How to Write a Sex Scene

How to Write a Sex Scene

I am a ghost writer. This means where someone has a scene (or a story) that they don’t want to write, they ask me to do it for them. In college this would have been called an ethics violation to the Cod of Conduct, or fraud. In the wide world of professional literature, it’s called freelancing.

Neat.

In the months that I’ve been doing this I can tell you 95% of my work is romance, and more often than not, I’m writing the naughty scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. More often than not I am getting $80 or more to write 3k words about a couple of characters doing the horizontal tango. But it has me thinking, why the hang ups?

trying-to-flirt

Yes, I know that America is the strangest mix of prude and sexually obsessed. I know that we are weird about it, but many of my clients come from India, Thailand, Canada, and Australia. So, it has little to nothing to do with the location.

The fact is, I have¬† no clue why an author can write the most heart-wrenching death scenes, pick apart the psychology of watching a thunderstorm, and get gloriously visceral with battles…but can’t write about bumping uglies.

Ugh, I hate that term, but I’m using it anyway.

So, below I have a step by step process, and some tips, for writing a sex scene.

 

lets-do-this-ucas-gif

  1. Make sure the scene is necessary
    • I think one of the main hangups that any author can have is trying to force a scene. I know that a lot of us believe that we HAVE to show the sex between two (or more) characters, but that’s not always true. Sit back and really think about whether or not you NEED to show the scene. Don’t just write it because everyone else is, that’s going to make the scene feel forced.
    • How do you know it’s needful? Just ask yourself the following:
      • Does it add something to the story?
      • Does it reveal something important about the characters that cannot be shown in another, more natural, way?
      • Is it appropriate to the intended audience?
      • Does it further the plot or turning point?
  2. Plan
    • Even if you are a pantser, you still take the time to think over a scene before writing it. If you have evaluated (and possibly reevaluated) that a steamy scene needs to happen, sit down and think about the characters involved. How would they approach sex? Everyone does it a little differently, and in a way that is most comfortable to them.For instance, If you have a heterosexual scene between a submissive male and an aggressive female, don’t suddenly switch their personalities because the clothes come off. Yes, some people who are submissive out in the world are more aggressive in the bedroom, but you better be prepared to back up the switch and still make it sound natural to the character.
    • Things to think about:
      • This is where those five question words really come into play (who, what, where, when, and why…the how is pretty much the entire scene.)
      • Who are the characters involved, and how to they feel about one another?
      • Is this encounter sensual, languid, comforting, aggressive, or something else? The ‘flavor’ of the scene is very important for picking word choice. There is a huge difference between taking ones clothes off, ripping ones clothes off, slithering ones clothes off…you get the idea.
      • What is so important about this scene? Let’s take out SubMale and AggFemale from earlier. Let’s say they’ve been friends for a long time and he has been having a lot of self confidence issues since his last gf left him. The importance of this scene is his confidence boosting. Keep that in mind throughout the scene.
      • Where is this taking place? Yeah, this is important. Where should matter. Don’t just have them couple (or trio, or quartet) in the bedroom because that’s where the sex happens. Bedrooms are great when you want the scene to have safety and confidence. But if these two characters have been angling to get into the skirt/pants/spacesuit for some time they are probably going to hop ion whatever semi-private, mostly horizontal surface they come across.
      • Why. Okay, this one is the biggest one. WHY is this scene happening? Is this the moment when two characters turn to each other for comfort? Have they been holding back from going to bed with one another? Should they be here? Why are they having sex? This thought needs to be an ongoing theme for the entire scene. It should impact your words and the characters action.
  3. Organize
    • Sex, in real life, is messy. I’m not saying that makes it bad, sometimes messy is awesome. What I am saying is that people don’t plan out an encounter before it happens. But you are an author, and your characters are in your head. You need to think about your characters sexuality before you write the scene. Re-using my submissive male/aggressive female couple why is the male a submissive person? Is it just his last break up? Because in American society guys are encouraged to be aggressive sexually and socially, so what in his background makes him more prone to a more docile approach? Perhaps he grew up in a highly feminist house, or perhaps because he was bullied or picked on as a youth.

      In counter, our aggressive woman, what formed her sexuality? What does she like about being in command? What about the situation appeals to her, and how emotionally attached is she, if at all? Think of all of this and more, for a while. Let the thoughts simmer, maybe jot some notes down, and then:

  4. Write it all in one, uninterrupted, sitting.
    • A sexual encounter is one thing that flows into another. I’m not being metaphorical here. Sex is a singular act made of many motions, like a dance. In order to get that flow, you need to write it all in one go. Throw yourself into that scene as much as possible. Don’t get too distracted as it unfolds, just let it all happen.

