08 August, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – How To Write A Great Sex Scene by Aarti V. Raman

*** Special Feature - August 2017 ***

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman is an Amazon India bestselling romance writer who dabbles in romantic thrillers and contemporary romance. Happy Ever After are her three favorite words in the English lexicon. 

Aarti graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. But she has also worked as a copy editor, social media consultant, commercial content writer-editor while pursuing her goal.
Aarti’s ambition of honing her craft and writing stories, particularly romances that have strong characters and stronger plots that remain etched in the reader’s minds, grew when she sold her first novel WHITE KNIGHT (Leadstart Publishing), in 2012. 

In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story “Post-Coital Cigarette” was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology “An Atlas of Love” curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.  Her last novel “Kingdom Come” (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her third book “With You I Dance” (Fingerprint! Publishing) released in April 2016 and debuted on the Amazon India Romance Bestseller list. 

Aarti was chosen to be part of the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014 in December 2014 and The Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2015. 

She is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, India. 

Connect with the Author:

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – How To Write A Great Sex Scene

“He touched her. His hard grip sending shivers of awareness down her spine, while she went wet inside, craving his possession with ferocity. His kiss, when it came, was at once deep and reverent.” 

I hope I have your attention, dear reader. Because this post is about one of my favorite acts in the civilized and uncivilized world. Let’s talk about sex, baby. 

I am very wary of romance writers who are wary of embracing the fact that their characters – those goofy, loveable heroes and heroines – are human. And human beings love sex. They love having it. In a planet populated with seven billion plus humans, this fact is now no longer in dispute. They love watching it. A lot. In fact, fifty-five percent of all of the Internet (dark and light) consists of porn. If you are frowning because, hey porn is not romance or sex, that’s cool. This statistic was just to reiterate the point that sex is everywhere.

BTW: fun fact, the original penny dreadfuls and Goth romances also had two people discreetly doing it, or wanting to do it and we labelled it romance. Mills & Boon, that venerable proprietor of the heaving bosom and the brooding gaze, made this a de facto staple for housewives everywhere the world over when they introduced the modern day romance. Also, for anyone who wants to know how to write a great romance, do catch Sara Craven’s debut novel which came in 1976. It’s called The Lion In Winter and will have your bosoms heaving, guaranteed. 

Ok. All of this is an extremely simplistic explanation for all the hard work and nuances of what goes into writing a great love story, but let me be very clear on this one thing: Great love stories should be made with great sex in mind. IRL and, definitely in the modern version of penny dreadfuls! 

So, then, the question arises what does, in fact, constitute a great sex scene? 

The No-Nos

Does every great sex scene need actual intercourse? GOD, no! Some of the best sex scenes Nora Roberts has ever written involve wonderful kisses – deep, penetrating, breath-robbing kisses. 

Is it simultaneous orgasms? Not always. I admit, I am guilty of using this trope myself but one of the best sex scenes I have ever read involved a man going down on a woman on a dock within full view of the world and its mother. It was RIVETING. 

Then is it about how much skin is bared or how much touching, squeezing, sucking, suckling, caressing happens per action? Not really. While the firm squeeze of a callused hand on my bottom sounds insanely hot, describing it three times makes no sense. Describing it even once does not mean much unless the butt-squeezing has a direct correlation to what happens next. Twist on scene: If he is squeezing my bottom in the middle of a crowded elevator, aka Christian Grey in FSOG, yeah! GO for it.

Is it about heaving bosoms or harsh groans? Nah. Jennifer Crusie who writes some very realistic sex scenes has one of my favorite heroines say this, “I have breasts. They jiggle. Deal with it.” And they move on. No bosom heaving. 

Harsh groans are sexy when someone is performing fellatio (NOT in a crowded elevator unless your characters just cannot help themselves) or when the hero cums. But have him refrain from groaning every single time. OR turn it into a gag, like Miranda from Sex and The City would. “The sex is great! He is hung like a horse. But, I do have this one thing I don’t like…he makes the same sound every time when he cums.

This brings me to that which all of you are throbbing to read about: the penis. The member. The organ. The thorn. The erection. The arousal. The dick. The manstick. This is just ten descriptions I was able to come up with in the course of writing this line. Some of it works, all of it is fine. But let’s not give the guy a mythical penis? It cannot always be thick and long and hard. Average works too. Physically speaking, taller guys could have slightly bigger penises but like I always say: In real life as in books, it is not the length or girth of what a man has that matters. It’s what he does with it.

