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It’s not the words, but how you use them

March 29, 2006

Once upon a time, I blushed writing sex scenes. When my pal Jaycee finally said, “why don’t you try writing something hotter”, I didn’t think I could it. Boy, could I kiss her feet now. I love really driving up that sexual tension and then throwing the bedroom doors wide open. That doesn’t mean I didn’t shake my head a thousand times when I was writing my first short, When Lightning Strikes. Not about the erotic story itself and the sex in an elevator idea that prompted the story, but that “what will so-and-so think when I tell them I wrote this?”

Since then I’ve waaaaayyyy gotten over worrying about what I write. Well except when my husband’s rather conservative grandmother asks me what I write. Now, my own grandmother would have gotten a kick out of what I write were she here, that’s the kind of woman she was. My husband’s grandmother… Let’s just say with some people I don’t stay on the subject of my writing too long. With almost everyone else I could talk about the subject of writing for hours, if they let me. LOL

But I’m getting off track, as I tend to do. Back to writing sex scenes. If you’re just starting to tap into writing this genre, hopefully because you love reading them, (because at this point if you’re just writing to make money because they’re all the rage then be prepared to know you have a lot of competition) its okay to be a little uncomfortable with the language, the actions in the beginning. Women are so socialized to not talk about sex and the specific acts openly, it can be hard to let go of that “everyone is going to think I’m a perv” worry. Granted we’ve come along way, but it’s still sometimes hard to overcome those voices and disapproving looks. That being said, if it is your fourth book and you still hate writing sex scenes, you might want to ask yourself why.

Some tips for writing hot sex scenes:

Read, read, read-

Chances are if you’re writing erotic romance, its because you read them and enjoy them. So keep reading. I can’t speak for everyone, but the more I read, the more I write. It keeps me in the right frame of mind as it were. Learn from others, re-read those scenes that get you aroused and try to think of why you were turned on and use what you learn to build your skills as a writer.

Sexual Tension-

Part of writing those erotic scenes is the lead up, that sexual tension that you’ve established between your characters. If a reader loves the characters, can’t wait for them to get together, then you stand a far better chance of getting them aroused when the sex scenes comes. So play up those long looks, those soft touches, those random images of them fantasizing, or thinking about what they’re going to do to the other when they finally get them alone. Think of sexual tension as foreplay for the reader. You’re getting them primed. LOL

The Right Vocabulary –

Okay, so anyone can write a few lines where that infamous Tab A inserts into Slot B. Starting out, a lot of writers can make the mistake of thinking the more graphic words are used, the more erotic the scene is. Wrong. Some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve read there was no “cock, pussy, fucking” mentioned anywhere. Am I saying to write erotic romance and not use these words, hell no. I use them. You just have to be aware of how, and how often you’re using them. Are sex scenes any more erotic just because you use “cock” twenty times instead of just three? Nope. Avoid that kind of repetition. When a reader sees the same words over and over they start to become desensitized to them. And if your reader is getting no response to the language and actions, they aren’t getting aroused, thus you’re losing them. If you’re writing erotic romance you want to make them squirm, at least a little.

Sometimes you don’t need to teach an old dog new tricks-

Vanilla Sex. This term bothers me. There has become this thing in the erotic romance world that everything must be inventive in sex scenes, that you have to use toys, there needs to be some ménage, or anal sex to keep things interesting. Wrong. These things are fine, but if you’re just throwing in a scene with a vibrator, or trying an anal sex scene just to because “its not vanilla sex” you just might not pull it off. These things can all be good, they tap into fantasies, just don’t pressure yourself to think you always need them for the scenes to be erotic.

Listen to the voices in your head-

On top of that sexual tension, and the erotic language, your characters are the biggest parts of your sex scene, they’re the stars remember. Let them drive the scenes, let their emotions, their circumstances, dictate those sex scenes. Are they desperate to get their hands on each other? Does one have the other restrained for some reason to begin with, other then sex? Are they lounging in bed with time to kill? Think about what your characters have been doing and what they will be doing after the sex scene. If they’re on the run from bad guys, it’s damn hard to be convincing when the hero pulls out not just a condom, but a little lube for some ass play when you know in the next scene bullets will be flying. Sex in this circumstance can be pulled off, but it’s probably a rushed thing, quick against the wall sex, or something where those fuzzy handcuffs are left out of the picture.

So to sum up:

Read. Enjoy reading erotic romance, enjoy writing them, otherwise, re-think things. Just because erotic romance is hot, doesn’t mean a good story can’t still sell on its own without it. Build that sexual tension, make the reader want the characters to have sex as much as the characters want to have sex. Don’t overload your scenes with “cock, pussy, and fucking” just because you think it’ll get the job done. And don’t always overlook the erotic nature of the good ole missionary position. Put likeable, fleshed-out characters at the wheel and let them tell you what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

Finally, just know that no single area I’ve mentioned is the be-all-end-all for writing erotic scenes. The key is finding the right balance between all those elements and making it work for you and the story.

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