The Dreaded Sex Scene

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MerriTudor

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OK. Having realized (duh) that my giant synopsis is, in reality, a first draft, I’m moving right along now!

Well, I was moving right along until admitted I can no longer sidestep the Dreaded Sex Scene. Like Frodo Baggins trudging toward Mt. Doom, it’s pretty much inevitable. Unless an Orc gets me first, which might be a relief.

I honestly don’t know where to start. I have some before-the-deed dialogue and some post-coital sweet talk, but that’s about it. Essentially, I don’t know if I can do justice to the MMC’s character as a gentleman who, up to this point, has kept his hands to himself. He hasn't exactly been rubbing all up on the FMC with one hand up her skirt and the other down her bodice.

My MMC isn’t a rake, but he’s not a Jane Austen gent, either. So I’ve got to tread the middle ground on this – sensual, but without blow-by-blow color commentary. And I want to avoid the cringe-worthy genital euphemisms used in some books. Now, I get why these colorful phrases are bandied about from one book to the next. The actual dictionary words for naughty bits are too cold and clinical, while slang can be too crude and nasty for some readers. But there's got to be a better way to describe a guy having an erection than saying "his body hardened." Ummm....what? Sounds more like a state of mummification than a state of arousal.

Anyway, if I’m not careful, I can betray the tone of the entire WIP in a few pages, which has focused more on their developing relationship and less on going at it every time they’re alone together. And yet, this relationship is slowly but surely working toward a big payoff in bed. A fade to black would be the easy way out, but it wouldn’t provide that payoff and this couple, along with the reader, shouldn’t be cheated out of what they’ve worked so hard toward. This is the moment that this couple truly, irrevocably bonds and it's got to come off that way.

On top of it all, I’m feeling totally squeamish writing about people getting it on! It’s embarrassing just putting it down in black and white. How will I feel when someone reads it? Does this get easier the more times you do it? Sort of like sex? Hah!

Tell me I'm not alone! Share your tales of the agony and the ecstasy of the sex scene. Maybe it will take my mind off how mortified I am. Also, any tips are definitely welcome.
 

Fruitbat

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Maybe you'd want to consult a book, like Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane, or just try an internet search of "how to write a sex scene" and see if that helps.
 

Marian Perera

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I honestly don’t know where to start. I have some before-the-deed dialogue and some post-coital sweet talk, but that’s about it. Essentially, I don’t know if I can do justice to the MMC’s character as a gentleman who, up to this point, has kept his hands to himself. He hasn't exactly been rubbing all up on the FMC with one hand up her skirt and the other down her bodice.

I'm just curious - have the hero and heroine got intimate at all before the sex scene? It's generally easier for me to slide the two of them down a slippery slope (sorry, but everything I say sounds like a double entendre) if they've had even one or two kisses beforehand.

My MMC isn’t a rake, but he’s not a Jane Austen gent, either. So I’ve got to tread the middle ground on this – sensual, but without blow-by-blow color commentary. And I want to avoid the cringe-worthy genital euphemisms used in some books. Now, I get why these colorful phrases are bandied about from one book to the next. The actual dictionary words for naughty bits are too cold and clinical, while slang can be too crude and nasty for some readers. But there's got to be a better way to describe a guy having an erection than saying "his body hardened." Ummm....what? Sounds more like a state of mummification than a state of arousal.

I second the recommendation for Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet. After reading that, I shed the last vestiges of my proper Catholic school upbringing and dived headfirst into smut.

Also, find historical romances that strike the notes you're aiming for in one way or another - e.g. sensual but not too explicit, relationship builds up to sex scene, etc. - and see how those authors pull it off. For me, it's Mary Balogh in terms of emotion and Anne Stuart when it comes to style. I remember Stephanie Laurens' early Cynster novels as being pretty hot too.

For my M/M novels I read some steamy fanfics, and those started the process of desensitizing me. I'm still reading such fanfics, though now it's more for fun and/or research.
 
