Last week we discussed how to approach the topics of romance and sex in your fiction (find the post in our archives), and outlined the common constraints to be expected in differing age categories and genres. This post will explore the “do’s and don’ts” of writing sex and romance scenes in all areas of fiction, followed by some helpful resources and examples by bestselling authors who’ve mastered the craft.
The “Do’s” of Writing Sex and Romance Scenes
- Do utilize dialogue to facilitate character development and demonstrate personality, while building the relationship between characters.
- Do incorporate real-life elements to sex scenes: awkward fumbles, contraception, noises, etc. can paint a vivid picture that is relatable and compelling.
- Do address LGBTQIA material with respect, finesse, and realism.
- Do explore topics such as consent, sexual assault, rape, incest, etc. if you are drawn to them while conducting the proper research and ensuring readers are aware that your book(s) may contain triggers and sensitive material. For more on the topic, check out this post by sci-fi author Veronica Sicoe discussing triggers and taboos in fiction.
- Do follow common and expected protocol based on age category and genre in terms of romance and sex scene descriptions to avoid alienating or shocking readers. (if you’re unsure of whether you’ve executed your romance/sex scenes well, contact Midnight Publishing’s professional developmental editors for our expert assistance and suggestions.)
- Do reach out to beta readers and critique partners for their thoughts on your sex/romance scenes, and listen to their feedback objectively.
- Do revise, revise, revise—just as with the rest of your manuscript, books are refined in rewrites.
- Do try different methods of descriptions to see what feels right for you; this is a skillset that requires lots of practice!
- Do read widely in your genre and others to see how other authors address romance and sex in their books.
The “Don’ts” of Writing Sex and Romance Scenes
- Don’t write prose that’s self-indulgent and/or doesn’t further the plot. (With erotica a sex scene can include considerable details and descriptions that seek to fulfill the readers’ wishes for that type of material, but it should still serve some purpose purely beyond the physical act.)
- Don’t self-publish or query material that describes body parts, sex organs, fluids, etc. in a deeply explicit manner until you’ve done a lot of research into what’s already been published in your genre.
- Don’t try to turn your sex scenes into poetry—the results are often more laughable than moving. This Huffington Post article on the Worst Paranormal Book Sex Scenes provides examples of what made readers squirm in the past.
Further References and Resources
Below are some of Midnight Publishing’s recommendations for blog posts, articles and examples from popular fiction to provide you with more insight on how to successfully write romance and sex scenes in fiction.
Midnight Publishing’s staff of professional editors and ghostwriters has been helping authors locally and globally for almost a decade to write the best books they possibly can—romance and sex scenes included! Contact us today for a free sample edit and to discuss your book project needs so we can put you on the schedule.