Writing Sex Scenes

Sensuality, Intimacy and Sex

I recently attended RWA’s virtual conference, during which I took a couple of classes on sex and sensuality: “Let’s Talk About Sex” with LaQuette and “Writing Intimacy and Sexual Tension” with Molly O’Keefe. I’ve also been reading or listening to a variety of authors and paying attention to how they write intimacy.

Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez has a sexually aggressive female protagonist, and she initiates sex very early in the story. Billionaire Roxanne Medina takes matters into her own hands and sets up a contract with an impoverished prince to get pregnant. While this story is sexually explicit, I would not call erotica even though much of the conflict in the story is based on their contract for sex.  For Roxanne sex is easy but intimacy is difficult. Seeing how Angelina creates the romance through the couple’s intimate revelations and builds on each new shared discovery is a fascinating process.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams sex plays a big part in this relationship too but it’s quite different from Lush Money, the couple Gavin and Thea Scott’s marriage is on the rocks. The issue of sex is part of their marital problem. Lyssa brings humor to the story to help deal with intimacy as the couple reconnects and learns to open up to each other.

Both stories show that a sex scene is more than the act of sex, it is sensuality and intimacy. Intimacy is the toughest part of any relationship. It is the vulnerability of opening up and sharing that vulnerability with someone else that is the key to making a sex scene impactful.

Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries, sensuality and sexual tension adds a little conflict to her story as chemist Miss Olivia Norley and the duke of Thornstock, Marlowe Drake are thrown together in this suspenseful story. For Oliva and Thorn, the sexual attraction is another part of the plot. They don’t want to be attracted to each other but as they learn more intimate details about each other they become more attracted.

As in the contemporary romances, Sabrina Jeffries’ characters have no problem with the sex part of the relationship but the shared intimacies are where the plot develops and we learn more about the characters.

After taking these classes at the conference, I’ve noticed more of how my favorite authors accomplish the intimacy between their characters. Like peeling an onion, the best authors reveal one layer at a time until the reader gets the whole story. The information the reader needs to understand what makes the characters act and react the way they do. It is also these revelations that allow the characters a more intimate connection. If done well, the author can use their darkest secrets to create that moment of “false death” when it seems all is lost.

I’ve heard it said that a sex scene is often choreographed much like a fight scene, it is also mentally and emotionally challenging, not to mention physical. Whether fighting or making love, more should be involved than just body parts. Understanding the weaknesses of each character involved and how it affects and changes things for them is more important than the act itself.

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