24 Comments

Author Jen Blood: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

Today, my guest blogger is Jen Blood , author of All the Blue-Eyed Angels. Jen has been a professional freelance writer and editor for over a decade. She has an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction, and teaches seminars on writing, marketing, and social media for authors. She lives in Maine. These are her 3 Tips to Make Your Steamiest Scenes Even Steamier!

 Image of Jen Blood

One of my first big gigs when I started working as an editor was for a little niche publishing house out of L.A. that specialized in “horrotica” – which, as you might expect from the name, is a hybrid of horror and erotica. I referred to it affectionately as “zombie porn,” since a lot of what I was editing were fairly horrific scenes involving the undead doing ungodly things to one another. I can totally get behind the whole vamp thing and even the occasional werewolf, but to this day I still don’t see the sexy in your average zombie. 

While I may not get the appeal of zombie porn, I’m definitely a fan of romance and erotica. I’ve taken and taught seminars on writing sex, written articles about it, and penned a slew of steamy scenes myself. I remember how difficult it was for me when I first got started, but I’m still a little amazed when otherwise solid writers fall apart once the clothes come off and things get heated. So, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way to make passion painless in your daily writing. 

Be specific. Adjectives like “perfect,” “handsome,” “petite,” or “beautiful” tell readers virtually nothing about what they’re seeing. Check out this description from Stacey Kennedy’s paranormal romance, ‘Til We Meet Again:

By the red chaise, a man stood. A gorgeous man dressed in a long dark blue coat with gold buttons decorating the front. The same color cotton pants sat snug against his thick thighs with black boots on his feet. Around his waist a sword strapped to a wide belt that hung low on his hips. A navy cap sat atop his head with three rows of black braid and underneath it, Cassie saw his light brown curls. 

She drew her gaze away from his hair and settled it on his face. Deep chocolate stared back at her. A twelve o’clock shadow caused the soft smoothness of his skin to appear darker. His nose angular, his chin square, and his lips not too thin, yet not full either.

Perfect.  

Kennedy earns that final “Perfect” with her incredible description before she uses the dreaded blanket descriptor. When you’re going through your writing, be wary of general descriptors that give little real information to the reader, and challenge yourself to do better. 

Bring character into the equation. You don’t stop being you just because you’re having sex, so why should your characters? My novel, All the Blue-Eyed Angels, isn’t strictly romance, but it has a lot of romantic elements, and there are a couple of sexy scenes in there involving the main character, Erin Solomon. In those scenes, my primary objective was always to retain her distinctive voice while still conveying the heat of the moment.

Here’s a scene between Erin and Jack Juarez, a mysterious FBI agent who’s been thrown into the middle of her investigation: 

When we were on the mattress, he pulled my shirt up over my head and tossed it in a pile of the room with the rest of our clothes. Then, he just sat there – studying me. My hair was a mess and my heart was beating too fast and it was only by some miracle of fate that I was wearing Victoria’s Secret instead of my sports bra and a pair of Diggs’ boxer shorts.

“What?” I asked. I pulled the comforter up over my lap.

“You’re beautiful, you know.”

I rolled my eyes. “So are you.”

He was, actually. He had the calves of a distance runner and the ass of a Roman god. His dark hair was rumpled, an errant lock across his forehead and a cowlick in the back. His stomach was flat and his boxers were tented. My blood felt like warm honey slipping through my veins as I dropped my hand to his ankle, tracing light patterns up his leg.  

Even with a hotter-than-hell Fed in her bed, Erin doesn’t lose her cynical edge. Charlaine Harris is a master at doing this with her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Even in the most raw, sexual encounters, Harris never loses sight of who Sookie is and how her character is experiencing the moment. Strive to do the same with your work. 

