How I Write Sex Scenes in Romance

Something a lot of people feel awkward about is sex. So, it follows, sometimes writing sex can feel awkward too. (Especially if you plan to publish under a real name or in a way that your parents might one day pick up the book… sorry Mom and Dad!)

If you feel awkward about writing sex or aren’t sure how to go about doing it, I’m here to help you.

Other than finding inspiration or getting sexy assistance from a partner (or partners) for research purposes to guide my sexy scenes, I realized as I wrote my most recent sex scene for my second book that I do in fact have strict rules I follow when writing sex. Since I think I’m rather good at writing sex, and I have seen people ask for tips (just the tips, just to see how it feels) on how to write sex, I thought I’d share my personal guidelines. Please note this is just how I write and you are free to do your own thing! It works for me and might work for you, or might not. You do you. 

1 . Consistent style

Image is a stock photo of a lesbian couple in underwear laughing on a bed

Writing from the heart (or other places that throb) is great, but too often I find when I’m reading a romance the sex scene suddenly has a voice that is different from the rest of the book. It might be a great sex scene when it stands alone… but it just doesn’t fit. So, make sure the voice in the prose and dialogue match the style of the rest of the book. The dialogue you can have some wiggle room for, since not everyone speaks the same in bed as they do in real life, but if it’s too big of a switch, you at least have to acknowledge that this side of that person is unexpected.

Sarai was hyper self-conscious of her breathing, her racing heart, knowing that the vampire could hear it all, but she didn’t have control of her response. The hourglass shape of Marcelle’s body before her, exposed and yet teasing in the way she hid herself by turning around, looked like art.

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

2 . Prose restrictions

I don’t want overly smutty prose and I don’t want overly purple prose. For elaboration, what I consider to be smutty prose (which absolutely has its own place and can be fun, just isn’t the right fit for my current writing) is when the descriptive text portions use slang words. While this can work with some books, especially books with strong characters’ voices as narration who might use similar language throughout the book, it can be jarring to suddenly read something a little crass when the previous scene had you waxing poetic about the sunlight hitting the waves of the sapphire lake like shimmering lines of silver. On the other end of the spectrum is purple prose… aka when you wax a little too poetic. Cue lines talking about a proud and tall warrior, eager to plunge into the sweet feminine folds of some velvet fruit description of a vagina. This can be fun to read… sometimes… maybe… but it doesn’t quite fit my style. So, I allow slang words only in dialogue and have a list of acceptable words referencing privates. It leans towards slightly clinical when referencing sexual organs themselves, but I think it most effectively gets the point across without being too crude or falling into the trap of overly ridiculous metaphors that are more suitable at a buffet than the bedroom. Simple and to the point is my ideal description. One word, and one or two descriptive features, and then I like to focus primarily on how it all makes the characters feel.

Marcelle turned around, her hand gracefully covering her breasts. Sarai looked up and was captivated by the look of confidence and the promise of sexuality in the vampire’s red eyes.

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

3. Focus on the good stuff

Image is of an antique bed with a canopy and tassels

I find the best part of sex scenes isn’t the sex itself, necessarily. It’s the foreplay, the banter, the anticipation, the inner thoughts, the little touches, the feeling of bodies and how hot and heavy the air is with lust. The build up needs just as much if not more attention as the actual sex (just like in real life)! It’s the little things that stand out and make a scene pop. One of my favorite little details in my first book is the fringe on a bed’s canopy swaying with movement while the characters are getting intimate. Everyone is familiar with descriptions of the act of sex, of orgasms, what those sensations are like. They’re necessary in most sex scenes, but are familiar and there’s only so many ways to write them. Those little extra details and the foreplay is what is going to make your sex scene memorable.

Sarai’s breath quickened and her fists held the bed cover in an iron grip as she stared up at the textiled bed canopy and drapes, at the engraved oak wood, at the gold trim with tassels. The tassels swayed back and forth with the slightest, most minute movement, rocked by the motions on the bed.