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CEtchison

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Ha! I remember those days. It was painful. And nerve-wracking. Then by book three I was throwing in sex all over the place. LOL

One thing that helped me find my comfort level was to re-read some of my personal favorites. How did those authors do it? What kind of language did they use and what was the heat level? Was it vague or detailed? Was it quick or drawn out? Initially, my personal line in the sand were the "c" words. Welp. I got over that real quick when there was just no way around it and everything else sounded ridiculous.

Sometimes you have to treat it like a band-aid and rip it right off. lol Or maybe have a drink or two beforehand. ;)
 

Jan74

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I don't think you need to name body parts at all, some of the best sex acts I've read don't label the anatomy. I agree with CEtchison, find books that you like and re-read the sex scenes. I hate fade to black, its super frustrating as a reader to have an intense build up in a novel and then skip completely over it. One of my favorite authors did this in a book I really loved and it pissed me off. I don't need graphic details, but give me something, the emotions that go with having sex with someone you desire.
 

MerriTudor

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Fruitbat - hey, I'll read anything with strumpet in the title! This sounds like it might be right up my alley. So to speak! Thank you for the resource, I'll definitely check it out.

Marian - Yes, the couple has had some lovely smooching moments, so they're not going in cold. And actually I did want it to be a slippery slope, especially for him, as he had no intention of this happening. So he's the one who's dragging his feet. And the suggestion to check out romance writers who are good in bed is great! I think Mary Balogh may be the one for me. I've been reading samples on Amazon because I read constantly, and have come across some pretty freaky stuff in Chapter 1 before anyone is even properly introduced. Some of the "heros" come off as sex addicts hopped up on Viagra. And ooooo, I'd love to read your Sleeping Beauty reboot!

CEtchison - oh my, yes! The old 'c' words! I dunno if I can go there yet, but I was thinking I need to get into my 18th century slang and see if there are any words which would be era appropriate and yet easy for a modern ear to match to the correct body part! Your suggestion of a drink first I'm taking deadly seriously. Hopefully I'll be able to decipher what I've written once I sober up.

Jan74 - Yep, I've been blindsided by a fade to black in a book that desperately needed to go all the way! It's like going on a date with a guy who gets you all hot and crazy and then bails on you. I think a scene that's all emotion and no graphic details can work if you hold the line all the way through the relationship. I'm thinking this one needs some graphic detail, but I want it to be tastefully done so that it enhances the emotion instead of making you go, "Eeewwww!" :)
 

Jeneral

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It definitely gets better with practice (boy Marian is right, everything sounds like a double entendre!). I think the first time I wrote a kissing scene I was giggling with awkwardness and had to get up and walk around the room a couple times in the middle of it. But the more I did it, the better I got at it (heh), and eventually I was banging out (heh) a smut scene with my morning coffee.

CEtchison has it; re-read books you like that tackle it the way you want it done. If you're squeamish about body parts focus on emotion and other sensory images. But I agree with what others have said. Nothing makes me angrier than massive emotional buildup followed by a glossed-over sex scene.

Good luck!
 

CEtchison

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There was an author I saw at a conference (and it's going to drive me bonkers because I can't remember her name) who talked about writing sex scenes. Her first books were written on a typewriter and the space she used to write was a vanity area in her bedroom. Which meant she faced a mirror. Which wasn't a problem until she got to the sex scenes. At first she tried dimming the bedroom lights but then she couldn't see the keys. So then she had a glass of wine even though it was early in the day. If I remember correctly, she finally covered the mirror with something, had the lights dimmed and was drinking wine just to get through it.

