One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.
By MJ Flournoy
Back in the day, certain genres were geared exclusively to the male reader. The language was coarse, graphic and to the point—no flowery language, no building of sexual tension. That old adage, slam bam, thank you ma’am, pretty much summed it up.
Today, readers expect more, demand more and, of course, receive more. While early examples of male-oriented porn insisted on “just the facts, ma’am”, modern readers expect the genre to deliver the same erotic punch, but with heightened sexual tension. The genre has moved from behind the counter and under young men’s mattresses into the cultural mainstream as writers have increasingly described sex with excitement, passion and titillation—all while pulling the reader right into the action.
I much prefer to write love scenes than sex scenes. Does that mean the characters must be in love to engage in sexual activity? Not at all. It means the writing must engage the reader by considering all the senses, rather than limiting the scene to physical actions. Our readers have become connoisseurs of fine erotic literature. They want to feel the sexual tension, to enjoy the sensual tease of anticipation, to explore with the characters the pleasure of the sexual experience.
In my writing I seek to deliver the passion, tension and pleasure of an erotic encounter that will pull you into the emotional, sensual, tactile arousal of the characters—you should enjoy the experience along with them. The emotions and feelings of the fictional people in whom you’ve invested your time deliver as much or more erotic stimulation than graphic language in itself. The reader, when pulled into the scene with deep characterization, feels, experiences, and enjoys the masterful touch of a skilled lover.
Words are my tools and my palette to make these scenes come alive for readers. Describing sexual acts—especially the one known by most people as the sex act—in coarse graphic detail is easy, using words to evoke an erotic image in the reader’s mind isn’t. Graphic language detracts from the mood of the scene. Throwing the f-bomb around doesn’t measure up as erotic to me. I prefer to use more descriptive language that appeals to the senses and stirs up a vicarious emotional and physical experience. I want my readers to feel the romance inherent to the sex, not just witness it from a detached remove. After all, the characters aren’t just “going through the motions”—and neither should the reader.
A Matter of Trust
In this scene from my novel A Matter of Trust, we find Jolie suffering from shock after experiencing a vision foretelling her own death. She touches Mac seeking reassurance from his physical form. It is in reaching out and connecting with him that she pushes the darkness away and restores the equilibrium to her world. Their joining is an affirmation of life and living.
Excerpt: A Matter of Trust
“It’s over, the danger’s gone.” Mac continued to stroke her back holding her, cradling her against his chest.
“The house exploded, we were…”
Mac’s arms tightened around her. “It didn’t happen, won’t happen.”
Jolie shivered, shock stealing into her system. In her mind she saw again the carnage from the explosion.
“There, those windows.” Her gaze fixed on the wall of glass that framed a breathtaking view of the lake.
“Hush, we’re safe.” Mac’s lips brushed her cheek offering comfort. “Your warning prevented what could have happened.”
Clinging to Mac, Jolie focused on him, his strength, his energy, his unique maleness that caused her body to hum with feminine longings. She luxuriated in the explicit sexiness that was Mac. With him filling all her senses, there was no room for terror, for fear. Only Mac.
Need built within her. Her body throbbed with awareness at his touch. His hands traced over her. Deep cravings awakened. She snuggled closer to him. The spicy scent of his cologne and unique male essence filled her senses causing the chill slowly to subside. He lowered his lips to hers and the flames that licked at her had nothing to do with fire and everything to do with passion.
He lifted his head, lips slowly gliding across her cheek to find the tender flesh of her neck just below her ear. His teeth found the soft flesh of her ear lobe and a soft moan escaped her throat. She tilted her head, granting him easier access. Her arms circled his neck, pulling him closer.
“God yes. Make me feel alive.”
Mac’s answer was a low growl deep in his throat.
His hands landed on her butt, and pressed her against the hard ridge of his erection. Jolie rubbed herself against him, filled with the power of her own femininity. He throbbed growing harder with each movement.
His hands slid up her back, found the tail of her shirt and slipped beneath to caress away the coldness that had invaded her body. Liquid fire replaced her chills burned a path from her shoulder blades to her ribs. Slowly, his fingers crept up until they found the mounds of her breasts.
“I need you, now.”
This moment had been inevitable since the first time he’d touched her, running his hands over her body searching for the non-existent wire, Jolie thought, while he stripped the shorts from her body leaving her vulnerable. His lips followed the path of his hands down her body. She could no longer resist this attraction to him that left her feeling off-balance and needy and now that need had grown much too strong to deny any longer.
He held her, pressing her back against the cool plaster of the wall as one leg insinuated itself between her thighs. His fingers teased her nipples as his lips plundered her mouth. Jolie found herself riding his thigh, her hips rocking against him as tension built within her. With unerring precision, she reached lower; her hands found the fastening of his jeans, unbuttoned then unzipped them. Her fingers sought the shaft that pressed insistently against her. He shifted his body slightly to grant her better access. Her fingers closed around his engorged flesh and he groaned deep in his throat, pressing deeper into her hand. Need filled her. She wanted him, wanted to feel him inside her, feel the power of his body while he fed the hunger that threatened to consume her.
From one pocket Mac produced a small foil pack. He pressed it into her hand. A challenge issued, blatant need, like electricity, spiraled from his fingertips to hers when he deposited the small trophy within her grasp. Her hand trembling she accepted his offering, unwrapped it and quickly sheathed his length with it.
“Put your legs around my waist.” He lifted her.
Jolie followed his instruct and was rewarded with the pressure of his fullness against the heated mound at the juncture of her thighs. He pulled her shirt up and over her head and pressed her back against the smooth cool surface of the wall. His hot, moist lips claimed her nipples, one after the other through the thin material of her bra. Then even that meager barrier was gone.
One hand moved down to tease her intimately and Jolie arched her back, tightening her legs around him, urging him closer. He found the throbbing center of her desire and pressed home with one swift, sure stroke. He filled her completely, stretching her, electrifying nerves that had never felt so alive. He braced her against the wall, his mouth plundering hers, even as he plunged to the depths of her. Tension built within her, she felt herself spiraling out of control, sailing away into the stratosphere, past the rings of Saturn and on into the void of space beyond. In her mind’s eye she shot across the midnight sky like a rocket before she shattered into a million pieces, her pleasure raining across the heavens spewing behind her like the tail of a comet.
Mac followed her into the stratosphere, urging her on, demanding more, seeking more, giving more. She felt the intensity of his climax, the coiled strength of his whipcord muscles beneath her hands, the straining of his body when he reached ultimate release. The pleasure built to the point where it was too much to bear . Quickly she followed him toward a powerful climax that left her trembling and depleted. She whispered his name and collapsed against his chest.
In the darkness Mac lowered her to the floor and Jolie found her legs would not support her. He followed her down, his body cradling hers when they lay on the smooth hardwood.
MJ Flournoy lives in Georgia, USA. MJ writes romantic suspense with paranormal elements. MJ’s motto is “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” When not writing, MJ enjoys traveling, reading and doing any type of research. Connect with her via her website, Facebook page and tweets.