Archive for 'be a sex-writing strumpet'

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
A Giftie for You!

Which I hope you’ll like, though honestly it’s not a big deal or anything. I feel kind of silly saying it’s a gift, like “Oh look, I’m so great my mere words are presents to humanity,” or something, but I wanted to do something for you guys and this is what I came up with.

Back in October, if you recall (or if you don’t) I did a guest blog on the Paranormal Haven blog. And rather than do a “This is why I like Halloween,” I wrote a very short little story about the beginning of Haunted Week. Of course, not too long after I wrote it I thought of a new, better ending for it, so I’d always meant to change it.

Anyway, last night I got a little bee in my bonnet about it. I expanded the story and gave it a new ending (it’s about 2300 words now, so still very short). Then I went to stock.xchng and grabbed a free image, took it to Picnik, and made a cover, of which I’m hugely proud, to be honest. Check it out:

Isn’t that cool? I know it’s rude to brag, but considering how challenged I am in the visual arts–seriously, I’m not good at them–I’m totally impressed with myself.

So. I tried to load it to Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook, but neither of them would allow me to offer it for free, and there was no way I was going to charge. For a present? Nonononono. Besides, it’s only 2300 words! Even 99 cents is too much to pay for that.

So I loaded it onto the site, on the Books page (it’s near the bottom, under “Other Titles”) as a PDF. You can download it there or here: The Brave Tale of Maddie Carver (4266)

I also put it up on Smashwords, which took hours. I mean, I got it up very quickly (heh heh, that’s what she said) but it took hours for Smashwords to get it converted. You can get it here, though.

Then I popped over to Scribd to offer it there, too.

(Incidentally, I also made a new cover for BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET, which I’m also pleased with; that’s on Scribd as well, and will be on the Nook, and I’ve changed the cover file in the Kindle store.)

So there you go, a free story for you. Merry Holidays! Thank you so much for everything!

Also, I’ve just discovered we have some more award nominations! Paranormal Haven is doing its Best of 2010, and if you click the Vote Now link it will take you to the actual voting, where Chess is nominated for Favorite Kick-Ass Heroine and the Downside series is nominated for Favorite New Series. So if you feel like voting, do! Heck, vote whether it’s for Chess and the Downside series or not; Paranormal Haven is a great blog, and you should take a look at it/participate! Voting ends tonight!

And of course, there are still the Goodreads Awards! Best Paranormal Fantasy and Best Goodreads Author.

…so I think that’s it for today! Enjoy the short, everyone, and of course feel free to let me know what you think!

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
…and still more stuff!

Well! Last night (or actually early this morning) I sent Frauke at Croco Designs, the lady who designed this fabulous site and still does the more complicated updates for me (which is most of them, frankly), a very very long list of updates. Included in those are a bunch of interview links, and bunch of guest blog links (mostly about different aspects of the Downside books), some new sidebar links, the Downside playlists with buy links, and a bunch of other stuff. I also sent her a separate file with four or five deleted scenes from UNHOLY MAGIC, with commentary explaining why they were deleted. I don’t actually have any deleted scenes for UNHOLY GHOSTS, to be honest, but there are a few for CITY OF GHOSTS as well, and those will go up a couple of weeks after that book’s release. Which is Tuesday! Ack!

(One thing about the deleted scenes that I think will be really fun: I wrote a scene for UM that ended up getting cut. But I really really liked the scene, so I rewrote a little bit of it–the intro part, basically–and stuck it in CITY OF GHOSTS. But as I edited CoG, I decided the scene still didn’t work as written, so I rewrote it again, extensively this time. So there will be a few versions of that scene, and you’ll be able to compare them all, if you’re the type of person who enjoys stuff like that.)

So look for all of that soon. I’m really excited about it.

Another thing I’m quite excited about is the fact that my blog series “Be a Sex-writing Strumpet,” with which I know some of you are familiar, is now available on Kindle! So you can buy a paperback from Lulu, or an ebook from Lulu, or a Kindle version from Amazon. And of course, as always, the series is free here on the blog; just click the “be a sex-writing strumpet” tag in the sidebar.

I offer the series as an actual book because I had a lot of requests to do so, and I charge for it in those formats because people convinced me to do so by saying they wanted to pay me something for it, but you absolutely do not have to buy the book to read and enjoy the series. You don’t and you never will have to. I wrote it as a blog series, and it will remain a blog series. The book formats are just there to make it easier for people if they like, and so they don’t have to keep clicking all over my blog if they want to read it. I still get website hits for that series almost every day, which just stuns me; if you type “be a se” into google the second auto-finish term it offers is “be a sex-writing strumpet.” It’s just insane, it really is. I never imagined when I wrote it that people would enjoy it so much and find it so useful, and that’s amazingly gratifying. Also, having it on Amazon offers people a chance to write a review for it, which would be fantastic; it’d be really cool to see some feedback on it after all this time! And of course you could all review all of my books if you want, heh.

Also exciting to me is the Name a Character Contest! I’m thrilled at how enthusiastic you all are! Thank you so much! I did want to let you know that I am checking the #cityofghosts tag on Twitter regularly, and keeping track of the entries there, as well as the emails and blog post links I’m getting. If at any time you want to double-check the number of entries you have, feel free to email either the Downside Army email address or me, or use the contact form here on the site (which of course also comes to me). Make sure you include your Twitter name, if you have one, or whatever other information I might need to identify you.

Tomorrow evening sometime I plan to post a new snippety excerpt from CITY OF GHOSTS, so be on the lookout for that!

I know I say this a lot, and you guys are probably tired of hearing it, but I really honestly am amazed by how enthusiastic the response has been to the series. I never expected it, I really didn’t, and it’s absolutely amazing. I can’t thank you all enough.

So let’s see, what else? I’m going to be popping down to the RWA convention in Orlando next week for a couple of days. I know, I know, it’s RWA, but I’m not actually registering/paying for the convention, I’m just hanging out in the bar, really. I’d decided–and basically committed to–doing so when it was supposed to be in Nashville, which is only like two hours away. Of course, tragic floods intervened, and now it’s in Orlando which is considerably farther, but like I said, I’d already committed. And it’s not a bad drive. I like driving by myself. I mean, I like to drive, period, but I especially like driving by myself. I can turn the music up loud and sing along, I can flip through the radio stations all I want, stop or don’t stop as I please…whee! I’m almost more excited about the drive than the con itself, much like I was when I drove to Massachusetts to see Caitlin before we went to RT. Of course, I was excited about the convention, but that really was an awfully fun drive.

Anyway, I think this post is unfortunately a bit dull. Too much news and stuff to keep track of. I’ll try to be more fun again shortly. For now my head is so full of nervousness (over CoG’s release; what if you all hate it? What if nobody buys it?), projects I’m working on (loosely mentally plotting the 4th Downside book, and lots of stuff for the new WIP/series I’m working on), netbooks (hee, I am totally getting one asap!), our trip to Florida to see my BFF next month–we’ll be there for my birthday–and of course the usual family things. So forgive me, please. I’ll be more interesting next time. Anything you want me to blog about? Feel free to ask!

Oh! And speaking of questions, I wanted to let everyone know that this Saturday the 24th at three pm, I’ll be participating in Twitter’s first #UFChat! You can find a bit more info about it here. Either way, come and hang out, follow the hash tag, and please ask any questions you want, as many as you want! I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot of fun (and, you know, that people actually participate).

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
And now for something…

Yeah, you can probably finish that sentence.

We’re not done discussing writer/reader relationships, I don’t think, but for today there’s some other stuff to talk about, including something I’m really, really excited about.

First, a couple of links. My pal Mario Acevedo, he of the fun books and incredibly dirty mouth, is doing a contest and chat over at Bitten by Books today, so head on over and enter to win some of his awesome work. And, you know, to taunt him and stuff.

