is your work in progress. Nobody but you will see that first draft. You can go all out. When you think it’s too much later on, you can always remove bits and pieces.
Just don’t let the pressure of what others say or think you must do, hold you down. You are the writer of your story. You know what’s best for it. Find the words that fit with the rest of it, just like the style. And remember. There is always a backspace or delete button. Liberating isn’t it?
Use the senses
When I am writing about sex I love to include the senses so that my readers can relate to what is going on. When you imagine what something looks like or feels like, it will put you there in the middle. Depending on the scene you write, you can emphasize what the character experiences. What emotions surge through them. It can even help you set the tone for the rest of the story or make the reader feel something. You can, for example, have a cold-blooded killer look somebody deeply in their eyes as their victims stare back at them in pleasure. Until she stabs them ten times over. It’s the senses that make a scene like that come alive.
Julia arched her back. She felt the bottom of her ponytail brush against her naked skin, causing her to clench even harder. Her legs were pressed against Sam’s thighs, pinning him underneath her. It was good to feel him inside. She pressed her hands against his chest to keep him exactly where she wanted him. His lip quivered as he flashed her a toothy grin. She had exhausted him.
A droplet of sweat rolled down his neck, and Julia quickly swooped it up with her finger. When she inserted it in her mouth, tasting the savory results of their lovemaking, his pupils enlarged. She bent forward to kiss him, pressing her breasts against his naked skin. He moaned into her mouth, grew hard again, and let his hands roam over her back. She couldn’t help but smile into their kiss, right as her fingers wrapped themselves around the wooden handle.
Sam never saw her pull the knife from underneath the pillow. He never saw the moonlight reflect on the cold steel blade. He only felt the sharp pain of his flesh being ripped apart. Again. And again. And again.
Sex is a messy business in real life. All your senses are evoked. You feel the urge to taste the other person, you smell the arousal between you, the sensation of their hands all over your body might make you shiver. But there are also teeth bumping, awkward sounds, and accidental scratching (ouch). Too much glam can make your sex scene unrealistic when you write a down-to-earth book. So again, make it fit your style.
Give a bit of foreplay
Nobody accidentally falls on another person and decided to go at it. Even the roughest of sex encounters have some form of foreplay. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic dinner at candlelight, rough kissing, or being dominated to taking your clothes off. Sex just doesn’t happen in itself. Make sure that you build your scene up. Use real-life experiences, movie scenes, and other books as inspiration.
Thomas glanced at him from the other side of the room. He felt his heart pounce against his chest and his stomach flutter. Emir’s deep dark eyes stared right back at him, a slight smile playing around those thin pink lips. He rose from the couch, with every muscle tensed but never broke off his gaze. Emir only nodded slightly, but Thomas instantly followed him like a puppy following its new owner. His pants suddenly felt a bit too tight.
Play with the character, play with the reader. Envision the scene in your head. Can you see the surroundings, hear the sounds, feel the emotions? Write them down. Even a little goes a long way.
When you get into that moment, make sure to keep an eye on your rhythm. Having sex isn’t just bam bam bam done. And in case you are raising an eyebrow now…. no that’s not normal. Make sure your writing follows the pace of the sex. Slow, fast, slow again, build it up even more and then slow down again. Just like waves of energy. Unless you want it to be an awkward sex scene and leave one of the characters unsatisfied of course.
If you are unsure what a good rhythm would be, I recommend watching the clip below and following that story of seduction, passion, heat, and surrender.
Part of life
I can’t stress it enough. If you want to write about sex you need to do three things:
- Let go of the fear of what others might think
- Write the scene in a way that the style and tone of voice match your story
- Use all the benefits of sensory writing.
Sex is a part of life. So is writing about sex. If you feel uncomfortable about your parent reading this, realize that they didn’t get you without doing the deed. Feeling scared what friends think of you after reading the scene? Discuss it with them. Downright ask them what they think of it. Or simply ask them to skip that scene. But most importantly, just keep in mind that most people have sex and enjoy it. There is no shame in that. It should be celebrated.
So write your scene just like any other magnetic scene in your book. Draw your reader in, hook them and satisfy their literary needs. You stud!