Apr 012010

Last time we talked about eroticism of characterization we discussed two major points. Are the stories character driven or plot driven? Once we figure out that aspect we can concentrate on the proper lesson. For this blog we’re currently discussing characters and how they drive stories.

By the way when I say character driven stories, I’m talking about stories that focus exclusively on the characters and their growth. This is typical of most romance novels as we’re seeing a focus on the hero and heroine overcoming themselves in order to change. With plot driven stories, we’re talking more about books like Dragon Wytch by Yasmine Galenorn, which has strong character development but the focus is really on the plot. Urban fantasy and other genres rely on plot much of the time to satisfy their readers. But let’s get back to the erotic elements of character driven stories. We’ll cover plot driven stories in an upcoming post.

When we talk about erotic elements in any capacity, we’re really talking SEX. Remember in my previous blog post I mentioned movies? This is THE KEY that we want to mimic as writers in terms of structure and writing style. The reason is that the eye and brain pick up details VERY quickly and only through our logical reasoning do we misinterpret what we see.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even though revenues are in decline for a variety of reasons, movies tend to remain the most accessible form of entertainment. That being said, ever notice how a scene occurs? Probably not because action happens so fast in a good scene that our minds hang onto what our eyes see. But what if we wrote those scenes on paper?

We would see the internal dialogue, thought and action that occur. Since sex is an ACTION between two characters, the same formula for writing it occurs. I know I’ve mentioned Morgan Hawke in previous posts and the reason for that is that she models her sex scenes after Angela Knight and Laurell K. Hamilton. The reason for this is not only because both authors are EXTREMELY popular but because they’re both DAMN GOOD smut writers. And remember, we’re not always modeling our writing not after literary quality but after what sells. True writers are results focused and when we cover promotions via my publicist and a guest blog, or my cohorts, we’ll discuss why we are results oriented.

You’re wondering what that formula for writing sex scenes is now, aren’t you?

Here it is: (shamelessly stolen from Morgan Hawke’s site)

Stimulus > Reaction > Perception > Emotion > Response

Something happens to the viewpoint character. Then he has an action. Then a thought. Then a feeling. And finally, he responds.

Then the other character begins the patter again ON THE NEXT LINE. Since SEX is ACTION, we use this formula here too.

What this looks like in action:

Morgan turned her head. (Morgan ACTION)
When their eyes met (SASCHA ACTION), Sacha wanted to stride across the room and do something (Had a THOUGHT). Anything.
This was his mentor, his love interest from afar. His biggest supporter in the industry. (Emotion) He swallowed hard. (Reaction)
She started towards him, taking quick steps to cover the distance between them. (Morgan ACTION)
He figured she’d walk past him. (Had a thought)
Instead, she stopped just beside him, setting a hand on his chest.
His heart throbbed loudly in his throat. (Emotional Response)
“Room 515. I got a good suite. Good to see you, babe.” She dropped her chin and fluttered her eyelashes at him.
He inhaled her scent, lush and rich, “Ten minutes okay for you?”
A wicked smile crossed her lips. “Yeah. Don’t spend what you promised me.” She lightly raked her fingers across his abdomen.
A shudder raced through him.
Morgan walked down the hall.
He snickered.

The scene was originally written in a different style but I still kept the two characters actions in their own paragraphs. This style looks choppy huh?

WHO CARES? The reader’s eyes won’t notice unless they take a break and actually look at the page, in which case you’ve not done your job properly. The key here is that we’re writing for flow.

I can hear some of you now talking about style. I’ll break it down for you. Style isn’t what sells. Good stories sell. If you’re so tied to your style that you can’t change, I suggest you reread this post on Flexing by M. Christian. Then reread this post by Jean Marie Stine on erotica and money.

This formula is not the be all end all to your writing and will take time to learn. What separates one writer from another is the words chosen to describe the actions, events etc. When I went back to redo this snippet I had a few things out of order due to my natural tendency NOT to write in this way but once I saw the smoothness in how it read I was willing to try to learn to write action/sex in formula.

What makes the difference is that our readers run through the story so quickly because you’ve crafted the scenes in an order that lends to helping the words fly off the page come alive to the reader.

We’ve covered a lot of information in this post and it’ll take some time for it to digest so when I have the blog again, we’ll not only repeat some of this material but explain in better depth. Until next time…


  13 Responses to “Structure for SEX Scenes”

  1. This was fun and informative. Now to actually park my ass in front of the desk and write, rather than play in Daz.

  2. room 515 huh – you slut – lol
    great post (oceania added licking her lips)

    “What separates one writer from another is the words chosen to describe the actions”

  3. Interesting, but I’m wondering if it needs to be a line by line break? Why wouldn’t it be possible, in theory, to make a paragraph out of stimulus, a paragraph out of reaction, etc.?