To me, writing sex scenes is comparable to having a baby. When you go into labor with your first, you're uncomfortable with every stranger in the place putting their hands in your hoo-ha. But after some pain and suffering, once you get that epidural you just don't care anymore. And then, by the time you have that second or third kid, you *really* don't care anymore and are on the verge of charging admission just to offset the hospital costs. :D
 

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If concerned re language, it's worth looking up some of the slang and historical terms, and bearing in mind that different words had different levels of 'rudeness' in different time periods. A lot of modern-day prudery can be trace back to the Victorian era (this being the era when they covered table-legs so men wouldn't get an erection!).

Re the 'c' word, a good alternative is quim - which someone somewhere in America either didn't understand or didn't care when it got used as an insult in The Avengers (Loki to Black Widow), so apparently doesn't raise quite the same visceral reaction as the 'c' word.

It's also worth considering character backgrounds and what euphemisms might feel natural to them - a warrior might refer to 'sword and sheath' in an effort to be 'polite,' (this is actually the etymological source of the word vagina and for the Greek prefix in medical terms), and Dutch has some delightful words that translate to 'cave of love' and 'rose of flesh'!

As for writing the scenes themselves, well, I haven't got that far with my romances, so we'll see! In fic, I have written a few, and I tend to focus on emotions where possible, in order to ensure that the sex serves the story. In my fantasy novel, it was a 'fade to black' case, although it was observed that Connor particularly enjoys it when his wife wears laced bodices!
 

Marlys

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There's a lot of gray between fade-to-black and reporting every stroke. As others have mentioned, sometimes the emotional impact is the important thing to focus on instead of the actions. Other times, like after a long sensual build up, writing out the whole shebang (or hebang--I write gay romance) feels appropriate.

I try to think hard about what the sex means to the characters, especially the POV character for the scene. If it's their first time, are they nervous or relieved or so focused on the object of their affections that their inexperience isn't relevant? If they're sexually experienced, what's new or different about this from what they've known before? What would most strike this character about what's happening? What details about their partner(s) would they particularly notice? Does anything scare them or amuse them or move them to tears?

I end up with very different levels of detail, but scenes which feel right for the particular story I'm writing.
 

ElaineA

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If concerned re language, it's worth looking up some of the slang and historical terms, and bearing in mind that different words had different levels of 'rudeness' in different time periods. A lot of modern-day prudery can be trace back to the Victorian era (this being the era when they covered table-legs so men wouldn't get an erection!).

Re the 'c' word, a good alternative is quim - which someone somewhere in America either didn't understand or didn't care when it got used as an insult in The Avengers (Loki to Black Widow), so apparently doesn't raise quite the same visceral reaction as the 'c' word.

It's also worth considering character backgrounds and what euphemisms might feel natural to them - a warrior might refer to 'sword and sheath' in an effort to be 'polite,' (this is actually the etymological source of the word vagina and for the Greek prefix in medical terms), and Dutch has some delightful words that translate to 'cave of love' and 'rose of flesh'!

Just going to offer a word of caution about getting too metaphorical with the body parts. That feels old-school to modern romance readers, even if they're reading historical. All that 70's-80's romance lingo doesn't really fly anymore. If you're writing historical, period terms are great as long as the reader will know what it means. (Personally, I'm dying to use quim. :tongue). So far I haven't used the P-word or the female C-word, and I write on the very steamy side. Being in the character's head helps. What they're feeling, experiencing, how that translates to their feelings about the partner(s).

I think one other thing maybe to try is self-talk. Try to eliminate words like "dread" when you're approaching the sex scenes. Maybe it would be helpful think about (and carve away) what makes you dread it, too. Is it worry about who might read it (like your dad *grimace*), or that you aren't confident in the execution, or something else? Whatever it might be, perhaps try to isolate those worries and put them in a little mental strongbox.

Unless you're writing sweet romance, your readers will be rooting for you to come with the goods. They're who you want to keep in front of mind while you type. Think of the grins and fanning faces, and readers clutching your book (or their kindle) to their chests after reading a well-done sex scene. Now there's some motivation! :)
 

Roxxsmom

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It's possible to get a pretty good feel for what's happening sexually during a scene without naming parts or getting super descriptive.

