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A guy thriller author I know (who shall remain anonymous) said his most mortifying experience about his debut book was that his mother called him after she’d read it and corrected his sex scene.
And secondly, Ew.
I had another writer friend who thought that writing these scenes would be easy, although he’d never written one before. I said, “Go for it, buddy. Show me what you got.” Since the guy wrote in first person (and I was sure that every protag he wrote was HIM), I wondered how he would handle it. The scene turned into a very short QUICK paragraph. I suggested he try thinking of a sex scene as if he were watching porn, where someone ELSE was in the video. It was my way of showing him that 3rd person might be a better fit for him in a “practice” scene like this. The light bulb went on for him and he got it.
Even thrillers and crime fiction have men and women playing roles in the book, so tension and gender differences can be a great way to add conflict. Not all books have to have sexy scenes, but you can decide how much or how little to add if you want some spice to your novel.
What is the right balance or blend of romance in your plot? My basic rule of thumb is: if you can delete the romance from your book and the plot no longer makes sense, then you’ve got the right blend and it’s integrated well. In other words, the sexual tension between your protags puts them in more danger and ramps up the stakes. You punish them for wanting to be together.
Five Key Tips to Writing a Sex Scene:
1.) Make the scene about something more than sex. If you’ve built up the tension, make the characters have more at stake than just a romp in bed. Have your woman come from an abused past or have the guy put everything at risk to be with her so that one wins and the other almost loses for them to be together. Make the scene meaningful beyond the physical…and make it emotional. Readers who might not read a sex scene might be compelled to read yours and not skim over it, because the character’s emotions are bare (as well as their bodies).
2.) Get creative in your word choice of action and body parts. For some reason, I try to minimize the “usual” choices for body parts and I prefer sexy sounding descriptions of motion. People can “get” what you mean without going into too much detail. I’ve included an example below.
3.) Foreplay is often the best part (sort of). Don’t short change the set up of flirtation and intimacy. Anticipation is very much a player in building the tension. Sometimes even the foreplay can make the whole scene.
4.) You don’t always have to leave that bedroom (or limo) door open. Sometimes you can ease it closed with only a peek. Take your characters to a point where it works for your book, then close the door and let your characters have their privacy if that’s what you’d like to do.
5.) Don’t forget that sex changes everything. Before and after, make it ring true. Once your characters cross the line of physical intimacy with each other, things get complicated. Make it real.
1.) If you’re a writer, what challenges do you have in writing sexy scenes? Any tips on making them easier?
2.) If you’re a reader, what hot scenes do you remember from books that have stuck with you and please share your thoughts on why the scene(s) were memorable.
Excerpt THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD (HarperCollins) by Jordan Dane – Garrett Wheeler and Alexa Marlowe in the backseat of a limo in NYC:
“Yes, I would. Call me if the bounty hunter is receptive to the idea and I’ll make arrangements to meet you.” His somber face warmed to a smile. “But whether she is or not, maybe we could take a few days off to ourselves in Chicago. It’d be nice to get away, just the two of us.”
By the hungry look in his eyes, she knew he meant it. She felt the pull of their mutual addiction. Alexa sipped her champagne and leaned forward to loosen his tie.
“Now you’re talking.” Her throaty voice and suggestive expression sent the message. The business part of their meeting had concluded. “I’d love some downtime with you … alone.”
“We’re alone now.”
“Yes, we are.”
Done with talking, she closed her eyes and kissed him, breathing in the subtle smell of his cologne with her fingers entwined in his dark hair. His lips and tongue tasted like pricey champagne. She hadn’t intended to do much more than kiss him, but when her hand moved under his suit coat, she craved the feel of his bare skin, especially as he nuzzled her neck. The sensation sent a tingling shock wave over her body and things got out of control. Under the silk of her dress, blood rushed down and through her, a surge of pleasure she couldn’t restrain.
“I thought you’d be wearing it.” Next to her ear, his voice resonated against her, driving her crazy.
Alexa understood what he meant. She had slipped the jewelers case into her vintage Dior envelope purse, saving it for when Garrett could put it on her personally. But she didn’t tell him that. She found another way to say it.
“I wanted it to be the only thing I wore the next time I saw you.”
That made him smile. She heard it in her voice when he said, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
He kissed the palm of her hand then reached over and punched a button on a control panel. She heard the soft whir and the window to the driver’s compartment closed. And even though every window in the vehicle darkened with a screen for privacy, she still saw the people and traffic outside.
“Can they see in?” she whispered.
“I doubt it.”
Without another word, he trailed his fingertips down her legs, unbuckling the straps to her platform Miu Miu shoes and tossing them aside. The carpet felt good against her bare feet.
“Garrett? We can’t … not here.”
“What if they can see us, Alexa?” He got to his knees between her legs and stripped out of his suit jacket and yanked off his tie, not taking his eyes off her. “Do you really care?”
Her cheeks flushed with heat. She wanted to glance toward the cab that had stopped next to them at a light. She saw the taxi driver turn his head from the corner of her eye. But she couldn’t take her gaze off Garrett. The man’s swarthy good looks mesmerized her, but behind those eyes was an enigmatic man far too complicated to understand in a lifetime.
On the outside, he wore pricey clothing like a mogul on Wall Street, but underneath it all, a wicked scar or two on his dark skin reminded her of the violence in his life. She’d seen him kill with the same passion she saw in his eyes now.
He’d become as adaptable as a chameleon with one foot in the civilized world and the other in places she was too scared to contemplate. Truth told, that had been the part of him she wanted to understand but never would.
“What if they are watching us?” he asked again, his voice lower. Her rapid breathing filled the quiet vacuum of the limo, mingling with his. As he unbuckled his pants, he kept talking to her, “Let’s give them something to see.”
He reached under her dress, his large hands gripping her hips and lingering.
“Tell me you want this, Alexa. Tell me how much you want it.”
Garrett loved pushing her limits when it came to intimacy. Every new experience put his mark on her. And she knew it.
“I want this … I want you.” She reached up to kiss him, but he only shook his head.
“Take it off. Everything.”
Driven to the brink beyond caring, she didn’t take long to make up her mind. Piece by piece, she took off her coat and silk dress as he watched. She didn’t take her gaze off him, not wanting to break their connection. With every garment she removed, the hunger in his eyes intensified.
She turned her head toward the nearest window and found she wanted someone to see her. She even craved it, but before she told Garrett how she felt, he spoke first.
“Where is it? The necklace.”
Alexa retrieved her purse and gave him the necklace. She held back her blond hair to let him slip it on her neck. The gold chain and diamond dazzled on her warm skin as it flushed with arousal. It was all she wore.
“What do you think?” she asked as she posed for him, her inhibitions gone.
“Priceless.” Drawing her closer, he lowered his lips to her body.
“Oh, Garrett. Yes.”
He knew exactly how to touch her and took what he needed. Like an out of body experience, she pictured the scene in her mind’s eye—in broad daylight, in the middle of traffic. She looked up into the urban landscape of New York City as the limousine stopped at another light and pedestrians crossed the street, peering into their tinted window.
And the sensation was … exhilarating.