Yeah, baby. Why didn't I think of this one?

I wrote my first romance novel when I was sixteen and had hardly even been kissed—I’d got all my education on the subject from Barbara Cartland and Joan Collins. I wrote it at camp as a series of installments I read aloud each night to my giggling cabinmates. Called The Pirate’s Treasure (or some such) it featured many of the following words, which should be avoided in any ACTUALLY hot sex scenes:









Rosebuds (of either the upper or lower kind)



While I’m not a romance writer per se, I find writing a good sex scene is indispensable in any writer’s arsenal, and will usually come up (ha!) at least once in every novel worth its salt. (Right now I’m “doing” a romantic suspense, and it’s come up more than usual.) As important and commonplace a writing sex is, it’s actually not that easy.  (The innuendos are everywhere today!)

Over the years I’ve come to believe in a state called “reader’s brain”—a semi-hypnotized trance in which the reader seamlessly enters the writer’s world, and voluntarily—as in a good movie—suspends disbelief and embarks upon a journey filled with sounds, smells and experiences they will probably never come across in their own messy, annoying, boring real lives.

This is the joy of reading sex. And since we’re being honest, the joy of writing it too.

And those words, those mood-killing words, are the sand in the vagina of the reader at a critical moment.

The best sex scenes are anchored in details that bring the reader into the bedroom with the characters—but are never tacky or clichéd.

The tender spiral of an ear.

“Please. Have mercy.” A husky voice, vibrating with need like prayer.

The slow, meticulous act of removing a high heeled shoe. And–leaving the other one on.

The sucking of a finger, drawing patterns on a naked body. (What are the patterns, wonders the reader—and where will they end?)

I find that careful details, combined with a glossing-over of the mechanics of the actual act—combine to make scenes that fairly leap off the page.

What are some of your “pet peeve” mood-killer words? What do you think makes a great sex scene?

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