How to Write Erotic Scenes

Adding erotic scenes is a great way to build tension and create anticipation in your novel. Make sure you have lots of foreplay, push and pull suspenses and a big climax.

Describing genitalia is rarely erotic – unless you are writing porn. Usually the descriptions are more interesting when they focus on emotional realities.

1. Set the Scene

Getting the details right is essential in any scene, but it’s especially important in a sex scene. If you don’t know how the characters will interact physically, your reader won’t have a good sense of the scene’s reality.

A common mistake is to focus too much on physical description. Describing whose arm goes where or what’s touching which earlobe doesn’t necessarily make the scene erotic – it may be accurate but it isn’t likely to get your reader’s pulse racing.

When writing a sensual scene, show your readers what the characters are doing rather than telling them. Use vivid descriptions to appeal to all five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. This will help your readers feel like they’re actually in the scene with your characters and make them more engaged. Incorporating movement into your sex scenes is also important. Your character’s movements should reflect the emotional change that is taking place in the scene. The sex your characters have at the beginning of the scene will not be the same as that at the end, just as each action in a fight or car chase should be different.

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2. Make It Feel Real

When writing erotic scenes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making it too technical. Writing a sex scene that reads like a refrigerator schematic doesn’t make readers feel anything. It turns off, not on, and it sounds too much like porn.

You can avoid this trap by focusing on the characters, the setting and emotions. Then use vivid descriptions to appeal to all the senses. For example, describing the feel of defined muscles against lustrous skin, or a warm breeze caressing their naked backs, adds sensuality to the scene.

Also, don’t let the sex scene stray too far from the story. Readers will be bored if the characters are just sitting around and kissing each other for pages on end. They need something to keep them engaged, and that usually means some kind of conflict and resolution. Even if the climax is in the back of a clapped out Ford Cortina, or the bins behind the Plaza cinema, there has to be an element of tension and excitement to create that sexy feeling.

3. Make It Emotional

When it comes to erotic scenes, you want readers to feel emotionally charged. You can do this through dialogue that suggests one thing but means another, physical descriptions of your characters — for example, hands tracing over curves; the sight of toned abs; or fingernails running through hair — and sensory details that add a layer of titillation to the scene.

You can also build tension by showing your characters overcoming obstacles to have their romance – such as the back of a clapped out car or bins behind the Plaza cinema. Or you can make them feel attracted to each other despite their differences – such as the case with Fifty Shades, which is notoriously mocked for its writing style but still managed to turn many readers on.

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But remember that, as with any scene in your book, the sex has to serve a purpose – it needs to strengthen the story in some way, whether by driving the plot forward or revealing something about your characters. If you add sex just for the sake of it, your readers will probably lose interest quickly.

4. Make It Suspenseful

Sooner or later, if you write romance or erotic fiction, you will have to write a sex scene. But how do you avoid cliche, embarrassment and a nomination for the Bad Sex in Fiction award?

The key is to focus on how the characters feel emotionally and physically, rather than on what is actually happening in their bodies. Of course, there needs to be enough physical description to set the scene, but that should be it. Excessive physical description can alienate the reader and slow down the pacing.

Be sure to use the sense of touch to keep the readers on the edge of their seat. And don’t forget to include some twists or surprises to make the scene more interesting. This will add a bit of tension and make it harder to predict how the scene will end. It will also give the reader something to look forward to. This is especially important if your romance is a series.

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5. Make It Fun

Adding a little bit of humour into your sex scene is a great way to break up the intensity. Maybe your MC cracks a joke because that’s their personality, or you include funny sounds like the rattling of weird neighbours – whatever feels authentic to the character will add a freshness to the scene and keep readers interested.

The most important thing is to be confident and enjoy writing it. Throw modesty out of the window, have fun and make your MCs happy. If you’re enjoying yourself then the reader will too.

Don’t forget, though, that a sex scene is just one part of a story and needs to fit into the whole, strengthen the plot or character development in some way (unless you write erotica, of course). Including a sex scene just for the sake of it won’t satisfy your readers or make a great plot point. So remember to make it count and let the sizzle make your readers crave more! Anastasia Parkes is a London-based writer who lives in Cairo, where she writes about human interest stories. Under her other creative persona, Primula Bond, she has written classy erotic romance novels.

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