Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Hot Do You Like It?

Saturday Jean and I talked with some of our friends about writing sex scenes. Some folks have a difficult time writing spicy sex scenes. I am sure there are as many different reasons for being uncomfortable about this as there are writers. Early on Jean and I had to come to agreement about how "hot" the scenes we were going to include in our books would be.

I read everything from sex-free inspirational books to erotica so hot it actually has a warning on the outside cover. Jean has a fairly wide reading range as well but says she usually just skims those sections. That said, when it came to writing sex scenes we found that we wanted to have it spice sometimes and sweet others. We also decided that we wanted the most important element of the sexy scenes we write to be the emotions involved.

When we first started writing Jean sent me some pages with a sex scene in it and I called her and said, "It isn't enough. Turn the heat up on it and send it back to me." So in a day or so I got another one. Still not steamy enough so I called again and said, "Turn it up a notch. It needs more heat." So in a couple of days I got another revision and read it. After I took the ice off of my eyeballs, I called her back and said, "Whoa!!! Dial it back." Then we finally got it just spicy enough to suit us. Ok, to suit me.

I find myself reading spice scenes differently now that we write them. I try to analyze what makes them work or fall flat. I believe that they are some of the most difficult scenes that we write.

How hot do you like your sex/love scenes to be? Is it different when you read them from when you write them?


  1. Medium. I am like you - without the emotions it's just erotica. I made the mistake the other day at the bookstore of picking up a new release by an author I didn't know. I read the blurb and thought, hey sounds interesting. That night I started reading it - basic porn with a romance label. Actually, after a few pages (it had a sex scene every five or so pages), it got boring. So, without emotion I think, unless you are a deviant, sex has no relevance to the story. Just my opinion.

  2. This is a great topic, Stephanie, because it tends to be one of an author's least favorite things to discuss. Perhaps there is a stigma attached or society has made us afraid to talk about 'sex' for fear of being labeled.

    For me, a sex scene has to be the culmination of a hero and heroine's love for one another. There has to be more than just physical attraction between the characters. I think this is where erotica differs from romance. Couples have so much to learn from one another when it comes to sex. Sometimes the best is saved for last, others the scene calls for an intimate attachment that will forever turn the tide of the relationship. Whichever way an author decides to mold the h/h's lives, the reader must already be invested in them. That's the hardest thing to achieve in writing. We've got to make the reader care first and foremost.

    Cheryl, I tried reading an erotic novel once. It was based on a classic story but about half-way in, I had to put it down. I already had pre-conceived notions that might have ruined this for me, but the lead character just wouldn't respond the way the story was plotteed. Not the lead character I knew and loved. Anyway, I got completely turned off. Hvaen't read one since. That doesn't mean erotica isn't good for other folks. Just not me.

  3. There are two things that make me skim sex scenes--1. If it's like every other sex scene I've read in the last month. 2. If something important is about the be revealed and we cut to a sex scene.

    I need the emotion. I need to care about the couple.

  4. Hey Y'all,
    I agree that emotions are the key to a sexy romance scene!


  5. It's much easier for me to read a sex scene than write it. I know in time it will get easier but for now I'm still looking over my shoulder to see if anyone is watching me while I write it! But my H/H must have a little more going on than physical attraction before they get to that point.
    You girls did a great job with the scene reading!

  6. I write erotic romance and it's all about the emotions. I've read other authors were the language is just a little too graphic and slick, where the focus is on the choreography rather than using the emotions and love scenes to advance the story. While those scenes are plentiful in my books, they are never gratuitous or devoid of emotion.

    Nice post!

  7. Hey Debra, the one book of erotica I read was not about the emotions and all about bondage and such. Sorry if I offended - I didn't mean to. I guess I just chose the wrong author. I would love to read yours. Send me the names so I can get them! Again, I apologize!

    And Sherry, I agree! Writing it is much harder! I struggle every time! my husband laughs and says I just need more research! LOL

  8. Cheryl,

    No offense taken at all!!! There's a wide variety of erotic romance writers. I was agreeing that some can be more physical description than emotionally driven. I was just pointing out how I hope - at least - that my love scenes differ. I do write light bdsm but again, it's the emotion to me of why the character needs or wants this that makes the love scene work.

    And lol about research - if my hubby came at me with a blindfold, I'd run screaming. :-)

  9. Sherry--Thanks. I thought everyone seemed mortified!

  10. With more than 70 books under my belt, ranging from Silhouette Desires & Intimate Moments (SRS) to mainstream romantic suspense, I’ve written a lot of love scenes. As a reader, I enjoy a variety, including some erotica as well as “sweet romances” with little or no sex. As a writer, I allow the story and the characters to dictate how many love scenes and just how “hot” they are. I have to admit that I like being able to call a spade a spade, so to speak, and not having to use euphemisms to describe body parts and sex acts. I remember hating the word “manhood” and avoided using it. We all have our pet peeves. My suggestion is to write lean, avoid “flowery” writing and find a way to stay true to both your characters & story and to your own writer’s voice. If you are uncomfortable writing graphic love scenes, then don’t write them. If you love writing racy & hot, hot, hot, then do it. --Beverly Barton

  11. Variety is good, but heartfelt emotion must be present for my full enjoyment of a sex scene. As a writer, the characters and situation dictate the nature of the scene.

  12. I appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts with us on this "touchy" subject. I intended to comment back to everyone last night but fell asleep before I made it to the computer.

    So a day late...
    Cheryl-I agree that for most of us the emotions are what makes the connection between the hero and heroine as well as between them and the reader.

    Kathy-Maybe you could give it another try with a book that you don't have any pre-concieved ideas about. As Debra pointed out there is a HUGE selection to choose from!

    Sherry-Absolutly the connection what it is all about. Thanks for your compliment on the scene reading. It was tough, especially after we got an audience!

    Jean-I do hate to read a sex scene and feel as if it is recyled from another part of the book or another book!

    Debra-Thanks for sharing your thoughts and a different perspective with us.

    Beverly-Your point about allowing the characters and story to dictate the heat and style of the spicy scenes is a great one.
    So was the point about euphemisms. No swollen orbs for you, huh?

    Crystal- I love, love, love variety!! I think it is the key in many situations in life.

  13. The key is the emotion. I am doing a romance/sex/emotion pass through my current mangled mess to make sure that element is there. If not, I add it, look at the relevance of the scene to the story and cut if necessary. Painful to cut, but they can't have nooky unless it's supposed to be there and it moves the story emotionally forward.

    Great post!