Writing Sex Scenes

Writing Sex Scenes – Part One


As writers, we should know more about our characters than we know about ourselves. We should know instinctively how they will react and what they will do. We need to know what they do when they see someone beating up a homeless man.

  1. Do they call the cops and keep their distance?
  2. Do they rush in fists swinging to save him?
  3. Do they walk past and pretend they don’t see it?
  4. Or do they make a video and post it on YouTube?

We also need to know how they act and react on a sexual level.

Sometimes, we are too embarrassed to write a sex scene. Writing a sex scene is like jumping into a freezing pool. You stand on the edge for a moment, thinking about the wisdom of this decision before you jump. Once you hit the water your heart feels like it is going to seize and then it takes a moment for your brain to register that you are not going to die. Your limbs start moving and you realise this isn’t all bad.

Writing Sex Scenes

Remember that the same rules apply to sex scenes as to any other scenes. The scene must have a goal, it must advance the story and it should increase the conflict. Don’t add a sex scene simply because you think it’ll increase sales.

There are also levels of description. You don’t have to write a scene that would make a seasoned prostitute blush. You can stop at the bedroom door and start again the morning after. Readers, contrary to popular belief, are not dumb and will understand without step-by-step instructions what is happening. That said, there are times that we need a bit more than that.

To help writers who are struggling, I thought I would look at different types of characters and their possible sexual quirks. Next week, I will write about six male archetypes and their sexual behaviour. The week after that, I will look at six female archetypes and their sexual proclivities.

Source for comic: Tom Gauld

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Mia Botha by Mia Botha

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This article has 4 comments

  1. valerie

    when i started writing sex scenes it was a very awkward experience. but eventually, i’ve figured out how to make it juicy, without ever mentioning people’s specific parts. that’s what i can’t do. it makes me cringe to specifically name a man’s package or a woman’s lady parts, so i skip it and talk about the kissing and touching and imply more than i actually say. looking forward to your further posts on this issue. i write romantic sci-fi/fantasy, not published yet, but here’s to hoping one day. 🙂

  2. SE Hudnall

    Writing a sex scene is not easy and is even harder when one discovers how shy they really are. I guess mine run the gamut from extremely explicit to waking up the next morning in bed. I got over my shyness by writing one very explicit scene after another–over and over again. Do they appear in my (hopefully) public work? Oh, no. I didn’t delete them but they are locked down on my hard drive under password protection and the password does not appear on my password list. If I go, they go. 🙂

    How much and how explicit is always problematical, especially when dealing with characters whose main expression of love is sexual. I write love stories so I come up against the dilemma frequently.

    Mia, I look forward to the articles and seeing your take on things.

  3. R.w.Foster

    I’ve never found it hard to write sex scenes. I’ve written different types of them, too, from the kiss at the door, to the kind describing what they (depending on who’s POV) feel during penetration. I’ve used “romance novel words,” to technical terms, to cussing terms, to describe the body parts.

  4. Nora

    So funny! I must say I love your posts- they are filled with wonderful information, so generous of you to share- I appreciate it! I can’t stand to read a sex scene in a book, I will skip over it or put the book down altogether. I’ve always hated reading about sex in books- needless to say, I don’t read any romance novels! I don’t imagine it would be easy to write successfully & you’d probably need a second opinion to give you feed back. I don’t envy the writer who tackles that particular task.

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