Some stories really benefit from some hot and heavy sex scenes. Some do not. Whether or not they should be included is really up to you, but if you believe that sometimes your characters deserve just a little privacy than here are my suggestions for allowing your characters some sexy times without detailing every passionate thrust.
Think of it like a PG-13 movie
When things start to get heated, the camera pans off out the window and doesn’t come back to the characters until the next morning. Do this with your writing.
Joe took her in his arms. “I’ve wanted you forever”. Bertha melted against him, ready at last. Kissing, he led her to the bed.
She slid out from under the sheets and pulled on her pants, admiring the sunlight shining through the window.
How easy is that?
Characters will talk
Sometimes it’s necessary to describe a sex scene for plot reasons. If Joe and Bertha’s first time was mind blowing or very disappointing, this plays a key role in how their relationship progresses. So how do you convey this? Through dialogue. Maybe Bertha assures Joe that everything was swell (no pun intended) but in reality, things were not quite in sync. She can call up Wendy later and fill her in.
“It was nice,” Bertha said.
“Just nice?” Wendy asked.
“Yeah, well- He got his- but then he went to sleep.”
This is very telling of both Bertha’s and Joe’s characters and presents an important obstacle to overcome. And you don’t have to write the play by play of Joe’s selfish lovemaking.
If the specific sex act has little to do with your plot, all you need is a suggestion. If a character’s multiple partners says something about who they are, but how they interact with those partners isn’t as important, a few lines will allow a reader to get an idea about them without bogging the plot down with romances that lead no where.
Joe glanced over at the blond in bed beside him before pulling on his clothes and going home. She was cuter than the chick from Wednesday.
“Last call,” said the bartender, handing her a free drink.
“How far is your apartment?” Bertha asked.
In some cases, it is entirely unnecessary to even hint at sex. If your characters are cohabiting, in a long term relationship or married without serious problems, your readers will assume they are sleeping together and there will be very little interest in their sex life (it’s true, no one really cares about monogamous relationship sex).
This is actually a great little secret can be played upon if there are twists to their relationship. What if Bertha and Joe live together, seem to get along, and never speak about their sex life and we come to find out that they haven’t been intimate in years and secretly hate each other? Or their sex life involves a third party?
Keeping the door closed until you are ready to let your reader into their bedroom is not just a plot device for those who’d rather not get into play by play love scenes, it’s also a clever device for plot twists and conflict.
What is your preference? When do sex scenes benefit a story and when do they detract from the plot?