You are reading a steamy novel. Not the dimestore romance, but a hot, erotic novel. You’ve just gotten to the good stuff, the sex scene. The five-alarm scene that the last five pages have been preparing you for has finally arrived! Yeah!!! And then…the most unbelievable things begin to happen. All of a sudden the man with the three-foot penis has entered the picture, and the virginal bride suddenly is hunky dory with being fisted on her wedding night. Has this ever happened to you? I consider this situation rude! The writer has yanked the reader from wonderland and threw them head first into Yeahrightsville! When it comes to erotic romance, being credible and realistic is essential. Otherwise, it’s like dumping a bucket of ice water over the reader’s head!
Sex scenes in erotic romance are not typically pornographic. By that, I mean it’s hot, but it’s not “cheap-thrill” hot. There are no women with three pounds of makeup applied everywhere. And the pool guy doesn’t walk around the house looking to score. (Absolutely no offense to the pornographic industry…love your work…keep it up!) Sex scenes in an erotic romance should have substance. It has to propel the story forward. If it’s just sex because it’s been ten pages, then it’s not a romance- it’s just sex. Not that there’s really anything wrong with that, but it’s not what we are going for here.
I’m not suggesting that an erotic romance not have a lot of sex. It can and should have enough heat to satisfy the reader as well as the characters, but it has to be realistic. The goal is to put the reader in the scene. Let them feel like the characters are alive. That the hot stud running his large hands up the heroine’s milky thighs could actually be their hot stud. You want to put the reader in that zone where even if a bomb blew right next to them, they would rather catch fire than tear their eyes from your pages.
A lot of people in the BDSM community had a lot of trouble with the Shades trilogy. Aside from the writing issues, the writer obviously had no idea what a true Dominant/ submissive relationship is like. If you are going to write about a specific topic, you must know enough about it to write about it. I don’t write anything having to do with suspension bondange. I’ve never tried it, and I have no idea how it really works. Until I get some good research done, I won’t touch it. You have to be credible for the reader to believe you. If they begin to think you don’t know what your talking about or that it’s all full of malarkey, out of the fantasy world and straight into Yeahrightsville they go.
That’s not to say you can’t write a BDSM story if you don’t live the lifestyle, but you need to be sure you understand more than just what a safeword means. I was asked in an interview if I felt it was important to portray the lifestyle correctly in my work, and I answered YES. It is very important to me. I don’t view BDSM as just a bedroom kink, or just a little spanking. I view it as a loving relationship, and it’s extremely important to me that I get that across in my writing. The characters are much easier to love if you believe they are living honestly.
Be realistic! PLEASE be realistic. I listened to a book recently (Yes, I listen to erotic romance while working out at the gym…don’t judge!) where the lead woman had never participated in anal sex before. When the hero introduced her to anal sex, not only was it a surprise to her, but it was during a three way sex scene in which the anal sex was taking place as part of a double penetration scene. I’m pretty sure the guy on the rowing machine next to me heard my exasperated “Oh C’mon!”
I was so irritated by the unrealistic approach to what could have been so damn hot that I nearly tore my headphones off. First of all, talking about the upcoming anal sex could have been a seriously sexy conversation. Negotiating the third party’s involvement would have added spice to the scene. Second of all, if you haven’t had anal sex, let me be very clear with you: the first time is not extremely comfortable. Now, I get that it’s fantasy. I understand the meaning of fiction. BUT, I also know that the second this happened in the book the writer lost a lot of points in the credibility department.
There are ways to get all the hot stuff into a scene while still being realistic. In the above example: have an anal scene with just the two of them before doing a double penetration, or don’t have her be a backside virgin, or have some activity to ready her for the invasion.
Making it more realistic keeps the reader in the book, keeps them glued to the story and the characters. It does not make them sit on a rowing machine devising all sorts of different ways to do the scene to make it more feasible. Remember, we do not want the reader to have a reason to put the book down.
Another example is the twenty-five page sex scene. You’ve read them. Where the hero has four orgasms, and the heroine has been pounded so hard you are pretty sure she’ll need medical attention if he touches her again. Multiple orgasms are fine. I don’t think men are as capable, but I guess two orgasms in one scene could be possible. Women are more capable, so that’s believable. But do it in a way that doesn’t make the reader worry for her physical safety. Long sex scenes are wonderful, just so long as they are believable.
The thing to remember when writing the sex scenes is most of your readers have most likely had sex before. So, if you make them roll their eyes, scoff in disbelief, or scare the guy on the rower next to them, you are inviting them to shut your book. Keep the sex hot. Keep the sex romantic- even heavy kink can be romantic. Keep the sex believable, and you will have readers wanting more of that scene, more of that story, and more of your work!