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Sexy Beasts and Beautiful Creatures: How to write a sizzling sexual scenario

In theory, the process of writing a sex scene is a lot like masturbating--in that what turns you on is all in your head. Very simply, what you can visualize or fantasize, you can transcribe into prose. Although, to do it well takes finesse. There is a science to writing a sensual scenario. And like the actual act—practice makes perfect.

Expectations: How crazy does it get? Should I add a little light bondage, or spanking?

The first time you set pen to paper to evoke such an intimate act, it’s funny how prudish you may become. Your first instinct might be to play it conservative. Believe me, we’ve all been there. The bottom line is that you don’t want your family or friends to find out what a twisted freak you are. Alas, no! This is the moment you have to let your freak flag fly. Trust me.

To entice readers into your imaginary scenario you need to stimulate their sensual instincts, and to do that you are going to have to be explicit in your descriptions and details. How explicit, will be determined by your storyline’s context and your characters’ emotions and motivations.

At its most basic, sensuality is a melding of the five sense: see, touch, taste, smell and hear. You need to conjure these senses, to their fullest, in order to create an arousing scenario. But, what if you have never developed, or explored, your own sensuality? Or need inspiration to get your creative juices flowing?

Inspiration: Research in pursuit of your art, or exploring your inner nympho or satyr.

One of the easiest ways to find inspiration is to study sex scenes in romance novels. Notice how the author sets the scene and builds chemistry between characters. Diction is paramount. What descriptive word choices, or euphemisms, does your favorite author employ to allude to body parts, or during action sequences?

If, while reading certain passages, you feel a tingle in that secret sweet spot, your nipples harden, or any other part of your anatomy rises to attention—take note! The goal of good writing is to elicit a response—whether emotional, or physical--in your readers. In other words, if you aren’t turned on by your own writing, it’s rather doubtful your readers will be, either.

Another option is to watch porn. There’s a plethora of porn sites online for every taste and fetish. Even if porn isn’t your thingit is rather doubtful you will learn anything of emotional value—from a strictly scientific point of view, you may learn new and unusual things that human bodies can do together.

For writers of a more religious bent, there’s always the bible. The Song of Solomon is an erotic poem of passionate love and innocent sensuality, filled with sexual symbols and allusions, about two young, unmarried lovers in a biblical garden of delight.

Beginners Homework Assignment: Role Play: try out your favorite scenes and sexual positions from romance novels, porn videos or the bible with your husband, partner or lover. Remember: practice makes perfect.

Recently, a good friend remarked while reading the second book in my series, Maya Rising, that she never imagined that I was so sexually-experienced and wondered if I’d actually done everything described in the various sexy interludes in my novel. I burst out laughing and thanked her for the compliment. I only wish I had as good a sex life as my characters! While certain details may have been adapted from my own life experiences, the truth is I am a fiction writer with a vivid imagination. Which means that I make up a lot of stuff.

If you don’t feel your own sexual experiences are inspiring enough to titillate your audience, or your imagination won’t carry the day, the following homework assignment should help you to step up your game, so that your readers will find your writing believable and exciting.

Advanced Homework Assignment: Step out of your comfort zone and try (at least one) new sexual experiences from the following list. If you feel squeamish about pushing your boundaries, remember that professional athletes and ballet dancers need to train for years to master their sport, or art. As a fiction writer of erotic love scenes, you will need to put in hours of research and training to be on top of your craft.

  1. Go a lap dance club with your partner. Note partner’s facial expressions and body language, while getting a lap dance. Suddenly, realize that it’s you, who needs the “hands on” experience. Wrestle said partner out of the chair and get a lap dance, yourself. Or even better, learn how to lap dance. A bonus of learning to lap dance is that it will give you sleek thighs and a bangin’ booty.

  1. Take a lover and learn about the guilty pleasures of an illicit afternoon delight. This can provide practical information if a love triangle is a central theme in your novel. If you’re married, or in a committed relationship, you can always rationalize your betrayal—if you get caught--by claiming you’re only cheating on your significant other in the pursuit of furthering your craft.

