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Is There a Right & Wrong Way to Write a Sex Scene?

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How Writing a Sex Scene can Make or Break Your Reading Pleasure

When I first began writing Cheating to Survive and Every Five Years, my sex scenes were very different than what they are now. Initially, I wrote them like I thought they were supposed to be written. Explaining in detail how the peg goes into the hole, what positions were taking place, who touched what, and narrating every last detail. After writing a few sex scenes, I quickly realized I was running out of ways to describe the same thing I just narrated a few chapters earlier. And, in Cheating to Survive, there are three women having affairs with three different men. It got old quick.

I started looking into how to write a sex scene and asking others what they liked. It changed me. Most people like the “build up” to the actual act, but skim over the actual sex scene. They felt the sex scene had to be different in order for them to read it through. How do you make it different though?

I read a book a few years ago and the main characters get it on by chapter three. Although they were in their early thirties, it was like reading a high school teenagers description of her and her boyfriends first sexual encounter. It was 25 pages long, and gave specific details of every step taken from their first kiss, to 2nd and 3rd base, right to the grand finale home run. They did every sexual position, shower scene, room-hopping, all in one night. It went on and on, and all I could think of was: what’s left? You already described everything. What will the next 40 chapters hold?

It was a boring, textbook description of  sexual intercourse for the purpose of reproduction of Homo Sapiens on planet earth. Ugh!

I found a great article (wish I still had it) about writing sex scenes and it hit home. They said: sex is basically the same ol’ same ol’ so how do you make it different than the peg goes into the hole? Easily.

  1. By describing what the POV character is feeling during it, and
  2. Having the act in an unusual location, therefore creating a different feel to it.

I not only changed the sex scenes in my books, but to this day, I cannot read a book without analyzing their scenes. And even though I’ve enjoyed erotica books (my favorites were from Roni Loren), the scenes I love the most are the ones that skip over much of the who-touched-what, and instead describe the deep emotions of the characters, what they are feeling as it’s about to happen, during and afterword.

So what do I like?

  • Books that describe every body part in detail with their medical names? Nope.
  • Books that have the characters go through the same “color-by-numbers” routine like you did when you were in high school? Nope.
  • Books that have 17 sex scenes in one novel with the same description over and over. Nope.

So how to make it different? In Cheating to Survive, I luckily had 3 women at different stages of their lives, different ages, and at different stages of their marriages. I thought: I can work with this.

Victoria was the most difficult as I had a hard time describing what an older women might feel during an affair, after 30yrs of marriage. I decided to pretend I was an older woman, unhappy with how my body deteriorated over the years, and the fear of breaking a sacred bond with my husband. Guilt, humiliation, and betrayal all played a huge part.

Heather was fun. She was pissed and aggravated and had no qualms of doing anything and everything, no matter where it was. Her free spirit and “not caring anymore” attitude let me take her wherever the wind blew.

Initially, Catherine was the hardest. How do you make interesting sex scenes with a shy, prudish woman that’s only slept with one man her whole life? Well, her character ended up being the most fun. I loved writing her scenes and after a while, Catherine wrote them herself. Her thoughts during her first sexual encounter cracked me up. And the kitchen scene? If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll see what I mean. A lot of people tell me that’s her favorite sex scene in the book, and the funny thing is, I almost cut it. I thought it was over the top. Thanks to Catherine for helping me write her scene. She took over and told me how to do it.

Casting their different personalities in each scene and hearing what they were each thinking, made it more interesting for me to write. I loved creating new environments for them to have sex in. Once I chose a place, the writing came easy as I pictured what it would be like if I was having sex there. Would I be afraid? Nervous? What visuals would I see? Would someone catch us? Would it make the scene more erotic or romantic? Discovering new places was half the fun.

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For book 2, Every Five Years, I realized that although Heather and Nicolo longed to be intimate with each other, after years and years of waiting, their first encounter could not be about the peg in the hole. It was so much deeper. Their desires for one another after holding back for so long, meant so much more than what they actually did between the sheets. I initially had it in Heather’s point of view, but thought it would be much more powerful taking it from Nicolo’s point of view, since he had fallen in love with her instantaneously, could not have her, and waited years to have this moment. All his dreams were finally coming true, and I needed to bring that out, more so than what they actually did.

One scene that made me laugh out loud, too, was later on in the book, when Heather had had it with her husband Lance, but he wanted to have sex with her anyway, (despite his oblivion that she wanted nothing to do with him anymore, especially when sex was involved). Writing that scene, to me, was so much fun.

Creating interesting scenes that don’t go into great detail, make it challenging and interesting. I love a challenge!  I love getting the creative juices flowing!

Book 3, will have some interesting scenes as well. I hope all of you use your imagination as you read them, and picture the craziness that goes on inside the main character’s head!

What do you like in sex scenes? What do you look for? What do you hate? What do you skim over?

I love hearing from you!

Christine Ardigo, Author of the Fix It or Get Out Series

FIXitORgetOut

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others. Thank you.

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2 Comments


  1. Sex scenes need tension and emotion. They need a reason for you to care, and a way for the words to make you breathless and hot. The scenes can be short or long, just as the length of sex sessions vary enormously. Get into the head of the reader, and you’ll gain control over the rest of their body as well.

    Thanks for the article, and happy writing! When I’m in the flow, the sex scenes are the parts I enjoy writing the most.

    Reply

    1. Thank you Alex. Me too! I totally agree.

      Reply

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