Second, I’m not sure how many of you are aware of This Week’s Amazon Controversy. In a nutshell, this weekend Amazon listed a bunch of very expensive graphic novels at bargain basement prices. The pricing info was picked up by Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool–he’s @BleedingCool on Twitter as well, and you should follow him, especially if you’re the sort of geek who reads comics or has any interest in comics or movies or whatever, or who, oh, dreams about Batman, or who downloaded “Voodoo Child” by the Rogue Traders and plays it in her car and then pretends that she is married to The Master, and then we make the Doctor my sex slave…oh, um, I mean, if you were that sort of geek, which of course I am not. Ha, ha! No, not me! Um. Anyway, Bleeding Cool is a great site.

So Rich picked up the story, and lots of people–including the hubs–flocked to Amazon to order books. (In fact, if you checked the top Amazon sellers on Sunday morning they were all hardcover graphic novels, which was quite cool). Then Amazon started processing some orders, and sending out emails saying that if you ordered more than one copy of a book your duplicate orders were canceled, but they would otherwise honor the price at which you purchased the books. Which is great, right? Except that now they’re just canceling people’s orders altogether, without notifying them, or with a rather short email that basically says, “Yeah, too bad.” So some people got their books at the advertised price, but most are being told Tough Luck. Rich discusses the emails and the reactions of disappointed readers here.

BUT. Here’s the big news, which I really hope you guys will be excited about. I’m sure many of you know who James D. Macdonald is, and how much he’s done for writers everywhere. And, if you haven’t read any of his books you totally need to.

Anyway. Jim periodically looks into self-publishing methods, to help out writers who choose to go that route for whatever reason. A few weeks ago he asked if anyone had anything they wanted made into a book, and, since I’d been planning/attempting for ages to put the Strumpet series together and set it up as a book, I offered it to him. I wrote a new little intro, and he wrote some back-cover copy for me, and there you go.

Long(ish) story short, the Strumpet series is now available on Lulu as a paperback (mmp size) and as an ebook!

So for all of you who’ve asked me to do this, there you go. Have fun!

(Note: Yes, the series is still available on the blog here, and will continue to be. You do not need to buy the ebook or paperback to still access the series; I wrote it as a free blog series and it will remain so. This is just for those of you who wanted it to download all as one document for easy navigation, or so you don’t have to keep visiting my site to read it, or who like having a paperback, or whatever. Also, no, it is not available on Amazon or as a Kindle download; in the interests of keeping costs down we opted not to buy an ISBN, which means it won’t be listed in those places.)

So that’s it for today. We’re rather content-light, but given how Very Serious we were last week, and given how excited I am to finally have the Strumpet series out there in book form (It’s Alf! He’s back. In pog form), and given that I’m up to my knees in a new project…well. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the week.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet: Afterglow

***Insert generic disclaimer***

And so…we come to the end

Technically this is part 25. If you add in the crits, it’s part 31. Can you believe it? We’ve been discussing sex scenes for nine weeks. The series is over 40,000 words. And I still haven’t covered everything, not in the sort of detail I’d like.

For instance, I forgot to warn you of the dangers of the word “felt” and how it removes the reader from the action instead of placing them in the thick of it (as it were). When you say “She felt his hands move up her back” or “He felt how smooth her skin was” you’re telling, not showing; you’re pushing the reader away from those feelings. How much better it is to say simply “His hands slid up her back” or “Her skin awed him, so smooth and soft beneath his fingers.” The only time you’d use felt is when you have no choice, or when you say being in his arms made her feel safe, or something along those lines.

I ran out of time before I could get heavily into the mechanics of ménage scenes. I could probably do another several thousand words on inserting emotion into your scenes, on using them to build character. I haven’t shown you all of my examples. I didn’t get into BDSM at all, and I had plans for that one—I still may do it, because I have a friend who is a lifestyle submissive and she’d agreed to do an interview for me. So look for that one, because I feel I’ve cheated her and you by not getting to it.

But for the moment, anyway, we’re done. There are bits and pieces I’ve left out, sure. But I’m also conscious of the dangers of overexplaining things, of becoming redundant and boring. And to be honest, that worries me the most. I started the series because I thought it would be fun for me to do, but also because I thought I had something new to say on the subject, or at least, I have a different way to say it. To that end I’ve tried to keep the series fun; I’ve tried to work at least one good joke into every installment, to make it so even if you’re not a writer, or you don’t write sex in your books (which, shame on you! Ha ha) you might have still enjoyed reading these. I wanted to encourage people who are nervous about or uncomfortable with writing sex scenes that it’s fun, it’s something you really can do. It’s just sex, guys. It’s 100% risk-free sex, too; no actual bodily fluids are involved, at least not on the page (for me anyway; if you get actual bodily fluids on your pages, that is of course entirely your business. Freak.)

And most of all, that there is nothing dirty about writing sex. That a writer’s job is to tell the truth, and that the fact is, the deepest truths of our characters can be found when they are naked, when they are at their most vulnerable both physically and emotionally, when they let their guards down and just interact. Not every book requires a sex scene, of course, but there’s no reason to shy away from them if yours does.

Let’s put it this way. Perhaps I’m the only woman in the world who felt like this, but when I told my father that the hubs and I were expecting our first child, as much as I was excited and proud and all of that, I have to admit to one brief, fleeting moment of nervousness: He knows I’ve had sex! He’s my Dad, and he knows I’m not a virgin anymore! (The fact that at the time of my marriage I was twenty-six years old and had lived with a previous boyfriend for two years meant nothing; I think he and I both pretended the ex and I slept in separate beds.)(Ooh, that reminds me of a funny story, which further illustrates the point. Annette Funicello, Disney’s first squeaky-clean teen, said once in an interview that she often had people come up to her in public and say things like, “Annette, I can’t believe you’re smoking! I can’t believe you’re drinking!” Her response? “Well, I have three kids, so guess what else I do.” Which, awesome. Anyway.) So I was nervous about this, and actually had occasion one night, when we’d both had a few drinks, to mention it. And he just kind of shrugged and smiled and made some comment about how he’d thought I was artificially inseminated and where was that husband of mine so he could kill him for soiling his precious little girl. And that was what happened to my first husband. No, of course I’m joking! Nobody threw any bodies into the Everglades, of course not! Actually, he did think it was funny that I would even think that, and basically said, “Well, you’re married; it’s different when you’re married.”

And it’s the same with books. It’s different when you’re writing books (whether you’re married or not doesn’t matter, it’s just an analogy). It’s not you. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If people are reading your books, and wondering if it’s a true-to-life encounter you’re describing, that’s their dirty-minded, inappropriately nosy little problem, just like people who wonder whether or not a bride “had the right to wear white”. Only the nastiest sort of person would think this way; polite people don’t speculate on such matters, which are none of their business (no, I will never stop working etiquette lessons into my blog posts. It makes me happy. Give me a break).

Anyway, we’re done here. And I’d love it if you guys could do me a favor. If you could comment to this one, I’d really appreciate it. Tell me what you liked best. Tell me if it helped you. Tell me if there was something I didn’t cover enough, something you wished I’d cover but didn’t. What was your favorite part, what helped you the most? What did you learn about your scenes and the way you write them, if anything? If you’re one of the people who submitted a scene for crit, did the crit help you? How? Do any of you look at writing sex scenes differently now? Do you feel more confident? Did you do any of the exercises, and if so did you find them helpful?

I’d really love the feedback. I do hope/plan to expand the series at some point and either offer it as a free download on my website or possibly find an actual publisher for it; either way, your suggestions and feedback will help me enormously when it comes time to revise it.

So thank you all so much for hanging out with me here for the last few months and playing along. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have.

