February is the month for love and romance, and since I’m the resident romance writing Wordbitch, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about sex. Writing sex scenes to be specific.
Not all my books have a sex scene in them, in fact, my Castle Mountain Lodge Books are considered ‘sweet romance’ which means there’s no sex ‘on screen’. However, some of my women’s fiction books have some heat and my new series, The Springs, is definitely steamier.
Writing sexy time can be a big hang up for a lot of people, but with a few tips, and plenty of practice, (I also use red wine) you’ll be getting down and dirty in no time. Here are my top
1) Pretend no one will read it
This is important. If you’re constantly thinking about what your mom’s going to say when she reads your word, you’re probably not going to be able to let go. Just write. Don’t think. Get it out on the paper. You can worry about everything else later.
2) No one needs a how-to manual
Let’s be honest. Everyone who’s reading your book knows the basics of sex. They know what goes where and what happens. So please, drop the step by step instruction guide. If someone really wants to know how to do the dirty deed, there are books for that. It shouldn’t be in your novel.
3) Remember all the senses
This is good advice for any scene, but particularly in a sex scene. Obviously, your hero is going to be feeling and seeing things. A lot of things. But, they’re also going to smell the musky spice of their partner’s arousal, taste the slightly salty tang of her skin, and hear her moan of satisfaction. Your hero will be present with all five senses, let your reader in.
4) Let the characters decide how it plays out
You may think this one is slightly crazy, after all you’re the writer. You get to decide, right? Wrong. If you’ve done your job properly, your characters will be totally in control of thier own sexy time scene. The things they do, say and feel should all be in character. If you have a shy and timid heroine, it’s not likely that she’s going to be into getting busy with her guy at the public beach. Unless of course we know your heroine has secret proclivities towards exhibitionism, but if she does, the reader should already know that. The point is, even your sex scenes have to be in character.
5) No gratuitous sex
Unless you’re writing porn (note: I said porn, not erotica) there needs to be a reason for your characters hooking up. There’s nothing more annoying than a sex scene for the sake of it. The scene should move the story forward in some fashion.
6) Start the scene early on
I don’t mean you should write a three chapter sex scene. But hey, whatever does it for you. What I do mean is the sexual chemistry and tension needs to build from very early on. It doesn’t make any sense at all for two characters to simply fall into bed with each other if there hasn’t been any heat between them prior to that point. Build it, tease the reader with it. Make the reader want it as much as the characters do.
7) It doesn’t have to be sexy
Think of your own experiences. They’re not all straight from a movie. In fact, probably very few are. The point is, a sex scene doesn’t have to be sexy. It can be funny, or awkward, or messy or…fill in the blank. One of my favorite sex scenes of all time was written by fellow Wordbitch, Bradley Somer in his book Imperfections. Two bumbling teenagers, campfire, first time. Need I say more? I laughed until I cried and was totally incoherent. Great scene!
8) Talk to me, baby
I no, I don’t necessarily mean your hero and heroine have to talk dirty to each other. But if that fits into their character…go for it. But sexy time rarely happens in a quiet bubble. If she’s unsure about her first time with him, she might make little jokes, or nervous chatter. Maybe they’re having an argument, or bantering back and forth. Whatever it is, they’re probably saying something.
9) Don’t forget the after glow
This is crucial and also a perfect spot to move your story forward. (Of course your sex scene also should have also done this Remember #5?) What happens after their union? Are they embarrassed, angry, happy…what? Yes, it can be awkward, but the post coupling scene is when emotions are exposed and raw. Perfect for major action (if you know what I mean).
10) Red Wine
Okay, this isn’t totally necessary. But I do find that a little red wine loosens me up and lets me write uncensored. The point is, lower your inhibitions and get writing.
There are almost as many tips and tricks for writing sex scenes as there are positions. For some more great ideas, check out these links:
Twenty Steps to Writing Great Love Scenes
25 Humpalicious Steps for Writing Your First Sex Scene (This may be my favorite post on the subject)
Diana Gabaldon’s Advice
And don’t forget…have fun! It’s sex after all.