This is a place where narrative viewpoint can be your friend too. How many of us are actually thinking about technical, crude or floridly descriptive names for our man and lady parts when we're engaged in a passionate encounter?

Never mind, I probably don't want to know the answer to that question :chair
 

MerriTudor

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Wow! I'm overwhelmed with all the great advice and encouragement on this one!

Jeneral - I've been doing the same thing - getting up and walking around seems to relieve the tension and help with the sheepish giggles. I'm really hoping I become blasé about this so I can bang out smut, too. ;)

CEtchison - Love the story about the author and the mirror! And the labor analogy. I've never given birth but I'll betcha I could be pretty uninhibited doing so. I have zero embarrassment about screaming in pain and will do so whenever required.

Tanydwr - Oh my! I DID think about using "quim" because it was used in Rob Roy and I thought it was pretty cool! And I adore your etymological mini-seminars! I like your comment that sex should serve the story. THAT's what I'd like to accomplish.

Marlys - Very good comments! Emotional content really is paramount, and everything else is set dressing. Speaking of POV, I'm torn on whose eyes the reader should see this scene through, or how to weave their separate experiences into one.

ElaineA - Yes, I shouldn't dread this. I should...anticipate it! And I do, really, but...ugh. I think I'm most frightened of turning out something that's laughable. Or eye-rolling. But I'll try to envision my readers tearing off their clothes, sobbing with joy, and plunging into a cold bath!

Roxxsmom - Even though you don't want to know, I had several boyfriends who talked a blue streak about naughty bits the whole time. Sometimes it was hot. Other times it was "Geez, I just remembered! I left my curling iron on! Gotta go!" :D
 

Jan74

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There's a lot of gray between fade-to-black and reporting every stroke. As others have mentioned, sometimes the emotional impact is the important thing to focus on instead of the actions. Other times, like after a long sensual build up, writing out the whole shebang (or hebang--I write gay romance) feels appropriate.

I try to think hard about what the sex means to the characters, especially the POV character for the scene. If it's their first time, are they nervous or relieved or so focused on the object of their affections that their inexperience isn't relevant? If they're sexually experienced, what's new or different about this from what they've known before? What would most strike this character about what's happening? What details about their partner(s) would they particularly notice? Does anything scare them or amuse them or move them to tears?

I end up with very different levels of detail, but scenes which feel right for the particular story I'm writing.

I love this, very helpful for my own writing thnx :)
 

Roxxsmom

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Roxxsmom - Even though you don't want to know, I had several boyfriends who talked a blue streak about naughty bits the whole time. Sometimes it was hot. Other times it was "Geez, I just remembered! I left my curling iron on! Gotta go!" :D

I was really just kidding. I'm pretty hard to shock with regards to sex ;) I'm not one to judge couples badly for the consensual play they engage in.

But you make a good point, and it proves that the personality of the viewpoint character, and the behavior of their partner, will have a lot to do with the language you select to describe the experience (and on the dialog that takes place during as well).

Readers aren't all the same either. Some will put a book down that even alludes to a character having sex. Others will be disappointed with a romance that omits sex scenes, or with one that portrays them demurely.
 
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Marian Perera

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Yes, the couple has had some lovely smooching moments, so they're not going in cold.

Great! And maybe the sex scene can amplify or resolve whatever conflicts are in the kissing scene(s) - for instance, if he breaks off the kiss because he doesn't want to risk caring about her, in the sex scene he could finally admit he's way beyond mere caring, even if he doesn't say that aloud.

And the suggestion to check out romance writers who are good in bed is great! I think Mary Balogh may be the one for me.

There's a scene in her romance The Secret Pearl where the hero and heroine (who are determined not to have sex with each other, for good reasons) are seated beside each other in a carriage, and each of them has a hand resting on the seat between them. Their little fingers touch and intertwine. That's all they do. And their relationship is so well written that this one scene is more moving than a lot of explicit sex I've read.