Friday I’m posting a revised version of one of the critted scenes; the author sent it to me and I decided to pop it up so everyone can see the difference. Like a little exclamation point at the end.

Monday I resume regular blogging; more rambling about me and my opinions and what’s happening with me and all that fun stuff. I hope those of you who friended me or bookmarked me just for the series will stick around; we usually have a pretty good time here, I think.

Big hugs to all of you.

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 24

***Insert generic disclaimer***

Why isn’t it working?

So you sit down to write your sex scene. You’re confident. You’ve been reading my little lessons and thinking about what they mean to you, what you agree with or don’t agree with, how they inspire or don’t inspire you, whatever. (Remember, the point of the series wasn’t to make you write a sex scene the way I do; it was to inspire you to dig into yourself and think about what you want your sex scenes to say, what you think is sexy, how you like to write them and what you like about them.)

So you’ve got Bob and Jane kissing in the bedroom. They’re getting pretty passionate. The time is right; you start taking their clothes off. Woo-hoo! Bob slide his hand over Jane’s bottom; Jane moans; they fall to the bed, and…

The scene dies.


Why isn’t it working? You’ve got emotion in there, you’ve got some hot trigger words, you’re all excited, but the words are flat. It’s awkward. Rather than thrusting smoothly into Jane, you keep picturing Bob losing his erection. Or the doorbell ringing and it’s Bob’s long-lost wife with a shotgun. Or Jane suddenly really has to pee. The heat, the urgency, just isn’t there, and Bob and Jane feel like cardboard cut-outs pressing their sexless forms against each other, rather than two fully-fleshed people being intimate with each other.

Calm down. This happens to all of us at one point or another. (Relax, it happens to other guys too.) And it’s absolutely fixable.

First, are you sure you’re in the right mood? I’m not generally an advocate of the “You have to be in the mood/have the right atmosphere to write” shit, not at all. In my mind, if you can’t sit down and put decent words on paper no matter what when you have to, you still have work to do before you can call yourself a writer.

But sex scenes are a bit different, they are. Another erotic writer (unfortunately I can’t recall who) once said that if your panties aren’t wet when you’re writing a sex scene, you’re doing it wrong (substitute the appropriate corresponding metaphor for men). You should be at least somewhat aroused; you should be into the scene. The scene should turn you on. So if you’re mad at everyone in the world and the kids are running around screaming (and kids are the one thing that will distract me while writing a sex scene; it’s difficult to write enthusiastically about cocks when my little princesses are trying to get my attention to sing a Barbie song for me) maybe it’s best to hold off on the sex scene. It’s the one and only time I give myself permission to wait a few hours, or until the next day.

So that’s a possibility, if the scene isn’t working. Try getting yourself more in the mood. Have a glass of wine. Put some sexy music on the iPod. Watch a hot movie, maybe, or read a hot book, or, well, whatever gets you in the mood, up to and including actual physical action.

In my experience, I think a good 75% of the problem is lack of chemistry. Remember, the time to write a sex scene is when your characters cannot wait any longer. If you’re feeling tepid, if they’re feeling tepid, it’s not going to work.

An example: My sex scene in Personal Demons just was not coming off right. Because I’d gotten horribly stuck, for two weeks, I’d skipped the entire aftermath of what happened in the park and gone directly to the ball; the kitchen kiss wasn’t in there. Perhaps I felt a little disconnected from Megan and Greyson, too, but to me they just didn’t feel quite desperate enough yet.

So I went back, and wrote the kitchen kiss. In their first kiss, they stopped themselves; basically ignored that it had happened, and moved on. But the kitchen… I think (hope) it’s fairly clear that had Tera not walked in, that would have gone a lot further. They were completely carried away. They didn’t want to stop (and I didn’t either; I had to make them and myself quit writing, and that’s where you want to be. Again, the time to write a sex scene is when it’s too hard not to write it; the action simply flows, and you have to force yourself to stop it). And it was from that moment that Greyson’s behaviour grew more possessive, or rather, that he started behaving as though sex was a foregone conclusion (“When I’m in your bed,” etc.), and although Megan wasn’t as bold as he was, she sure didn’t argue.

The kitchen kiss did, for me (and again hopefully for the readers) what I needed it to do; it amped the chemistry, it put them in a position where they were actively seeking physical satisfaction from each other. Once that was in place, the sex scene flowed; it remains one of my absolute favorite sex scenes I’ve ever written.

It doesn’t have to be a kissing or foreplay scene, though. I’ve gone back and added more dialogue, a touch, a look, a thought. Anything, to put sex a little more firmly in the characters’s minds and make them spark. A little shared joke, an inadvertent compliment, anything.

So if the scene isn’t working, that’s the second thing to try. Go back and reread all the interaction between those characters. Is it everything it should be? Perhaps it is, but you’ve simply fallen out of the swing of it. Rereading may help you get back into it. Maybe you need to write another kissing scene; maybe it doesn’t need to go into the book (I can’t imagine why, but it’s worth a try, if you really think you have all you can use.)

Okay, so it’s neither of those things. Are you simply uncomfortable with writing sex? This is where some of the exercises we’ve done come in. Remember when you wrote a dialogue scene where the characters expressed their feelings, then translated that to action? Dig that scene you wrote out, or write a new one. That’s your roadmap for this scene; use it!

That “roadmap” will also be helpful if your problem is that the characters aren’t behaving the way those characters would. A hard-boiled cop hero may get mushy, but he probably won’t be entirely comfortable with it; are you giving him dialogue that doesn’t fit him? A woman afraid of being vulnerable isn’t going to react the same way as a woman who’s never been hurt, are you making sure we see her fear?

Try changing the location, too. Nothing says they have to be in bed. Maybe they’re so desperate they do it on the couch. Or in the car. Maybe they’re in bed but instead of him on top, she gets on top. Or they fall on the floor. Don’t be afraid to mix things up; it may unlock the problem and save the scene.

And if all else fails, remember you can always rewrite it. You can always fix it in edits, that’s what they’re for!

A sex scene is a microcosm of the entire relationship. It is the biggest and best opportunity you have to SHOW, not tell the readers what these people feel for each other, how they feel about themselves, and what makes their relationship works. Don’t be afraid of it; embrace it, let yourself go crazy with it. You’ll feel good about it and your readers will love it.

So here’s some final assignments. Go back and reread everything you’ve done so far (if you’ve kept them.) Can you tell which scene was written for which lesson?

Merge all those scenes together, taking a line from one, a line from another, a bit here and there. Reread your new scene. What do you think of it? How does it work for you?

Go to the bookstore and buy a book that interests you, one where you know there will be a sex scene (or grab a book from your TBR pile). Now read the sex scene, and only the sex scene. Make some notes. What does the sex scene show you about the characters, their relationship, the story itself? Who is the dominant one? Are they reckless go-getters, or are they more cautious? Are they in love or do they just really like/want each other? Record every impression you have.

Now read the book. Were you right?

This is our last installment, sort of. Next week we start doing the scene crits; I’d love to see a lot of comments participation for that one!

But what I’d like to do now is open up to questions. Is there anything you think I didn’t cover? Anything you want to know more about? Anything you didn’t quite get? Anything at all. Please ask away. If I get some good questions I’ll post them with answers on Friday. If nobody asks me anything, aside from looking like a big loser, I’ll take Friday off.

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Monday, September 1st, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 23

***Insert generic disclaimer***

When it’s not supposed to be sexy

What I should have done here is asked Mark Henry to do a guest post on this. I didn’t though, so you’re stuck with me, flying by the seat of my pants. I’m warning you in advance; I’m not at all pleased with this one, so I’m sorry.

