Muse Canberra

Six Sensual Suggestions for Writing Sex Scenes

Here at For Pity Sake Publishing, things are getting a little steamy. With Valentines Day fast approaching we’re excited to promote Diana Thompson’s Bowral Romance series, including her latest title Unbridled Passion. We’ve already spent some time with Nick the hunky vet and Jordana, his beautiful lover. Unbridled Passion may just be even raunchier than Diana’s previous work, Winterflood’s Passion (which you can buy here!), and the whole thing has got us thinking, frankly, about sex. Here are some top tips for writing sex scenes, inspired by Diana’s fantastic work.

  1. Vocabulary is everything

There’s a science to describing anatomy. The writer wants terms that are accurate but not clinical. Some romance publishers have strict suggestions on what words can and can’t be used. Variety certainly helps, as the repetition of any single word can be tiring and break the reader’s attention. But similarly, too much variety and the work borders on absurd.

  1. Don’t be afraid of their bits

Describing his ‘member’ is likely to illicit more giggles than just telling us about his ‘cock’. Describing her arousal as a ‘blossoming flower’ is more likely to have the reader rolling their eyes than just telling us that she can feel hserself beginning to become wet. So don’t be afraid to name something for what it is. Balls, breasts, butts, nipples, clits, labias, shafts…when it comes to sex scenes, metaphor and simile can sometimes get in the way of the story.

  1. What does the sex tell us about the characters?

Sex scenes aren’t just about people doin’ it. It’s also about the relationship between the two characters. Sex reveals a lot about who’s in charge, who’s feeling more playful, who’s feeling ashamed, who’s feel confident, and more. The writer can treat sex scenes as a giant metaphor for how two characters interact. Are they quick, fierce and full of passion? Or are they slow, sensual and in complete adoration of each other? Do they flirt at the edge of violence? Does he take control, or does she? Or does it shift at some point? There’s a lot to play with.

  1. Use the environment

Settings are half the fun. Don’t let the characters get so involved with each other’s bodies that you forget the environment around you. Scenes in beds are absolutely fine, but if you’re going for several sex scenes in your work, you’ll want to switch things up. Try outdoors, in different rooms of the house, or anywhere your heart (and loins) desire.

  1. No two scenes are the same

With all of the above, keep in mind that no two scenes should be the same. There’s no real point in making two scenes identical. What’s changed for the characters from one scene to the next? Where are they and how are they feeling? Consider the journey of the relationship and their comfort with each other. Are they more daring? Or more guarded?

  1. If you’re turned on, it’s working

In fact, if you’re not turned on, something’s wrong. Trust that if it works for you, it’ll work for your reader too.

If you can't get enough of Diana Thompson and her steamy romance collection, be sure not to miss her appearance at Muse Canberra this Sunday at 3pm! You'll be able to grab signed copies of both books, and hear all about the inspiration behind Diana's raunchy romance!

Hooked on Romance

I have a bone to pick with Diana Thompson. With her debut novel Winterflood's Passion and the second in her Bowral-based series, Unbridled Passion, Diana has made me into a reader of romance novels!

Before assessing Winterflood's Passion manuscript with a view to publishing it, I wasn't a romance reader. It's not that I disliked the genre - hey, I'd read my fair share of Victoria Holt's and Mills and Boon in my time - but romance novels had never stuck with me as a reader past my teen years. To be fair, neither had any other genre. Crime, biographies, fiction or non-fiction, I was eclectic in my taste and very soon, romance slipped well and truly off the radar...until bloody Diana Thompson.

I've known Di for many years. Our husbands went to school together and I've been a frequenter of her exclusive jewellery store, Briolette, in Canberra on several occasions.  Knowing her in that incarnation, imagine my surprise when on hearing I was starting a publishing company, Di sent me a completed manuscript for her debut novel.

Soon after I displayed my spectacular ignorance of things romance when I asked Di if works of this genre typically contained so many sex scenes. She assured me they did but there seems to be less and less good old fashioned fucking and more and more just plain fucked-up sex in the 'romance' novels of today.  Although I've never read Fifty Shades of Grey, one couldn't fail to miss the hubbub over the controversial, kinky and confronting nature of the sexual encounters in that particular series. I think Diana might be right on that score.

Now there are a couple of questions about this sex thing to my way of thinking - the first being, is a novel really a romance novel if it doesn't contain any explicit and (with any luck) well-written sex scenes? A friend of mine reports throwing Stephanie Meyer's Breaking Dawn up against her bedroom wall (violently enough to wake her flatmate in the next room) because the prick-teasing of the previous three books was seriously unrequited in the fourth and final installment in the Twilight vampire romance series. Readers of romance might well be into foreplay but consummation is clearly a must-have and I can attest that Diana Thompson has that covered in both of her books to date.

Which brings me to my second question - whether artfully written or not, are sex scenes the only draw card to the romance genre? I'd have to say not, and while my evidence is totally anecdotal I've been surprised by the number of people - blokes even - who've told me it's the setting, the story and the characters that really drew them into Diana's work.  One friend said she skimmed the sex bits on the first reading of Winterflood's Passion because she knew she could always go back to them. She was more interested in how things would turn out for the beautiful but lonely heroine, Charlotte Ranleigh, and the unlikely hero, playboy art entrepreneur, Daniel Winterflood.

It's Di's character development and her vivid descriptions of country life in the picturesque NSW Southern Highlands that had me hopping from one foot to the other to read the manuscript for the second in the Bowral series, Unbridled Passion, where the fate of the sexy vet Dr Nick Delaney was to be revealed.  With apologies to Diana's loyal readers, I got the jump on all of you as it was my happy duty to edit the manuscript ahead of the book’s publication last year.  Unbridled Passion was finally unveiled at the inaugural Canberra Writer's Festival in August 2016 to rapturous applause and much voyeuristic gratification that finally, we would learn about Nick's journey to love with a newly introduced character, Jordana Talbot.

As is my wont, and in keeping with my new-found 'romance novel reader' status, I re-read Unbridled Passion recently, marvelling yet again at how Diana Thompson has made me care about the romantic lives of the good burghers of Bowral.  The streets and surrounds of the town were very familiar to me and I warmly welcomed Charlotte and Daniel's intermittent appearances throughout the book as if they were old friends!

The expansion of Nick's story doesn't disappoint either.  Although he seems to have it all - looks, a successful veterinary practice and many loyal co-workers, clients and friends - there's strong themes of abandonment and betrayal running through his life coupled with just plain bad timing in not 'getting the girl' in Winterflood's Passion. The other main protagonist in the story, Jordana, is equally fortunately endowed with looks and talent but like most people in romance novels (or in real life, it would seem) she's also known her fair share of trauma.

Unbridled Passion isn't a sequel per-se and could happily be read as a stand-alone book. But I'd be willing to wager that you'll want to backtrack and read Winterflood's Passion once you're done. If that's the case, save time and buy both books together at a 10% discount when you purchase from the For Pity Sake website. Just type in the coupon code UNBRIDLED at check out and voilà, your Valentine's Day is well and truly covered!

Diana Thompson will be 'in conversation' with Jen McDonald at Muse Canberra in Kingston ACT on Sunday 5 February at 3.00pm.  Tickets are $10 with a free glass of wine and bookings are essential -