FYI, let me bust a small myth for you. All great sex scenes don’t necessarily need to have a man who knows EVERY single thing about the female anatomy. Like, he could find the clitoris blindfolded. That is the Holy Grail, ladies, but let me tell you. It ain’t as easy as that. Again, this is a narrative trope I always fall victim to (shame on me, I know!) and yeah there is something so deliciously exciting (see what I did there?) about imagining a man who knows his way around you and wont quit till you get to where you wanna go, but …that’s not real life. 

Yes! Yes! Yes!!

AND there it is: the secret to writing a really great sex scene. 

It’s pretty simple, really. There is none. It’s just like writing the rest of your story. In most cases, it should be. If you have fully realized characters who know their own minds, have crackling chemistry when they are not doing the horizontal tango, half your dilemmas to writing a great sex scene is solved. The other half depends on a few simple pointers you may or may not choose to follow. 

1. Participation: Don’t have one character do all the work, every single time. If the guy is a go-getter, Alpha Male type have the tables turned on him by having your heroine do the grabbing and stamping down. 

2. Description: How much or how little depends on how comfortable you, as a writer, are with your own sexuality, reading about it and wanting to write about it. It also depends on the characters you are writing about, because sometimes some men just DO NOT want to stop kissing a woman even when her head is swimming and her breasts are crushed against his chest, her knees have turned boneless and she has visions of having him take her where they stand. See what I did there? 

3. Action: The above point illustrates two things. The description of the action between two people and the actual action itself. This again depends on how easily can you slip into the headspace of your character and think what they are thinking. Or, in Victorian terms, daydream effectively. 

4. Titillation: A great sex scene is all about titillation, arousal and excitement. For the characters and the reader. Titillation can be a 30-second porn fluffer with augmented breasts, a school girl outfit and thigh high patent leather shoes. Or it can be slow and lingering like every single scene between Maverick and his instructor till they eventually copulate to the tune of Take My Breath Away. 

5. Comfort level: Ultimately, it is about you, the writer. And how comfortable you are thinking, imagining these lascivious rather private thoughts that go on inside all of us and which we sometimes do not dare voice for fear of social reprisal. Sex is perfectly natural, and writing about it, even more so. PLEASE do remember this point! 

Heck, we can write a 5-page steamy scene full of the tiniest details, including everything two people are internalizing while the dudes just get Mia Khalifa deep throating some random man in a white bedroom in front of a full film crew. How much imagination does that require? Right? Right? 

I don’t want to end this post on a porno note so I am going to leave a few suggestions for enquiring or enthusiastic minds. 

Watch List: 
1. This scene from Sleeping With Other People. https://youtu.be/0Wq1AEzABss
2. This scene from FRIENDS. https://youtu.be/mdK6LVDI3kg
3. The Last Seduction. 
4. Indecent Proposal.

Read List:
1. Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation and Bet Me.
2. Linda Howard’s The Mackenzie Series. 
3. Nicholas Sparks’s Nights In Rodanthe. 
4. Literally anything by Lisa Kleypas. That woman can WRITE sex. 

Till next time,
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman 
PS: I have only written about a cis-hetero (M/F) relationship because it is the one I have grown up reading and identify with subconsciously. The same rules should apply to other kinds of romances and romance writing too, of course. 

About the Book:
Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while
fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but
traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By
starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law
firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera
again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend,to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. 

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

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  1. This post is perfection. Great foreplay, some delayed gratification, and then a whammy of an orgasm. And I mean that in a metaphorical sense. ;-)
    Seriously, though. Such an important post, and so beautifully and intelligently explained. Now excuse me, I need to buy all those books you've recommended!

  2. Awww! Devika, you're pretty spectacular yourself. No pun intended! :) Yeah. READ. They are all awesome.

  3. This post was signposted by Ruchi Singh - I was a beta-reader for her book Jugnu.

    Can I bring out something you said but I think people might, possibly, miss? You wrote: "the secret to writing a really great sex scene. It’s pretty simple, really. There is none. It’s just like writing the rest of your story."

    That last sentence is critically important. In the rest of your story you have plot and character development. A sex scene is no different (and I've written a few :-) ).

    It has to have plot or character development too. In one book I have a scene where the main character throws herself at someone unexpected when she's upset, and that scene gets some detail because it's important character development. When they go to bed a second time it's not important, so no detail. That's a murder mystery but even in an erotic novel I recently released where there is a sex scene of one sort or another at least every 5,000 words, it's only detailed if there's something important and new about it.

    That's what I think anyway :-)