If writing sex scenes were easy, there would be no such thing as bad erotica. The truth is I've read a lot of sex scenes that lack the sizzle. It takes more than just hot sex to make a good sex scene.
Last time I covered what makes a good sex scene. I like to make sure my sex scenes are arousing, move the story forward, develop the characters, and develop the relationship between the characters.
Lets investigate the first one more in depth. How can you make your sex scenes arousing? Let's take a close look at that, hold it in our hands, squeeze it, stroke it, until we get a good look at how big it really is.
1. No talking during sex - We listen to each other mostly by nonverbal communication. There is nothing arousing about "Yeah, take off that shirt. Yeah, grab me there. That's where I want you to touch me. Will you still respect me in the morning?" This is a case of telling instead of showing. Instead, narrate the actions that are taking place and have your protagonist reflect on how she feels about what's happening, about him, about herself, and about their relationship. This is not to say that you can't have the man mutter "beautiful" every so often as he undresses her, but conversations are a no-no.
CAVEAT: I use talking during sex all the time. The difference is this. When the choice is to have the character say, " 'Yeah! Stick that thing inside me!'" or to have the character narrate, "She grabbed his length and tugged him closer to feel him fill her," I'll choose the narration every time. But if I have the opportunity to use the sexual thrill as subtext to the conversation, I'll be sure to add conversation. Imagine, for example, Sherry and Jack have a double date with their friends. As they sit at the table of a five-star restaurant, here's a possible conversation.
Frank raised his eyebrows. "So, Jack. Sherry tells me you're a painter."
"That's right." Beneath the table, Jack slipped his hand down Sherry's panties and gave her one of his talented massages. Sherry started to squirm. Jack turned to Sherry. "Do you like my work, Sweetie?"
Sherry cleared her throat, feeling a finger dip inside. Her heart pounded out all sorts of morse code she hoped her friends couldn't read. "Yes." She wiped her mouth with a napkin. "He's quite good...um...with his hands."
So while I wouldn't say dialogue is forbidden, just be sure to first check if you can replace the dialogue with description.
2. Cut out the true dialogues - What do couples truly say during sex? "Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Omigod! Omigod! Omigod! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Is this text arousing? The correct answer is no.
3. No euphemisms - Euphemisms are great if you want to make the reader laugh. But nothing throws ice onto the frying pan more than saying things like "his tube-o-plenty," "her tunnel of love," "his slippery doo dah," or "her hoochy coochy coo."
4. This is not a doctor's office - Just as much as you need to avoid euphemisms, the other side of the spectrum is true also. Don't use clinical terms like penis, testicles, vagina, and vulva. I grew up hearing them in the doctor's office and in sex education classes, so during sex I don't want to be reminded of my biology teacher nor of my gynecologist, thank you very much.
5. Less is More - We don't need to know what thing goes into what thing. By writing "his c*ck grew hard in his jeans," or "he put his c*ck into her pu**y," the author has removed the people from the sex. Instead, keep the characters included with what they're doing by writing something like "he wriggled uncomfortably as creases in his jeans formed in interesting places," or "he eased himself inside her."
6. More is more - The spicy parts don't start at the bedroom, they start at the first moment the two notice each other. From his world-weary, blue eyes to his deep, throaty laugh to his strong arm that catches her when she trips, the sparks start flying. She feels her heart race and she's breathless. Pile on the sensuality. The more foreplay we as readers feel, the bigger the payoff will be when we get to the bedroom. So when people ask me how to start a sex scene, I tell them to start it the moment the characters meet.
7. Use adverbs and adjectives - This is the most counterintuitive tip for seasoned writers because we were always told to avoid adjectives and kill all adverbs. Not true with sex scenes. It's okay to say he circled her nipple gently or relentlessly licked her or stroked her tenderly between her legs. With those adverbs, we know his state of mind and how it must feel for her. Adjectives are even better. Just saying the words buff, sculpted, hard, musky, strong, hot, slick, and thick, makes me scandalously wet!
Making a sex scene sizzle can be challenging, but I found that by following these seven secrets, my sex scenes have gone from sleepy to steamy.
What tips do you have to spice up a sex scene? Share your ideas with me below! I'd love to hear them!
Liz Adams, author of the erotic fairy tale Alice's Sexual Discovery in a Wonderful Land, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. Her short story Amy “Red” Riding's Hood, an erotic version of Red Riding Hood, is an Amazon bestseller and winner of Goodreads' Book of the Month for October 2012. Liz studied music and creative writing at UCLA and worked as a freelance model before making her writing her career. In her spare time she cuddles with her husband on the couch to watch her favorite shows and often they work together doing research for her books. Feel free to contact Liz through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Liz.