Warning: This post is NSFW
If you write romance or erotica, or want to start in the genre, sex scenes either are or will become a large part of your writing life. However, writing erotica is totally unlike any other type of writing. Here are some things that I’ve learned to help start you on your journey.
The first thing you should think about if you’re going to jump into the world of writing intimate moments is how often sex scenes will be a part of your story. One very important thing to consider when determining how often sex will come into your writing is if you want your story to be “romance” or “erotica.” Although it might seem like splitting hairs, the two genres really only differ in the amount of sex they feature between the main couple. In romance writing, the sex is optional, but can be used to supplement the plot. In erotica, sex scenes form a large part of the writing, are crucial to the plot, or significantly shape the development between the characters. I’ve seen that erotica should contain a sex scene at least every 10,000 words, though that seems too sparse for my own writing style. If your writing is highly character-oriented, your characters will guide whether or not sex every 10,000 words is appropriate.
The separation between romance and erotica is also important for appealing to your target audience. The majority of people like sex, and won’t complain if you toss them a scene or two. However, there are also people who would rather have plot than sex. Think about how you advertise your book. If you categorize it as “erotica,” people will expect lots of sex (but make sure it always has a purpose!) If you call it “romance” they might be more receptive to a story with more plot and characters.
The timing of intimate scenes in your writing is crucial. In many erotic stories, the key is to find the sweet spot where the sexual tension and anticipation has readers on the edge of their seats. This can easily backfire, however, if readers feel like they’ve been waiting for ages and ages with the potential of no reward. All scenes in your book should revolve around conflict, especially if it’s a shorter story. Nobody wants to read a book where everything is going perfectly and everyone is happy all the time. Although longer novels may have some lighthearted moments to break up action-heavy or emotionally intense scenes, readers need to see the problems the characters are working through.
Your intimate scenes between characters will carry much more weight if they occur in moments that are filled with tension. I’d much rather read about two people who are unable to tear themselves away from each other, even when everything around them is going wrong, than a couple with a stable and predictable sex life. Never throw sex scenes in just for the sake of it. Each scene needs to contribute to the character’s relationship or situation.
Think about vocabulary
When writing sex scenes, the way you refer to anatomy will set the tone of the whole scene.
Here’s a small selection of words that you should NEVER use, unless your going for a comedy or parody. I did not make these up. I have seen all of these.
Rod (or “god of a rod”)
A lot of people use the words nether regions, member, manhood/womanhood, or sex (as in her sex/his sex). I personally have never liked these terms. In my opinion they create an almost stilted tone that ruins the natural and poetic feel of an intimate scene. In my opinion, the words used for genitals should be as unobtrusive as possible so the focus can be on the acts themselves.
These are words that I like to use (since I write MxM erotica, I can really only offer advice on male terms, though I’ll try my best to discuss female anatomy as well.)
I would say by far that the anus is the hardest to describe, simply because it has the most stigma in its role in sexual play. Especially if you’re writing erotica with two male characters, the anus is going to come into play. I find the words “entrance” and “opening” to be most clear.
I tend to write in a very romantic fashion, so for me words which are less vulgar are typically better. I like to focus much more on the emotions than the physical acts themselves. However, if you are writing a BDSM scene with dirty talk, you can get really creative with the levels of obscenity you use. For example, I’ve seen “boy pussy” or simply just “pussy” or “cunt” being used to describe the anus when a character is trying to be derogatory in the bedroom (of course this relies on the demeaning notion that a woman’s anatomy is somehow inferior or shameful). Essentially, unless dirty talk is becoming a part of your characters time in the bedroom, I wouldn’t try to get too creative with the names. It can be distracting.
For female anatomy, the few times I’ve written/read erotica involving women, I’ve liked the words entrance, clit, folds, pussy, and cunt (although I totally understand how controversial these last two words could be).
I imagine some people write intimate scenes just like they would any other scenes. For me it varies wildly. Sometimes I sit down on the couch next to my boyfriend with a cup of coffee and type away. Other times I watch something to get me in the mood before or during my writing. However, like any type of writing, it can require a huge amount of research. If, like me, you write about people different than yourself or acts you have never performed, it becomes crucial to research in order to make sure your writing is realistic.
Full disclosure here, you’ll need to read and watch a LOT of porn, more often than not totally objectively and without thinking about pleasure at all. If this bothers you, than you probably shouldn’t be writing erotica. Of course, everyone’s reasons are different. I write erotica because the different things that arouse people, the different things that sex can mean, everything we do to make ourselves feel good, totally intrigues me.
Writing sex scenes can be difficult and awkward, but should ultimately be rewarding. Those who write erotica or romance put themselves on the line because they expose a more intimate part of themselves. If you can get past this and find what works best for you, you’ll have one of the best writing experiences of your career!