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

4. Get your biology right

Seriously. It is embarrassing how many people don’t know how it all works down there. If you’re not sure, the internet exists. You can find diagrams, educational material, first hand accounts, and pornography everywhere. Though view pornography with a grain of salt, since they are actors putting on a show. Just… don’t ignore the clitoris for characters who have one and don’t think that you can just get right into anal sex without some warm-up prep and plenty of lube. Those are the two biggest things people seem to get wrong. If you’re unsure about the practicalities of something, give it a try yourself or ask someone who has practical knowledge for guidance. I’m sure you can find that information online in spaces where people want to talk about sex. If you’re shy, make an anonymous account on twitter or reddit and shout into the void to see what people say. If you’re writing a scene including orientations or genders that don’t apply to you, hire a sensitivity reader. A hot sex scene loses a lot of appeal when basic technicalities are flawed.

[No quote for this section to avoid posting actual erotica on WordPress and getting flagged as inappropriate!]

5. No Generic Characters

Sex scenes that have dialogue should not have switchable dialogue. The actions should express personality. Too often, characters lose their personalities in the throws of passion. Their lines can be switched with their partner’s without any real change to the scene or they could be switched out for any other character in any book ever written without the scene being effected. Your characters are still themselves. Let them flourish. I should know who’s speaking and who’s acting even if the dialogue tags and names were removed because their personal voices should shine and the actions need to be distinct and true to the characters’ personalities.

“Oh my G-d.”

“No gods here, little witch,” Marcelle said with a smirk. “Only me.” 

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

6. Make it sexy

Image is a stock photo of a heterosexual couple in underwear

If you turned yourself on while writing, you’re doing it right. Reward yourself with sexy time (with a partner or solo, a reward is a reward). If it doesn’t turn you on as the writer, and you want it to turn on your reader, go back and rework it. 

Beautiful. Marcelle called her beautiful. It relaxed her, and Sarai closed her eyes, focusing on the sensation of an expert tongue swirling against her, cool hands roaming across her skin. She needed to hold onto this moment. Put it into a bottle to save forever, to experience again and again.

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

7. Consent

This should be up higher on the list since it’s so important, but emphasize consent. Or include a Twilight Pineapple in your work, but I try not to need that too much in my romance because I do strive to portray healthy relationships. Consent in romance is extremely important because consent in real life is important. For me, I can’t really get into a scene I’m reading or writing if there’s any doubt about consent. Getting consent doesn’t have to be a sterile “Do you consent to XYZ?” It can be very sexy. A love interest wanting to know more about what the main character wants is enticing and makes that love interest character more desirable. We all want a partner who wants us to be happy, after all. Ensuring consent and negotiating sexual encounters is a step in ensuring happiness and pleasure.

Marcelle stepped behind Sarai, and the mortal’s heart raced as a hand trailed from the small of her back to stop at the waistline of her pants, dancing against the thin line of exposed skin in a way that made it difficult for Sarai to remember how to breathe. “First, tell me what you want.”

“Uh… like, kissing?” 

“Obviously more kissing.” Marcelle moved in closer and whispered in her ear. “What else?”

“Is-is fun an acceptable answer?”

“Fun is always an acceptable answer to a vampire.”

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

8. Relax!

You’re writing this for fun. You don’t have to worry about who’s reading it on a first draft. Just let go and let it be good for you. Changes can be made after if needed. Confidence is always sexy, and that includes your confidence as a writer. Embrace that you’re writing sex, that sex is part of the human experience for many people, and it’s beautiful. You’ve got this.

Ton corps est à moi, ma chérie. Ma petite sorcière.”

-The Bloodline Chronicles: Witch’s Knight

If you enjoyed this post, give a like and follow for more content, and leave a comment with your thoughts. Be sure to check me out on Twitter at @EternalEvelynYouTube, or Facebook and stay tuned for information on my upcoming paranormal romance novel, The Bloodline ChroniclesSubscribe to my newsletter to keep up with new developments here.

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Image is a cartoon version of me, Evelyn Silver, holding a wine glass of suspiciously red liquid.

I never drink… wine.

3 thoughts on “How I Write Sex Scenes in Romance

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