Get out your Barbies. You read me right. When tongues and teeth and other unmentionables are flying all over the place, it can be tricky to keep track of which character is where at any given moment. Just as writers do with action sequences or fight scenes, take some time to choreograph. Get out Ken and Barbie – or Barbie and Barbie, if that’s what floats your boat – and go through the motions. I know, it sounds absurd, and you’ll undoubtedly feel ridiculous at first. But if you’ve got her leg wrapped around his waist and she’s nibbling his neck while he’s gazing into her eyes or sucking on her toes, your readers are eventually just gonna throw their hands up in frustration. Because I think this is such an important point that writers frequently get tangled up in, here’s an example from Dennis Lehane’s Darkness, Take My Hand:  

I raised my head and kissed her. My right hand caught in the tangles of her hair, and as my mouth dropped back from hers, she followed it, closing her lips over it and burying her tongue inside. My hands dropped down her back, the fingers pressing either side of her spinal cord before they hooked under the elastic band of her underpants.

 She raised an arm and gripped the headboard, her body rising up mine as my  tongue found her throat and my hands turned her underpants into a silk coil that rolled tightly over her hips and the rise of her ass. Her breast sank into my mouth and she gasped slightly, pulled the headboard against the mattress. The heel of her hand ran roughly down my abdomen and into my groin and she kicked at the coil of underwear around her ankles as she lowered herself back down my body. 

In that example, Lehane is very specific about what’s happening physically, but notice how he’s able to give those specifics without repeating himself; in that entire two paragraphs, he uses “kissed” only once, even though that’s pretty much all they’re doing that entire time. Take time to map out your scenes, think about the physicality of what’s happening, and then, once it’s visually clear in your head, it will be that much simpler for you to convey what’s happening to your readers. 

These are just a few examples of ways to make your hottest scenes come to life for the reader while simultaneously making them just a little easier for you, the writer, to get them down on paper. Now, let’s hear from you: Who are the writers you emulate when it comes to writing The Sex? Do you have tricks or tips that have come in handy with your own novels or short stories? I’d love to hear what others have to say on the subject! (And one of the lucky folks commenting on this post will win a signed print copy of my novel, All the Blue-Eyed Angels, so comment away!)

 

All the Blue-Eyed Angels 

 You can find Jen Blood at the following links: http://jenniferblood.net/

http://twitter.com/#!/jenblood

http://www.amazon.com/All-the-Blue-Eyed-Angels-ebook/dp/B007B2IG1A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334238118&sr=8-1

http://www.facebook.com/jenblood1

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jenblood

 

 

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24 comments on “Author Jen Blood: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

  1. I read Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid novels, and there are some fun, sexy, and steamy scenes (If you have not read them, please, please do! I have them all on Kindle! Love ’em). Done well only because the characters are *in* the scene. Harris is a very underrated writer, IMHO! I find her novels lickable and brilliant. When I read Lehane I was surprised, one of the few men who really got it, but I think that is because how well he knows his characters. Erin, however, better get hot and heavy w/Diggs in the next novel, seriously.

    I, for one, cannot for the life of me, write sex scenes very well. I’ve practiced (will doing fan fiction) and they never seemed to come out *just* right. I guess I’m a better performer than describer :).

    • Well, I don’t know how well my sex scenes come off, but Jane I think performing well is better than writing it well, so you’re ahead of the curve on that one for sure. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • I haven’t read Richelle Mead yet, Janet, so I’ll have to check her out. I just picked up E.L. James first novel *hangs head in shame* I’m actually kind of surprised — I really thought it would be terrible, but it’s not nearly as bad as I expected. And as for fan fiction… Girl, I learned half my best writing tricks in grad school, and the other half from writing fanfic. Ultimately it’s all about putting the time in, and eventually things just fall into place. Having good betas to read and honestly review your stuff helps too, of course! Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

      Oh — and Diggs and Erin. You’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens next. ;P I’ll be releasing the prologue tomorrow, though, so you can get a glimpse of it then!!

      • Jen, I have all the RM books on Kindle, can easily loan ’em over to you 🙂 — as for Diggs and Erin, whooo hooo on the prologue! The FF stuff was a paid gig, and I wrote for the “new” shows that came out that year, Journeyman, Bionic Woman, etc – and my employer insisted it all be gay/lesbian fiction, it was quite interesting to do it realistically. It REALLY did help with the development of my novel! I still “write for free” on Wattpad.com, the instant feedback, learning how to craft arcs, leaving good trails for ppl to follow and good dialogue! That is key, for moi – 🙂

  2. I am going to buy some barbie and ken dolls now! Great blog Jen Blood!

  3. Sometimes the devil is not in the details, but in getting the details right. I liked your tip about Barbie & Ken, but now whenever I read one of your steamy scenes, I’m sure I’ll be picturing you mashing B & K together. lol

    • I like that — “the devil’s in getting the details right.” So true. Nothing is more distracting to me in a scene than trying to figure out where things are and how they got there… Sorry about the B&K mash-up image, though — I hope they don’t stick as your visual of Diggs and Solomon from here on out!

