Perhaps the number one top tip for all writers is to write about what you know. Be it that 9-5 office job, or that relationship that ended badly, or that six month travelling vacation in the Far East. If you write about your experiences, and write about them well, then the tale will be authentic and flow, the reader being fully aware that you know your stuff.
Sometimes, of course, it’s not possible to write about such topics. No writer has fought aliens in space, or time-travelled to save the life of a loved one, or flown across the seas on the wings of a dragon. Here, the writer must let their imagination take control.
But when it comes to sex, I’d wager that all writers have done that at least once. So it should be easy, shouldn’t it? Setting the mood; the sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the feelings of the sexers. It should be easy.
But why do we even need a detailed scene about two people doing it anyway? Is it to elicit a feeling of warmth in the nether regions of the reader’s pants? Maybe.
I’d say that any scene in a novel is there to entertain first, and move the plot along second. This propelling of the plot may be to add some emotional strength to the characters as well as moving them through the story to the next challenge that needs to be overcome. But moving along a plot needs to be entertaining and come on, a description of the old in-out is always that.
If the protagonist in a crime novel needs to go undercover to thwart the baddies’ drug operation, the details by which they do this need to be engaging to keep the reader flicking through the pages. With slick dialogue involving their fabricated backstory to avoid any suspicion and perhaps the use of clever gadgets, as well as building up the tension, will serve the scene well and make it exciting.
If a book’s hero needs to extract vital information from a terrorist, for example, a torture scene may be required, and if makes the reader curl their toes and wince at the descriptions, all the better.
If two people meet who will later go on to save the world or maybe just a litter of cute puppies, their introduction to each other should be enjoyable to read, or maybe uncomfortable, or maybe even funny. Whatever it is, it should be entertaining.
Anyway, the sex! The naughty scenes need to serve the same purpose as the above examples. That is, moving the plot along whilst entertaining and, arousing?
Perhaps the scene is used to illustrate the failings of a marriage, when the couple fumble awkwardly, having lost that fire and passion for each other. Or maybe this married couple have never been more in love, and the full-on emotionally descriptive love making makes you feel like you could be one of them.
The luckless hero who finally gets laid one night and for the rest of the story now joyfully looks on life in a whole different way. Or those two that are surely never going to be able to work things out to defeat their common problem or enemy who, after a from-out-of-nowhere quickie, are able to put their differences aside and work together to make everything all right.
Or the anti-hero with thousands of conquests, the way he speaks to these women who he eventually woos into bed tells the reader so much about his character. OK, I’ll stop there, you get the point. A sex scene can offer numerous insights into numerous different characters in numerous different settings. But how do you write one?
Recently I was working on a short story about a man infatuated with a woman who had come into his life. The tale was always going to be scary and I had a good idea of how it was going to play out. But as the story began to unfold I thought that a short sexy scene may help guide it to its harrowing conclusion. I did eventually write the scene, but spent a good while scratching my head over it.
This particular story is, at the moment, on hiatus. It’s not because of this scene, the whole thing just hasn’t got that killer punch I was looking for, but I’ll get back to it at some stage.
Obviously any sex scene needs to be in keeping with the tone of the story. You wouldn’t find a scene with the sweet descriptions of a Mills and Boon in an Irvine Welsh or Bryan Smith novel. Likewise a lurid description of sweat and pain, and possibly blood, wouldn’t sit right in a story of two starry-eyed lovers whose upbringings have kept them apart, but through the magic of love they will ultimately be together forever.
So in trying to keep with the mood of the piece, what words do you use to describe the, you know, bits? Is cock too much? Pulsating cock might be. Or do you stay safe and go for length or member? Or does it really matter?
The female parts are, for me, much more difficult to describe, or harder, if you’ll excuse the pun. I could list different names for vagina here, but I’ll let your imagination come up with a few for yourself.
He touched her cheek tenderly and the tiny hairs all over her body danced under his warm breath that enveloped her like a safe, sensual blanket. Her heart was beating like it was about to explode, such was her desire for him to be inside her. She shuddered as his fingers slipped a bra strap from her shoulder and she moaned gently in his ear. His throbbing sex sausage poked her in the thigh like a playful dog wanting some attention. She slid her fingers down his trousers and released him in a movement that seemed almost rehearsed. In a moment they were both naked and she guided him gently towards her soggy snatch. He thrust himself in and out a couple of times, then when his time came, shouted “Booyah baby!”
I’m sure that paragraph could be a bit more erotic without some of the descriptions. Throbbing sex sausage and soggy snatch would turn some readers off, I’m sure. It’s all about getting the balance right. Maybe my immature mind is not yet developed enough to write a truly remarkable scene of erotic pleasure so best keep the sexy bits out for the time being then.
So this piece, entitled Writing a Sex Scene, doesn’t really help in the art of doing what it promises, does it? It’s just me whining about how I sort of can’t do it. Best to stick to what I know, I suppose. Next up… Writing an Abhorrent Murder Scene!
Photo credit: Perpop via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: keso via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Will Southward via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Great post! I wanted my recent fantasy novel I wrote to be a ‘paranormal romance’ with a few racy scenes – but I couldn’t stop myself blushing just at the thought of my family reading scenes like that! Oh well ☺️
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