by Suzanne Lahna
In this, our final installment of our ‘how to write better sex’ series, we will be discussing the finer points of this unique body of writing. Part One discussed researching the science of sex; Part Two illustrated the many ways which authors can write sex in character. We wrap the series the best way we can to prepare you for the work ahead: the execution.
For many of us, talking about sex with friends and loved ones brings anxiety and discomfort, which can make writing sex scenes themselves no different. Like any type of writing, crafting the perfect sex scene for your story takes practice, numerous drafts, and the use of sensory details.
Sex is a very powerful moment for anyone who chooses to engage in sexual activity (note- sex is not for everyone and we will never say it is, asexual characters should be allowed to remain ace and stay true to character). These moments engage all five senses, and even additional ones when a moment of spiritual or emotional connection takes place. Remember the one and a half pages we talked about in Part One? This is where you find them.
The third and final rule of writing erotica: don’t be vague!
We are all adults here, so write like one. Talk. About. Sex. Talk about how a person’s pulse races when their partner gets closer to them, how the anticipation mounts when the partner’s hands slip under their shirt. Talk about how the temperature rises, how the world fades out as the senses become overwhelmed. A great sex scene, just like great sex, should leave you breathless.
The visual sense is the one writer’s most often work with, as we view the scene in our minds often as a short film or television episode before us. But for a great sex scene, you have to utilize the other four. Talk about how their skin tastes. Maybe their using a flavored lube or massage oil, maybe your characters breath is minty from the gum they chew or the mint they popped earlier or has the aftertaste of an alcoholic drink. Does the characters skin feel soft and smooth, or are there scars that feel rougher or smoother depending on the injury? Think about what your character wears for perfume or cologne, or how they keep their home smelling nice. If they’re in a hotel room, are the sheets musty or do they smell of bleach? As for sound, we always hear about the noises women make, but male partners are never perfectly silent either, so let your audience hear them too! Even if it’s just gasping for breath or low moans, these are the details that matter.
But just as you want great details in your sex scene, there are also words you should avoid. Here are a few that confuse editors and befuddle readers everywhere:
Moist folds (moist in general really should be avoided)
Mound (not always avoidable, but do try)
Cum (as your editor will one day tell you: come, not cum)
There are a few simple and effective ways to keep your sex scene properly worded. If the phrase springs to mind the need to seek medical attention immediately (members don’t throb, please see your doctor immediately if yours does), or if it can easily be mistaken for anything other than a sexual term, don’t use it in your sex scene.
Words that you can always stick by: cock, dick, core, clit, entrance, dripping, come, orgasm, release, bundle of nerves, slick, ass, nipple, and breast. Keep it simple. Simple is effective. Simple gets the point across and lets you add more sensory details without any confusion.
Also, as an ending thought, as a woman who’s read, edited, and experienced a lot of sex in her life, can we stop with the phrase “You’re so wet!” as an exclamation of surprise? She should be wet, dude. If she’s not wet, you’re not doing your job, or otherwise has a medical issue requiring the aid of lubricant, which should have been discussed prior to the sexual encounter. Also, a woman’s vaginal fluids should not smell sweet or taste like honey; I know that’s the feminine myth at work, but resist! Keep it realistic.
In closing, be an adult. Keep it simple, but explicit. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as we have writing them.
Coming up next: Prepping for Nanowrimo by finding the right word processing program for you. We’ll go into some of the biggest names in the business, and even revisit a new trend on an old piece of technology, to help you find the perfect fit to Write The Damn Book this November.