The Perils of Really Awful Sex

When it comes to making love I’m no slouch in the sack, but I’m not exactly a chandelier swinging horn-dog either. Yet when it comes to writing the hot and nasty, I’m in deep trouble.

My love scenes suck. Not lascivious vampire suck, not great action-verb suck, they just don’t cut it.

Exhibit A: Love scene from Prince Charming, Inc.  princecharminginc_cover

Pleasure flashed through her body as she took his length.  It was like the first time again.  With Nick.

They were united.  One.

She slowly rose.  He exhaled as she did, then inhaled sharply as she dropped again.  All the way.  Again. Again.  Up and down.  Soon they were in their own rhythm.  Her thighs began to ache.  Her muscles weren’t used to thisHe seemed to sense it and they rolled.  It was his turn to set their pace.  She relaxed, surrendered, and he was in no hurry.

The moon shone in the window as they climaxed.  Sweat poured off their bodies as they rocked against each other, consumed by their needs and fulfilling them in each other.

Gasping, they lay side by side.

Oh my god,” Elyse exclaimed.  “I’m out of shape for this.”

Cringe-worthy, isn’t it?  I realize this bedroom effort falls far short of acceptable fictitious lovemaking efforts. Luckily for readers, I’ve only published a couple books with sex scenes. So far they’ve mostly forgiven my lack of erotic skills because they’ve loved the characters and story. But if I want to continue to build readership in the contemporary market, I know I must step it up between the sheets.

Exhibit B: I bought The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic RomanceIdiot's Guide

Did it work? Not so far.  Stuck on page 95, I hoped to stumble across a cheat sheet of sexy verbs and a directory of genital slang. Cock versus penis? I have no clue what to use and when, not to mention all the other synonyms for a penis, like prick, dick, and… drumroll please… the word romance writers can never, ever use, but it still makes me grin every time I say it… MANROOT!

As you can see, I’m at a loss even before I begin writing my next great lovemaking scene. In fact, I’ve been avoiding writing sex scenes altogether. So if you know the answers to the question above, or would like to offer some advice on how I can improve, please leave a comment.  You can even tell me to go hire professional help and I won’t be offended.

Jamie Brazil is the author of seven books who promotes self-distribution for independent writers. Her latest release is a re-release, updated and revised for 2014, of the popular Some Writers Deserve to Starve! 31 Brutal Truths for Writers.



About Jamie Brazil

Humor writer, romance novelist, Bloodhound enthusiast.

Posted on February 17, 2014, in Auth: Jamie Brazil and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Trying to figure out how to discuss “planting the manroot” without getting a) too agricultural or b) perishing from purple prose. Argh!


  2. Intriguing post! I personally find that comfort and exploration with sex in our own lives lends itself to awesomeness on the page as well–whether we tell all, very little or some amount in between. Bonus, it’s wondrous research! 😉


  3. I was going to write something similar to what Maggie wrote. Put yourself in your character’s mind (and body) and imagine it happening the same as you would any other scene. what words would the heroine use? The sex must match the story. A lot of readers will find blunt words like cock jolting especially if the character would never say the word out loud. Don’t feel bad if you find it difficult, sex is really hard to write to well. I find that I have to stop thinking about other people (my mother in law) reading my sex scenes. It’s not about us after all, it’s about the characters. I actually have a couple of love scenes in my wip that would qualify as quirky! Good luck Jamie. Stop overthinking and it will come…no pun intended.


    • Thanks, Tammy. I would just die if my mom-in-law read my love scenes. But you’re right, it’s about the characters. Asa’s post today has some great advice. I’m off to check out the link to Deborah Hale.


  4. Manroot! LOL! I can’t think of a sex scene using that word without it becoming a bad analogy to vegetable gardens or making salads. Although, you could have a beauty salon for men interested in waxing their genital area with a slogan of “We weed your manroot.” That might work. 🙂

    You’re not alone Jamie. I myself am checking out the resources Mary mentioned in her blog.


  5. I agree with Terri that you don’t HAVE to write sex. If your characters are good and the sexual tension is there, you can close the door on the sex. However, if you do want to write sex I think the key is to put yourself in your characters head. What would your heroine be thinking during the act? Some heroines wouldn’t be describing things in terms of cock, penis or otherwise because it’s not part of their thought process. However, that heroine may describe sensations of tingling, warmth, hardness, etc. Or she may be thinking more about how much in love she is, how she is trusting this man (or not).

    As for the man’s POV, take the same approach. What words would he use, what is he looking to get out of this scene?

    For me, the reason sex scenes don’t work is because they aren’t related to the characters as I see them drawn. If your character sees the world in a quirky, funny way. She is likely to see sex in the same way or be surprised when she can’t think of a snarky thing to say. If your character sees the world as a power play to gain control than she will likely see sex the same way. OR be surprised when it isn’t.

    My next Sweetwater Canyon book has no sex scenes because my character doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. Believe me, I am having a hard time writing those scenes and still maintaining the sexual tension. I want lots of tension so that my readers of the first two books don’t scream at me for having no sex. 🙂


  6. You are not alone. I dread writing those scenes too. Nice to have good company!


  7. If you use manroot non-ironically in a published novel, I will totally buy you a drink next time we’re out. Cuz you have waaaaaay more huevos than me 🙂


  8. I have no intention of writing any hotter than my characters and I feel the need. I don’t agree that sex sells to my readership but if you think it will to yours, Good Luck!
    I also don’t read for the sex and while I like a good erotic scene more often than not I skim them to get back to the story.


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