Most stories involve amorous or otherwise physical encounters, and it takes some mastery to convey this in a realistic and/or emotional way. Are your characters in a relationship having consensual sex? Are your characters strangers in a lust-fuelled chance encounter? Is your character at home while his sexual partner is on a screen, half a world away in a war-zone? Are you writing a memoir and want to do it the justice it deserves in your story?
Regardless of genre, reason or format, this is a perfect skill for writers to spend some time honing. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a great sex scene or a scene with bad sex, there’s a right way and there’s a bad way. You have to avoid it going badly, not just on the page, but between the sheets. You probably don’t want to end up with a Bad Sex Award* honour on your writing resume.
Bronwyn’s three top tips for sex scenes:
1. The sex needs to move the story forward. It has to have it’s place in your book. Don’t just chuck it in because you’re writing a romance and you think the readers are going to demand it.
2. Don’t use sex as a plot device. I know this is kind of like number 1 but it bears repeating.
3. Pack it so full of emotion that your reader feels it too. Even meaningless sex with a stranger still has connotations for your character and if it’s out of character for your characters, give it the context it deserves. Is it rebound sex? Is it sad sex? Pure lust?
That brings us to an upcoming workshop Clare Connelly is running for Writers SA. At this stage you’re probably thinking Between the Sheets will be a workshop for romance writers and that’s not you? What about Eyes Wide Shut? James Bond got his fair share of onscreen action and they aren’t romantic stories! Most recently, Game of Thrones. George R. R. Martin needed to know what he was doing when he was writing ‘those’ scenes in his books.
Clare won’t be delving into the darkness that is Game of Thrones style fornication but sex is everywhere we look. In literature, on the screen, even in our social feeds. Some authors make it look easy but putting pen to paper and writing fast-paced and sensual sex scenes is a skill that can be difficult to master. More than just a single act, great sex begins in dialogue, with the push/pull or tension; it’s the brush of two hands, the promise of a glance that lingers just a moment too long, it’s a need that ignites and demands attention. Great sex scenes can be made even greater when you know how! This workshop will cover all the basics, how to build emotional intensity with sex and how sex can add to your characters’ emotional journeys, the ethics of fictional sex (consent, protection, taboos – good and bad), how to use the rhythm of words to set the pace for high-intensity passion versus the tempo you want for slow, sensual exploration; and using pronouns in queer romance novels.
This is a workshop for writing sex in the twenty first century but will also appeal to authors of any genre who simply want to incorporate a romantic element into their books, and aren’t sure how – sexual tension is key to building up a plausible sense of connection between characters.
*If you’ve never heard of the Bad Sex Awards in literature, check them out here.
If we’ve convinced you to sign up to the workshop on June 1st, Between the Sheets, click here but don’t wait too long! It’s filling up fast!