tagHow ToHow to Write Good Sex Scenes

How to Write Good Sex Scenes


Writing sex scenes is all about describing everything that occurs between the people or person involved, beginning to end.

In your mind, as the writer, you must know what kind of people you are dealing with first before you can write the scene. For example, a woman who is naive, but uses sex as an attraction for men to want her, love her, would have a very different sex scene from a woman who knows what she wants in bed from a man and proceeds to get it.

But once you know them, then let everything happen.

Be aware of all the different things going on. The most common mistake I see in sex scenes at Lit is their lack of exploring all the senses: taste, smell, feel, hearing, and sight. And certainly, you can also play around with a feeling, a gut instinct -- a "sixth sense" that predicts what may occur. Usually the author's get too wrapped up with the visuals and little else. That's an okay place to begin, but then go back during your edit and fill in the stuff that's missing.

There are other things that are very useful to include. Here's a list to consider:

1) Are they dressed? Describe the clothes, be specific at first, then edit for pacing later. Then they must get undressed -- at least part way, unless this is a "zipperless" fuck.

2) Where are they at the start of the scene? Location, Time of day, clean or dirty?

3) What's the weather outside? Sunny? Stormy? Hot or cold?

4) Is there a passage of time? Is her husband on his way home? Does she have to pick up her daughter at ballet class? Is she worried about this, or not?

5) What is the characters' emotional state at the beginning? Did they just have an argument? Did they just meet? Are they shy? Outgoing? Introspective?

6) Then what happens sexually? Are they in a rush and simply unzip and fuck in two minutes? Or is it the first of many encounters and they just talk about what they'd like to do to one another, but no real sex happens?

If you are not sure of what you wish to write in your sex scene, then it is best to commit to overwriting the scene first -- too much description, too long of a scene, covering every little detail.
EX: "As the rain drummed its quiet tattoo on the tin roof, I approached the wood-grained bedroom door and stared at my distorted reflection in the doorknob. My mouth suddenly dry, I opened it and licked my lips. My hand moved from the side of nightie, opening my trembling fingers -- the same fingers that had teased my body to the edge of this precipice -- the forbidden border to cross. I touched the cold knob, grasping it and turning it slowly, carefully clockwise. The gears within clicked -- it sounded so loudly, I was sure that it would wake my sister. But two seconds of pause assured me that she was still breathing deeply, soundly in dreamland. I pushed and with a quiet whoosh, the door opened, revealing the darkness of the hallway. The mustiness of the old house drifted to my senses and I crinkled my nose."

See? That was just opening a door. It might end up in the final edit as:
"She opened the door."

And it would accomplish the same thing in the overall scheme of the story. But in a first pass, its good to overwrite, then balance your story in rewrite as to what is important to the tale, and what needs more and less emphasis.

A quick word about pacing the scene. Unless your scene is some kind of brutal, sudden rape, then you may wish to consider a slow build, teasing the reader (Yes, the characters are teasing each other, but it’s the reader you really need to be considering here). Little, subtle things occur first -- a button opened, a wry grin, a shiver or a tremble of excitement -- all slowly building towards some inevitable occurrence -- intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, voyeurism, or simply, a touch, a look, or a kiss.

If you've set the scene up well, then the reader has some expectations as to what may happen. With any luck, you will make something happen that is not on their expectation list, but is just as hot. In this way, the read is paid off, not disappointed, but in an unexpected way. This is the best possible scenario for the writer. Your scene will not be predictable, but will satisfy none-the-less.

For example, the reader may have been set up to expect an incestuous encounter between a brother and sister, and now for the first scene when they are alone together on a rainy afternoon, talking. If you want a slow encounter, you might have them talk about anything -- the weather, mom and dad, their upcoming trip -- but have the subtext, how they dress, how they move, how they express themselves as being a subtext that says these two people want to fuck each other. A strap falls from a shoulder, a zipper bulges, a crossed over leg bounces as she giggles embarrassingly -- you get the picture. But in the end of this first scene, all the reader knows is that something big is coming. They didn't fuck; they didn't kiss (maybe almost). Perhaps they didn't even touch, but something is coming.

In the next scene, you need to take the situation further, don't cross over the same ground the reader has dealt with before. Continuing the brother-sister example: Maybe in their next scene, the siblings are home alone again, but now they are playing a game -- Monopoly or something, so they are more at ease with one another, they're talking, interacting. Perhaps they are dressed more casually. He is now in gym short and a tank top. She's in pajamas. Take the sex a little further -- an accidental flash of her breasts, describe the muscles in his legs all the way up to his… Well, you get the idea. By the time these two actually have sex in this scene or the next, the reader should be right there with the characters emotionally. "Yeah! Let's do it!"

Pace your story according to the emotional level of the characters. If he's a rapist, aggressive, sexually repressed and horny as hell, the sex will be over quickly. Your story will likely lie somewhere between the slow encounter of the brother and sister described above and the sudden rape story.

Remember, present every detail of your story, writing front to back using all of the senses, then edit for emphasis. Pace your story according to the emotional level of your characters and you'll do fine.

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