Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by Sarah Clare.
Secrets to Writing Good Sex Scenes
A well-written sex scene can make your story sizzle. Several steamy sex scenes can make your novel an international bestseller (ahem, 50 Shades of Grey). Depending on how they’re written, sex scenes can either be the downfall of your novel, relegating it to the dime-novel romance bin, or they can help to propel your story forward, keep your reader engaged, or even tell something about your character. In some cases, sex scenes can be pivotal to the plot and theme of the story, like in the short story (and movie adapted from it) Brokeback Mountain.
Sex doesn’t have to be smut. Learning how to write good sex scenes can help you use them to your advantage without risking them weakening your story. Here are a few tips for you can write better sex scenes:
How many times have you read about a character’s “throbbing member” or “heaving breasts?” And how many times have one of those characters been “hot with desire” or “raging with passion?” Clichés like these can weaken a sex scene and make it seem silly and tawdry. Avoid clichés when writing about sex and you will instantly improve the quality of the writing in the scene. (A good rule of thumb for any writing.)
Less is More
What we don’t say can tell us so much more than what we do. Focus on the power of suggestion rather than overt descriptions of what is happening. You can do this by describing the senses, such as the scent of the nape of a neck, or the sight of a bare thigh, or feel of the small of the back. Avoid direct descriptions of genitalia, as these can sounds too pornographic or too gynecological.
When you can’t say what you want to say directly without sounding clumsy, use metaphor. By using metaphor, you can create a much more powerful image through imagery and suggestion. You can also add more depth to the scene by creating emotional weight and greater meaning.
Focus on Emotion
Sex is about much more than the physical act. Make your sex scenes more meaningful by focusing on the emotion behind them. Obviously, there is lust, but this is so basic as to be almost not worth mentioning. What is more interesting is if there is anger, or fear, or trepidation, or manipulation. What is it that your characters are thinking and feeling as they move through the act? This is what will bring your scene to life.
Make the Scene Do Double Duty
Everything in your story should happen for a reason — even when your characters are having sex. What does the scene do for the story? Does it reveal something about your character? Does it move the plot forward? Always make sure that your sex scenes are doing more than just showing your characters having sex. Maybe the scene triggers a flashback about a pivotal event. Or maybe it provides the impetus for your character to do something bold and unexpected. Explore how the scene can help you to do more for your story.
Sex scenes can be the spice your story needs, or they can be the clunky weight that brings it down. Follow these tips and you can write better sex scenes that work for your story and help to engage readers.
What are your tips for writing better sex scenes? Share them in the comments!
Morgen: Less is more – absolutely. I’ve just started reading ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ out of curiosity (and because the British Red Cross shop had a buy one get one free sale and I needed a second book!) and I’ve got to page 80-something (nothing happens until page 66) and if I read ‘my inner goddess’ once more it’ll fly across the room. Thank you, Sarah!
Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site http://projectmanagementsoftware.com, where she has recently been researching online project management. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
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