I have such a treat for all you romance writers!
Author Lucy Keeling is here to talk to us about writing naughty scenes in romance novels. I have to say I avoided them in my novel, Instructions For Falling In Love Again, because all my saucy scenes had the cringe factor. After writing one I would find myself hiding under my dressing table.
One day I hope to overcome this hurdle so I am going to see what Lucy Keeling has to say…
I’m Lucy Keeling and my debut novel Make It Up To You’ has had many lovely reviews, many more than I ever dreamed, but one thing that keeps being discussed is the, ahem, …saucier aspects of the novel.
If the rumours, tweets and texts from friends boyfriends* are to believed, then apparently I can write good sex. (*yes seriously, and no I don’t think I can look at them again)
And so whilst I never thought for one minute that I would be writing a blog post on this topic here I am with the five things I think will help you write good sex.
1. In the mood?
I suppose the seasoned professionals that write sex day in day out can just put pen to paper and go for it. I’m not saying that I need candles, a glass of wine, a quick neck massage and then I’m good to write the steamy stuff. It’s just if I’m trying to get the kids ready for school, if I know I need to deep clean my oven, if my car insurance is due, you know what, suddenly I’m not in the mood. I need a quiet space, a space that’s not likely to be interrupted, and yes, you know what a glass of wine sometimes helps. So think about what’s going to help you write the steamier bits and what’s not, and try to get yourself in the mood… to write.
2. What words can I use?
Ohhh, ok so you’re in the mood to write something a little steamier, but you’re looking at your screen and suddenly it feels like you’re writing a scientific journal of anatomical references. Or maybe, in order to avoid being crude, your work is instead a bit too flowery? Hmmm. For me this is honestly one of the hardest parts, as it were. You’ll have your own words for things that make you cringe, and if that’s the case do not use them. If you’re making yourself cringe you’re going to struggle to continue. It goes back to step one, being in the mood. So, if you don’t like the word Moist don’t use it. I, for one, am not a fan of mounds. To each their own.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to study your contemporaries. Are there words that they don’t use, words that they do. If you know the market your aiming for then write in that tone.
3. It’s all very… textbook
Hmmm ok, assuming that you want your reader to stay with you here, I recommend going back and making sure that you’ve covered all of the senses. ALL OF THEM. What does he smell like… what does she taste like… what does it sound like when he… what does it look like when she… what does it feel like when they… you get it right?
But please make sure that what you’re writing is physically possible. I won’t go into too much detail (the original 18+ blog post can be read on my website lucykeeling.com) but look out for clothes magically disappearing, and an excess of arms etc. For brilliant examples of senses and sex scenes you can read pretty much anything by Talia Hibbert, Alisha Rai and Rachael Stewart.
4. Do I need to write sexy times?
No of course not. A heck of a lot of really good romance books are ‘closed door’. But will a sex scene show a personality insight that would otherwise be hard to get at? Will it move the story along? Will it add another layer, an additional conflict, or resolution? Then yes you might want to think about including it, especially if you’re not going to get these aspects in any other part of your story. Gorgeous stories that don’t include and don’t need to include sex can be found by Kiley Dunbar, Maxine Morrey and our very own Lucy Mitchell.
5. Consent & Contraception
If you write sex and it’s non-consensual then guess what? I’m not finishing that book. Sex has to be consented to. Simple as. It can be done simply, it can be done sexily, I honestly don’t care how, but it needs to be explicit consent.
On that note can we also talk contraception. If you fail to include contraception in your story, I’m thinking one thing and one thing only. The one with the uterus is getting pregnant, or a sexually transmitted disease. If you think writing Historical Romance gets you out of writing either consent or contraception think again. And if you need examples please see, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan or Virginia Heath.
So, there you have it, off you go and write all the steaminess your heart desires.
Good luck with the words,
Lucy K x
Don’t miss my blog tomorrow as I have a very important book review 🥰📚❤️