How to Write a Sex Scene

The 12-step program


| March-April 2005



howtowriteasexscene-sm.jpg

Susanne Saenger

Now that I am an internationally famous author celebrated for my graphic portrayals of amour (see “A Pervert Among Us,” New York Times Book Review, April 2002, and “How Low Will He Go?” US Magazine, Jan. 2003), I am frequently asked how I manage to write such incredibly hot sex scenes.

My general response to these inquiries is to laugh shyly and say, “Look, kid, ask Updike, he’s even smuttier than me.”

But I must admit that the question is being asked so frequently these days, and with such delicious sycophancy, that I feel duty bound to respond to my public somehow.

Therefore, in the interest of preventing more bad sex writing from entering the cultural jet stream, I am officially setting out my 12-Step Program for Writing Incredibly Hot Scenes.

Step 1: Never compare a woman’s nipples to:
a) Cherries
b) Cherry pits
c) Pencil erasers
d) Frankenstein’s bolts

Nipples are tricky. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and shades. They do not, as a rule, look like much of anything, aside from nipples. So resist making dumbshit comparisons.

philip
5/20/2016 5:43:31 AM

Really good advice. Common-sense ideas that can, pardon the technical jargon, prevent boo-boos.


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conny
6/27/2015 10:01:52 PM

Bollocks, and here is why ... Thanks to my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says "Jeez" 81 times and "oh my" 72 times. She "blushes" or "flushes" 125 times, including 13 that are "scarlet," 6 that are "crimson," and one that is "stars and stripes red." (I can't even imagine.) Ana "peeks up" at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian's "hooded eyes," 7 to his "long index finger," and 25 to how "hot" he is (including four recurrences of the epic declarative sentence "He's so freaking hot."). Christian's "mouth presses into a hard line" 10 times. Characters "murmur" 199 times, "mutter" 49 times, and "whisper" 195 times (doesn't anyone just talk?), "clamber" on/in/out of things 21 times, and "smirk" 34 times. Christian and Ana also "gasp" 46 times and experience 18 "breath hitches," suggesting a need for prompt intervention by paramedics. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 "grins" and 124 "frowns"... which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences "intense," "body-shattering," "delicious," "violent," "all-consuming," "turbulent," "agonizing" and "exhausting" orgasms on just about every page. This proves, all you need is a friend in the publishing world who will print your garbage no matter how bad it is written.


dubairandi
4/16/2015 4:05:23 PM

thanks for the tips.


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karen a
9/17/2011 11:08:47 AM

Awesome! Thank you! Now I am headed off to find my Bible!


jrtomlin
3/26/2011 12:00:04 PM

I strongly disagree about words like penis or semen. I use them often in writing sex scenes and get a lot of praise for my sex scenes. It may depend on the kind of people you write about but well educated people are likely to think in those terms.


clare mcfadden
12/4/2010 2:46:30 PM

I have real difficulty writing sex scenes! they're either way WAY too smutty or way too subtle!


mari sciarappa
11/18/2010 1:23:13 AM

Absolutely stunning information. very helpful! Thank you to the author!


faye
10/1/2010 3:45:23 AM

thank you soooo much, I have been writing a novel for some time now and it has a love seen in it. The seen just wasn't working for me, and I didn't know what was wrong with it (until I read this that is). After reading that and getting some pointers I switched things around...it's still not 'great' in the least but it is getting there.


abigail
9/26/2010 1:08:42 PM

hello, i am a writer on Fanfiction.net (TeamAroPickle) and I researched how to write a sex scene and this came up. It was very helpful and your right, without the passion its just pornography. You have to have the emotions. If you ever get on Fanfiction, I'm not saying to look up me, but just see if any of the authors can do sex a true justice. :)


abigail
9/26/2010 1:08:16 PM

hello, i am a writer on Fanfiction.net (TeamAroPickle) and I researched how to write a sex scene and this came up. It was very helpful and your right, without the passion its just pornography. You have to have the emotions. If you ever get on Fanfiction, I'm not saying to look up me, but just see if any of the authors can do sex a true justice. :)


resdrgn
5/14/2009 10:39:01 PM

Thank you for saying this and writting this article.It was perfect and all true. I have see many tastfully and very hot scenes and I have seen some that I couldn't read cause it was awful or I was just laughing too damn hard to finish.


booneb
3/14/2009 9:15:15 AM

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booneb
3/14/2009 9:13:37 AM

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