I’ve never really written a sex scene that wasn’t supposed to be sexy. I have thought about it though. And I admit, there have been times where the evil little imp in me takes over and, in the middle of hot foreplay, I’ve been tempted to write some premature ejaculation in there, or a woman’s frustration at not being able to reach orgasm, or a dog bite, or whatever. I’ve resisted the urges, but it is tempting.

The way I see it, there are two type of funny or unsexy sex scenes. There’s the always-funny kind, meaning the whole thing is a joke from start to finish; and the gotcha kind, with a surprise humorous ending.

I believe there’s a trick with Gotchas, and I believe the info in the rest of the series will help you. (Actually I believe the info in the rest of the series will help you write both.) The trick with a Gotcha is, the hotter the foreplay, the stronger the chemistry, the funnier the gotcha will be.

Here’s a snippet from a sex scene in As the Lady Wishes. I’ve rewritten it a tad to include a Gotcha:

“I do. I am. I can barely keep from pushing you back on that bed and driving my cock between your legs, regardless of what you have to say about it,” he said through gritted teeth, his eyes wandering to her slightly spread legs with a need that shook her to her core.
“Then don’t keep yourself.” Lila spread her legs just a little wider, a thrill of desire pounding through her bloodstream as she revealed her slick center to his hungry gaze. “That’s what I have to say about it.”
With a sound of surrender, Arthur was suddenly on top of her, his hot, powerful body pressing her into the bed. His mouth found her lips hungrily, this kiss different than any they’d shared so far. His movements were more demanding, forcing her to abandon herself to the strokes of his tongue, the bruising caress of his lips. Lila squirmed beneath him, her legs dangling off the edge of the bed, knowing she should be intimidated by the force of his need. His control was obviously slipping away, but the increasing rawness of his possession thrilled her. She found herself reveling in the sensation, intoxicated by the knowledge that she was driving him into this frenzy of desire.
“We have to slow down.” He pulled back from her lips with obvious effort.
“I don’t want to slow down, I want you inside me.” Lila lifted her hips into his, snuggling his cock against her clit and moaning at how wild the feeling made her.
“No, we have to—aaaah!”
His body shuddered above hers, great violent jerks that shook the bed. Hot, sticky liquid spilled over her stomach, her thighs.
She looked up. His face was red, his eyes downcast. “Arthur?”
“Oh, damn…shit, Lila, I’m sorry, I—I was hoping that wouldn’t happen again, I thought the medication would help, I—I’ll get you a towel.”
“It’s—” she started to say, but he was gone, scampering out of the room before she had a chance to get the word out.
Lila fell back on the bed, waiting for her breath to return. Great. She hadn’t been with a man in so long, and now she’d found a heart-pounding stud who couldn’t keep it up long enough to finish the job.
She really was in hell.

Now, I know it’s not uproariously funny—and you men are probably sniffing right about now that there’s nothing funny about premature ejaculation, ever—but you see the point. The bigger the build-up, the harder the fall (that snippet is actually from about the third page of foreplay between these two.)

And it might not be premature ejaculation, either. Perhaps it could be something like this:

“Do you want me to take everything off, Cecelia?” His voice was still low, teasing her, enticing her with the promise of what he would do to her when he removed his pants.
She nodded, unable to look him in the eye. She knew that if he looked in her eyes he would see how desperately she wanted him, and how vulnerable that would make her.
“I didn’t hear you, Cecelia,” he said. “I asked if you want me to take off all of my clothing. Do you want me to do that?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to speak a little louder,” he said. His hands moved to his belt and removed it, then undid the top button of his pants.
“Yes,” she said, a little louder. God, he was making her beg…and she loved it. It was turning her on in a way she’d never expected, never experienced before in her life.
He didn’t reply, but tugged down his zipper and slipped out of his pants. He wore nothing underneath, she saw the top of a thick patch of dark hair, surrounding… She lifted her upper body from the bed, propped herself up on her elbows. His cock—was that even a cock?
This had to be a joke. She could barely see it. As big around as her pinky finger, not quite as long. She looked up to see him grinning wickedly at her.
“Here I come, Cecelia,” he said. “Are you ready for me?”

Now, either of those would have still been amusing, made their points, without the big build-up. But I think the build-up adds to it, makes it more of a surprise.

Now the other type is harder, at least for me. But again, what you’re aiming for is turning the tropes on their head. It may be funny or just unsexy; how far you want to go is up to you.

Think of those trigger words, all those evocative verbs and nouns. Now substitute things like “bony” for “broad” or “soft” for “hard”. Think of silly things, unsexy things. So instead of this:

Her words were stopped by the warm pressure of his lips on hers.
There was nothing tentative about Daemon or his kiss. He obviously took for granted that she wanted this, despite what she’d said, and she realized he was right as she found herself returning the kiss with equal passion.
Her lips parted and his tongue found hers, teasing her with light strokes, diving in and out of her mouth. She followed it back into the warmth of his mouth, and gasped when he caught it with his teeth, biting just hard enough to send a shiver through her.
He freed her hair from the clasp that contained it at the back of her neck, running his fingers through it, tugging gently. The sensation made shivers down her spine.
She leaned into him, pressing herself against him. Her breasts crushed against his chest, her nipples so hard and tight she was certain he could feel them through the layers of clothing that separated their skin.
As if confirming this, he removed one hand from her hair and brought it down to cup her breast through her shirt, the thick pad of his thumb rubbing across the peak. She gasped against his mouth and shifted position a little to give him better access.
In response he pulled away completely. She started to protest, to reach for him, when he let go of her. His eyes gleamed.
“Tell me again,” he said, his normally cool tones rough with need. “Tell me how you don’t want me.”

We have this:

Her words were stopped by the warm pressure of his lips on hers.
Too much pressure. Her head bent back; she tried to shift her mouth, get a better angle, but his hand in her hair held her fast. Her teeth cut into the delicate skin inside her lips. It hurt, but he wouldn’t let her pull away, his unschooled mouth forcing itself onto hers, his fingers like iron bars digging into her neck. His pelvis moved against hers, fast, like a dog humping her leg, while he pressed what he obviously thought was an impressive erection into her stomach. It felt more like a mini gherkin. She grabbed at his shirt to keep from falling over. That was a mistake. He seemed to take it as encouragement, and pressed even harder, faster, his head unmoving, little throaty growling sounds coming from deep in his throat.
She opened her mouth, desperate for air, but instead of the breath she needed his tongue invaded her, probing like a dentist’s drill. Something wet ran down her chin and trickled down her neck. Was that…spit? Was he slobbering on her?
She tried to push back with her own tongue, only to have his teeth clamp down on it. Tears stung her eyes. That hurt, fuck, what was he doing? Was this some kind of joke?
“Elizabeth,” he moaned. At least he had to release her tongue to do it, but before she could pull away he tugged at the clasp holding her hair. His watchband, heavy silver links, caught; pain shot through her skull as he pulled both the clasp and at least a dozen strands of her long blonde hair off her head. The clasp fell to the glass-topped table behind her with a clank. She cried out, raised her hand to the bald spot.
He dove in for another kiss, licking her chin like it was a fucking ice-cream cone, up over her mouth to her nostrils.
She put her hands on his shoulders, meaning to push him away, but he was too fast for her. His palm covered her right breast and squeezed like it was a bag of sand he needed to test for weight.
The final straw came when he reached around, grabbed her ass, and yanked her toward him. Her forehead smashed into his chin, so hard she saw stars. She heard what she thought was a strangled moan of pain, but when she looked up, his eyes were shining.
“If you think this is good, wait until I get you in bed,” he said.
She sighed. This was going to be a long night.

I know these aren’t the world’s best examples. Like I said, this really isn’t my forte; humor isn’t something that can be taught the way basics can be. But hopefully this gives a basic idea, something else to think about when you’re trying to write an unconventional sex scene.

