Posted in Writing advice that may or may not be completely wrong

Sex Scenes

Sex scenes used to terrify me. Not writing them, but letting people read them. I soon discovered this is common among writers, and most of us dread it for the same reason: we’re afraid readers will think we’re living vicariously through our sex scenes. That they will think that’s the type of sex we want to be having. And that’s a very intimate thing for people to know.

It’s also bollocks (in a manner of speaking). I’ve written sex scenes with six different characters. Well, I mean, not together. I don’t think I’m accomplished enough with pronouns to pull that off without diagrams, and I can’t draw.

Stick figures

What I mean is, I’ve written three couples copulating. All three of them did it very differently. If I’m writing my idea of perfect sex each time, either I’ve got Tyler Durden issues or my mind changes quicker than Cheryl Tweedy’s name.

It’s obvious, really, that writing something does not mean we either endorse it or crave it. The heroine of Untouchable, Rachel, has a boss who sexually harasses her on a daily basis. I never once worried that readers would think I was gagging to be sexually harassed. (Just to clarify, I’m not.) Why should this be different for any other feature of her life?

My friend Yally was the first person to read Untouchable. This is the sex scene she received:


She assured me it was both well-written and sexy, but they say you can never rely on friends for honest feedback so I took that with a pinch of salt.

Finally, I gathered my courage and sent the real sex scene to beta readers. They treated the scene like any other, and the feedback was very positive. I realised I’d been an idiot, and now even Yally has the sex scenes.

Although I wasn’t afraid of writing sex scenes, I did find them challenging for a peculiar but limiting reason: there are no words for female genitalia that don’t make me cringe. I hate them all.

Pussy? If it doesn’t meow, purr and sit on your laptop when you’re trying to write, don’t call it a pussy. If it does, don’t have sex with it.


Mound? If it’s not green and covered with grass, or a heaped pile of something, don’t call it a mound. If it is, don’t have sex with it.

Minge? If you’re not twelve and giggling with your friends in the playground, don’t call it a minge. If you are, don’t have sex with anyone.

Vagina? Actually, okay with me. But then people get confused when you don’t use this interchangeably with vulva, and they also feel like they’re reading a medical textbook. Not romantic.

Capture.PNG (I’m unsure why these two have pasta dishes instead of pubic hair)

I could go on, but we all have lives to get to.

So I asked my friends for help. They were not helpful.


I’ve managed to get away with not using any words for the female genitalia in my novels so far. Long may it continue.

On the male side, cock’s just fine with me. No jokes, please: Mr Kaling is shy. Although his mother can’t read English, so there is that going for us.

Now that I’m over my silly hang up, I’m okay with sharing my sex scenes. Several of my friends have read them (hello, if you’re reading). My aunt’s read them (hello, if you’re reading). The HR assistant at work has read them (if this is being used in a disciplinary, I didn’t do it).

I also really enjoy writing them now, word challenges aside. One of the reasons I love writing romance is that sexual tension is so fun to read and write, and it’s so satisfying when, after 30,000 words of skirting round the issue, they finally, finally, screw.

You know how the BDSM/controlling thing is really in right now? Well, if that’s your thing, write romances. You are totally in charge of their sex lives, from outfits to orgasms. You can write that scene where they almost put Tab A into Slot B but are interrupted / come to their senses / have an argument instead. Then you can be all:

Yes, characters, of course you can have fun times!


And then when you actually allow them to spring the coil, you can feel all benevolent like:


If I had a point for this blog, I forgot it a while ago. Just go forth and write merry sex scenes. If nothing else, you can wait until your kids get their first boyfriends/girlfriends and then hand them a signed copy and tell them to think of it as an instruction manual. Will guarantee you no grandkids for at least a couple of years, and they’d be even more expensive than the therapy bills.


