Writing Sex and Romance

This week on Hide and Create, Debbie Viguie, Jordan Ellinger, Michael Sullivan, and Joshua Essoe talk about the bow-chicka-wow-wow.

Writing sex scenes is notoriously a difficult and potentially scary thing for writers. In loving someone else, we really do discover things about ourselves. The sex act opens up all kinds of emotional territory for us, and it’s great to show characters discovering themselves through their physical loving of each other.

Everything that happens should be informed by your characters. Who are they? Are they gregarious and shameless? Well then, yeah, a character like that might just throw their clothes off, might view kisses as fun but meaningless. Is your character shy? Well that character is very unlikely to just throw their clothes off or have sex in a car — maybe they want the light turned off first, maybe they kiss tentatively and slowly, maybe they need their partner to undress first.

And don’t forget about complication, ratcheting up the tension, and inner conflict. Maybe your character feigns a confidence they don’t really have and it gets tested terribly when things heat up. Maybe they’re really worried about some perceived physical defect or some lack of perfection. Maybe the character is married or committed to someone else — what kind of inner conflict would that engender? How would that other relationship inform their actions and choices in the romance or sex with another love or another fling? Are they in love with two people at once?
Your characters will always inform you on the specifics of their romances and sex scenes.

And be careful of tropes.

Here are some super-common, misogynistic ones:
a. The woman almost unattainably attractive
b. The female character that has an apparent willingness to have sex with the protagonist, usually as a means of manipulation
c. The female character is duplicitous, and either secretly evil or forced to act that way for some reason.

Don’t be afraid to have a funny sex scene either. Coming of age sex scenes, for example, could be just as much about the humor in how awkward that is as it is about that life-changing event for the character. You can still do funny, and tender, and sexy all in one scene if you want. Life is nuanced, and so should your sex scenes be.

You don’t have to view it as writing a sex scene or writing erotica. You’re writing a scene. Let your characters tell you how it goes, listen to them, just as you would with any other scene, and just write.

It would be awesome to hear from listeners their experiences in writing sex scenes. Let us know in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Writing Sex and Romance

  1. It’s the verbalization of the guitar pedal-effect that became so popular after it was featured in “Shaft.” That sound became the homogenous porn soundtrack in the 70s and 80s.

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