So here’s the exercises. Go back to one of the published sex scenes you picked for an earlier exercise. Now imagine what would happen if:

1. Premature ejaculation
2. Bed breaks.
3. Someone walks in on them
4. A priest walks in on them
5. One of their mothers walks in on them
6. Dog bite
7. Insect on someone’s chest
8. Unfortunate bodily functions
9. Vaginal dryness
10. Can’t get it up
11. Stuffed bra
12. Stuffed trousers
13. Sneezing fit
14. Small rodent in the bed
15. Pipe bursts in ceiling

Or whatever you like. Rewrite the scene yourself (it’s not plagiarism or copyright infringement, it’s an exercise you’re doing for yourself and not showing it to anyone and all that stuff; use one of your own scenes if you prefer), using that list or anything else you can come up with.

Write your own scene, as silly as you can make it. Don’t worry about realism. Just be funny. Make aliens land. Give the hero a rash. Whatever you want.

Ugh, guys. I’m not at all happy with this particular segment. I’m sorry. Am I allowed one clunker? Maybe one day I’ll come back and redo it.

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 22

***Insert generic disclaimer***

What are you doing to me?

The heat inside her roared like a beast, rising up into her throat and escaping as cry of pure, wanton delight. She’d thought last night she could never experience anything as wonderful as him on top of her, thrusting inside her. Now she knew she could. In this position, his balls thudded softly against her clit with every thrust. She lifted her ass and spread her legs a little more, making it easier for his skin to touch hers.
He was so hot, the thickness of him searing her insides, his pelvis warm against her behind. Slowly he danced out of her, rolling his hips so his cock touched every inch of her walls, then just as slowly crept back in. She rocked her hips against him, circling in the opposite direction, and the tightening of his fingers on her hips told her how much he liked it.
Royd slid one hand up her spine and looked down to watch himself sink into her body and reemerge, slick with her moisture. He would never, could never grow tired of that sight. He leaned back a little, bending his legs further to get a better view. All the while, Prudence’s sighs and gentle moans egged him on, told him what he wanted to hear. Her cunt was tight and hot around him, welcoming him with every thrust. He thought of the way those walls had felt around his tongue the night before and almost exploded. He wanted to taste her again, wanted to feel and explore every inch of her body.

What did you notice about that excerpt? Anything? Anything you want to comment on?

Did you notice the POV switch?

I know conventional wisdom is to never, ever head-hop. And I agree, generally. It doesn’t always bother me but I do notice it, and generally find it too “telly”. It’s not fun if you don’t get to deduce things for yourself. (For example, in one of my books I have the heroine push the hair out of her face, close her eyes, and smile, feeling the breeze on her skin. When she opens her eyes the man she’s with quickly looks away and busies himself with something. Hopefully it’s obvious to the reader that he was watching her, probably open-mouthed with a stupid look of longing on his face [stupid to him, I mean] and that he’s now embarrassed at almost being caught. I could easily have slipped into his POV for that and told the reader he was watching her and thinking she was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen up close, and that she was smart and brave and all that stuff too—or whatever sappy thoughts he was having at the moment—but I don’t think that’s anywhere near as much fun, do you? Or as interesting. I like subtle clues, and I think readers like them too; it makes them feel smart, and I like to make readers feel smart, because it makes them feel engaged, and obviously that’s the main goal, right? I digress.)

So generally, POV switches should have a scene break, or at least a line break (a blank space) between them.

Except for sex scenes. Or rather, except for some sex scenes.

I know, you might not agree with me (ooh, I’m controversial!) But I think, if you’re writing a book from multiple POVs or from both characters’s POVs, you ought to have at least one sex scene where we get to see into both their heads. Generally that One Scene is the big “I love you” sex scene, because it’s such an important moment that frankly I think the reader deserves to see into both people’s heads. I also like to switch at some point during the First Sex scene, and one of the more emotionally charged ones in the middle—angry or frantic sex, say. Any sex scene that represents a huge leap or is emotionally fraught is a good place to let your reader see into both heads.

Like I said I know there are some who won’t agree with me. It’s also very possible your publisher will force you to put a line break in there to signify the switch. Personally I think if you do it right, the reader will hardly even notice; it will feel right and natural to them to see into both characters’s heads, and it’s for that reason I dislike the line break. I think it calls unnecessary attention to the switch and interrupts the flow of the scene. But it isn’t that bad and like I said, I know it’s a necessary evil at some houses, so there you go.

The point isn’t how it should happen, not really. That’s a matter of house style and what your editor wants. It’s a matter of whether it should happen, and why.

Oh, and. Only one POV switch per scene, please. I used to switch back and forth more, but once should really be enough (unless you’re writing a ménage, in which case you may want to dip into all of their POVs—they’re generally longer scenes, so you have some room).

I like the switch, though. I like to show the reader that both characters are feeling the same thing, thinking the same thing. I like the reader to see how significant a moment this is for both characters. It gives the reader a more complete picture.

And it can really amp up the heat level, because, as in the example above, not only are we seeing/feeling what Prue feels, we feel it from Royd’s POV as well. In a different seen we might experience her orgasm with her, then switch so we can experience it with him—and then we get his as well. It can extend a scene and give us more room to play.

There’s another point to the quoted scene, as well, and that’s detail. Detail is an important part of writing a good sex scene. We’ve touched on this quite a few times throughout the series; it’s one of those topics that’s too important to ignore but too big for its own topic, IMO.

Royd doesn’t just pull out and thrust back in. He doesn’t just look down. He looks down to watch himself sink into her body and reemerge, slick with her moisture. We’re giving the reader that image; a feeling and thought to go with the action, especially in the next line when we learn he would never, could never grow tired of that sight. And to drive it home (no pun intended) he lean[s] back a little, bending his legs further to get a better view.

I could have simply said Royd looked down to watch himself fucking her, or whatever. And in a different type of scene that might work. But it’s a little telly, and it’s simply not very detailed.

Details matter. Don’t just tell us or even show us what the characters are doing; show us why, and how they each feel about it. Every action has a reaction, yes, and you want to include that, but every action also has a reason.

Your hero doesn’t just thrust into the heroine, he thrusts into her, feeling her slick, hot walls grasp him. Or tighten around him. Or give under the pressure of his thrust. Your heroine doesn’t just feel him thrust into her, she feels every inch of him sliding against her wet, sensitive skin, feels her body welcome him, feels her tight walls being invaded. Just as Prudence, above feels how hot Royd is, the thickness of him searing her insides, his pelvis warm against her behind. He doesn’t just pull out of her; Slowly he danced out of her, rolling his hips so his cock touched every inch of her walls, then just as slowly crept back in. Later, as Prudence gives Royd a blow job, instead of simply touching herself, her other hand slid[es] down into her panties, onto her incredibly sensitive clit. She moved farther down, slipping a finger into her cunt, drawing her silky moisture out to spread over her aching flesh.

See? They don’t stroke each other; they stroke each other, their palms memorizing the planes and contours of the warm, living flesh beneath them. They don’t just kiss, their mouths dance, their tongues tangle, devouring each other, breathless.

The devil’s in the details. Heh heh.

This weekend’s assignment: First, check your own scenes. Have you used POV switches? How do you feel about them? Do you think they’re in the right place? (I believe there are two places ideally suited for POV switches; one, immediately before or after he enters her, and two, immediately before or after somebody comes.)

Take one scene you’re written solely from one POV, and add a switch (remember, when writing from the male POV, think about what this man would be thinking and what you want any man to be thinking during sex. It’s okay if it’s a little cheesy, this is just practice.) Now rewrite it with the switch in the other direction—if the scene starts with her and ends with him, switch those around. And as always, the POV should be with whichever character has the most to lose emotionally, or will be changed the most. Obviously, if you’re writing a historical and the heroine is losing her virginity, that moment should be hers. If your hero is breaking a vow of celibacy, that moment should be his.