Which is not to say that explicit sex should be avoided, or that it can't be moving too. It's just that for me, that moment in the story epitomizes Balogh.

I've been reading samples on Amazon because I read constantly, and have come across some pretty freaky stuff in Chapter 1 before anyone is even properly introduced. Some of the "heros" come off as sex addicts hopped up on Viagra.

Agreed. I find that too often, authors try to outdo each other (or themselves) when it comes to the inventiveness, variety and duration of sex scenes. Like the scene in a Lisa Marie Rice romance where the hero and heroine have sex three times in one night and he's still rock hard at the end - which to me, suggests a medical disorder.

All About Romance used to feature a Purple Prose Parody contest which poked fun at overwritten sex scenes. One of my favorite entries (the first in the list) is where the hero, with the sputtering heroine in his arms, is searching for a place to have sex :

Fountain? Been done. Swing? No. Bench? Too easy. Cactus-filled planter? Ah yes! Now there’'s a challenge worthy of a Fitz-Cynster!

That said, I've had a romance published where the hero and heroine get physically intimate in the first chapter before they're properly introduced. He's a public health inspector finishing up a routine check of a brothel, and she's a ship's captain taking advantage of shore leave to enjoy herself, so she goes to the brothel to hire someone. He sees her and thinks she's the loveliest woman he's ever met. She sees him and asks if he works there, so he says yes and plays along. Part of the fun for me was her brisk and businesslike approach clashing with his starry-eyed fascination. It didn't get too freaky because she eventually discovers the truth and is furious, but the scene was a lot of fun to write (and hopefully to read).

And ooooo, I'd love to read your Sleeping Beauty reboot!

Thanks! I wondered one day, what if none of her family wanted Sleeping Beauty around? What if they were all better off without her and the world moved on?

Then one day someone would inadvertently wake her up, and come to regret it before long. And she would be utterly disoriented, not to mention pissed off. Rather than the story ending with the kiss, that would be when all the problems started. And since I already had a dystopian world where this could happen, it turned into an M/M romance.

Speaking of POV, I'm torn on whose eyes the reader should see this scene through, or how to weave their separate experiences into one.

That's one reason I read Anne Stuart. There are some things I don't like about her romances, but she does sex scenes very well. These are usually told from the POV of the character she wants you to identify with or feel sympathy for (and given how vicious and amoral her heroes tend to be, that's a challenge and a half), but there's a lot of awareness of the other person during those scenes. And they always feel balanced with regard to how much headspace each character gets.

Readers aren't all the same either. Some will put a book down that even alludes to a character having sex. Others will be disappointed with a romance that omits sex scenes, or with one that portrays them demurely.

Exactly. IMO, best to know in advance which audience you're aiming for, and to understand that you're not appealing to the others. There have been quite a few threads here where people have said they don't read books which contain the word fuck, but given that I'm writing about men struggling to survive in a bleak dystopian world, it would be remarkable (and unrealistic) if they get shot and say, "Oh, darn." Likewise, sex. Some people don't want body parts in their sex scenes just as some people don't like m/m, but they're not my target readership so I'm not going to pretzel my story or my style to please them.
 
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Late to the party as usual...but I did want to address your own squeamishness.

You absolutely CANNOT write this imagining your mother, your grade one teacher or your neighbour reading it. After all, you couldnt really have sex if you imagined any of those people seeing you do it, right? (well, I guess there are a few whackos for whom that would be a help rather than a hindrance, but) You cant write the scene in a similarly inhibited state, either. I suggest you do a first draft of the scene as though its only for yourself and will never see the light of day, completely uninhibited. See how it looks after you give yourself permission to let your freak flag fly, then think about editing.
 

