Sex Scenes

Cross-posted to Genre Benders

At a recent writers meeting a few twitter stalkers of Ken’s was teasing him about writing love scenes. The story goes that when he got to a love scene in his WIP, he twittered that he hated to write them. The next day his mom, via computer web cam – cool mom – told him he needed to write more love scenes. Old ladies like them. Ken, feel free to add to the story.

So to help my friend out, here’s a link to a Romance Writers of America article on writing love scenes by Cara Summers a Harlequin Temptation and Blaze author.

Behind the cut below are the 12 stages of intimacy that Valerie Robertson was talking about at the meeting provided by Kerri-Leigh Grady. She says that Linda Howard was the first to introduce them but I’m not sure that’s true.

And here are my helpful tips. Build the tension so when you do get to the scene it doesn’t take as much to pull it off. *smiles* Remember that no one gets it perfect the first time. Sex doesn’t solve problems, only complicates things. And if you feel awkward writing or reading it, so will your reader. Write what you’d like to read. You can write a love scene where it fades to black (no actual on stage action) and still get the reader’s blood pumping. Me, I love to add humor to love scenes. The condom that won’t unroll. Trying to be sexy and falling on your butt. Tickling.


In order to advance, we need to know the 12 stages of intimacy. They are vital. Linda Howard first introduced them several years ago.

When you look through the list, you must keep in mind a few points. First, spread these out. You don’t want the first ten included by chapter two. Titillate the reader. Spread them out and reuse a few when necessary. Progress naturally. Don’t have the heroine with a hand down the hero’s pants in chapter seven, then in chapter eight they’ve got their first kiss, unless the intent is to throw the characters for a loop (which can do wonders for sexual tension). Also, don’t skip anything major. First kiss and first sexual intercourse (unless you write sweeties) are vital. So is talking. So is eye contact. Keep in mind, too, that the hero and heroine MUST BE AWARE that they are experiencing each of these, or it’s not really going to do much to increase sexual tension. In fact, you can use the awareness of each of these as replacements for the “tightening in his groin” or for other overused euphemisms.

Okay, so here are the much-awaited Steps of Intimacy (these were pulled from a web site years ago, and now I can’t find the site to give the poster the proper credit, but these were pulled from a presentation by Linda Howard):

1. Eye to body. The old once-over, except it happens in a fraction of an instant. Only a few significant details are absorbed. Attraction occurs or it doesn’t.

2. Eye to eye. Eye contact is sustained only between intimates. If a stranger stares, it’s considered rude or an act of aggression.

3. Voice to voice. Ranges from small talk to intimate.

4. Hand to hand. This requires some trust. Hand to arm counts here, too (man’s excuse to get his hands on her, by guiding her).

5. Arm to shoulder. May be a hug.

6. Arm to waist. Can be sexual, especially if “waist” is considered the small of the back. Men won’t do this to other men.

7. Mouth to mouth. Full frontal contact during a kiss.

8. Hand to head. Requires trust.

9. Hand to body. Any body part –- breast, shoulder, chest…

10. Mouth to breast.

11. Hand to genitals.

12. Genitals to genitals.

Copyright © 1998 Kerri-Leigh Grady
Do not distribute or reprint without proper credit.


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