Now, reread that scene, or any of your scenes. Have you described every action fully? Are we getting a complete picture? When he climbs on top of her, for example, is every his bare skin hot against hers, everywhere? Does she feel his erection against her thigh and shiver? Are either of them shocked, amazed, pleased, thrilled, to be so close to each other? How does she see him, when he does it? This sort of thing is especially important for movements that may otherwise be awkward; if you’re not going to brush over it (“he stripped off his clothes”) you need to go into detail (“His fingers couldn’t undo the buttons fast enough for her; she struggled to help him”, that sort of thing.)

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 21

***Insert generic disclaimer***

Sex: It’s not just for bed

Just as we describe every movement in a sex scene—or almost every movement—and just as every movement has its purpose, so does setting. Your characters aren’t just interacting with each other; they’re interacting with what’s around them, even if they’re not actively doing so.

For example, in a bed, sheets may be soft or rough. They may float on top of the mattress or sink into the featherbed. They may fist the sheets, push them out of the way, burrow under them.

All those are pretty elementary, really, because let’s face it. No matter how adventurous we may be, I think it’s a safe bet that the majority of our sexual encounters take place in bed. We’re all familiar with how pillows can be used to prop up bodyparts or bitten to muffle sounds. But what about other places? What do you grab when you’re in a car, say, or up against a wall in an alley?

In Day of the Dead, Santos and Yelina have sex for the first time in a cemetery—on a bench beside his dead love’s mausoleum, to be precise. And there were a few reasons why I chose this setting.

One, because the story is set on the eve of Dia de los Muertos, so I wanted to get as much graveyard imagery in as I could. Two, because by having Santos break his seventy-two years of celibacy by his love’s grave, I could add some guilt and thus emotional intensity and complication to the plot. Three, because I could use it symbolically; death of the old love and birth of a new one (this worked especially well—not to toot my own horn—because I left some ambiguous little hints there that Yelina might be the reincarnation of Esperanza. Just hints, and you can form your own opinion, but I liked that ambiguity and liked the extra depth it added to the story). Four, because it gave me a chance to introduce grave-robbing, and who doesn’t want grave-robbing in their erotic romance? Five, because given the plot and general setting, it was a good place for the characters to run into each other—Santos would naturally go to Esperanza’s grave on such an important holiday, and Yelina might reasonably choose to visit her father’s grave on that night as well. And six, because who doesn’t want to write public sex in a cemetery at night? Seriously, that’s hot.

But the point is, it wouldn’t have been as hot if I’d just stuck Santos and Yelina in a graveyard for no reason. Just like you can’t just stick your characters places for no reason.

We all know agents and editors dislike static settings. Why have endless pages of people sitting around in a living room or kitchen, drinking tea and chatting? (Yes, I know I’m guilty of overusing this in Personal Demons. Shut up.) Why not have that conversation on a rooftop (everything is better on a rooftop, trust me)? Or on a bridge? Or in a speeding car, on a beach, in an opium den, underground, in a dark alley, on a rusty fire escape?

You can’t always do that, of course. In the middle of the night, when the characters are home, it makes no sense that after someone tries to break into their house and they defeat them, that they would then get dressed and put on coats to go find a rainy, rat-filled alley in which to discuss the break-in. But try to find more active settings, and that goes for sex as well.

Off the top of my head, here is a partial list of places where my characters, in all of my books, have had sex. I’m not putting bed in here, but pretty much all of them have had sex in bed at least once. Often more than once, but in different positions etc. So:

Hot tub
Hotel room floor
Bathroom counter
Up against a lightpost on the street
In a public park, hidden behind pine trees
Hot, dusty attic
On a desk in an office
On rocks by a waterfall
Up against a tree
On the beach
In a field
On a front lawn
Poolside chaise lounge
Forest clearing
Bedroom floor
Up against a wall in an alley
Up against a wall in a living room
In a museum
Workout room

I might very well have missed some, but those are the ones I remember. Now look at that list. Think about it. How do you imagine the sex up against the lightpost, on the public street, was different from a scene in bed? How might the hot, dusty attic be different from the forest clearing? The museum from the field? Picture those scenes as you imagine them. What are the difference?

See what I mean? Setting feeds action, and action feeds setting. When you’re planning for your characters to fight and have angry sex, what setting would be best for that? You can have them fight anywhere, right? You don’t have to start a fight in a bedroom just because there’s a bed handy there. How much better to have them fight in a nightclub, which is already hot and too-close in atmosphere, and get so overwrought they end up in the hall, not caring who sees, Maybe they can even get busted for it, and add a huge complication.

Maybe you want them to be tender and romantic. Bed is a good setting for that, but how about the public park? How about putting the tender scene in the nightclub—how will you use the atmosphere differently then? Rather than being so angry they don’t care who sees, they’re so wrapped up in each other it’s like no one else even exists. See?

You don’t need to veer into cliché here. You don’t want to do that. You don’t want all your tender scenes to happen in the forest while the little bunnies watch and the little birdies chirp sweetly, or on a wrought-iron four-poster bed with flowy white sheets and sunshine pouring in. You don’t want angry scenes to always take place during thunderstorms on fire escapes against rusty bars. But you can try those. Even better, mix them up, and let the reader feel the incongruity between action and setting.

And don’t just put them in a setting and forget about it. Just like you feel the bed beneath you or the wall cold against your back, so do they. You don’t want to go overboard with it, of course—the focus needs to be on the sex—but interacting with the setting adds depth and reality to the scene.

For example, from Day of the Dead:

“Yelenita,” he whispered, rolling her clit between his index finger and thumb until she wanted to sob out loud. “Yelenita, mi amor.”
The stone of the bench scraped against her back, but she didn’t care. Didn’t care at all, because her thighs rested in his iron grip and his mouth descended on her pussy. A low, gasping groan escaped his lips, vibrating against her as he sucked her clit into his mouth.
“Santos, oh God, Santos…” The tree branches above her swayed dizzily in the breeze, the night air cooling her fevered skin as she trembled under his talented onslaught. He pulled back, teasing her with his tongue, then slipped one thick finger inside her, twisting it easily in her soaking channel.

So here we have the bench and the trees. I don’t mention the setting again for a page or so, when we’re back in Santos’s POV and he’s looking at Yelina:

And here she was, her smooth curves gleaming in the dappled moonlight coming through the trees above, her body warm and alive and full of promise in his arms, and he trembled as he took off his trousers and cool air swirled around his swollen cock.

But the setting is there; it adds a little flavor to the scene, it grounds the scene in its setting, so Santos and Yelina are people having sex in a place and not bodies floating somewhere. The setting becomes part of the scene, albeit a very small part, and that’s what you want.

Your setting should be part of the scene; it should add to the emotion, heat, and intensity of the scene just like the words your characters say or the way they touch each other. It is a third, minor character in the scene. Don’t neglect it.

I was going to do POV as well but this ended up being longer than I expected. So, here’s the assignment. Take one of your sex scenes and move it to a different setting. It doesn’t have to be sensible; this is just an exercise. But take the scene and remove all references to setting, adding a new one. This time, put the scene in any of the places I listed above.

How does the scene change? Does it at all? How does it feel working that new setting into the scene, does it gain or lose something? Is it more interesting or less?

Make your own list of places you’d like to write sex scenes, and keep it somewhere you’ll be able to find it. Go through some of your unpublished work; how many scenes take place in a bed? How many of those can you change? Even changing the weather outside can make a difference; is it hot and sunny so the sun makes bright golden rectangles on the sheets and caresses their skin like a warm hand? Rainy, so they need to light up the room on their own? Snowy? Does the wind whistle around the corners of the building? Do they hear it over the roaring of blood in their ears or their own gasps and moans?

