Drenched Panties and Lesfic Bubbles—A Guide to Writing Sex Scenes

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Right, let’s get down to drenched panties. Writing sex scenes is hard. Doesn’t matter whether it’s pro stuff for published lesbian fiction, or amateur hijinks in fanfic, it’s up there with dentist chairs for many a writer. And no, that’s not some kinky metaphor.

There’s a fine line between writing IKEA sex—about flap A being inserted into slot B—and providing so little detail amid the floating gauze that the reader’s not entirely sure if one participant hasn’t slipped out for a coffee.

The thing about sex scenes is that it’s a two-pronged process. Part one is writing the sex while, crucially, understanding why you are doing so. Part two is coping with having written it. And everyone does both a little differently.

 

Why sex? Why now?

The key to the writing side is to see sex as just a dramatic action like any other. It tells a story. It reveals a character in multiple ways. So if you don’t become a mess at the thought of penning someone having a big argument, or crying at work, then writing about them closing the distance with another person should be little different. In theory.

Push past the embarrassment for a moment. Think about what’s happening. What does sex mean to your character? Why is she doing it? Why now? Why with this person? Is it about power? Love? Lust? Need? Manipulation? Is she showing her lover her true feelings? Is she getting something out of her system? Focus on the motivations, and approach it like any other scene that’s all about getting the emotions across.

 

Flinging characters down … and forwards

In my second book, I wrote a sex scene with an assassin and her attacker. It was extremely explicit, and yet I didn’t see it as particularly sexual. My protagonist saw it as a game of control; a power play, a cold way to show she was in charge. Sex was the method but not the point. Because that understanding was so clear to me, that it was a way to reveal character, the scene virtually wrote itself.

I think the moment you tap into your character’s driving force for getting it on, the easier it will be to write. Sex should be about propelling the narrative or characters forward. It’s about making the moment meaningful—even if the meaning is that the act means nothing to a character—not just drenching panties (not that there’s anything wrong with doing both). I’d argue this can be true in well-written erotica as well.

 

Hey Nanna, ignore pages 112-118. For reasons

But writing sex is only half the battle. For many writers, the other half is dealing with what you’ve written and thinking about how friends and family will react. It’s only human to be a little squeamish about loved ones’ reactions. But in discussing this with authors, I discovered something quite fascinating. It turns out some of us write sex inside a bubble and some write outside of it.

What is this bubble? This is what allows us to tackle excruciatingly difficult or personal topics (sex being the most prominent) that may not be something we would discuss with another soul beyond the written page.

 

The writing bubble

In order to get past any embarrassment or nerves, I find it’s best not to think about who will read your scene as you write it. Otherwise you’ll be mentally crippled. So, for writers like me, you can get into a bubble where, as you write, the outside world just melts away, and suddenly wham, bam, thank you ma’am, there are sexy times on the page.

Not everyone accesses the bubble. Fellow Ylva author Wendy Hudson, for example, recounted to me how awkwardly she taps out even the word n-i-p-p-l-e, and at all times during a sex scene, she is only too aware her grandmother will be reading it. At all times.

I was in awe and horror of this fact.

But here’s what’s interesting about this. After Wendy’s book is written, she’s good to go. All her fears/issues/anxieties have been already dealt with. She’s moved on. Any embarrassment is a vanishing blip in her rear-view mirror.

For me, freshly springing out of the bubble once my book is done, the anxiety begins. I suddenly recall all I’ve written, and it’s an awkward trip of spiralling embarrassment down the rabbit hole. Yep, there’s Wendy skipping merrily off onto promotional trails, while I’m balled up, muttering, “What have I done? And did it have to involve quite so many (whispers) clits?”

 

Relax … it’s just sex

Eventually we all survive to write another day. And both approaches have pros and cons. I am not sure anyone will ever be anxiety-free when writing about something personal, but that’s the price we pay as authors to deliver that happy ending.

It is good to remember, though, that at the end of the day, for most people sex is just another drive, another need—like food, air, or shelter. It’s not that big a deal. That doesn’t mean you won’t be embarrassed by writing about it ever again. But hey, that comes with the territory. It’s just part of the fun of writing (and wronging) sex.

Lee Winter is an award-winning veteran newspaper journalist who has lived in almost every Australian state, covering courts, crime, news, features and humor writing. Now a full-time author and part-time editor, Lee is also a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist and a Golden Crown Literary Award winner. She recently published Shattered with Ylva.

(Copyright picture above: depositphotos/yablonski75) 


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About the Author : Lee Winter

4 Comments

  1. Roberta Degnore 12/06/2017 at 06:13 - Reply

    Lee Winter- While reading this piece I stepped back and admired the architecture: direct, pithy, visual. Then I checked your bio. Figures! –Great piece, thanks.

    • Lee Winter 12/06/2017 at 13:49 - Reply

      Thanks so much Roberta. My architecture is blushing.

  2. Natalie M-S 12/06/2017 at 09:09 - Reply

    Masterful Lee Winter. As a reader / non-writer, I find this fascinating. A great insight into the process. Thank you for sharing!

    • Lee Winter 12/06/2017 at 13:51 - Reply

      Thank you Natalie. Welcome to my bubble!

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