Hot Sex on a Cold Winter’s Night -3 Steps to Making your Sex Scenes Sexy
Posted by Darynda Jones Jan 13 2010, 12:01 am in craft, sex, writing romance, writing sex
I write in what I call a strategic assault pattern, you know, like the military might if it were writing a romance novel. I plot, write the first draft which is often about 98% dialogue, then I dive in and add action, description, emotion. In other words, I layer. I do the same with sex scenes. They are absolutely the hardest thing for me to write. I’ve often wondered why. It’s not like I’m frigid. Sex is downright fun. But writing about it? Well, the word fun does not come to mind. So what’s a romance writer to do? I’ll tell ya…
1. THE SETUP:
One thing to remember is that the sex scene in a romance must be earned. This does not necessarily hold true for erotica, but that’s a different blog. The sexual tension should be set up very early in the book and toyed with until the hero and heroine are so consumed with one another that they give in to their carnal side and jump in the sack together. Does this mean you can’t have a sex scene on page five? Heck no! Just make sure you set it up by page three. Pull the string tight and keep adding tension until it breaks. And you need a very good reason for having sex on page five. In fact, it could be a main source of conflict for the rest of your story.
You might also keep in mind that a little setup can go a long way. You don’t have to hit the reader over the head with description. Quite often, less is more. And use those senses!
She hesitated at that deep, rumbling voice that sounded like thunder. Lightly accented, it sent a shiver down her spine.
—Sherrilyn Kenyon, BORN OF ICE
2. THE ACTION:
When writing the sex scene itself, first I write the act. The general who-does-what-to-whom. Does he press her against a wall, whisper in her ear while stroking her neck with his fingertips? Or does she shove him onto a bed and rip his shirt off with wild, almost desperate, abandon? Either is good as long as it fits the story.
This is where you, as the author, decide how much you want to show. Again, it’s not always what you show, but what you don’t. Remember the love scene from The Big Easy? Exactly.
The girl let out another sigh, a soft, breathy sound that Simon somehow felt across his entire body.
—Julia Quinn, THE DUKE AND I
But while all that’s interesting, it is not entirely what makes a sex scene sexy.
3. THE REACTION:
Aw, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s not necessarily the action that is sexy, that causes your stomach to clench, that makes you want these two people to not only make love, but to fall in love forever. It’s the reaction, the character’s response to the action that gets the blood pumping, that makes us feel what the heroine and hero feel, that draws us in, stills our hearts and takes our breath away. You simply must show how each nibble sends a shiver lacing down the heroine’s spine, how each touch sets off sparks in the hero’s abdomen.
Nothing had prepared her for this strange tingling sensation that seemed to originate in all the most unmentionable places and then spiral out to heat her entire body.
—Jenna Peterson, WHAT A DUKE DESIRES
One more tip: The higher the stakes, the more we feel the reaction. Maybe your hero is so emotionally scarred, he refuses to let anyone in. So when he finally allows your heroine to get close, to touch him, when he finally lets his guard down, it is the sweetest of victories for both characters. It means more to the reader and it will be a scene she will not soon forget.
Okay, if you haven’t noticed so far, this happens to be a blog with some of the most talented writers in romance. So come on, Ruby Sisters, give your tips on this sensitive subject, and please, dear readers, feel free to ask questions!