Think of a setting you’ve seen used particularly well, or not well. What was done right or wrong? What would you do differently?

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Monday, August 25th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 20

***Insert generic disclaimer***

What exactly are they doing?

Eep! Sorry this is late! Today is a bank holiday in the UK—I forgot it was Monday!

Anyway. So we’re basically done with foreplay, but today’s topic is still part of it, and leads into the rest of the week. BTW, I’ve got four topics left to cover so it looks like we’ll be doing the critiques in September, ack!

One of the things I tried to subtly impress upon you in Friday’s post was the importance of descriptive words. Go read it again if you’re not sure what I mean (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) I know we’ve discussed language a few times, in a few different variations, already, so we’ve already touched on this and alluded to it. But I really, strongly feel that the two keys to a hot sex scene are smoking chemistry and evocative language, so you’ll have to put up with me talking about it again.

Because this post isn’t just about evocative words or action words. It’s about description.

In “normal” writing we try to keep description at a certain level. We need it, of course. A book with no descriptions isn’t a book, it’s a script (and even those have a level of description). But we can’t go overboard. Every step someone takes can’t be purposeful, ever touch can’t be gentle, every movement can’t be fluid.

But a sex scene is about emotion and sensation. It’s about building a certain rhythm with your words. Sometimes you need to add words to make that rhythm work; sometimes you need to take them away. But they have to flow, and they have to draw the reader in.

Remember the line I used in Part 5? “Bob set Jane onto the bed and lay down on top of her. Without a word he put his cock into her.”

And we changed it to “Bob threw Jane onto the bed and lunged on top of her. Without a word he thrust his aching cock into her.”
So we added action words, right? (And “aching”, which is description, which is what we’re doing now.)

But it’s still not very good. So let’s add more description—which is almost exactly the same as adding more emotion and sensation—to those two basic sentences. How’s this:

Bob growled low in his throat and threw Jane onto the soft bed. The satin sheets cooled her fevered skin, but she barely had time to feel it before he lunged on top of her. Every inch of his hot, bare skin touched hers, made her sizzle with need.

He didn’t speak. He didn’t need to. Instead he shoved her thigh up, making room for his hips, and in one swift, smooth movement thrust his entire thick length into her slick heat.

Now again, this isn’t great. (I feel bad giving you guys kind of generic crap examples, but there’s a reason for it, which you’ll find out this week or early next. Trust me.) But it’s much better, isn’t it? Because it’s more descriptive. Because it gives us some insight into what Jane is feeling, seeing, thinking. Because we’re describing what’s happening, the act of thrusting is given some weight; it becomes something we can experience along with Jane, not just something we’re being told about.

Your sex scene should be descriptive. Describe everything for the reader. How hard is he? How wet is she? How desperate are they? What does everything feel like, look like, smell like, taste like? If you don’t give the reader this information they won’t be drawn into your scene the way they have to be.

So here is a list of descriptive words. None of these have to do with setting, because we’re going to do setting separately along with POV.

swollen oversensitive/sensitized achingly sensitive (although again, being descriptive doesn’t give you license to be lazy and fill your scene with telly adverbs) slick needy aching desperate hot heated hard weeping velvety waiting shaky/shaking trembling glorious (there’s a whole family of complimentary descriptions—gorgeous, beautiful, etc. etc.—use them!) erect (nipples can be erect too, don’t forget) burning greedy smooth hard turgid tumescent wide thick searing rock-hard iron-hard rampant demanding rigid soaking delicate tender tender folds delicate folds glistening leaking salty musky sweet aggressive raw tight strong heavy tight muscled

That’s not a complete list, by any stretch. But it’s a start, I hope; share yours in the comments if you like!

The point is, nothing in a sex scene should just be done, unless it’s for effect or fits the rhythm. In the little example above, Bob thrusts into Jane with one swift, smooth thrust, because the two sentences before the thrust were fragmentary so we needed something longer for the rhythm. If we’d had a longer sentence, perhaps a line of dialogue, or perhaps he was playing with her ladyparts or she was caught in swirling need or whatever, we could have just said “He thrust into her” and it would have been a great, strong declarative sentence—because it was surrounded by description elsewhere.

A sex scene should be fun to write, and it should be fun to read. Let yourself play with words, pile them on, build towers with them.

And it’s not just about what their bodies feel like. It’s not just about what they’re doing. It’s about how they’re doing it. This goes back to the post about emotion and sensation; remember the two examples? One was pure action and rather dull. The other added characters and all that good stuff and was (hopefully) much more effective.

Don’t have your hero simply put your heroine on the bed. Give him a stronger, manlier action word (“manly” is an okay descriptive word too) and make her feel it. Don’t just tell us he has a big cock; show the reader how the heroine feels about that by describing his big, gorgeous cock, and how thick it is or how threatening or how her mouth suddenly feels dry.

But you’re not just describing body parts, you’re describing actions. Every one of those actions has to have a purpose, and the way you show the reader that purpose is through description. He doesn’t just touch her, he glides his hand over her. He doesn’t just pick her up, he gathers her in his big strong arms. He doesn’t get on top of her, he covers her with his body, he presses his wide, strong chest to hers, he crushes her under his delicious weight, he covers her with his warm living flesh. If he kneels before her, why does he do it? Is he looking at her ladyparts and licking his lips, erotic hunger glowing in his eyes? Is he kissing her thighs, nibbling the tender skin behind her knees (warning: some of us are very sensitive back there and get weirded out when it’s touched. Just FYI.) No movement should be basic. Basic is awkward. Basic is boring.

Action without description is bland, and it’s dangerous in a sex scene. Just as in a real-life sex scene, you don’t want to spoil the mood.

So. Go back to one of those published sex scenes you really like, and get out a sheet of paper or open a Word doc or whatever you like. Read the scene start to finish. Now read it again, this time writing down every descriptive word in the scene. Every adjective. Every adverb. Every strong verb (you can put them in separate columns or lists if you like.)

Do the same with a few other scenes. Hey, if there’s a scene you don’t like, that didn’t touch you in any way, do the same thing for it. Is there more or less description in that scene? What percentage of description seems to work for you—how much is too much (yes there is such a thing as too much! It’s hard to reach but it is possible.)

Now look at your own scenes. How much description do you use? Do you have as many words as the scene you liked? Are there any actions that have no description, and why? Is it for rhythm or is it simply because you didn’t put any description in?

Now write a short new scene, but with a rule: You must use at least two descriptive words for every body part and every action. Don’t worry about repeating them (but try not to if you can avoid it); don’t worry if it sounds right or not. But you cannot put a cock on the page if it isn’t iron-hard and slick with need. You cannot put a cunt on the page if it isn’t weeping and oversensitive. Thrusts must be hard and desperate or gentle and tender, kisses feverish and frantic or slow and deep.

Let it sit for a while and re-read it. Compare it to your other scenes. Is it hotter? Does it work better for you?

You can go back and edit it, take out the words you don’t like—obviously a sex scene where everything has exactly two descriptive words is going to read a bit metronomic. But it’s a start, and hopefully it will make you more comfortable with using description.

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***


What Stace had to say on Friday, August 22nd, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 19

***Insert generic disclaimer***

Foreplay 3: Tips, tricks, and hints

Just as everyone likes different things in bed, everyone is going to like different things in written sex and foreplay. I’ve never made any bones about the fact that certain things just turn me off; I try very hard to keep my sex scenes what I consider classy. Erotic and hot, rather than crude—even when my characters are being crude there are places I don’t go. For example, although there’s nothing inherently wrong with having the hero manually stimulate the heroine and then lick his fingers, it squicks me out a little so I don’t write it (in fact, there is never any evidence on the hero’s face that he has just performed oral sex, because yuck. At least to me. This is what women’s thighs and bellies are for; he can kiss and nuzzle them until he’s nice and clean. Again, some women find the evidence sexy, and I certainly don’t mean and am not implying that they’re crude or disgusting because of it; come on, I find the idea of the hero drinking the heroine’s blood hot, so I’m hardly one to judge. It’s just something I don’t find arousing so I don’t write it. I don’t use phrases like “eat pussy” and I don’t have characters say things like that either. Again, personal taste. No pun intended.)

