How to write great sex scenes may be a blog title that will get my site filtered out for adult content. But if your search engine has allowed you to reach this point, fear not. Nothing below should make you blush too deeply.
Here is the problem: A novel should take the characters through the full range of their emotions. That frequently means a journey to or from romantic love. The physical expression of romantic love is usually an act of sexual intimacy. Thus a good proportion of novelists will at some stage have to sit down and write a sex scene.
As a species we fixate on sex. But there are only a certain number of ways to do it and to describe it (however adventurous or flexible a writer you may be). Thus it is hard to be original when writing about sex. The writer risks becoming clichéd if he/she is not experimental enough and risks ridicule if he/she tries something a bit different.
Witness the annual ‘Bad Sex Awards’
The Bad Sex awards celebrate some of the most entertainingly ill-judged forays by authors into this well-trodden meadow. These are the authors who tried to put a fresh spin on an act as old as geological time. Read and be warned.
Unfortunately I have no great wisdom to share on describing the act itself. Any attempt would certainly get this blog blocked. My suggestion regards the build-up to the scene.
If you are writing a story about a terrorist planning to blow up a building, the explosion itself is just a moment. A couple of lines of description. It may be spectacular, but it lasts a couple of seconds of real time and contains little inherent tension. But the reader’s awareness of the bomb that may or may not go off – this has almost unlimited potential for drama.
Perhaps I am side-stepping the issue when I say that the part of the sex scene that writers should be most concerned about is the lead up to it or its aftermath.