  1. Go to a live sex show and soak in the atmosphere of naked humanity to learn about setting, pace and the all-important climax to your storyline. You can find material for a future writing project in the most unlikely places. For example, if you’re writing a gritty crime thriller, or a dystopian fiction where mankind has lost all hope and you need a bleak setting—from the furtive hand movements under rustling trench coats, to the labored breathing and faint moans issuing forth from your fellow voyeurs: hunched over in their seats; eyes riveted on the spotlighted, semen-stained stage--nothing screams desperate and seedy as a good-old-fashioned-live-sex-show.

  1. For the more adventuresome, try a swingers’ club and discover the joys of, as the French so charmingly put it, “une partie de jambes en l’air.” From a scholarly point of view, it should be an enlightening study in couples’ emotional dynamics and kinky fetishes during group sex.

  1. If you’re more of a loner, or get claustrophobic in sweaty, horny crowds, but still yearn for a walk on the wild side, Tinder has you covered. Just download the Tinder app to your phone and, before you know it, you can be having risky, anonymous sex with a stranger. One never knows who they’ll meet on Tinder and that’s half the fun! If you’re writing a psychological thriller about a sadistic-sexual-deviant-serial killer, think of the wealth of material you can gather, first-hand. If you survive the encounter… Imagine the frissons of sheer terror--your heart punching up into your throat--as you glimpse a flash of metal in the moonlight, seconds after you and your sexy stranger simultaneously climax. The waves of relief you’ll feel when you realize that isn’t an ice pick in your anonymous lover’s hand, after all. Rather, a zippo lighter that your lover uses to light the post-coital cig the two of you share… This kind of first-hand writer’s knowledge: priceless! You can’t learn this in an online creative writing course.

Author Disclaimer: Please note that the above suggestions are for research purposes only. Author cannot be held responsible for any bodily injuries, arrest, prosecution, or divorce proceedings that may result.

Now that you’ve completed the above homework assignments, it’s time to put your new-found skill set to work. Below you will find eight basic rules to keep in mind while writing your first scenario:

Use exaggerated awareness.

Exaggerated awareness uses all the five senses to heighten the sexual tension and set the scene. Every single glance, caress, or intimate interaction between your lovers needs to be larger than life. The goal is to ratchet up the sexual tension to the breaking point, before temporarily satisfying the reader.

Exaggerated awareness needs to begin immediately from the first contact between the hero or heroine in your novel, and needs to increase in depth with each subsequent meeting. If there's no buildup of sexual tension between a couple in a love scene, the most likely result will be that their interaction is going to come off as weird, clumsy, or the basis for a sexual assault charge. The resulting “cringe factor” is going to shock and embarrass your reader as much as it will your characters.

Dialogue is sexy – use it to its fullest.

Can you imagine having sex in utter silence in real life? The same is true in writing love scenes. Using dialogue within a scene creates sensual awareness that can heighten the erotic edge, considerably. Sex is dialogue between two minds and two bodies. The brain—where your imagination resides—is, possibly, the sexiest organ in your body.

Inner dialogue to create tension.

Contrary to popular belief, people do think during sex. The body may be revved up--all piston’s firing--during sex, however the mind is working, also. Sex isn’t just the physical process. The thoughts that accompany the act are just as significant as the physical gymnastics. Using inner dialogue to break up sexual action exposition, besides changing up the pace of narrative flow, gives deeper insight into a character’s emotional state during the act.

Emphasize the physical, but not at the expense of the emotional.

Love scenes should employ a combination of raw physical need and emotional intimacy. Sex is a deeply emotional process. To create compelling, real life characters, a writer needs to show a range of nuanced emotions. Real sex is compelling to read about because the participants are at their most vulnerable. Particularly, when getting naked with a new partner, sex can be a heady brew of excitement, hope and wonder. Or, even, shyness or self-doubt in our desirability, or ability to pleasure to a new partner.

The following sexual scenario in Chapter 18: Midnight at the Oasis of Last Call for Caviar, vol.1, shows how setting, description and inner dialogue can be used to intensify an encounter between lovers.