But just as we drop linguistic hints throughout the book of how hot or “open” the sex scene is going to be, we really do this with foreplay. Once the kissin’ starts, the reader learns exactly what s/he is in for, so make it count.

And what about kissing? We’ve talked so much about talking and cunnilingus and cocks, we’ve barely talked about kissing at all. It’s funny; although kissing is a huge part of a sex scene I never really think of it that way, I guess because my characters have usually kissed at least a couple of times before the sexing starts. But what about those kisses? Are they soft, delicate brushes of the lips, gradually gaining in intensity as each person feels how much the other wants this? Or are they crushing, passionate, bruising? (I know there are people who think things like “bruising kisses” are lame and cliché. But you know what? Things don’t become cliché if people don’t like reading them. I love the bruising, breathless kiss and will never give it up, personally.)

What about touching? Not just touching intimate parts, either (although of course, there’s lots of fun to be had from delving into those wet folds or gently grasping that hot, hard, thick cock already slick with desire). Does the hero bury his hands in the heroine’s hair? Does he stroke her face, her throat? Her ribcage? Does he skim his hands over her breasts, and how does she react—does she grab his wrist to hold it there (which can show she’s comfortable with him and her sexuality and wants more) or does she pull away? Does she have a moment to think how she wishes her breasts were bigger or smaller or prettier, is she that type of girl? Or is she absolutely confident that he finds every bit of her beautiful?

Where are her hands? Does she run them over his board shoulders, or press them against his chest, feeling how different his body is, how hard and manly he is? (Hey, I actually do think stuff like that, and I bet I’m not the only woman in the world who does. We like how different your bodies are, men, we want to emphasize that, just as I’m sure you like how different our bodies are.) Does she feel the heavy muscles of his back under his skin? Slide her hands down to his firm ass (or bottom, or whatever—I rarely use “ass” in a sex scene, I’m not sure why), or over his narrow hips to the front? If he’s hairy does she play with the hair, feel it under her fingers, tickling her sensitive skin like a thousand little electric shocks?

Who undresses whom, and how? In Personal Demons, Greyson—being the little hedonist that he is—takes time to undress Megan slowly; he wants to enjoy every second of it, to savor what’s about to happen, but when it comes to his own clothing he just wants it off and tears the buttons of his shirt to get it that way. He also has her remove the garter belt and stockings she was wearing; why do you think he does that? A lot of men would have wanted her to leave it on (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because obviously garter belts and stockings are very sexy and what man wouldn’t want to see his woman in them? I love wearing them myself.) What does it say about him that at least this time he wants her completely naked, so he can see and touch every inch of her? (I’d actually be very interested in anyone’s thoughts on that; it surprised me a little when I wrote it.)

But what about your characters? Do they tear at each other’s clothing? Do they leave a trail of discarded garments across the floor, or a heap by the bed? Are there articles of clothing they don’t even bother to remove at all (shirts, socks, panties still around an ankle, what?) I think half-dressed sex can be incredibly hot, especially if the clothing constricts movement.

Where do they kiss each other? Earlobes, necks, collarbones? Stomachs? The hipbone is incredibly sensitive on men and women; nibbling it always evokes a response in both the character and the reader who’s had it done to them and remembers what it feels like. What about toes and feet and legs? Hands? I’ve never been a fan of writing finger-sucking simply because once the finger is in the mouth it can be awkward to pull it out. But you can do it, and simply replace the thumb with her mouth or whatever, thus skimming over the awkward stuff. Does he suck her breasts and nipples? Hard or soft? Slow or fast? Does she bite his chest gently? Does she suck on or otherwise play with his nipples? A lot of men like that, too.

And what about oral sex? What is he doing with that mouth of his? Savoring, sucking, nibbling? Exloring, teasing, tasting? Slipping his tongue inside in a shallow rhythm? Does he pull her plump, hard little clit into his mouth? What does she do when she comes, when she feels herself getting ready to? Is she a bold woman who buries her fingers in his hair and presses him closer, or is she biting her fingers or palm or gripping the pillow or fisting the sheets in her sweaty, trembling hands? Is he holding her legs open, or caressing her breasts? Are her feet propped on his shoulders?

How about when she goes down on him? Is he gathering her hair in tender hands, holding it above her head, out of the way? Is he watching, and if so, what does he see and how does she feel about it? Does it turn her on to know he’s watching? Does she look up and meet his eyes? How intense is that? Is she running her fingernails over his balls, scratching lightly? How about his inner thighs? Is she just sucking his cock or is she letting her tongue play over the top, down the heavy, hard length of him? Does she vary her speed or the depth? Does she flutter her tongue over that little skin ridge on the underside, or down to his sac? Does she pull one of his balls into her mouth? If you’re writing a very graphic scene, is she bringing her fingers into play at his rear entrance? How does he feel about all this—safe, sexy, incredibly turned on, desperate?

When you write foreplay or sex, you’re inviting the reader to experience what the characters experience (hell, when you write any book you do that, but you know what I mean.) You want to use things the reader has felt, seen, tasted, smelled, as well as evocative words and dialogue and all that other stuff, to evoke a physical and emotional response. In short, you want to turn them on. So think of writing foreplay as trying to get your partner into bed. What do you do? What are the buttons you have to press?

Describe everything! Foreplay and sex is where you can let your language go; be as evocative and descriptive as you can (next week we’ll do another list of words to help get you going).

Foreplay is your chance to write a long, hot scene where nobody gets too graphic if you don’t want to. For example, most of the lines and suggestions I’ve made above are more graphic; they’re ideas for you to use as well as wording suggestions. But you can write an oral scene where he kisses down her stomach—spend some time on it, make her really feel and think about it—and then “his mouth moved against her, his tongue, so hot, so wet (remember, everything should be wet!!)…she’d never felt anything like it before. He teased her, tormented her, calling from her sounds she didn’t know she could make and feelings she didn’t realize she could feel, until her entire body convulsed and she was left breathless, her heart pounding, floating somewhere above the bed in a delicious daze.” See? Nary a four-letter word in there, but we all know what happened and that it was good.

So. Take a good hard look at your foreplay scenes. Where can you expand them? How much do your characters move? You don’t want anyone to ever be still; that’s not sexy. Keep them moving! Are they feeling every bit of what’s happening, thinking about it, tasting it, experiencing? Are they truly interacting or does it feel like they’re bloodless paper dolls? Remember, oral sex is more than a few quick dips of the head—it should generally be more in your scenes as well. Take your time, and let your characters take their time if they’re so inclined. I promise you, most of what turns your readers on will be foreplay; just like in real life, don’t think you need to hurry up and get to The Good Stuff. This is the good stuff!

Find a published foreplay scene you particularly like. What are those characters doing? How is what they do different from a scene you don’t like; is it language or graphicness or is it something deeper, something you’re just not connecting with? Why do you think you didn’t connect with it?

Take those pure-touching scenes you wrote Wednesday and add some interaction. If he’s thinking how beautiful she is while he strokes her breast, how lucky he is or how much he wants her, how do his thoughts intensify when he sees her ladyparts? What does he want to do with those? Likewise, if she’s touching his muscled chest or the thin line of hair on his abdomen, how does she feel when she sees his cock there? What is she anticipating? Write it down! Write it all in there!

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***