What Makes a Sex Scene Sizzle?

We've all read them — oh, those scenes that make us breathless. How does a writer do that? While there are many techniques that can help achieve the writing of a really hot love scene, generally what makes these scenes work is the same thing that makes every other scene work in a romance novel. Namely, characterization.

Make sure that your characters remain true to their personalities while making love. Passion will and should expose your characters' deepest secrets, and hidden personality traits, but it should always be believable. Find ways to make the scenes about the characters and not just about the sex.

A good writer manages to pull you into the story by making you care about the characters. You feel what the characters' feel, you want what they want, and you care about what they care about. So when these characters are in the tantalizing experience of passion, you are there with them.

When writing your love scenes, never allow the scene to be clinical. Readers know what happens during sex, they want to know what happens when these two individuals come together. Make sure the love scenes are as unique as your characters.

The Senses

Incorporating the sense of smell, taste, touch, sight, and hearing is what brings any scene alive for the readers. From the feel of the heroine's hair sweeping across the hero's chest, to the sound of the hero's heart beating, the senses are what make the scene real for the readers.

Anticipation

The success of a love scene will also rely on the anticipation of the characters and the readers. Have you added enough sexual tension so that when this moment arrives, the characters and your readers are totally hooked and ready?

When in doubt, take the slow approach. Don't be in a hurry to get to the sex scene. Part of the fun of these scenes is the anticipation. Tease and seduce the reader just as your characters do to each other during the song and dance that leads to the mating ritual.

Many authors include what they call the “almost scene” before writing the actual sex scenes. This is when the hero and heroine almost make love but stop because of external forces or just plain cold feet. If your sex scenes aren't as hot as you'd like, try writing an almost scene earlier, teasing the characters and readers a little more before things really heat up.

Tension

The need for conflict in each scene holds true even in love scenes. Refer back to your favorite books and check out their love scenes to see what types of conflict can exist during sex. Below are some common things that may cause tension during a love scene:

  • One, or both characters, have doubts about the wisdom of allowing the relationship to progress to the new level

  • Fear that one will not perform up to the expectations of the lover

  • Insecurities about one's appearance

  • Fear of being caught

  • Fear of where the sex might lead emotionally

  • Fear of losing control to passion

  • Fear of intimacy

While external conflict can be used in sex scenes — for example, someone/something interrupts the couple or the setting isn't conducive for lovemaking — the best conflict will be internally motivated. Look deep into the character's internal issues to discover what problem might naturally arise during these intense and private moments.

While new writers often find it difficult to get into deep point of view during a sex scene, these scenes are where point of view needs to be the strongest. For a reader to fully experience the romance, they must understand how the ultimate intimacy has bonded these two people.

Emotion

Of all our body parts, the most important erogenous zone is the head, which is closely followed by the heart. What a character is feeling and experiencing is much more important than what is actually happening. The hottest scenes are those written with an abundance of emotion.

To pull in emotion, work on language, not only on your prose, but the words spoken between these two people. Also, make sure you focus not only on the physical pleasure but the emotional sensation of giving yourself to another person. Make sure you include how it feels to be touched and held, but don't exclude what it feels like to touch or to hold.

  1. Home
  2. Writing a Romance Novel
  3. Sex Scenes and Sexual Tension
  4. What Makes a Sex Scene Sizzle?
Visit other About.com sites: