Boy Howdy! What Makes an Erotic Scene Tick?

 What makes an erotic scene tick? Hot sweaty animal sex…is that it?  I’m thinking yes, but then again I have a tendency to write my stories around sex scenes, which never fails to leave me in a huge rut.  However, when I come up with a fairly decent story (so my critique partners and editor tells me) I don’t want to admit I think in terms of sex scenes. I’m a romance writer who wants to make the story memorable. I have to add juicy conflicts, and compelling motives, and sweeping character arcs.  

Never mind!  Let’s get back to the sex! 

Okay, so boy meets girl. Boy thinks girl is hawt…girl thinks boy is hawt, and then they have at it. 

IT!  Dun, dun, dah! 

They do the nasty, get it on, make the beast with two backs, or three or four if it’s a… ménage.  *blink, blink*

Where was I? Oh, right!

What makes it…sex…right for the story?  How do sex scenes escape gratuitous status? How do they propel the story forward? These are all the considerations I have to take in when I’m constructing an erotic romance. I can’t just write stories around hot sex. I need to make the scenes necessary/fit the story. 

I’m currently finishing up a second novella and I’m at a pivotal scene. It’s honestly the first time I’ve consciously kept every one of these questions in mind. I feel brilliant, creative, and very proud that I’m crafting the scene so no one sees it as just another opportunity for me to write sex.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to allow the hero and heroine to unleash their characters, grow further into who they are (in my mind) and reach a conclusion that moves them either forward—or backward—on whatever path they’re traveling. It really is that important to the big picture.

What’s your opinion? Have you read stories where the sex just wasn’t *gasp* necessary? Did it make you feel uncomfortable or want to throw the book across the room?

Let’s chat!


16 thoughts on “Boy Howdy! What Makes an Erotic Scene Tick?

  1. anyadavis says:

    Whew! Great post – is it hot in here?? Love that first picture!

  2. Keri Stevens says:

    Why YES! Yes I’ve read unnecessary sex. And just like every unnecessary scene, I skim and skip until I get back into the story. For me, I want to see not just two random people having sex (because, heck, I can pop in a DVD for that). I want to see the characters I love having their own unique combo-mambo. What makes it especially hawt when THIS heroine gets together with THIS hero?

  3. Belle Sloane says:

    Though provoking post, G. Sometimes I wonder how much is too much. I tend to just follow what feels right, and I do tend to have pretty frequent “contact” in my stuff. hmmmm

    Glad the work is flowing and that you’re feeling good.

    Missed you at national.

    • Belle! I would have loved to meet you in person at Nationals! I’m still trying to deal with the fact that I didn’t go. 😦

      And I’m with you on the “contact” point. I’m currently reading Wicked Burn by Beth Kery and it’s fabulous! She has the H/H in constant contact which I love, but I’m sure other readers might cringe if they’re not used to it. My, oh, my can that woman write!

      Thanks for offering your perspective. NY in 2011 right?

  4. Wow! What a post! And the pictures are hawt too, Gabriella! Especially that third one…I could barely get past that one to read further. I literally had to drag my eyes from it. *evil grin*

    To answer your question, I have definitely read scenes that were nothing but sex with no purpose or intent to move the story forward. However, being the romance lover that I am, it was not enough to keep me from reading it. Not too many books I set aside because of lack of interest due to “too much” sex. But those are usually the stories that fail to stay in my mind for long periods of time. I like romances with depth. So if you want to keep both my interest and stay in my long turn recollection, then the story must be better than the sex itself.

    OK, now I’m heading back for another look at that pic. hee hee

    • LOL! Thanks Renee! I spend most of my weekends prowling for pics. I tell you, it’s just not right! I like to put montages of my stories together so I’m collecting lots and lots of “candids” I like to call ’em.

      Anyway, I know once I start reading a story, I have to finish it unless it’s really bad. I use them as how-not-to- guides. *snort*

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Tonya Kappes says:

    I definitely think some writers try to hard at their sex scenes and it comes across as completely out of place. I will skim a sex scene and get back to the story. I like a great story with a good sex scene rather than a great sex scene with a good story. To me it’s all about the story…hell, I can create my own real life sex scene *blush* “oh dear husband where are you?” She yells up the stairs….

    • I agree, Tonya. During my research into writing erotic romance, I came across quite a few stories that would have been much better without the sex…yep, I said it! *wink*

      And creating your own real life sex scene is what’s up! You go! I’m often asked if I’m emulating real life with my work *cough* but that’s another post.

      Thanks for coming by, Tonya. (Hope I’m not interrupting anything. 😉

  6. Oh, and Renee, I’m sending more “candids” your way. I’m thrilled you’re as perverted as I. 😉

  7. KAK says:

    I’ve erotica books on my shelves that hog precious space because their sex scenes are that hawt. What happens before/after the entanglements aren’t particularly memorable. The shelf above them are brilliant stories with gratuitous sex, which, oddly enough, drives me nutters. Why? Because that second shelf contains books marketed outside the erotica genre, so I had no expectation that there would be detailed monkey-lovin.’ The fact that it’s there and poorly woven into the story is just sad, sad, sad.

    It’s all about the reader’s expectations.

    Btw, I now have the expectation to to see hot menage pics as a standard feature on this blog. ~cough~

  8. Monica VanBeekum says:

    Thought I’d see what the discussion on the blog was too!

    I love the pics! Yeah, I have to say sex can’t save a bad story, but I usually think there should be more sex in some stories, especially if the H/H are hot and have a great chemistry. Maybe I am just a pervert? LOL I don’t know? LOL

  9. Oh, KAK, you bring up a huge issue I have about the distinction between erotica and erotic romance. Thank you! I’m thinking that needs to be my next topic.

    However, I’m with you on needing to have love/sex scenes knit into the story, but that’s what I’m panicking about now with my upcoming release and subsequent WIPs. I guess I’ll just be neurotic until it releases and everybody tells me it’s fabulous. *hint, hint*

    I’m so happy you stopped by!

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