Alright folks, so a quick disclaimer before I begin: I am demisexual, and NOT sex-repulsed, so bear that in mind while reading.
That said, I didn't experience any sexual attraction to anyone for most of my life. It wasn't until I fell for my best friend that it happened for me, and that was also around the time I realised that my somewhat unique perspective on relationships had shaped how I'd written them.
I didn't realise I was demisexual until after college, so I'd spent my entire life up until that point writing relationships the way I thought they manifested for everyone. And oh boy, can I just say, writing a book with an allosexual partner (who also happens to be my romantic partner) opened my eyes wide to the realities of sexual attraction.
So let's get into it: how do I go about writing those spicy scenes as someone who didn't even experience sexual attraction until I was twenty-two?
Well I'll be honest, up until I started writing with my partner, I had never written a sex scene before. I just wasn't particularly interested in them, and they made me uncomfortable. And quick sidebar: that's absolutely fine. You do not have to write sex scenes to write a good book. You don't even have to write them to write a good romance. Do what makes you comfortable and learn how to do it well.
For me, those scenes became much more accessible once I knew what it was like to experience those same feelings as my characters, but I'm certain that you could get a good enough idea of what those feelings entail if you just read enough relevant material (something I also didn't do).
And it takes practice, just like anything else. The very first sex scene you write will probably be a little cringe, and that’s ok! Mine were, but now I'm a lot more capable and comfortable writing the kind of sex scenes that I want to write, which for me is a mix of explicit and fade-to-black.
Speaking of explicit-ness, one thing you ought to consider in your writing of sex scenes is how explicit you want to be.
This will partially depend on the intended audience for your story (YA vs Adult for example) and also on your own level of comfort. Some people prefer slightly crasser language when they describe the act, while others lean more poetic. Another important consideration is which words you use to describe various things in your scene. Word choice can make all the difference and can impact how your scene is received by your reader.
But please keep in mind that your spicy scenes don't have to be explicit! Believe it or not, there's a lot you can imply with a little bit of subtle language. One of my favourite lines I ever wrote for a sex scene was just at that fade-to-black moment, in a current WIP: “Everything after that point was lost in whispered answers, in buttons and heat and dizzying kisses.”
📝 Honestly, my best advice for writing sexy scenes is to do your research. That could mean reading lots of romance, fanfiction, talking to your friends, or just doing some soul-searching.
Before I realised I was demi, the romantic relationships I wrote progressed extremely slowly, and the characters gave no indication that they were sexually attracted to one another. Now that I know that this was partly because that's what I imagined a relationship would look like/feel like, I've been able to talk to my partner, read more subject material, and practise those allosexual relationships in my writing.
However, I will once again emphasise: none of this is necessary to write a good book. If you don't want to write spicy scenes, if you have no interest in writing about sexual attraction, that is more than ok! We need representations of all sorts of different relationships in our books, not just allosexual, cis, heterosexual romances (of which there are plenty).
Another barrier that I sometimes see with spicy scenes is self-consciousness. And speaking as someone who is still super awkward around conversations of sex, I understand.
It can feel very vulnerable, and you’re allowed to have some space if you need it. In terms of overcoming this, I recommend finding someone you trust and talking it out with them. Also, reading more spice can be good “exposure-therapy” and sometimes you just need to throw yourself to the wolves and make your best effort. Whether or not you share it with someone else after that point is up to you.
So, to reiterate, how do you write a good sex scene?
- Figure out what that looks like to you. Do you prefer a more explicitly written scene, or the fade-to-black approach, or some mix of the two?
- Do your research - check out other books in your genre and read voraciously. Talk to your friends, troubleshoot the bits you’re having problems with. Maybe even let someone else read your work (I know, I know, terrifying.)
- Determine the role that the spicy scene is playing in your story. Why is it necessary? What will you accomplish through writing it? What does the character want? How are they going to try and get it?
- Consider how your personal life, experiences, and biases could be playing into your story and the scenes you write (this applies to more than just sex scenes, but to those as well).
- Take some time to sit with your own self-consciousness (if you have any) regarding writing this type of scene.
- Practise, practise, practise!
In the end, writing a spicy scene should be fun, just like anything else. If it makes you uncomfortable, and you’re not in a head-space where you want to push yourself outside your comfort zone, don’t even worry about it.
Ask yourself some questions about what else you could do to progress the relationship between your characters (hint: moments of non-sexual intimacy work well for this.) In the meantime, I wish you luck in all of your sexy endeavours, and I hope some of this was helpful, even if you just needed to be seen.
Written for The Plottery
Jules (she/they) is a queer, nonbinary, neurodivergent writer and aspirant book dragon who has been in love with writing since they were six years old. They are just as likely to wax poetic about philosophy or comedy specials, and they dream of someday escaping to a cabin where they can entertain their imagination, surround themselves with books, and hopefully gaze dramatically into the rain from a cosy window seat. They have their own blog chaoticallyinclined namely @jules.m.sherwood on Instagram.