Sex and the Story

As authors, we deal with human beings and human behavior. One driving behavior is sex. If contemplating a scene or two, how do plan to handle it? Throughout history, writers have approached it from explicitly to setup and fade to black. It depended on the times and culture. Today scenes are less inhibited. In many ways that is unfortunate and shallow.

In the attempt to craft a scene the best way possible means some time reviewing the Internet. A number of people have posted their views on this particular subject. Quite a few say the same thing. What follows is a condensed Reader’s Digest version. Taking these points into consideration will enhance your story.

Crafting Alluring Intimate Scenes

  • A Sex scene needs a purpose – have a solid reason for showing it to the reader.
  • Know whose point of view you are writing in, and the purpose of the scene.
  • Approaches range from full-frontal to fade-to-black or vulnerable conversation.

Those awkward, cringe-worthy love scenes

  • A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids.
  • “Lust is not an emotion; it’s a one-dimensional hormonal response. While you can mention lust in a sex scene, describing it at any length is like going on about the pattern of the wallpaper in the bedroom. Worth a quick glance, maybe, but essentially boring.”

The Role of Emotion in Intimate Scenes

  • Emotion must take center stage.
  • Ask what are my characters feeling as they enter this scene, both about themselves and toward the other person?
  • Ask why do my characters’ emotions result in shared intimacy in this particular scene?
  • This second question is especially vital to ask [would characters have to act out of character for the intimate scene to play out as planned?]
  • Characters can act outside of their typical natures, ie., experiencing an overriding emotion such as anxiety​.
  • Intimacy requires vulnerability, and vulnerability always results in an exchange of emotions.
  • What does it mean for characters to exchange emotion in an intimate scene?
  • Three main ways that characters can share emotion is through:
    • Dialogue
    • Expression
    • Action
  • Once establishing the scene’s emotional landscape, it isn’t necessary to give readers a physical play-by-play.
  • A good intimate scene always leads with emotion, no matter its nature.

The Language of Alluring Intimate Scenes

  • Imagine what they would say if they were discussing the scene with you. Are they boisterous and explicit, or shy and demure? What words do they use?
  • Engage the senses – it’s not just what the characters are doing, but what they are experiencing.
  • Emotion
    • Excitement, fear, hunger, lust, joy, sorrow. How they feel in these primal moments will tell your reader a great deal about the character
  • Physical reaction
    • How their bodies respond. Pounding hearts, quickening breath – short, shallow, rapid, sweating. This gives your reader a coarse or base emotional connection to the action so they can relate to it.
  • Reaction
    • character response to everything above
      • Sight
      • Sound
      • Touch
      • Taste
      • Smell
  • Focus more on the scene’s emotional landscape than the physical detail.
  • Match the rhythm of the scene to the rhythm of the action.

The After Effects of Intimacy

Following consummation, give the reader deeper insight into the characters’ inner world.

  • Is there a change or strengthening of the relationship they share?
  • Does the activity affect their actions and motivations as the story continues to unravel?

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