Writing Erotica #2 – Crafting The Sex Scene

The following blog entry is a guest post by Rechan. The author is solely responsible for its content.
You can follow Rechan on Twitter @MoleWords and Rechan on FA.

In Writing Erotica part 1, we discussed the role your sex scene has. I was going to talk about conflict, but several people have commented to me about how writing the sex part of sexy stories are difficult, so let’s dive right in.Foreplay: Words, Tone, and the Groundrules

First rule: understand anatomy. Like any other thing in writing, You don’t need to have personally experienced sex (or any of the other kinks you may be using) to write them, but you do need to at least understand them. If you don’t know, it will show up in the writing, so do your research. Things like inserting penises into clits or through cervixes designate you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Since we’re furries, research the species sexual characteristics (because you should already have researched them if you’re writing them). What’s their sexual organs like – sheaths, barbs, bifurcated. Now, do you have to be anatomically correct with the animals you’re using? Hell no, that’s up to you. But you should make that choice conciously, aware of what you’re not using. IF you decide to, then make sure you understand what a sheath looks like/how it works. Check out the species’ mating habits too; you might find some interesting quirks to make the characters more anthro.

A common question about writing sex scenes: what words do you use to describe body parts? For one anthology I’m editing there’s a story set in Shogunite Japan, with all this flowery description and great voice, and then in the prose the author uses “cock”. Both editors suggested he change it because it was so different from everything else in the story, it became jarring and vulgar, throwing us out of the story. The easiest way to avoid this is use what words the character would use for genitals, otherwise it can really break the tone of your story.

There are exceptions; one author commented that there aren’t any sexy words for anus. The writer stuck with tailhole, and only used that word every time it came up, and it came up a lot (rimming + anal) until it became too distracting. At that point you need to use some more words, or invent some of your own.

If the words the character would use is counter to the scene’s tone, you need to find something else. In “Fanservice” I thought the main character would use “thing” for penis because she’s not vulgar at all, however this was both unclear at times and it gets away from the steamy buildup I wanted. I settled on erection and hardon, because both are more neutral and a little more adult. “Thing” is more appropriate for a scene about exploration where a character is repressed/naive/bashful, one where it’s not supposed to be hot hot hot but awkward and eye opening.

Tone is very important to your sex scene. This is how the scene should feel to the reader, and if the scene were music, what would it sound like – soft, fast, sensual, harsh. Tone is the source of where all your description will stem. Is the scene gentle, about sweet lovemaking? Then you use soft descriptions – caresses, grazes of the tongue, your characters will hold eachother and make eye contact. Rough, aggressive sex involves words with bite – pushing, grabbing, yanking, pinning, pulling, words with vigorous energy and power. Is it plain out raunchy, you bring up lewd noises and dripping sweat and fluids? If it’s meant to be awkward and uncomfortable and not sexy at all, then you’re not going to use sexy descriptions.

A final thought on word choices: Words have certain conotations, so using the wrong word can elicit a different reaction. If you’re writing something sexy, words like “oozed” or “slimed” to describe fluids is offputting. I used to use worry in the context of nibbling/kneading on say, a nipple; someone pointed out this brought to mind rodents chewing on things, or something going ragged wear and tear.

Getting Steamy: Descriptions

Once you’ve settled on your tone and your word use, what about the actual sentence writing, the stuff you’re describing? What you focus on depends on both your comfort, and what’s appropriate for the story/scene. You honestly don’t have to focus on the mechanics, and even if you describe them, the degree of detail can (and should) vary from story to story. How much is too much/not enough is something you have to decide on your own.

You can have a sex scene that lacks any mention of body parts, focusing entirely on the emotional components, because that’s the important part. You can have a scene that is just action, and we are supposed to convey emotion that way. I will say that sex doesn’t have a lot of variety once you get into the thick of it, so dwelling overly long isn’t necessary and can in fact get fairly boring, so emphasizing other things – the foreplay, the climax, the emotion – can serve you well. This is tied to tone as well.

Speaking of emotion. This is an enormous part of sex. Intimacy is relevant and even if your characters don’t know each other, how is the act of having sex effecting them? Do they feel numb, do they feel dejected, ashamed (afterwards), do they want to come and get over it and how does that make them feel? What are they thinking – are they worrying about anything? Are their expectations not being met? Emotion is an enormous tool and a window into your character.

I mentioned that sex is sort of monotonous and there’s only so many ways you can describe in and out. This is an aspect of pacing, and that’s important – how long should your scene be? Will you spend 9/10ths on the foreplay and leadup and then a few lines? How long is the sex taking in real time – is it fast and quick, multiple sessions, or are they taking their time? Consider the pacing of the scene in terms of your story, too. One way you can shift gears and change the pace is with something unexpected happening, like a momentary interruption like a lamp getting knocked over, and after the characters pause, something can change.

Reacharounds: final considerations

How realistic do you need to be? It depends on what you want. Is it supposed to titilate and is pure porn, there’s some slack there, you can have large moneyshots and simultaneous climaxes. If you are trying to portray real life, with all its foibles and such, then not only is tossing mistakes/interruptions and the like appropriate, you should try to avoid the above. There is certainly a range – I once said to a well-regarded author in this fandom that writes lots of gay stories, “I notice lube doesn’t come up in a lot of gay sex stories, not even to make note of its absence.” He shrugged and said sometimes you don’t want to break the flow. That’s utterly unrealistic, but it’s not what he (and I guess his readers) want.

A nice detail I never, ever see: changing positions. This happens with real life sex, but in stories the only time characters ever change their position is if they have another round in the same scene.

You may have a lot of action going on in your scene, so watch that hot as – don’t use “as” too many times for simultaneous actions.

Next time I’ll cover conflict.