Writing Sex Scenes?

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    I’m a fiction novelist, specializing in science fiction and fantasy. I especially enjoy combining the two genres into science fantasy. I love writing, so much I got my MA in it! One of the greatest challenges for me is writing physically intimate scenes. These scenes range from holding hands to full-blown sex. Does anyone else struggle with this? How have you chosen to handle those physically intimate scenes?


    I started writing sex scenes as a teen copying fanfiction way before I knew what my own sexuality was. I focus more on the sensuality of the scenes over the logistics. I know the basics, so I throw them in but try to focus on the pov character’s senses through the experience. I’ve seen people say you have to have had sex to write a convincing sex scene, but I totally disagree.

    Samantha Derr

    I do think it helps first to know what your own limits are, what you’re comfortable with, and what you’re willing to write.

    I work in romance. Some of the authors I’ve worked with don’t bother with intimate scenes at all. Others might only do some cuddling or kissing. Still others will reach a certain point and then fade to black. The authors know what they’re comfort levels are, and they don’t (usually) go beyond those.

    And the ones who don’t have personal experience to draw from, they learn from reading other authors who do write intimate scenes, or general research. Or finding beta readers/editors/other authors to help them.


    It also depends what kind of effect you’re trying to achieve in portraying the physical intimacy. Why is it being included in your work? I write fiction with sexual content in it, but presenting a convincing and detailed portrait of actual sex isn’t always my objective. Sometimes it can be about the characters’ relationship dynamics or personal psychology rather than the physical act so going into much detail on the physical side is not necessary. Generally speaking, unless the scene itself is necessary to the story, it may not even need to be included. You might be able to get away with alluding to it or describing what happens before and/or after.

    However, if you’re writing erotic fiction, which I sometimes do, then details may be more necessary. I have some friends who have been pretty open in talking with me about their experiences, in large part because they know I have no personal interest, but in my case, it doesn’t bother me to hear about that sort of thing as long as I’m not personally involved in it so it all works out. I have also looked things up and done research both by reading books or doing searches online when I wanted more information about things that are common or impossible. I wouldn’t do that if it makes you uncomfortable, though.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 6 months ago by Nadia.

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