Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Another Sex Scene by Kelly Hunter and Anne Gracie

While I was at the RWA conference, I attended a workshop called Not Another Sex Scene. The speakers, Kelly Hunter and Anne Gracie, did a fantastic job.

Here are some of their tips:

-Build anticipation before the sex scene so the sexual tension is so intense, the sex scene will be a release (no pun intended).

-Don’t forget to use as many senses as possible. What does the hero smell like? Does his skin taste salty or sweet? Does he moan or does his breathing quicken and become heavy?

-It’s not all about the sexual act itself, it’s also about the emotions, especially for the woman. She may experience these feelings during their “adventure” together and will either be conscious of them at the moment or the feelings will really hit her afterwards.

-Before you write the scene, decide what type of sex scene you’re going to write and label it. This will help keep you on track for the audience you’re targeting. For example, hot & heavy – fly by night, I’m mad at you sex, first time together, almost sex, disaster, etc… Expectations for each of these types of scenes will be different, so knowing ahead of time what you’re going to write will help ensure you stick to those expectations.

-If the sex scene happens early in the book, the focus should be more about the physical act and sensations. If the scene is later in the book, the characters have had a chance to bond, so the scene will be more about the emotional connection and less about the actual act.

-Lock your editor in the closet (unless I’m your editor). Allow yourself the freedom to write the scene the way your gut tells you to write it. Edit later.

-Whose POV should you use? Who has the most to lose or the most to hide? Use their POV.

-Ask yourself how much you want to reveal about the character’s inner thoughts. Change POV if your character wants to hold something back so we don’t see what he/she’s thinking.

-Watch for moving body parts. For example, you shouldn’t write, “Her hand stroked his cheek.” You should write, “She stroked his cheek.” Keep the character, not the body part, as the subject in the sentence.

-Make sure the tone of the scene goes with the tone of the story. Remember the setting affects the tone of the scene, too.

-Avoid clich├ęs like having it rain or thunder.

See? I told you Kelly Hunter and Anne Gracie did a fantastic job with this workshop. I’ll share more about what they said in another post.

What are your tricks for writing sex scenes?

Lynnette Labelle

In case you missed it, I'm teaching Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to Hook Readers and Reel Them In. Click the link for more information about this online class.


  1. Excellent tips. I try to focus on the emotions rather than the act. In fact, I pretty much skip the act.

  2. Those are great tips. I always make sure to touch on all the senses and how the protagonist is feeling. Emotions can roller coaster during some scenes. Some people say sex scenes are unnecessary, but they can be intense and breakthrough moments. They can help build your characters unlike any other way.

  3. L. Diane Wolfe: LOL Whatever works.

    Christine: The trick is to make the sex scene do more than just show two people having sex. Sounds like you're on the right track.

    Lynnette Labelle

  4. This is some really good information. I am marking this for future reference. Thanks for the post.

  5. Wow, thanks for the lesson Lynette. My women's fic trilogy involves sex scenes. I don't want to call them "love scenes" even though that's what they are, becaue they are not the closed door type scenes (ie clothes drop, there are sensual touches, then the enter the bedroom tomake love and the scene ends).

    But, all my sex scenes are sensual. Yeah, there is sex, but there is the emotional attachment. Of course, I write third person limited from the female POV, but I think I could write the same scene from his pov too, and it be as sensual. Sound arrogant? Well, I've tried it, to get all the sensations and body parts in the right position at the right moment.

    I get so disappointed when someone wants to read my book b/c I write out the sex scene. They think sex and porno are the same thing . .

    I'm sending you an e-mail cuz I want to take your class in September. I've enjoyed your blog, your voice, and your advice; and I'm warning you in case my email gets put into spam. There wasn't a lot of info on the class on the link.

    Please look for my e-mail and send me all the details.



  6. Regina: Glad you liked the post. There'll be more tomorrow.

    Donna: *waves* I haven't seen you on here for a while. I responded to your email before I saw your post. :) Looking forward to reading some of your work.

    See you in class!

    Lynnette Labelle

  7. "watch for moving body parts" was the best advice here. These are very helpful posts.