Backstory: The heroine, Maya Jade, is estranged from the love of her life, Julian, due to a lover’s quarrel. Months pass with no communication between them. Now, the rising tide of anarchy makes the gulf between them nearly impossible to bridge as they are stranded on opposing sides of the Security Zone. Still, Maya’s heart yearns for Julian as she stubbornly clings to the hope--that against the odds--they will be reunited.

In the interim, Maya meets Abdul, a wealthy, powerful and very seductive Emirati, who offers her his protection during these frightening times. The hitch is he’s married. Even though Maya’s love for Julian remains unchanged, she can’t resist the intense physical attraction growing between her and Abdul.

Chapter 18: Midnight at the Oasis Last; Call for Caviar, vol.1

We pull into a parking lot at the tip of the Cap, the darkened silhouette of the shuttered Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat on the rise behind us and the sea crashing on the rocks below. The Club Dauphin nestles among the winding paths and gardens just above the shore.

Surprisingly, there's a guard at the gate to let us in. Glowing lanterns illuminate the path. The glass funicular awaits, and we descend to the pool and restaurant below.

A liquid world of moonlight and water spreads around us; soft music plays and a candlelit table for two awaits us in front of the sea: everything immaculately prepared for a romantic poolside dinner for two. The rest of the open-air restaurant is deserted. Perhaps guards are stationed on the perimeter to make sure we won’t be disturbed, but there's no visible restaurant personnel. On this magic night—just Abdul and I.

The rich can live out any fantasy imaginable, and tonight Abdul has orchestrated the most sexy and romantic setting for seduction.

Caviar and blinis, thin slices of smoked salmon, slivers of perfect oysters, crisp ice-cold Chablis Premier Cru and pink Cristal—everything perfect! I already feel my G-string stirring; trying to untie itself and slither down around my ankles as Abdul plies me with aphrodisiacs, and pours delicious nectar down my throat.

The man is seriously good at seduction, I realize as he stands up and holds out his hand to me, saying, “Come dance with me in the moonlight, habiba.”

I comply, wrapping my arms around his neck. I sway in his arms to the soft samba beat as Abdul's hands roam over my back before settling on my hips and drawing me closer. The thin fabric of our clothes separates us, however I can feel his erection rubbing against my belly as he molds me closer to his muscled frame. Arousal flares and my nipples tighten against his hard chest. His smell—clean and crisp—like a desert wind coupled with his body heat is magnetic. The sexual chemistry crackles in an arc between us. All synapses firing, desire fizzes and zings along my nerve endings…” (read full excerpt here)

Reveal something with each love scene. Up the stakes emotionally (besides sexually) in each encounter between protagonists.

Don't use love scenes as fodder to increase your page count, or incorporate gratuitous sex in the hope of following in 50 Shade’s footsteps. Love scenes should be crucial to advancing the plot of a novel, and need to flow as a natural progression of the storyline. Reveal new facets of your characters in each of these love scenes: from hidden emotions, like an admission of guilt, a feeling of betrayal, or growing love.

Sex isn’t only for procreation: Delve into the psychological and emotional motivations of your characters to give more depth to your scenario.

Sexual intercourse comes in many forms: primal and raw; sensuous and passionate; high-risk and adrenaline-charged; loving and committed; illicit and exciting; the list goes on and on.

People have sex for many reasons. For some, it can be a way of exploring their own sexuality through experimentation, or a way to dominate and manipulate their partner. For others, it’s an affirmation of their desirability, or currency to bring them security and financial rewards. For a lucky few, it’s the ultimate connection with another soul. For most of us, it’s simply because sex is pleasurable and so much fun to do!

Make each scene unique, but be certain that it’s integral to advancing the plot.

At heart, sex scenes are the physical embodiment of mental and emotional change, in other words: character-in-action. Since that change will be different for each scene, so too should the choreography. Change up the settings, the physical action, your characters’ emotions and motivations to achieve this. Best rule of the thumb: if you can completely take a love scene out and it won't affect the story in any way, cut it ruthlessly and don't look back.