      I would say that this is the most important rule for writing a steamy scene.

  5. Leave it alone for (AT LEAST) a week.
    • You are going to be very tempted to go back and read what you’ve done. Don’t. Right now it is still too fresh. You either think it’s perfect, or you think it’s crap, and like any rough draft the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. You need to leave it alone.

      Once upon a time, while I was working in the grand world of fast food I was writing a love scene between two of my characters in between taking drive thru orders. I got home and immediately wrote up the scene, certain that it was the best thing I had ever written. I, being the tech genius that I was, lost the file a while later.

      I was crushed. I was certain that this scene was the most evocative and emotional thing I had ever written. It haunted me because I had lost it. About two years later I brought it up to a buddy of mine and she gave me the weirdest look. “You mean the one between (character A) and (character B)?”

      “Yeah! Do you remember it?”

      “Yeah,¬† you sent it to me. I think I still have it.”

      She sent it to me that night and I re-read it and nearly gave up writing altogether because after two years of being enamored of the memory, I realized that the scene was….okay. It wasn’t terrible. There were some good lines, and the characters were good…but the scene was a solid B at best.

      What I am getting to is that you need to take time away from all your writing before you edit, but I think emotional scenes (which you sex scene ought to be) need this the most.

  6. Edit
    • This is a step that doesn’t need a lot of explanation, but is still important. Make sure that the scene matches the characters, their actions, their word choice. I’ve found that sex scenes are the hardest places (for me) to distance myself from what I like, from what my character likes. So make sure that you didn’t just write out your own dark fantasy, but rather stayed true to your characters.

 

Thank you for reading! I hope that at least some of this has been helpful. If you have any particular problems, thoughts, or ideas leave a comment and I’ll do my absilute best to respond! Happy writing!

I Have Arrived…Kinda

I Have Arrived…Kinda

Me and MLK have two things in common…dreams. Alright, so his dreams are way cooler and far more inspirational than mine, and that reference is overdone. Still, I think that the crux of the matter is that I have dreams…and that’s neat.

Mine revolve around writing. I know that I am not the only one with this dream, and I also know that many of my followers share this one with me. It is also one I know a lot of us are struggling with, myself included.

I have taken a lot of steps to achieve this little dream of mine. I have taken classes, joined groups (both online and real life), I have taken part in NaNo, started a blog, gotten into twitter…so on and so forth.

But hands down the biggest step forward I took was to get involved in ghostwriting. This took me over that line from amateur to professional. Sure, my name isn’t on the cover of the works that I have taken part in, but it HAS helped me nail down this ‘writing every day, even if it’s not what I wanna do right this moment’ thing. In this capacity I have written, thus far:

  • 40 short stories, between 2,500 and 10,000 words.
  • 6 scripts for short films. about ten pages each.
  • 17 single scenes, words counts varied, but around 4k each
  • 3 novellas between 20k-35k

All in the span of three months. Which, if you are counting, is a lot of words. So many words. I am proud of these achievements. They are awesome. It’s been amazing.

However, I have just received (and accepted) my very first offer to pen a full length novel. I will be receiving $750 for a 75k thriller/romance novel and I am so excited about that. I cannot even express. Sure, my name wont be on the cover….

…but that’s the next step.

 

Ghostwriting

When I am not bashing my head against my own work, I am bashing my head against a client’s. In some ways I find this a very freeing (and lucrative) way to keep writing, even when I have no inspiration with my own work.

My niche, so far, has been writing short stories revolving around alien romance. Who knew that I could bring my love of smooches together with my love of futuristic political arenas. It’s pretty neat.

I get to make my own hours, pick the clients that I want to work with, and when the writing is done I can send it out and not have to worry about someone’s poor opinion reflecting on my personal work.

However, it is not without its flaws. There are some clients who think that writing is very easy and straightforward. They do not understand that it is not particularly feasible to write an 80k story in a matter of five days, much less do so with perfect grammar. So, there’s that.

At the end of the day, though, after everything that has gone on in my life recently. It’s really nice to be able to tell people that I’m a writer, professionally.

NaNoWriMo- Day 25

Soooo….someone please remind me to contact Bethesda and inform them that releasing a game I’ve waited on for 7 years during the month of NaNo is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

image

For my non gaming friends out there I am referring to Fallout 4, the most recent installment of Bethesda Entertainments ridiculously popular post apocalyptic setting. While not without it’s faults, the game is phenomenal. There is so much content, and awesome stories, and amazing characters! It even does this really neat thing where it tells me just how long I’ve been playing when I save.

I’m a frequent saver, by the way; and because I am I can tell you that I have spent over 57 hours playing this one game in the past week. Yup. There is a good chance that I’m not going to make my writing goal because Bethesda didn’t bother to push back their release til December or something.

