I’ve read a lot of first-time writers who seem to think that all you need to do is write what body part goes where and mention how flippin’ fantastic it feels and – ta da! – instant hot sex scene. The truth is if you do that, readers will shelve your book away and keep their hands off of it. In this article, I’ll go over five ways to spice up your sex scenes.
Granted, it’s understandable why sex scenes are so hard to write. For literally thousands of years people have been writing about busy beds and sweaty sheets. Just how can a girl be expected to write “tab A went into slot B” in a way that’s never been done before without sounding ridiculous?
Context, Not Content
In other articles, I’ve covered the basics. Namely, the sex scene should advance the plot, advance the characters, and if the book is a romance, advance the relationship. If the scene doesn’t fulfill all of these demands, I lock it away in my dungeon, never to see the light of day. Even if the scene does advance the plot and characters, there needs to be something else that separates your sex scene from most spicy chapters anyone has ever read.
Too many writers try making their sex scene unique by re-inventing the content. Norman Mailer won a prize for Worst Sex Scene when he wrote about the man’s “old battering ram” and the woman’s “unmentionable part.” Euphemisms never work. Keep the content the same. Call your favorite body parts by their tried and true sexiest names. Don’t change the content, change the context.
1. Environment– The environment is the most commonly used method for making a sex scene unique, so much so that just about all environments have been already used. While the special quality of a “unique” environment may no longer be special, the reason why it’s still a great tool is because it adds to the sensuality. From the hot, sandy dunes of the desert undulating in the steamy horizon to the cold, wet cement floor of a dark basement hiding its sinister possibilities, the environment helps bring the reader’s visceral body to life.
2. Gimmick– It’s one thing for Frank and Joanne to make love, but what if you had the chance to see Red Riding Hood all grown up having a tryst in the woods with her shape-shifter wolf? Would that be more interesting to read about than Frank and Joanne squeaking away? Of course it would! Who the heck are Frank and Joanne? We’ve lived with Red Riding Hood all our lives, so we’re already attached to her and want to hear what aspects of her life we may have missed. Writing about characters readers already know is a great way to make the story, with or without sex, a compelling read. Is it any wonder why I’ve written erotic versions of Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Hansel &Gretel, and Goldilocks?
3. Goal –The most common goal for sex has been for the characters to show each other their love. Love never dies, but it doesn’t have to be the only goal. In Goldie’s Locks and the Three Men, Goldie is a thief in Vegas and pretends to be wooed by a gambler who has just won a jackpot so that she can get direct access to his hotel safe. In Alice’s Sexual Discovery in a Wonderful Land, Alice comes across a band of young strapping men who live in the forest and have never seen a woman before, so they take turns exploring her body having no idea that she is enjoying the attention. What goals can you come up with?
4. Inner Secrets –The one thing that’s more powerful than what’s spoken among couples is what’s not spoken. If a character has a secret she is keeping from her partner during sex, the scene becomes more compelling. For example, in my erotic Goldilocks story, Goldie had a past experience where the man she had a crush on doted on her curly blonde locks in a loving way, then betrayed her just minutes later. After that, she always kept her hair in a ponytail. When a later love tries to let down her hair, she resists. He coaxes her to let her hair down and she doesn’t reveal the trauma he is unwittingly helping her overcome. The inner secret Goldie has makes the sex scene different from all other sex scenes.
5. Outer Secrets –When lovers hide their love from the rest of the world, romance overflows. From Romeo and Juliet to young lovers holding hands underneath the girl’s parents’ dinner table, we readers cheer on their hidden love and route for a happy ever after. In Amy ‘Red’ Riding’s Hood, Amy lives in a culture where lycans are second-class citizens, so love between a human and a lycan is forbidden. When Amy risks having her love for her wolf be discovered, she risks being cast out from society. A simpler example of a sex scene with an outer secret is where two lovers hide under a bed hoping they won’t be discovered by their friends in the room. Meanwhile, the space is pretty tight between them and their affections start to grow. That would make for a much more exciting sex scene than Frank and Joanne, don’t you think?
It’s so much fun to mix and match these techniques. For example, in my upcoming book Ariel’s Flight, a Wonder Woman-type character (gimmick) is a foreign exchange student staying with a young host family in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ariel finds out the parents are swingers and the wife gives Ariel permission to seduce the husband, a Hugh Jackman look-a-like. Excited, she meets up with him at the library (environment) and they try not to be discovered (outer secret). But soon a girl from her class stops in the aisle of books next to theirs and peers through the stacks as a voyeur. Ariel realizes they’re being watched while the husband is clueless. Ariel notices that the special connection she had with the husband by sharing a secret is lost because she now has a bigger secret she shares with her classmate (inner secret kept from lover). The sex scene has become anything but ordinary. The purpose of this scene was to have Ariel realize the man she thought she desired was not as desirable as she had hoped.
Massage these five ways of spicing up your sex scenes into your stories and your writing will become hands-on reading.
Keywords: Liz Adams, spice up sex scenes, fantasy for women
Liz Adams, author of the bestselling erotic fairy tale Alice’s Sexual Discovery in a Wonderful Land, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. Her short story Amy “Red” Riding’s Hood, an erotic version of Red Riding Hood, is an Amazon bestseller and winner of Goodreads’ Book of the Month for October 2012. Liz studied music and creative writing at UCLA and worked as a freelance model before making her writing her career. In her spare time she cuddles with her husband on the couch to watch her favorite shows and often they work together doing research for her books.
From bestselling author Liz Adams comes this modern erotic retelling of the fairy tale Goldilocks.
What if the only way to find the right man was to instead find the right men? As a thief, Goldie is always on the run so she can never settle down with one lover. But when she tackles one final job, could the three bearish men inside the mansion she’s staking out promise her more than she could ever dream possible? Goldie’s Locks and the Three Men, a modern erotic fairy tale fantasy for women. Her locks and her men, she sure knows how to pick ’em.
WARNING: In this modern erotic fairy tale, Goldie is a thief that has a way of unlocking men’s hearts and stealing their money and clothes. In her search to find rich men to swindle, she instead finds a heart-pumping, thigh-squeezing fantasy for women like herself, including: solo M, M/F, F/F, light B&D, and lots of bare-chested men to enjoy. For 18 years and older.