Well-rounded, true-to-life characters need to overcome adversity and obstacles to grow during the arc of a story. It can’t only be hearts and flowers; silk sheets and champagne in every encounter between your characters. Eventually, that would become boring to all parties involved.

Their desire for fulfillment, and sexual attraction to each other, needs to increase as the story unfolds. To this end, strew their path with obstacles, temptations and other rivals. If their love is worth having, make them work for it. Don’t discount anger, or misunderstanding between the hero and heroine. It can add a thrilling edge to a scenario. Depending on the genre, the setting, and the emotional temperature of the characters, sometimes, the sex needs to be raw and up against the wall.

In Chapter 27: The Devil Does Indeed Wear Prada from the second book in the series, Maya Rising (Last Call for Caviar, vol.2) we reconnect with former lovers, Maya and Abdul.

Their love affair has changed drastically in the interim and so has the emotional and sexual dynamics between them.

Backstory: Eight months have passed since Maya dumped Abdul and ran off to search for Julian (Last Call for Caviar, vol.1.) Now, Maya is back in Monaco and desperately needs Abdul’s help. How can she persuade Abdul to help her? How far is Maya willing to go?

Excerpt from Chapter 27: The Devil Does Indeed Wear Prada; Maya Rising (Last Call for Caviar, vol.2)

Abdul is standing on the balcony, his back to the door when I enter the second floor salon. I stop for a moment, my gaze roaming over the breadth of shoulders tapering to a slim waist and hips. He's clad in a pale blue, long-sleeved shirt, cuffs rolled to mid-forearm, and jeans. Nevertheless, his natural elegance makes it seem as though he’s dressed in black tie.

Thick, straight black hair brushes the collar of his shirt. I remember that beneath his shirt, his chest and arms are heavily muscled and that his smooth skin is the color of caramel and cream.

He senses my presence and turns to face me. His gaze takes in my turquoise dress, high heeled sandals, make-up and the deliberately seductive disarray of my hair. I feel the heat of his gaze as it flicks over my breasts through the fabric of my low-cut dress. I clutch my shawl closer, covering my breasts from his scrutiny.

Damn Lucy Brown!” I think to myself. “Why did I let her tart me up like this? I feel like an expensive whore.”

Maya,” Abdul's voice is clipped as he gestures for me to come further into the room. “So you're back?”

It’s good to see you, Abdul. Thank you for meeting with me,” I say. My voice sounds shaky and hesitant.

He turns away and pours me a glass of champagne from the bottle nestled in a silver bucket on a table by his side. I swallow half the glass in one go, and for the first time in eight months gaze closely upon his face.

Clean-shaven male arrogance is etched into each angle and plane. I take in the aristocratic blade of his nose. The once-warm dark eyes, fringed by impossibly long lashes, spit ice. The deliberate thinning of what I once knew as passionately full lips tells me volumes. I feel the pull of his sexual magnetism. I'm shocked at the strength of it and my reaction to seeing him again. It's as though the ions in the air are crackling in an electrical arc connecting us.

Abdul is angry, though it is buried under a veil of icy indifference. I sense the volcano beneath the ice, held in check. He's ready to erupt—not with the passion and affection I once knew—but with something far more dangerous.

There's no doubt there's unfinished business between us. My dilemma is how to defuse the tension of this encounter. I take my courage and guilt in hand. I have to find a way to reach Abdul and make him understand the choices I've made…”
(read full excerpt here)

Turn yourself on!

Last piece of advice: It’s perfectly normal to feel aroused by your own writing. In fact, it’s imperative that you feel the same shivers of desire dancing along your nerve endings that you hope to evoke in your readers. And most importantly—don’t forget to have fun, while you’re writing it!

Now, it’s time to fire up your laptop, take a deep breath and get to work writing your own sexy scenario. Entice us with your settings. Astound us with your sensuous descriptions. Arouse us with your suggestive prose. Thrill us with your mind-blowing climax.

Make us feel as though we’re there in bed with your characters--every kiss and caress along the way…


Melissa Roen has published two novels and in two languages, her native English and also in French: 'Last Call for Caviar' and 'Maya Rising'.

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017    Section: General Articles
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