Thursday 8 October 2015

How I Write #9: Descriptions - Sex Scenes

As we move towards summer, things are hotting up here in Australia, so what better time to talk about writing sex scenes?

Whether you write heterosexual or homosexual sex scenes in your stories, the principles of good story-telling remain the same. Here I will outline the four points I consider the most important if you want to get a sex scene right.

1) Keeping it real
First up, it has to be believable. Maybe if aliens are involved you could have hands in three places at once, but otherwise, remember it has to make sense. If you start with the characters in a certain position, you cannot then have them in a completely different position in the next paragraph without showing them moving. Whatever your characters are doing has to be physically possible, otherwise your readers will spend the whole scene trying to visualise what the hell is going on.

2) Random Body Parts
Sigh. The curse of the random body parts. One thing to be clear on: body parts cannot perform independent actions. Let's illustrate this with an example....

Version One: His hand caressed her breasts as his lips hungrily sought out hers. His fingers ran through her hair, gripping the strands tightly as the kiss deepened.

Wow, this guy really has body parts with a mind of their own! Let's try this again....

Version Two: He caressed her breast as he claimed her lips in a hungry kiss. He ran his fingers through her hair, gripping the strands tightly as their kiss deepened.

3) Purple Prose & Euphemisms
Sadly, sex scenes in some fan fiction and erotica suffer from purple prose and colourful euphemisms. In furtherance of our earlier insistence on keeping it real, it is best to try to avoid overly flowery descriptions of sex scenes. Likewise, keep your word choices and language use real and earthy. Nothing makes me cringe more reading a sex scene than excessive references to 'love sticks', 'weeping rods' 'aching cores' (and those are some of the more standard ones!) I'm not saying you should only ever use clinical terms, but try to be sparing with more poetic descriptions, otherwise it all becomes to much.

4) Heat Levels
Keep your writing in sex scenes appropriate for the heat level/audience you are aiming at. Obviously you don't want a full-blown, highly explicit sex scene lasting several pages in a book aimed at a mainstream or younger audience. Likewise, you'll disappoint readers if you publish an erotic novel in which all the sex scenes take place off the page or are over in a few sentences.

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