That pesky beast with two backs…

As always, Friday morning hits me and I think I have a vague idea about what I’m going to write here. I’m good, and collect interesting little scraps of information that have appeared in the last fortnight. As in, we could make our own Dyson Sphere in the next 50 years in these five easy steps, or a farmer who says his herd has been killed by alien death rays or my favourite, military drones in civilian hands. And the last photo in that article. A fitting end for all household pets…? o_O

All that beautiful (ish) planning and the only thing I really have on my mind is sex.

I write erotic science fiction and fantasy romance. I have to sit at my desk and think about characters getting it on. A lot. Practically every day. Only in two recent short stories, this isn’t happening. Especially for a certain parallel world jumping heroine. I think the problem is more immediate in this wip as it’s short. I can’t run up to the smexxing with more world building and plot, character and back story.

Sexual reactions have to develop from the character (I wanted to use ‘come’ and ‘rise up’, but I didn’t. See? Grown up author 😀 ). You can’t just slap in a sex scene you wrote for another abandoned wip. It has to be tailor-made. Well, you could copy and paste, but then that scene would have to be hacked and slashed to fit, so you’d only really have the bones of Tab A into Slot B, C and D. And even then…would those be the moves that turn those particular characters on? Yes, really best to not do it. 😉

So, what to do? I have a few block-breakers.

First is to bullet point the scene. More often than not, this will work for me. I don’t think about the niceties, it’s all about what are the motivations of the characters, what plot points have to carry through the scene? How to they like to be touched? Will it be fast, slow, interrupted? Will they talk dirty? What will the sex reveal about them and their growing relationship?

Somewhere in the slew of questions and their answers the scene starts to flow–and I have a little outline what I can go back and flesh out. Yay.

If the above results in meh I reread the wip from the beginning. Laborious, I know, but if I can’t write the sex, then I’m missing something about the characters…and that means there’s probably something missing earlier in the story too. Yes, I’m a pantster; I find about a character as it’s written.

And if the above fails? I make tea, open something suitably smutty and get inspired. Or at the minute, I play with this:

So, authors, how do you tackle a sex scene? And readers, what’s been your fave?

Kim – who has to go and write some smexxing now…


Kim Knox brews sex, magic, darkness and technology in a little corner of North West England. She writes erotic science fiction and fantasy romance for Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and others.

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SYNTHETIC DREAMS and BITTER HARVEST are available now from Carina Press.



  1. When I’m stuck on writing a sex scene, I handwrite a list of what happens (I’m too OCD to make it bullet format. I’d rewrite the list a hundred times to make sure I lined the dots up right). I have separate lines for emotional response, physical reaction, etc. Handwriting is very important to me b/c it’s a different way to look at the problem.

    When I have the list I look at the five senses to make sure I’m getting those in, but more importantly, I’m making sure I’m showing the chain of action (thank you Morgan Hawke!). He does something. Her body’s instinctive physical reaction. The physical sensation and the physical reaction it causes. Then the emotional reaction reflected in their thoughts. Then the action they produce. It all happens in as little as two sentences, but it’s very important. Most of the time I get stuck on a scene b/c I’m making the character do something OUT of character and my mind stops me from continuing.

    If I can’t write one at all, I also go back and read from the beginning. It’s annoying sometimes, but necessary. If I still can’t figure it out, I read out loud (to myself, of course!), and that usually jogs my mind.

    Great post!!!

  2. I haven’t had a problem writing sex scenes (so far). For me, they’re the easiest part of the story to write (because I’m an incurable horn dog — sorry, that’s probably TMI).

    Maybe it’s my dusty ol’ psych degree, but I see sex as deeply connected to heart, soul, needs, motivations, etc. So, when I’m writing a sex scene, it flows naturally from the characters — who they are, what they desire, and how their personality traits manifest within the act of intimacy. I really enjoy exploring the personalities of my characters by exploring how they have sex.

    My Stellarnet Series is not erotica — and it’s not really SFR, though it has romantic elements — but I use sex as one way to explore and express deeper aspects of the characters. Whether an individual is fast and athletic, slow and sensual, playful and humorous, dominant or submissive, giving or demanding, reflects who they are in the greater story.

    As a reader, I’ve really enjoyed Robert Appleton, Lilly Cain and Elyse Mady as sex scene writers. I know Robert’s books aren’t “erotic” or even “romance” really, but I love his characters and how they physically interact. I’ve enjoyed others, but those are the ones who come immediately to mind.

  3. I think what I’ll do if I’m stuck, is re-read this post. Those are excellent suggestions!

  4. When I’m having trouble with a sex scene I’ll have big old glass of something with lots of booze (to loosen my inhibitions), then focus on their minds. What’s going on in those noggins? What are they seeing, feeling, smelling, thinking?

  5. If you ever have trouble writing a sex scene, now there THIS!

    WARNING: I’m so totally kidding! NSFW Don’t click the link if your kids are in the room, or if you’re easily offended.

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