A challenge many contemporary-romance writers face is writing the (sometimes dreaded) X-Rated scene. I’m sure many writer have played out a hot action between their characters in their mind, but putting it on the page for the world to see is a different question!
Once you get going though, it can be a lot of fun, and add an extra layer to your romance. Plus, as they say, sex sells!
Here are some of my tips (from the POV of a writer, reader and marketer) for writing a great X-Rated scene.
Keep Your Audience In Mind!
If you’re writing a young-adult romance, you’re not going to want to go full on graphic. Sure, teens might be having sex, but they’re not quite ready to read about it yet. Sometimes a ‘fade to black’ scene works. But what’s most important is focusing on the emotions and feelings behind an X-Rated scene, and it’s that which YA readers seek. We don’t need to know what went where, but we do need to know how it made the character feel!
As you move into new-adult and adult, you can bring in a little more detail, but remember to always keep the feelings on the characters at the fore. It also helps to keep the tone of the book in mind. In a more mature book, with strong language and adult themes, a graphic sex scene will work. But in a lighter, book where the characters are more innocent, you’re not going to see them suddenly turn into porn stars.
Mind You Language!
Every writer chooses every word of their novel carefully, and this is also true for X-Rated scenes. If you’ve used a lot of slang in dialogue and narration, it will seem odd, even clinical, if the character starts using words like penis and breasts in the bedroom. Be creative, without being over the top.
Erotica lends itself to much more explicit language, and words that you wouldn’t normally find in a regular romance are acceptable here. Just remember to keep it realistic, though.
Know Your Body!
Nothing will pull a reader out of an X-Rated scene quicker than a character growing an extra pair of hands, or bending in a way not humanly possible. You don’t have to study autonomy, but use personal experience to keep in mind what positions are do-able and what won’t work.
Think about how your own, and your partner’s, bodies react in the bedroom. If you squirm and squeal when tickled with a feather, chances are, your character will too, but they likely won’t suddenly start singing!
Draw From Experience!
Following on from the above point, a good way to make sure your X-Rated scenes work for readers is by drawing from personal experience. I’m not saying you should record your own sex lives on the pages of your novel, but like with any other part of a story, the key is often write what you know. For example, if you’re not into the BDSM lifestyle, you’re going to have to do a lot of research before writing about characters who are, if you want their experiences to be authentic and not jarring for your readers.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. As with every aspect of writing, each experience is different, so it pays to gain advice from multiple sources. Another helpful way to figure out what will and won’t work for an X-Rated scene in your novel is to read other novels in the same (or similar) categories, or to watch movies and TV shows with a similar target audience.
If you’re writing an X-Rated scene; good luck, have fun and stay safe!