Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not Another Sex Scene Part 2

Here are more great tips I picked up from the workshop Not Another Sex Scene presented by Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter at the RWA conference in NY.

When writing a sex scene, you need to decide on the stakes for each character. For example, the hero might gain revenge, solace, reinforcement of self-image, physical release, ownership, etc… But what does he risk losing? Self-respect, control, his heart, freedom, the illusion about his effect on women? Balancing the gains and the risks creates conflict and adds to the scene, so it’s not just about the sex.

More questions to ask:

-Which character has the upper hand?
-Who’s in control?
-Who THINKS he/she’s in control?
-Is there confusion?
-Does she think he loves her now? (Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. How she reacts to her expectation will create conflict.)
-Does he feel pressured to commit after they were so intimate? (Maybe she’s pressuring him to commit or maybe he’s making that assumption. Both scenarios can create conflict.)
-How has their relationship changed now that they’ve had sex? (And it needs to change.)
-Did this scene resolve an issue? For example, they now know they’re sexually compatible. If having sex resolved one issue, another one must take its place to keep conflict in the story.

Are you catching on to the theme of this post? Even sex scenes must create conflict in your story.

How do you handle your sex scenes? Look at the questions above. Do you consider any of these when you create your sex scenes? Have you created a balance between risk and gain?

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. BAH! FAVORITE! Going to read part 1 now. These are fantastic questions to consider! Love it! Mind if I print this? :D

  2. Christine: Glad you liked the post. Yes, you can print it. Thanks for asking.

    Lynnette Labelle

  3. Oh yeah; I consider quite a few of those questions in writing sex scenes. I think sex adds to the conflict between characters, and even the act of sex should have conflict, consequences.

    I know what I like to read in a novel with sex, so I try to write it as if I'm the one that will read it. A well written sex scene can make the difference between reading on and putting the book down.

    For me, anyway.

    I'm looking forward to the class too Lynette :)

  4. Donna: You're right. A sex scene that's not done well often leads readers to skim or put the book down. Considering what we like about the sex scenes we've read is a good way to detemine if the sex scenes we write are doing their job.

    See you in class. :)

    Lynnette Labelle