    If your words are good enough to hold the readers attention, it seems like that would be a good way to modify your pacing… And assuming that lengthening each segment is feasible, are there any inherent advantages or disadvantages to shorter or longer segments?

    …and it looks like I need to read some Knight and Hamilton…

    As always, interesting post, thanks to all contributors (I read and appreciate even when I don’t comment…).

  4. Vague,

    You can actually put them in the same paragraph, I just pulled from the story that I purposely wrote from that order and it was meant only to be a thousand words.

    To me there are no real disadvantages of modifying each segment. It would allow you to control just what sensory actions the reader uses when reading the story. Make sense?

    Angela Knight’s print work is much tamer but still hot IMO. Hamilton writes from first person POV so she HAS to have the order of actions right in order for the reader to remain focused as she tends to write scenes with multiple characters, including sex scenes. Think she’s up to six people in one sex scene.

    Vague as always, much appreciated :)


  5. I’ve been reading statistics on movies and they are actually increasing in attendance and making money. The success of Avatar has set a trend, and since the day it debuted, 3 of the 5 #1 movies have been 3D. Just as in ebooks over print, better technology sells.

    What you showed in your example makes an excellent point. Each person’s action needs to be in a separate paragraph. In older style manuscripts, it was common to keep one paragraph as a central idea and thought, even when more than one person was speaking. That has gone the way of the dodo, Robert Jordan notwithstanding. ;) The way you presented it was correct.

    It’s also more powerful.

    One key I’d like to point out in writing any scene, erotic or not, is never to tell the reader that a character watches another character. For example, you said Morgan walked down the hall. That’s the right way to do it. We see what Sascha sees. Had you said, Sascha watched Morgan walk down the hall, we would have been outside Sascha watching Sascha watch Morgan. Not very interesting. I see it in new writers’ works and it always makes me cringe. It’s a prime example of telling vs showing.

    Your example was right on. I liked the idea of showing action/reaction to move the story forward. Thank you for posting this.

  6. You’re welcome Kayelle. It’s not so much that the movies being in 3D are the trending films, it’s the CONTENT and the fact that people can and will spend money on entertainment and NOT be disappointed as long as the movie is well written and the actors do their jobs.

    Even in a bad economy this holds true.

    For that to happen we need to keep things interesting. I had thought to get sort of militant in this post about action/character but new writers will have to stick around and find out what’s up for the future of this blog :)

    THanks for the feedback babe.


  7. Tried this in my latest short story, and it seemed to work. No reader feedback as of yet, and I tinkered with it in places, but overall I like the effect. Thanks.

  8. On movies and 3D … Avatar had an “okay” story, but what sold it was the experience of being transported to another world which seemed absolutely real. In this case, the medium itself was part of the story. People saw it repeatedly (myself included) in order to catch all the tiny details and enjoy different aspects of each scene. You could gaze at any single part of the screen and it was completely in focus as if you were actually there. The next Avatar flick will need a much more powerful story, because the gimmick will not sell it again, at least not as well.

    Unless you are reinventing the way to tell a story or are the next James Cameron, story is everything.

  9. And why would we reinvent the wheel? If you’re a writer, you simply write the scene correctly in the first place and the reader’s eyes zip by, while they’re mentally engrossed in your story.

    Before they know it, the book is done and they want your next one.

  10. I know this is an older post, but I was browsing and happened across it. Wow! This is super useful! So much so that I’m wondering how I’ve muddled through writing sex (and other) scenes without knowing it.

    I tend to err on the side of writing too much action and reaction, focusing on the physical, and can sometimes have a hard time finding where to insert the processing/emotions. I think I’ve done OK till now (egads, I won’t read what’s already been published to find out!) But your (aka Morgan’s) diagram is so, so, so helpful.

    Now when I’m reading through a scene that starts to sound more like a description of a game of Twister than an interaction between two human beings, I have a solid plan of where to insert bits of reflection. I’ll never be a writer who includes whole paragraphs, or Gd forbid pages, of emotional inner dialogue. But I think I this’ll help me better pace scenes where non-stop action starts to feel like a freight train out of control.

    Thanks so much!!!!!!!!


  11. Why the hell didn’t you give me this to read last month (G)? It really would have been a big help. Or, as my sister Daisy put it, this was a GREAT post, even read on my little phone screen @ my MD’s office!
    Thanks, Sascha.

  12. Nice Post!
    — Even better, despite using material from elsewhere you made it entirely yours. Good job! Oh, and thanks for the shout-out. *smooch*

  13. That’s what I’m striving to do, Morgan. You get a LOT of credit from me and I”m grateful to pass on your lessons. I figure sometimes your method of teaching works, other times mine works. As long as it helps other authors, that’s the key thing for me. I owe a great deal of my writing career to you.


 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Security Code: