On Writing Romance: 8 Steps to Writing a Great Sex Scene

I have two reactions to writing sex scenes. So much fun, oo-la-la! And—Ugh, intimacy. I mean, I enjoy reading these moments in novels. But writing them makes me squirm sometimes.

Also, it's really overwhelming to think THIS BETTER BE GOOD OR READERS WILL HATE EVERYTHING. It's so much pressure.

But it doesn't have to be.

Everyone has difference sexual tastes - can you please them all? No.

Does the character's First Time need to be the perfect moment under perfect circumstances? No.

Will you go crazy trying to get it all right? Yes.

But as always, I think there's a better way than losing our sanity.

I broke it down into what I believe are essentials to write a good sex scene.

1. Set the Mood

Pour yourself wine, light some candles, and write the whole thing nonstop. ALONE. Because there’s nothing worse than someone looking over your shoulder at a coffee shop or on an airplane—and killing the mood.

2. Don't Hold Back

If you’re more of a sweet romance than erotic writer, stay true to yourself and your sub-genre. BUT write what excites you in your comfort zone (and study porn as needed). Just remember: if you’re not turned on, your readers won’t be either.

3. Choreograph the Moment

How much time is spent on shedding clothes? Where are the hands and legs? (Make sure his fifth hand isn’t reaching for her.) Is the setting plausible and appealing? There are different logistics to consider for a luxurious bed versus a cramped bathroom. And if your couple is doing circus tricks in the shower, I hope they don’t slip.

4. Bring in Personality

Are your characters behaving consistently? A virgin won’t be experienced. A shy, sweet hero won’t talk dirty like a porn star (unless that's intentional). Do your characters laugh while undressing? Bump foreheads, joke, or argue? Your characters are still your characters, even during sex.

5. Layer of Truth

It’s not just about hands and mouths. Like every scene, there should be a balance of action and inner thoughts. What are your characters' emotions? Do actions lead to more internal conflict? Is it about trust?

6. Word Choices

There’s a euphemism for everything, they say. My list of ick-no words may differ from yours. But one thing is certain: don’t toss in cliches or “velvet glove” if that’s not true to your writing style. Play with what works, and don’t turn your readers off. (The word "moist"...barf.)

7. Pillow Talk

After a sex scene, especially the characters’ first time together, don’t forget to write what happens next. Is there pillow talk? Do your characters feel awkward? Does your heroine sneak out in the night? Allow your characters to process what happened, and grow from it.

8. Polish

Tighten transitions, fine-tune word choices and phrases, adjust the pacing, count hands again, and never ever apologize to the world (or Grandma) for writing a sex scene.

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