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How to Write a Hot Sex Scene by Alexis D. Craig (romantic suspense and erotica)

Give Me Shelter COVEROur guest blog today is from Lachesis author Alexis D. Craig. Alexis writes and sultry and spicy romantic suspense (Give Me Shelter and Imminent Danger) featuring the brave men and women in law enforcement.  She also writes super hot erotica featuring sexy cops (Undercover Seduction). Today, Alexis shares her tips on writing a hot sex scene! Take it away Alexis . . . 

Okay, so you’re writing a romance novel and you have characters whose chemistry has come to a boil. They want to take the next logical step, and you want them to, too, but you’re not sure about writing the scene. Here’s where I come in to help.

Let’s start with a few simple dos and don’ts.

Don’t get uptight about it. You want it to flow naturally and the pace with which it does is dictated by your characters and the context of the scene.

Don’t rush it. You don’t have a set series of points you have to reach in a specific amount of time. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty with it. Sex is messy, the language can be quite vulgar and if your characters are feeling it, go for it. You obviously don’t have to use words that make you, the author, uncomfortable, but the very nature of the scene gives you more leeway in terms of propriety.

Don’t, under any circumstances, get too florid with the euphemisms. I’m not saying that everything has to be perfectly scientifically proper (e.g. ‘penis’, ‘vagina’, clitoris, etc…) BUT if you get too wild while beating around the bush (ahem) you’ll take the reader out of the head space you’re attempting to create and may, or may not incite laughter/cringing.

Do write in a space that makes you comfortable. I have found that writing sex scenes in Burger King tends to make me feel a bit self-conscious. It just doesn’t lend itself to the mood I need to create in the same way that my living room does.

Do use music to help feed your muse. I always talk about music in my posts, I know, but I find that the correct series of songs does carry a scene quite well from my head to the page. I’m not saying we have to bust out the Prince/Marvin Gaye/Usher, but if that’s where your characters are mentally, go with the flow.

Do get up and take short breaks when the scene just isn’t coming (ahem). Get up, walk around, walk away from it on the page and in your head. Take a minute, get a snack, come back to it and keep going. If you force it, the reader can tell the moment the scene switches from a hot sex scene to an ‘insert tab A into slot B’ instruction manual. Unless you’re writing that type of thing, I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re going for in this case.

Do, for the love of all that is holy (including, but not limited to, little fishes, cats, Nilla wafers, and graham crackers), make sure that the things you write are, in fact, anatomically possible. Nothing ruins a good sex scene like written visuals that make no sense physically. I have, on occasion, solicited assistance to make sure that what I’m writing and what I’m seeing in my head actually work. Alas, there have been occasions where the writing and the limitations of the physical body bore no relation to one another. I put that book down and wanted nothing more to do with it.*

*Caveat to the previous, if you’re writing about non-human entities, the dead, the undead, or formerly alive but not a zombie, shifters, whatnot, those rules are a bit looser. Given the amount of disbelief already suspended by the reader, you could probably push it a bit more, but still, keep in mind that you never want a reader to be thinking, “WTF?” while reading about your characters effing.

Finally, some important points overall:

This is about your characters and their physical expression of their feelings for each other. Keep in mind that just because it’s hot doesn’t mean they have to act differently than they would under other circumstances.

If you’re writing about kink, it would behoove you to read about the kink in which you’re interested. Lack of research becomes painfully obvious, and quickly, if you don’t take the time to do it. Understanding of the subject matter, context, and how the reality differs from the outside world’s perceptions of it will all lend an authenticity to the scene that will elevate the hotness to blistering heights.*

*Caveat, or rather, an illustrative anecdote. During a conversation recently with a friend of mine, she expressed her beef with the 50 Shades series. Paraphrasing, “It’s not realistic. Especially the after care. After care is so important when scenes are over, due to their level of intensity and potential (mental/emotional) trauma to the sub. You cuddle them, clean them up, help them come back to themselves and feel safe and secure again. You don’t just have an intense scene and then walk out like you don’t give a fuck. That’s just asshattery, that’s not BDSM.”

As a follow up to the previous, the aftermath of a sex scene is vital for really illustrating your characters. They’re emotionally vulnerable, physically spent, and disinclined to maintain their facades they show the world. To that end, the partner, and the reader, can really see the character for who they are. Capitalize on that.

Obviously, if you’re writing and you just cannot get over the mental hump (ahem), you can always cut to action off screen (so to speak), and then move on to the next scene.

Finally, the thing I’ve found to be most important when writing the scenes: if it makes you hot while writing it, it’ll make the reader hot reading it.

Connect with Alexis D. Craig on her web site/blog and on facebook, twitter and goodreads.

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6 thoughts on “How to Write a Hot Sex Scene by Alexis D. Craig (romantic suspense and erotica)”

  1. Great post! You tell it like it is, Alexis, and hit on a few of my own pet peeves when reading sex scenes.

    This one line is like a course in writing love scenes, when talking about the aftercare:

    “They’re emotionally vulnerable, physically spent, and disinclined to maintain their facades they show the world.”

    I think I’m going to print that out and post it over my keyboard. Thanks for an enjoyable, and enlightening post.

    1. Thanks for reading it! I love reading & writing the spicy stuff. Those are the aggregate of thoughts accrued over several years of reading romance & erotica. The physical possibility one makes me especially nuts, because then I begin to doubt the writer’s understanding of love, romance, & real life in general.

    1. Thanks for reading f I think my biggest concern is that the scenes will veer into ‘instruction manual’ territory. I have to take breaks so that I can maintain the action & emotion levels without the action taking over.

  2. Good advice! You’re right about the flow of the language and the need for the scene to include after care, otherwise the characters come off as callus, in which case why waste any further time reading? I’ve found it to beneficial to have another person reading my work and giving feedback and suggestions, and if you’re fortunate to have a great editor/publisher to work with your book will greatly improve from their creative input and contributions.

    1. I do have beta readers, four of them, plus a friend I met through a Lachesis editor who is an editor in her own right. They all provide different perspectives & insights which are invaluable in terms of making the scenes, & story as a whole, flow.

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