Because, you know, it’s definitely their fault. It certainly can’t be *my* complete lack of willpower, right? Right.

Anywho, my word count stand at just shy of 35,000 words. Tonight I am making fish sticks and tater-tots for dinner and I don’t have to cook tomorrow. So, here’s hoping I still have a chance, even if it’s a snowball vs Hell type of chance.

The Problem with Romance

is that people never take it seriously.

The average Romance novel will sell for two dollars less than another book of a different genre, equal in length. Heck, there is an even larger price discrepancy if you add in the e-published novels sold through Barnes & Noble or Amazon. And that’s…not okay.

Is there less time, effort, or work put into Science-Fiction/Fantasy? Does it somehow require less planning and understanding than writing a Young Adult novel? Is more passion written into a true crime or mystery?

No. It’s not. Writing romance isn’t any easier. It’s not lesser, and yet it’s often treated so. It’s called dismissive names. Those who write it are relegated to a certain unappreciated sect amusing their more respected co-workers. Those who read it are patted on the head or mocked.

“I don’t read romance,” I once heard a feminist female friend once say to me. “Its stupid.”

Congratulations. You don’t bother to support the one genre of literature currently dominated by female writers and read by female readers. Doesn’t that make you a special little snowflake?

“Me either,” a male friend responded, “But, you know, I’m a guy.”

So what? Having a certain set of genitalia keeps you from getting lost in a story often about adventure and sex? Strange…pretty sure most action flicks are about that. But, you know, I’ve got lady parts so maybe I’m mistaken.

“They’re just not realistic.”

Yeah, I know…I much prefer the realism of Harry Potter.

Now, I’m not going to say that romantic literature is the be-all, end-all of of the book world. It has some inherent problems that need to be dealt with. The tropes of the average romantic heroine being a white woman in her mid twenties who is slim and attractive and somewhat lacking in personality. That needs to be taken care of.

But all in all it is not suffering from any more cliche`s than the rest of the genres out there. Fantasy stories are ripe with middle aged men who are proud and bearded using swords and having simpering elven ladies for lovers. Science-Fiction suffers from the dark haired and scruffy guys who Han Solo their way around the universe.

So don’t tell me that stereotypes are whats keeping you from enjoying the genre.

Literary Elitistism

I dislike literary elitism. No, I am comfortable enough to say I that I loathe it. There is not point to it. No one has any right to pass judgement on the books that inspire someone else’s happiness.The fact is, I hear it all the time. Heck, I’ve even been guilty of it.

I bring this up today due to a recent personal experience.

I found the most incredible used bookstore a few weeks back. It’s just under 200,000 books packed into 800 square feet of literary bliss organized by genre. From the moment you walk in you wonder if you are overwhelmed or dead…maybe both.

My first visit was two hours of wandering around going ‘whoa’ as I struggled to figure out what to spend my rather minuscule funds on. I made friends with the owner and we talked for an hour about the pros and cons of running an independent bookstore. She confided that she wasn’t sure how long she’d be open. She’d made less in the past year than she had in the previous few. It was disheartening to hear since I had so recently fallen in love.

My most recent visit was less than appealing. It was not the owner manning the counter; it was her daughter. The girl is within my age bracket and had always been fairly quiet before. Today, however, she seemed to be in a mood that I can only describe as persnickety. She was currently organizing a series of paranormal romance books to go back up on the shelves.

I asked her if they had gotten in anything by one of the authors I prefer. She began talking loudly about how she wouldn’t know because she was busy going through, and I’m quoting here “These shitty vampire novels are taking up all my time.”

I am one of those people who smile when I’m feeling kind of awkward. I don’t mean to. It just happens. I did so then and she took it as agreement and continued to rant about how paranormal romances were killing modern literature.

During this rant she did not notice another girl, a few years our junior, returning some of her near-purchases to the shelves.I did and it bothered me a lot. Between the price of the books and the number the girl placed back I’d average that the girl behind the counter lost her business about $20.

It may not seem like much, but to a small business $20 is nothing to sneer at. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other times the girl behind the counter had cost her owner money and if that was part of the decreasing profit margin over the past year.

There is a good chance that girl who liked the vampire novels is going to look elsewhere for her business. I know I would.

Now, don’t mistake me. I’m not saying a person doesn’t have a right to their opinion. You don’t have to read about paranormal sex if you don’t want to. If you think a certain book is the bane of all literature everywhere…that’s fine. Talk about it when you are with your buddies or on a date. What I’m saying is that is it really worth making someone else feel like crap for the things that make them happy especially when you are on the clock.