Was it you that had the post of helpful “how-to write sex scenes” and such? If so could I get the relinkage? Please?
We haven’t talked about sex scenes yet, I don’t think (besides having some prompts about them), so LET’S!
(There are some spoilers about TFioS, hence the cut.)
There are a lot of variables when it comes to writing sex scenes that are going to be up to you, personally, both as a person and a writer. These include whether or not your characters should or shouldn’t have sex, whether you want your sex scene to prove a larger point, what you want the circumstances of your characters having sex are, etc. As I said, that’s all sort of up to you. But there are some things I can help you think about:
I think it’s safe to say that sex scenes are one of those few things in writing where you do sort of need to consider your audience and genre. Obivously E. L. James’ audience was going to be stay at home moms who wanted to read something “titillating” (ugh, I hate that word as much as I hate the success of that book), so she went into a lot of detail. But John Green’s main audience is young adults, so while the characters in The Fault in Our Stars do have sex, there’s an ellipsis over the actual scene (ie, it happens “off screen”). If you want to read more about Green’s choices re: the sex scene in TFiOS, you can read them here (Control+F and type in “sex”, haha.)
Obviously sex scenes have IMMENSE capacity to be cheesy. I feel like this mostly happens when writers rely on cliches, tropes, and repeating what they’ve read in other stories*.
So this is what I do: I literally try to describe the physical aspects of a sex scene as organically as possible. Again, how much detail you go into depends on your audience, but as long as you’re honest and straightforward you should be good. Metaphors are especially tricky here because again, they’ve been so overdone.
But—this is sex! It’s one of the most sensual experiences a human being can have. So describing the various senses is really important, and let’s be real, your characters will be experiencing taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sights to an extreme level when you’re doin’ it. So don’t gloss over those!
(If you wanna read a story I wrote that’s got some sexy time in it, click here.)
The Morning After
Despite what you see on television and in other media, most people don’t usually have sex so flippantly. Especially if you’re writing about someone who’s young or inexperienced, or sleeping with another character for the first time, you should definitely pay special attention to your characters’ emotions after the physical act is over.
Also! Maybe there are some of you who haven’t had sex but still want to write about it, or haven’t had sex that’s similar to the sex you want to describe. I’d check out some of the topics under the Research heading on Yeah Write’s Advice page, especially the topic “EXPERIENCES”, which is all about writing about things you haven’t experienced. And don’t forget that the two main pillars of creative writing research are Reading Up and Talking to People.
Also, I found the Wikipedia pages on Sexual Intercourse and Human Sexual Activity pretty helpful!
Okay, so obviously this is a really touchy topic (no pun intended hahahahaha), and I’m sure I forgot some stuff or got something wrong, so I’d love love love for anyone who has something to add to do so! Send us an ask here.
Also if anyone knows of any short stories with sex scenes that are available online for reference, send a link!
This article will be added to the static Advice page.