  4. I always have an issue following the action in sex scenes! Who’s on top, who’s standing and who’s sitting? Are they actually having intercourse yet or just foreplay? With some authors I have to go back and read a scene a couple times to try and understand the logistics of a situation. And even then sometimes it reminds me of that line in Clue-
    “Oh my! Nobody can get into THAT position!”
    “Sure they can, here let me show you.”

    I always prefer sex scenes where the characters are talking to each other or at least doing more than just knocking boots. I prefer a little plot with my porn and that includes during my porn also. lol.

    • LOL. Following the action in sex scenes can definitely be exhausting, especially when it’s a looong scene. I like the writers who don’t provide a complete play-by-play, but give you enough detail so you have that visual, a good general idea of who’s doing what to whom, and — most importantly — how the characters are being impacted by what’s going on. You’re right: character interaction in these scenes is so important. If you get too lost in one person’s head, it’s easy to forget there’s someone else in the room. Thanks for the comment, Jillian!!

    • I had that problem with a sex scene in Messy Death. I was writing it, it was hot and then I thought…um. No! That doesn’t work. He’s too big and the loveseat is too small for that to work out. It ticked me off to revamp it, but in the end I like that it was realistic.

      • LOL – I know, the logistics really can just bog you down after a while, can’t they?! And I like what you said here: “The best authors have their characters moving through the sex scene without getting so bogged down in the mechanics.” Well put, and very true!!

  5. You know, when I was younger I use to love writing erotica, this was back in college. I had a tragic self-esteem problem back then and I simply wrote things that reflected what I wanted myself but felt that I couldn’t have. Now I look back and think how ridiculous it was, but that’s not the point. I combined my own fantasies and the actual “sexapades” of my roommate to create what others said were some really beautiful scenes. One of my roommates had me write her a story for her anniversary. Now that was a challenge! I wasn’t particularly fond of her boyfriend at the time and to write a rather intimate and believable scene using him as my model was really torturous. The torture came about from the idea that as the writer and this being my creation, I was very profoundly connected to the act myself. It was as if I was being made love to or making love to someone else, even if it was just though words. Having said that, God only know that the last thing I ever wanted was to be connected to my roommate’s ghastly boyfriend. The irony behind it all was that I was such a quiet and reserved individual that you’d never even consider that I could write the things I did. I guess the saying is true; you do have to watch out for the quiet ones. After all, my favorite word in the English language is ‘kinky’, ‘serendipity’ being the other one.
    P.S.
    I do apologize for my lengthy responses. I can never seem to express myself in short terms.

    • I love your lengthy response, Ambrosia. Thanks for sharing the “kink.” 🙂

    • Hey Ambrosia, Thanks for stopping by! It is weird how personal the writing experience can be in general — and then when you throw sex into the mix, I think there’s definitely a natural tendency to live vicariously through the characters & the experience…Particularly when you’re young and just getting started in the whole writing thing. I don’t think I could ever write a sex scene between people I know, though — wow, that’s very brave!
      Incidentally, I completely agree on that whole, “It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for” creed, too — speaking as a late-blooming wallflower myself, it’s certainly been my experience. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  6. Writing teh sex has got to be the hardest part of fic writing for me. I still get a little embarrassed through the entire process and I don’t know whether I’ve truly got it right, although feedback has been positive – LOL! It’s difficult trying to get the right balance between “tab ‘a’ goes into slot ‘b'” and actual romance. But I totally agree, without keeping the characters in character, it can so easily descend into something completely different. I often like to include a little humour in these scenes as well – I think that can help keep it real (well, that’s my experience, anyway ;p). Thanks for these tips, I’m always on the hunt for ways to improve my writing.

  7. I have Barbie’s! (for when the nieces come to play!) hehe. Great post Jen and Jennifer!

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