When you have to write a love scene

A month or so ago I wrote Writing Love scenes without writing love scenes and explained that usually I liked to give my characters a little privacy in the bedroom. In my writing it has rarely been necessary to get down and dirty.

Until last week.

I’m waist deep in a new work and it relies heavily on the dynamic between two characters. Developing their relationship is a huge part of the story and one of the underlying factors in their relationship is the intense sexual attraction the protagonist feels toward the antagonist. It is extremely important to the story, whether I like it or.

Therefore, I found myself entirely unable to gloss over their first sexual encounter. It had to be described, in detail, to properly convey the shift and also to provide a climax (no pun intended) to the progressive build up toward this shift.

So, I poured myself a glass of wine and got to it.

When I was done I determined that when my mother reads my manuscript I am going to just omit the whole passage with the words “Graphic Content: Censored” in it’s place no matter how relevant it might be to the plot.

If you find yourself in a spot where you need to write a love scene, here are some things that can help you get through it.


Make it count

If you like sex scenes because you do, than this doesn’t apply to you, but if you feel like it needs to be included, don’t waste that embarrassment on pure erotica. Who, what, why, when, and how your characters have sex says something about them, about their partner and about the two of them together. Don’t rush through it, explore what you can say about these things in the act itself.


Get out the thesaurus

Writing sex requires the same writing skills as everything else in your book. You can only use thrust, stoke and throb (it’s embarrassing just writing them here) so many times before it sounds redundant and undermines the scene. Mix up your words. Try throwing in some you’ve never heard in relation to sex (if that’s possible).


Don’t be afraid to make it hot if it’s hot

You want your reader to be in the story. If your character is writhing with passion, your reader should be at least a little turned on as well.


Don’t make it hot if it isn’t

Not all sex is good sex. Again, you want your reader in the story with your character and if they are not into it or something worse, don’t try to make it sexy. This goes ten fold if you find you need to write a rape scene (which is an altogether different topic).


When in doubt, read how the masters do it

George RR Martin and Stephen King come to mind. Both authors have written more than a few relevant sex scenes. Consider how Dani’s wedding night to Khal Drogo illustrated the dynamic between the two of them, and later the shift in how their sex scenes are written. Martin’s frequently criticized for his graphic sex, but it is relevant to the plot, providing us with turning points in Dani’s personal growth toward being the mother of dragons.


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