Hide your screens and clutch your pearls! We’re talking about some NSFW stuff today.
In the past, I gave you my basic tips for writing a sex scene. Today, I'm focusing specifically on how to make your sex scene hot! This is for the writers out there who aren't going for the fade to black. They're writing that sex scene, they're giving the details, and they're making it spicy! I've got 10 tips for writing an immersive sexual experience without embarrassing yourself along the way.
A quick disclaimer: if you didn't catch it yet, this post is about sex, ya dummy! If you are not old enough or not inclined to read a discussion about sex, get the fuck outta here! This is not the place for you! Your brain may explode. For everyone else who's still here, you asked for it. There's no turning back now. Actually, you could turn back at any time. You just press the button, or, like, click onto another post...but whatever!
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Number 1: Commit
If you're writing a full-on sex scene, you need to commit. It's not a lower body–it's a cock. It's not a behind–it's an ass. It's not “her area”–it's a clit. Don't be a chickenshit!
A lot of writers get super excited to write a sex scene and then when the moment finally comes, they freeze.
"What if my mom reads this?"
Oh well, bitch! It's time to bite the bullet. Tell your mom to read the Bible, instead. You are literally writing about people pleasuring each other's genitals. The modesty train left a long time ago... If you are not comfortable referencing the anatomy involved in sex, don't write sex. Period.
Number 2: Don’t Make the Thizz Face
The problem with writing about genitals is that sometimes genitals are disgusting. For those not familiar with Bay Area slang, a “thizz face” is a facial expression that kinda looks like you smelled piss.
Have you ever made a thizz face while reading a sex scene? I know you have! It's usually because the genitals involved were described in a way that either sounded clinical, unappealing, or fucking gross. That's when you dial it back a notch. I have seen vaginas described in ways that made me think of paper mache. Is this arts and crafts or is it sex? Asking for a friend.
If you're not sure if your sex scene is thizz face worthy, think about the descriptors involved. Soggy, greasy, limp, damp. Muggy, folded, flaccid, juicy. These words, among others, create a gross visual. Don't use them! Be mindful of your adjectives; they matter.
Be mindful of your adjectives; they matter.
Number 3: Sensations Over Anatomy
"But Jenna, you just said to commit to the anatomy!"
Yeah, bitch! That doesn't mean you gotta stay there forever! This isn't a sporting event play-by-play. You don't gotta zero in on an appendage going into a hole over and over again. Yes, you will likely need to reference genitals, but it shouldn't be the focal point. Instead, focus on how the characters feel. You know, pleasures and orgasms–the entire point of having sex! Unless you're making babies, but that's not the point of this post.
If it's a romantic sex scene, then you can juggle both physical and emotional sensations. You can talk about the pleasure they're feeling, as well as their immense love for one another. This is an appropriate time to get inside your body. Think about how you would describe sexual pleasure. Focusing on sensation is a lot more engaging, and you will have better odds of avoiding the thizz face.
Number 4: Sexy Verbs
Sex is an action, in case you've forgotten. So if you're gonna describe the act of sex, you might as well have some sexy verbs on lock. And I'm not just talking about a dangle-do entering a hoo-hoo; there are tons of different sexual acts that involve different movements.
Think about every action and the sexiest way to describe it. You could say humping...like a 14 year old boy. Or, you could say grinding, like an adult. Is he licking his boyfriend's body, or is he trailing his tongue down his chest?
Touch, graze, pound, stroke. Verbs have power. Use the ones that maximize the heat. Remember, you don't have to focus on genitals. The sexiest actions can be the circling of someone's hips or tugging at someone's hair.
Number 5: Understand How Sex Works, For The Love Of God!
Not everyone who writes sex has had sex, or has had the kind of sex they're writing about. It's important in all facets of writing to do your research first. Porn doesn't count! I know you got your library stocked, but it's not gonna do the job. Read some books or some websites about the kind of sex you plan on writing. If you've never had an orgasm, there are plenty of educational sites for that, as well. I know it's embarrassing but the information is available and from tons of credible sources. There are entire guidebooks that are super thick (pun intended) that teach people how to have good, pleasurable sex. Consider this fun research so you can make sure your sex scene isn't shitty.
Number 6: Hands
A lot of writers get so caught up in ding-dongs in coin purses, they forget there's an entire second half of the body waiting in limbo. Hands and touch are pivotal to making a sex scene feel dynamic and real. You don't have to describe every thrust. Instead, take a moment to describe what the character's hands are doing. They could be grabbing a fistful of hair. They could be digging into the character's back. They could be cupping a breast.
Hands communicate several things about sex. First off, enjoyment. Because if they're clawing at their partner's back, they're probably gettin' it good. Second, sensuality. Touch is a love language; it makes people feel desired. Having your characters touch one another will create an immersive experience for the reader. And third, attraction. If your character is grabbing their partner's ass, that's probably a hot ass, and you want your readers to know about it!
Number 7: Dialogue
Dialogue can make or break a sex scene. I have read sex scenes that were super hot...until the characters opened their mouths. To speak, not to put things in them....
Before you write any sex scene dialogue, you need to understand a few things. First, what does this moment mean to the characters? If it's their very first time and they're whipping out the porn star rhetoric, readers are not gonna buy that. Second, pay attention to the character's personality types. If it's a romantic sex scene between two lovebirds, and then they start saying shit like, "Take that dick, you dirty slut!" readers are gonna be taken aback and jarred…in a NOT good way.
Be cognizant of the characters you're working with and the world you've created for them. Third, what is your goal for the scene? Is it crazy and kinky? Is it soft and romantic? Is it fast and hot? And lastly, do you need dirty talk at all? Moaning is perfectly sufficient, as well as the occasional command or demand, like "harder," "faster," or "don't stop." The dialogue, if you use any at all, should mirror the ultimate tone and effect you want for the scene.
Number 8: Clarity
If readers can't tell what's going down, it's not a hot sex scene. I've read sex scenes where the position described made no anatomical sense. Maybe someone's triple jointed or has five vaginas, I don't know! I'm fuckin' lost!
You don't want to linger on the technical details, but readers should at the very least be able to tell what the position is. You don't want them reading the same sex scene multiple times just to figure out what the fuck is happening. At that point, the dicks are limp, the vaginas have dried up, and you've lost your audience.
If you're unsure if your sex scene is clear or not, Pro Tip: Simplicity works. Someone is laying on top of their partner. Someone is on all fours. Someone is straddling their partner. Clear enough!
Get to the point so readers can visualize, then go in with the good stuff so readers can enjoy the ride. Pun intended!
Number 9: Timing Is Everything
It doesn't matter how glorious your sex scene is if you added it to the most awkward, uncomfortable part of your book. The sex needs to make sense and work within the timeline of your story. Here are some sex scenes I've read that were ruined by their timing:
A sex scene that occurred right after the tragic murder of the main character's best friend.
A sex scene where the main character is covered in oozing lacerations.
A sex scene where they've just got some time to kill, so sure, let's screw, whatever.
A sex scene that ends with the main character missing their mother so desperately.
That shit is weird and gross and completely unnecessary! Stop doing it! Make sure the sex is happening at a moment where readers can get excited about it. They can engage in the story as opposed to getting sidetracked by all the weirdness surrounding the sex. You want them to be invested in the scene, and in that case, timing is everything.
Number 10: Take Your Time
Sex is more than an appendage in a hole. Sex can be about mouths, fingers, hands, toys. Hell, sex can be about feet! If you get straight to the boom boom and it's over just like that, congratulations! You've written a quickie. I find it hard to believe all parties involved enjoyed that, and I can tell you your readers certainly didn't.
So take your time! It doesn't need to be pages upon pages long, but linger in the moment! Savor the details! The key is to make it hot, and I promise you, hot sex doesn't last 30 seconds.
So that's all I've got for you today!
Writing sex isn't as hard as it seems. It's just about ramping up the heat and toning down the yuck. Commit to the moment, pay attention to the timing, your descriptors, and your verbs. And for God's sake, do your research! It takes no time and your readers will thank you.
If you could tell your favorite authors one thing about writing the smutty stuff, what would it be?
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