MerriTudor

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There's a scene in her romance The Secret Pearl where the hero and heroine (who are determined not to have sex with each other, for good reasons) are seated beside each other in a carriage, and each of them has a hand resting on the seat between them. Their little fingers touch and intertwine. That's all they do. And their relationship is so well written that this one scene is more moving than a lot of explicit sex I've read.

Yes! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! That single gesture or glance that’s so subtle and so sensual that it blows any graphic naked scene to bits. I’ve obviously been reading the wrong books because my most beloved examples are in movies. Like in North and South, when Richard Armitage (oooohhh!) as John takes a teacup from Margaret. He’s looking up at her with this smoldering intensity that could set the drapes on fire, and he deliberately touches her hand as she hands him the cup. Dang, that’s good! Or in Persuasion when Ciaran Hinds as Frederick writes the “you pierce my soul” letter to Anne, then gets up and gives her this look that has his heart in his eyes. Whew! These small moments can pack a wallop if you set them up just right.

I find that too often, authors try to outdo each other (or themselves) when it comes to the inventiveness, variety and duration of sex scenes. Like the scene in a Lisa Marie Rice romance where the hero and heroine have sex three times in one night and he's still rock hard at the end - which to me, suggests a medical disorder.

What’s up with that, no pun intended? Agreed, dude needs to see a doctor. I read a scene that went on for nearly 20 pages. YES, 20 PAGES. I was flippin’ exhausted by the end. I think the heroine had to be hospitalized.

I've had a romance published where the hero and heroine get physically intimate in the first chapter before they're properly introduced. He's a public health inspector finishing up a routine check of a brothel, and she's a ship's captain taking advantage of shore leave to enjoy herself, so she goes to the brothel to hire someone.

Hey, I will definitely cut you some slack on that one. First, a female ship’s captain? I’m down with that! And seafarers always let off steam on shore leave. Second, I don’t see anything wrong with hiring a guy to take care of business (although most of them are happy enough to do it gratis). The book I read had the couple on a terrace at a ball, no names exchanged, and he has her out of her bodice in 15 minutes as part of his revenge plot. OK, I gotta read yours!

Some people don't want body parts in their sex scenes just as some people don't like m/m, but they're not my target readership so I'm not going to pretzel my story or my style to please them.

I think that’s part of what’s holding me back. Am I being too prim? Is the hero too “nice”? I’ve read so many books where the hero is an obnoxious, boorish dick to the heroine but she still has her legs in the air repeatedly for the guy. Should my hero put aside his gentlemanly ways and grope her boobs at every opportunity? And the answer is, you’re right! I have to write for my target audience and let those who want this sort of thing go elsewhere. Lords knows there’s no dearth of it.

Late to the party as usual...but I did want to address your own squeamishness.

You absolutely CANNOT write this imagining your mother, your grade one teacher or your neighbour reading it. After all, you couldnt really have sex if you imagined any of those people seeing you do it, right? (well, I guess there are a few whackos for whom that would be a help rather than a hindrance, but) You cant write the scene in a similarly inhibited state, either. I suggest you do a first draft of the scene as though its only for yourself and will never see the light of day, completely uninhibited. See how it looks after you give yourself permission to let your freak flag fly, then think about editing.

Proserpina, love that username! And you’re not too late. Thank you for the advice and encouragement. I had been thinking, why don’t I just get down and dirty and let ‘er rip! Just to get over that squeamishness, and then back off a bit, then a bit more until I have what I’ve envisioned. Thanks for putting that in front of me! I’m gonna do it!

Tomorrow night, my husband is out. I’ll get myself comfortable, have a glass of wine (or two), and unfurl that freak flag!
 

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I'm afraid I'm going to have to put some sex into my current work. The MC is an acting ambassador for his nation, so it's not like he's not mature enough for it, and it fits his arc, but it's sort of like he's looking at me aghast and saying "You want me to do WHAT?"
 

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Twick... that's so funny.

IMO it's better to fade to black a sex scene than to include a really bad one. The hubby was recently reading an old John Grisham novel and he included one that was so terrible. It involved eating chili straight from the can immediately before they went at it.