Romance author

31 thoughts on “Sex Scenes

  1. I had a friend years ago that referred to her genitals (in a purely joking way, I hope) as her beef taco. To this day I have trouble on taco Tuesday because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the best article I have ever read on sex. I appreciate your candor, and I absolutely love your sense of humor!! Thank you for brightening my night.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I had never thought about the words themselves being my problem until you said something tonight in #BoWriChat…. Now it’s like Jimmy Cliff started singing “I Can See Clearly Now”. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lady parts. Really? That sounds like she was on the losing end of a chainsaw battle, and now all that’s left are parts. Of a lady. Lady parts.

    And then there’s that Perdue chicken ad from years ago: “Parts is parts.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was funny. I still giggle like a little kid when I have to write a sex scene. Trying to make it sound sexy while they still get to the business and not being vulgar, man that takes work. I’m with you on what to call the female genitals. Thanks for the laugh tonight. Off to go finish procrastinating now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this post!! I think writing sex scenes is like being able to draw – you’ve either got a talent for it or you haven’t, but it’s obvious to everyone else when you haven’t. You’re right though, I think we get all weirded out by what other people will think and that’s why there are so many badly written sex scenes out there. One of the best ones I read recently didn’t even involve the characters having sex – it was an extremely heated foreplay that had me blushing into my herbal tea (not a euphemism!) so I guess it’s all about how you tell it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE reading bad sex scenes. There used to be a LiveJournal group (maybe still is) called Weeping Cock, where people shared them. It was great.

      I’ve gone less blow-by-blow (so to speak) for my current novel. It’s not closed-door sex but there’s not as much detail as my others. I quite like it; it’s an interesting challenge.


  7. OMG hilarious! My first sex scene was almost the same – “And then they do it”
    I still haven’t gotten around to actually writing the sex part of romance. If I write romance, it’s rom com and I’m too busy thinking I’m funny to get down to it. *fade to black*

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And how about condoms? I hate condoms. Writing about them that is. I’ve read good and popular books where tidy bit of snogging is interrupted by a quick and weird paragraph about Hero’s health records. I spend way too much time figure out how to fit the one-eyed anaconda into a baggie without breaking the mood.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a relief to find that I’m not the only one finding it difficult to write.
    I know, It’s a part of life, and certainly when your characters are coming-of-age, and start to explore. Specially when hormones rush through their veins.
    But can’t you leave much upto the readers imagination?
    Why you you need to describe each and every detail? What does it add to the story?

    I mean, when writing crime/horror, you dont need to write tjhe serialnumber of the chainsaw?


    1. I don’t think sex scenes are analogous to describing the serial number of a chainsaw, but to describing the murderer wielding the chainsaw. Horror is meant to evoke fear, so a horror author shouldn’t shy away from describing terrifying scenes. Romance is about love, so a romance author shouldn’t shy away from describing a loving and emotionally-charged act.

      Plus, if the horror author builds up the tension and never shows us our protagonist in danger, we’re going to feel ripped off and disappointed. If a romance author builds sexual tension and doesn’t show us the sex, it’s the same deal.


      1. I’m the first to admit the analogy isn’t ideal, but does refraining from details cause disappointment?
        Nowadays you’ll find murdering scene’s where the victims last meal is described in detail when his stomach is sliced open and testines are ripped apart. But are those blood and guts details really needed? Allways? Is that really demanded by this-day-and-age?
        Long ago, I was terrified by Orson Wells/Hitchcock scenes that did not show all of the details.
        The final slamming of the door on death-row, the click of the trapdoor under the gallows.

        If a character is repairing a car engine, do you really need to describe which size of spanners he used, the colouring scheme of the wiring, the brand of the plugs? Only IF it is relevant to the story.
        Otherwise you bore the readers by showing of how well you did your research.

        Likewise, if your characters have sex, you MIGHT give details, (a tattoo on his cock) if relevant, if essential to the story. Perhaps, in other cases, the turning off the light, closing of the bedroom door might be enough.


        1. I still don’t think the analogies work. 😀

          It’s all a matter of preference. I LOVE detailed autopsy scenes because I’m fascinated by the science. I have no interest whatsoever in cars and would skip detailed description of an engine. Others would eat it all up and beg for more.

          I think arguing for closed-door sex scene makes as much sense (i.e. none) as arguing for all horror to be gore or all horror to be psychological.


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