Writing Sex Scenes: Don’t Forget This Crucial Element

writing sex scenes

I thought it would be a good timing for another post on writing sex scenes. In the previous one, we talked about the goal of including sex scenes in your book, and how important it is that these scenes change something for the main characters. Today, I want to take this a step further and discuss a crucial element some writers tend to forget when they’re writing sex scenes.

What Sex Scenes Really Are About

Beginning writers especially can be too focused on the mechanics of a sex scene. Sure, it’s important to get the practical details right—something we’ll dig into deeper in a next post. You want to describe positions that are physically possible and not leave any body parts hanging, so to speak.

But it may surprise you that the physical aspect often isn’t the most important part of a sex scene. Bluntly put: it’s not that hard to write a titillating sex scene that arouses your readers (if that’s even the goal, which depends on your preferred heat level)

Above all, sex scenes are about emotions. Sex does something to the people involved, or it should, anyway. It changes something, including the relationship of the people involved. It’s rarely just about getting off, and if it is, that should be a deliberate choice of the author, aimed at making a statement as well.

Sex can bring people closer, but it can also make them grow further apart. It can reveal aspects of characters they never realized about themselves, like the fact that they’re submissive or like bottoming or even something as simple as that they rediscover how much pleasure a good kiss can bring.

And the most intense sex scenes I’ve read, the most rewarding ones, have always been those scenes that were as much about the emotions as they were about the physical aspects.

How to Bring Emotions Into Sex Scenes

The question, then, is how to bring emotions into play when you’re writing sex scenes. The old adage of action and reaction is super helpful here. Every action has a reaction, so while writing ask yourself this:

How would this [whatever is happening] make this character feel?

Obviously, not every action (read: every touch or word) should have an emotional reaction (or a physical one for that matter), but try to determine some key point in the scene that one or both characters would have a reaction to.  For bonus points, go for the non-obvious ones, like an emotional response to something the other characters does without thinking about it, like a casual gesture or a pet name.

The hard part is to make the physical actions, the dialogue (if any), the physical reactions, and the emotional reactions flow in a scene, moving seamlessly from one to the next. That takes experimenting, practice, and for me, rereading scenes a few days later to make sure I got the rhythm right.

Okay, I hope that was helpful. Hit me up with any question you may have!

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