Just...no. ::shivers::

MerriTudor -- if you're anywhere near a conference where Damon Suede is presenting his intimacy workshop, go. Because you're exactly right in that romance novels do not require sex on the page to pack an emotional wallop. This is exactly what Damon speaks about, that those small touches between two characters can be just as powerful as a full blown scene.

The most important thing is write what is right for the characters. Every sex scene write should be different because of the intimacy between the characters. Could you imagine Emma doing a strip tease and swinging around on the four-poster bed for Mr. Knightly? Um, no. Even if you were writing contemporary a drunken one night stand between too very uninhibited people will likely be different than the first time between two people who have pined for each other for years.

Even with the same characters, the second time they have sex will be different than their first time, because they know things about each other now. Their level of intimacy has shifted, the level of trust has (hopefully) increased.

I remember reading one scene where the heroine basically had to be a gymnast for the sex to work and the hero was positioning her this way and that to get it done. It was ridiculous. And it was the first time these two had sex!! (I should note this wasn't some performance in a BDSM club where there are different rules to intimacy/trust/etc.) If the author had made the same scene the third or fourth time the couple had sex I wouldn't have had a problem with it. I would've said "You do you." But for the first time between two people who just realized they were in love with each other? Nah... not buying it.
 
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Jan74

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I love reading a good sex scene and it has to match the mc personalities, put yourself in the head of your mc and what would she feel? Even the most gentle soft woman sometimes wants rough passionate sex, what makes sense for the novel? Is it a hurried-animal-we-need-to-do-this-now-before-we-both-explode type of sex, or is it we-have-all-night-to-explore-type-sex? I would write each of those scenes very differently. Again I don't think you have to name body parts. I've read books where they name anatomy and it makes me laugh, not what the writer wants in a sex scene.

Is it a sex scene or love scene? I think they are very different also.
 

Marian Perera

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IMO it's better to fade to black a sex scene than to include a really bad one. The hubby was recently reading an old John Grisham novel and he included one that was so terrible. It involved eating chili straight from the can immediately before they went at it.

For me, the reigning king of bad sex scenes is Graham Masterton. Masterton's horror and crime novels tend to be quick easy reads for me, but his sex scenes are awful. One of them had the hero performing oral sex on the heroine and noticing her urethra.

Even with the same characters, the second time they have sex will be different than their first time, because they know things about each other now. Their level of intimacy has shifted, the level of trust has (hopefully) increased.

Agreed. Each sex scene should accomplish something different in terms of the characters' relationship. If the scenes are interchangeable, it's not a good sign.

I remember reading one scene where the heroine basically had to be a gymnast for the sex to work and the hero was positioning her this way and that to get it done.

I had the same experience. It was a novel where, IIRC, the hero was over 12 inches and therefore the heroine had to position herself in a certain way to allow him to enter her womb. I remember thinking, "At over 12 inches, we're past the uterus. We're into the Fallopian tubes here."
 

MerriTudor

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The most important thing is write what is right for the characters. Every sex scene write should be different because of the intimacy between the characters. Could you imagine Emma doing a strip tease and swinging around on the four-poster bed for Mr. Knightly?

AFTER eating chili straight from a can?

And Damon Suede - duly noted!

Every sex scene write should be different because of the intimacy between the characters.


I couldn't agree more. Staying true to the characters and their relationship is foremost. I can think of a few books where the mood of the whole book changed for the worse once the couple hit the sack. Romantic and tender suddenly shifted into eye-blistering porno melodrama.

Is it a sex scene or love scene? I think they are very different also.

Spot on! And when you have both, it's a beautiful thing. Which for me is the ultimate payoff.

It was a novel where, IIRC, the hero was over 12 inches and therefore the heroine had to position herself in a certain way to allow him to enter her womb.

The stuff of nightmares!
 
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