Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Writing sex scenes

Sex scenes. They're pretty much a given when writing romance, but we don't want to just read about the mechanics of "the act." Personally, if I wanted to read about that, I'd find a sexual education pamphlet or read a hardcore erotica story. As Sierra mentioned on Monday, there has to be a balance to these types of scenes. The reader has to feel like they are there with the characters and experience what it's like to be the heroine and/or hero, instead of feeling completely like a voyeur.

I agree that writing a love scene can be hard. It took me a while to feel confident in writing them. I still struggle a little with them. There's always the thought of when I get this published, what will so-and-so think of me? I had a scene that I wrote once several years back that I couldn't bring myself to keep because of that pressure. Now I kind of kick myself for completely deleting it.

Also, there are times when I just have to be in the mood to write one. Writing comes from the imagination, and sometimes I just don't feel very imaginative when it comes to that area. I find that I can always write a fight scene, but GOOD sex scenes come harder (no pun intended). At those times when I'm not feeling into the scene, I tend to go on with the next scene, or write an outline of the sex scene and then move on.

So, how do you find the inspiration to write sex scenes? What do you like most about them? Least? Let me know what you think. =)

10 deadly screams:

vagabondsaint said...

Personally, I read sex scenes for the first few lines, and then usually skim the rest. If I don't already like or care about the characters, I'll skip over it completely - why spend the time reading about something I like very very much happening to characters I don't like and/or don't care about? If I don't already want to see the heroine naked, I'm not going to be a hurry to imagine her having sex.

That said, there are some authors whose sex scenes I am very fond of: Anias Nin, Anne Rice, Jacqueline Carey, Robert Herrick (whose poem "The Vine" launched my own erotic poetry career), myself, my best friend, Rynne Raines, several unpubbed authors). A scene from one of those authors is something I will seek out and eagerly devour.

When it comes to writing the sex scenes, I follow the advice that Anne Rice gave in an interview years ago: "Write your fantasies." She credits this as being how she wrote her Beauty Sleeping, and, if that's true, then she is one incredibly hot, incredibly bizarre lady inside *s* But I have followed that advice, and I think it has served me in good stead.

By the same token, I have to admit that I would be horrified if my mother and aunts read and liked my erotica. Yeeeeeeeek!

K, I'm done. . .I just horrified myself.

What do other people think?

editor, The Wild Rose Press

Molly Daniels said...

Hahahaha...I finished my ms last night while listening to Bon Jovi's 'Lost Highway' CD and ended up getting veeeery inventive in the final sex scene! If it gets accepted, I'll be sure to let y'all know:)

Sierra Wolfe said...

Great post! I agree, I have to be in the mood to write them. In fact, I was writing one the other day and I just wasn't in the mood. It took me three days to finish that one scene. Ugh. I know if I wasn't into it, then it's going to show in the writing. That scene will probably need the most revision in the whole book.

Excellent advice Pandem! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I like the idea of writing my own fantasies. I've never even thought about it, but I will definitely try it now.

I agree, I'm very worried about my family reading my writing, mainly because of the sex scenes. My aunt is already asking me about reading my stories and to let her know when I get published. I'm almost afraid to tell her, but she seems very excited about it. However, this is also the aunt who told me not to write smut, LOL. So, if she does read it, she will probably be shocked.

Oh, Molly, I LOVE Bon Jovi! I'm glad you were able to get so into the scene. In my opinion, that will only make it a better read. Congrats and definitely let us know when it's published.

vagabondsaint said...

I listen to Dave Matthews Band or Diana Krall when I write. . .sometimes D'Angelo or classical music for the sex scenes *s*

Everyone writes their own way with their own grooves, I guess *s*

VagabondSaint - 7.30.08

Molly Daniels said...

My grandmother read my first one, but not my second. "I just don't get into your kind of stories, honey, although I know you're very talented and the second one is probably as good as the first. But your old Grandma's just not going to read it." is what she told me:)

My mother, on the other hand, has aske me where I'm getting some of my ideas! This, from a woman who sends me dirty jokes through the email, and who sent me back to college with the instructions to 'learn some more good sex jokes'! And she wants to know where I get MY ideas??

Redz said...

well i can imagine my hubby and I could find ways to imagine a sex scene and practice it.... lol its all about the excution lol

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for your comments!

Pandem, great advice. Thanks for sharing it with us. That's

Molly, wow! Let us know when you get your novel accepted. Also, that's something about your mom and grandmother! At least your grandmother said your books were good. Mine hasn't read my first book yet, but I'm hoping she will. =)

Sierra, I'm glad that I'm not alone in having to feel in the mood! I agree that if I'm not in that frame of mind, it will not be a very good sex scene.

Redz, LOL!! Good idea!

Gracen Miller said...

Well, Sarah, I agree that I have to be in the mood...or rather the characters have to be. Because to me the characters are real people playing out in my head. *No, I swear I am NOT crazy.* So, it seems to be a natural transition for me in the book for it to come about.

Pandem, I laughed when I read your line about writing your fantasies. That is the way I have always entered a sex scene. Who knew I had the same philosophy as Anne Rice. lol

Molly, your Grandmother and Mom seem to be real fun individuals. My mom read one of my books--one of the very first that I scrapped because it was so horrible--and while she liked the lame storyline, she did not--and I mean AT ALL--like the sex scenes. She can take the violence, but not the sex. I spend so much time rolling my eyes at her. Violence over sex? I don't get it.

Redz, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Imagination is wasted if not put to use. ;-)

Great post Sarah and you've got everyone to thinking and comment!

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Thanks for your comment, Gracen! I agree. The characters are people in my head, too. Sometimes they do things that I just raise an eyebrow at. I'm like... whoa.

vagabondsaint said...


That "violence over sex" double-standard is one that comes up repeatedly in our society. Just look at our TV- there's more violence in prime-times shows than ever before and yet any physical intimacy displayed is still at 1970s levels. I don't understand it. If children just had to be exposed to one or other, I would choose sex; let them watch a beautiful act and draw from it as opposed to watching ugly, destructive acts that de-sensitive them and teach them that violence is an acceptable problem-solving method. Let's switch it up and make violence something taboo and something people should be ashamed of themselves for doing.

Sex is a bit of a touchy subject right now, with so much federal funding going towards abstinence-only programs that have been proven time and time again to be ineffective. The societal prohibitions on sex have only made it more mysterious and desirable for curious adolescents, while violence has become almost acceptable and commonplace. You might remember the furor of the "Hot Coffee" mod for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Though to be certain, the violence for the game sparked some controversy (always does), that was a tempest in a teapot compared to the category 12 s---storm that erupted over the thought that - gasp - our children might be watching poorly-animated, badly illustrated digitized animations of people having sex! (Never mind that the game was already rated M for Mature; meaning it wasn't intended to be played by or sold to anyone under 18, or that the game coding had to be hacked in order to view the animations. If kids had purchased and were playing this game, I'm more concerned that their parents are falling down on the job than I am that video game designers are out to corrupt children. . .but no seems to want to blame parents.)

I think keeping sex taboo and hush-hush is only harming us and our children as a society and as a global community. Hopefully that will change with time, but right now, I'm not terribly optimistic about it.


My characters don't talk to me like that. . .maybe they don't like me *s*