So, in this article we are going to talk about the most tricky part of any story – the sex scene.
Recently, when I sat down to write one for my own story, I realised there were many blocks that prevented me from writing a scene that went with the story and sounded interesting. Now what were these blocks? Well, not very surprisingly, the usual
- Am I being vulgar?
- Is this too much?
- Are these words fitting?
- Should I be direct about it or hit round the bush?
- And, lastly, Am I going to be judged?
Not all of us go through the same set of blocks but quite similar ones. Sex is a private thing in our lives, so we are afraid that by writing a steaming hot sex scene, we will give ourselves away. Correct. But only as a writer. Cause honestly, if your scene is engaging the reader and sticking them to the story, all they will think about are the characters – definitely not you.
To write an incredible scene that will engage the audience, avoid: –
- Shy and short scene – Um, they, um, did it.
- Unnecessary acts – They bit, scratched, pulled each other’s hair and it was romantic.
- Copy classics paste – D.H. Lawrence’s sex scene
- Excessive specification of body parts – Vagina exploding, cock hardening, readers nauseating.
- Begin with the basic question “Is it really needed?”
Many writers have used sex scenes and kisses to fill the gap in their stories. Too many sex scenes or their bad placement will only seem ‘cheap’ to a reader. Excitement is important but that can come in other ways – it doesn’t have to be erotic.
Do not try to sell the story by adding sex in it. It is better you study the plot and add a sex scene only when it is genuinely required. Will it change anything between the characters? If not then it is probably not required.
No word in the story must go waste and a sex scene is no exception – you cannot take it lightly or assume that the reader would. Contrary to the mass belief, a sex scene isn’t meant for aesthetics – it must have a significant reason for being.
Turn-on the Imagination to Turn-on Your Characters
Adultery must happen in your mind before it happens in your book.
Get into your characters’ shoes. This will help the scene come to you naturally. If you can’t imagine it without altering the core of your plot or the nature of your character then don’t write it. Ensure that the tone of your story does not change throughout the intimate scene.
What would you do if you were the suburb girl you are writing about who are in a car with her crush on a stormy night? What would you do if you were the 34-years old married business person who met his long-lost girlfriend from high school on his business tour?
You know your characters better than anyone when you first create them – ensure that they stay in character (unless the change in their character means something).
A ruthless street fighter, with little vocabulary for salutations and more for insulting, would never use words like ‘make love’ unless there is a change of heart or the sex is supposed to signify him falling in love.
Be the one you are writing about and then have mind-sex (no it is not absurd) to let the correct tone, setting, and action come to you easily.
Get Out of That Living Room
You can hardly get into the right mood with your kids chattering, dog barking, TV playing, or someone peeping into your laptop. It is difficult to write the scene when you are in constant fear of someone coming and looking over your shoulder, only to scream “What in the world, Susie!” and make you feel awkward.
It is, therefore, better that you find some place that you can calmly compose the intimacy between your characters without any interruption.
It is even better to write the scene in dim lighting or in a restro-bar. Dim lighting will help stimulate the mood and focus, while the people and ambience in a bar will give you the confidence of writing such a scene. You could even pick people and their traits to add to the character. It’s a win!
Do Not Forget the Internal Actions
Emotions are still as important as the motion.
Keep giving the insights of what is going on the character’s mind. You cannot ignore that a reader is also interested in knowing what is going on inside the characters, not just what is going between them. This will also help the readers connect with them.
You can do this by writing the character’s thoughts or adding little conversation to the scene.
Rick kissed her lips that were soft as the petals wet in dew.
Rick kissed her lips, wondering how soft they were as if petals wet in dew.
Rick kissed her lips, “How soft like petals wet in dew.”
Less Is More
Leave something to the imagination of the reader.
There’s a thin line between a detailed sex scene that arouses intense emotions and a scene that gives away everything and disgusts the reader. Between this line is your perfect sex scene. There are three examples mentioned below with sex scenes in different tones – from mild to bold. Depending on the tone of your book and your personal writing style, the following examples will help you decide the intensity and choice of words for your story’s sex scene.
The following excerpt from Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata is a great example of a sex scene that hints at the right action without needing detailed specifications.
“There is nothing so sexy as seeing a solid young dyke coming with her legs bent in a diamond shape, feet together, and one of those Hitachi camping flashlights, those Hitachi huge-eyed deep-sea exotic fishes, doing its blunt tireless thing in her Marianas Trench…”
Another example from Bret Easten Ellis’s Less than Zero describes a rather bolder love scene, that will get the reader’s imagination working.
“And one of them calls out to me, “Hey, punk faggot,” and the girl and I get into her car and drive off into the hills and we go to her room and I take off my clothes and lie on her bed and she goes into the bathroom and I wait a couple of minutes and then she finally comes out, a towel wrapped around her, and sits on the bed and I put my hands on her shoulders, and she says stop it and, after I let go, she tells me to lean against the headboard and I do and then she takes off the towel and she’s naked and she reaches into the drawer by her bed and brings out a tube of Bain De Soleil and she hands it to me…”
An even boldest move is quoted below from Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
“And again, as before, she unzipped my fly, took out my penis, and put it in her mouth. The one thing different from before was that she did not take off her own clothing. She wore Kumiko’s dress the whole time. I tried to move, but it felt as if my body were tied down by invisible threads. I felt myself growing big and hard inside her mouth…”
Lastly, Be Prepared for Showdown
While you write as though no one is watching, the book will eventually be read, studied, and discussed. Readers will have questions, views, and opinions that you must be ready for. The questions that you may or may not answer will also include “Where did the inspiration come from?”. You should be ready to take it all as compliments for making the scene look perfectly real.
Writing a sex scene is as creative a challenge as painting a renaissance painting. Both are open to interpretations and opinions. Some may find it offensive, but others will look and praise it as one of the best piece of art. Be the artist who paints the scene unblushed, while staying true to his/her imagination. Your story is your canvas!