Yesterday, I made you go search for an article quoting moi, among some best-selling, big name authors about writing sex scenes.
Please click on their art or their links to find out more about who they are and what they’ve written.
I also try to balance the physical and emotional content. I do try to describe explicitly who’s doing what to whom, since I think in erotica it’s important for the reader to be very clear what’s having the effect described on the characters, but I also try to evoke how it feels to the main character and what emotions it rouses.
Ultimately, I don’t think any sex scene will be effective if the participants (or at least one of them) isn’t a vividly realised character the reader can care about. Caring doesn’t necessarily mean liking, of course, but the reader must feel strongly about this person in order to be with them having sex.
Annie: I offer a lot of foreplay leading to actual act with banter and a lot eye contact. It builds heat, desire, and anticipation.
Isobael: I try to make it realistic and yet both raw and tender. There are times when we need raw and unbridled, and times we need the tender aspect of love making. It depends on the situation of the characters (when you come out of a battle and survived, all that aggression is going to be channeled to raw, passionate love making!).
Emly: I attempt to draw on all the senses, but in particular touch, smell, and sound. To me sex is initiated and consumed by the entire range of sensual experience. I want the reader to feel the smoothness of skin, smell the spicy aroma of pheromones heating up, the whisper of passion.
Lauren: Emphasize the little things. It's all about the little things. Breath on skin, the taste of a kiss, things like that. Also, I capitalize on emotions, and try to make every sex scene mean something. I've written everything from tender, emotional lovemaking to furious, bed-breaking revenge sex...if there's a sex scene in one of my books, it's there for a reason, even if that reason is subtle or not immediately obvious (i.e., something that will tie in to a later chapter). My writing partner and I spent hours poring over books and sex scenes from movies to figure out what set some scenes apart from others, and we've done everything we can to use that knowledge to our advantage.
3. What techniques do you use to put your reader on the sheets?
Nyki: Really, most of what I described in the last answer. I think the most effective technique is to have a viewpoint character the reader can be interested in, and then letting the reader share what that person is doing and being done to, how their body is reacting and the emotions it evokes.
It’s important, I think, not simply to give a laundry-list of actions and reactions, but mixing very specific descriptions with imagery that expresses the feelings, rather than describing them. Also, I think the reader must be given something they can identify with. Even if it’s supposed to be the most amazing sex in the history of this or any other world, there need to be points of reference to common experience. The reader might not have experienced a particular feeling, especially if they’re of a different sex or orientation from the character, but there are common experiences of sex.
One other thing I try to include sometimes is the awkwardness, even humour, of sex. The reality isn’t a choreographed, soulless porn scene – it can be clumsy, squelchy and even absurd, and all of that is part of the charm of real sex. Although it can be overdone, I try to nod at that at times.
Annie: I learned how to use a pattern in my sex scene to help me create them. Action, reaction, inner thought, returned action. Repeat.
Action- He trailed his eyes from her face, to her mouth, then to her breasts.
Reaction- His open admiration made her heart flutter like a humming bird on steroids.
Inner thought- She’d never possessed such a strong desire to find out what someone would taste like until tonight.
Returned Action- She popped open the top button of her blouse.
It’s not set in stone but it gives you something to work with as a first draft.
Isobael: I just write it as I feel it. I try to be descriptive with the feelings, the sensations. I'm still learning how to "translate" those into words though, so sometimes, my heroines have trouble doing the same. I think it adds a bit of realism to it.
Emly: This is a tough question--one I may not be totally ready to answer. I'm still learning. I like to use humor (sex can be very funny sometimes). I also made my main character less than perfect--she's a little zoftig and in her forties so readers can relate.
Lauren: Utilize all the senses. Tap into emotions. Using emotions and all five senses, I hope to make the reader feel everything the characters are feeling, from the "I want you RIGHT NOW" tension to the "almost...there..." seconds before an orgasm to the "Holy crap, I needed that" sigh afterward.
4. Do you use a single point of view per love scene or do you shift from participant to participant? Why?
Nyki:I rarely change point of view within any scene, and I can’t recall ever having done so in a sex scene. On the other hand, various magics available in my stories can sometimes make sharing point of view possible. I’ve never actually written a scene where both people having sex share a point of view – that would be amazing, but also very difficult.
Annie: I usually stay in a woman’s pov because that’s who reads most of the romances. I have written from a male’s pov but there was a reason for it like he had the most to lose in the scene.
Isobael: Sometimes, I'll start with the male POV and then switch to the heroine. As a woman, I find it easier to write from her POV than from the male's.
Emly: My story is first person narrative, so there can be only one perspective, alas.
Lauren: Depends on the scene. The vast majority of my work is in first person, so it always stays in one POV. If it's in third, I will occasionally switch, but only if it's absolutely necessary that the reader feel the scene from both POVs. And I also make sure it's clear to the reader to avoid head-hopping and confusion.
5. What words do you find yourself overusing?
Nyki:Well, as I write a lot of lesbian scenes, perhaps “she” and “her” are the most overused words. I remember reading somewhere that the single most challenging element of writing same-sex erotica is pronouns, and I agree. Otherwise, I have to watch repetition of the words for the key anatomical features, as well as words like “thrust”, “flick”, “tease” etc. which can easily become automatic go-to words.
Annie: Touch and press. I’ve made myself a small thesaurus for these words. LOL
Isobael: LOL...umm...I think, the overly used descriptive words for passion...hot, burning...
Emly: That, even, lick.
6. What's your favorite word for female genitalia? For male genitalia?
Nyki: For the female genitalia – I know it’s controversial, but I actually like the word “cunt”. A lot of people describe it as a hard, violent word, and it can be when it’s used as an insult. If it’s a bit slower and drawn out, though, it always seems a warm, squelchy word to me, perfectly describing what it refers to. I’m not so particular about the male – I most often just use “cock”.
One thing I always dislike is referring to “his/her sex”. It seems rather coy.
Annie: I hate the word ‘pussy’. I don’t like writing it or reading it. LOL No logical reason for it either. For women I use groin, between her thighs, core, entrance…For men I use cock, hard length, steel rod…
Isobael: This is tough! I know I don't like to use abrupt words but nothing too flowery either. Nether lips, sex, womanhood for a woman and for the male, arousal, cock, hardness.
Emly: I'm struggling with sensuous words for female genitalia. Pussy seems so slangy, but the alternatives are too demeaning. My favorite word for penis is cock; for testicles: cojones or balls.
Lauren: Pussy and cock. I can't stand the goofy euphemisms and overdone flowery metaphors.
7. When you read other writers' love scenes, what makes you cringe? What makes you sit up and take notes?
Nyki: There are countless cringeworthy elements of badly written sex scenes – I’ve already mentioned “laundry list” descriptions of who’s doing what, and another one is orgasms that happen without any particular stimulation. One thing I’ve come across, though, that really bugs me is unrealistic dialogue during sex. I mean, it’s one thing to have someone screaming “Yes... yes... oh yeeeees” but not when, in the throes of orgasm, they find the breath (and the grammar) to pant out, “Oh, you are so wonderful that I cannot hold out any longer. Ram your rampant, ten-and-a-half-inch organ deep into my open, juicy passage. Oh, I am coming now.” By the time that’s over, they’d be sitting up sharing a cigarette.
What impresses me, I suppose, is simply when I can feel myself there with the characters. As a reader, I just enjoy it. As a writer, I go back afterwards and try to see what they’re doing to make it so great.