In my Real Life, I’ve been talking loads about revisions all week, so that inspired me to write a post on Revising Sex. There are definitely a lot of things about revising a sex scene that are the same as revising a normal scene, but there are a few special considerations. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, most of these suggestions can also be applied to fight scenes.
So here are some tips for those extra things to keep in mind when revising a sex scene:
1) Count your appendages! A lover can’t have a hand on a nipple each and reach up to caress your heroine’s face. Unless you’re writing alien sex, or hentai, but then you still need to count, then account for, all of your appendages.
2) This isn’t Twister: Don’t have a lover sucking one your prostrate heroine’s toes as he fondles her ear. Imagine the reach on that guy! Unless he’s a professional basketball player (or made of rubber) he’ll only have a normal human being’s reach.
3) Don’t Euphemize: We’ve all heard a thousand times, as writers, not to be too repetitive. But there are only so many words for cunt before you step into the dangerous territory of the euphemism. “Her sex” is still sexy, but her “sopping lady orchid” is just gross. The fact is that erotica is unique from other writing in that dirty words are dirty for a reason–they carry a resonance. Studied repetition of a powerful word like “cunt” or “cock” will carry a special weight that accidentally using “brilliant” or “delightful” twice in a paragraph will not. So don’t shy away from some repetition in erotica, when it comes to those lovely resonant words that make us all a bit squirmy on the insides.
4) Cushion for the Pushin’: Oftentimes our initial drafting of a scene is very bare bones, as we figure out what goes where (and how many times), how the characters got there, how they get out of there, etc. So second and third passes of a manuscript should be about building up all that gorgeous padding. In erotica, a lot of that padding will be sensory. So I might tell you that Dylan stroked over Meredith’s breast on the first pass, but a second pass may see me adding, “Dylan stroked Meredith’s breast, the nipple taut under his palm.” A final pass might see that become, “Dylan stroked Meredith’s soft breast, causing her to gasp as the rough skin of his calloused hand rasped against her taut nipple.”
5) Reaction Time: I’ve noticed that one of the things I often leave out of a first version is the other character’s reaction. I’ve got one diddling away at the other, who is a bit of a passive recipient. So I need to add some physical response, but also emotional and mental. Sex is extra sexy when it’s also about our minds, not just our bodies. So show some thought, some emotional reaction, as well as the physical.
6) Don’t Rush the Fucking: This is something I do a lot, as a friend of mine pointed out. Luckily he was talking about my fiction. It’s so easy to linger over all that delicious foreplay, but it’s a challenge, at least for me, to write the actual fucking. After all, there’s not really much to the act, itself. “Thrust and repeat!” I have the most success with this, number six, by using number five. So yes, it is just thrusting, but what are they feeling, during the thrusting? Again, make this as much about emotions and thoughts as about physical reactions.
7) Turn Yourself On: If it doesn’t turn you on, it’s not going to turn on anyone else. So don’t over think a sex scene. The fact is that sex is pretty basic, pretty animalistic, and not very pretty. And it’s sexiest when we, as writers, embrace those aspects. Make your sex real: make it dirty, and unapologetic, and fun. If you’re enjoying it, chances are your reader will, too.
Any other things you’d like to add, or comment on, or hear more about? Just ask below!