Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Six Tips for Good Sex (On Paper...Or Anywhere Really)

By Tiffany Reisz, @tiffanyreisz

JH: A bit of excitement today with author Tiffany Reisz, who's going to talk about sex. Or more specifically, how to write sex scenes. Being a YA/MG author myself, this isn't something I'll be writing about, so I'll delighted to have her on the blog to give us tips on getting it on.

Tiffany lives in Lexington, Kentucky with two roommates, two dogs, two cats, and one hedgehog which doesn’t belong to anyone who lives in the house and no one is actually sure how he got there. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice.

When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. There is little to nothing interesting about her.

If she couldn’t write, she would die.

Take it away Tiffany...

Warning: This blog post contains adult themes.

He inserted his penis into her vagina and thrust for a few minutes. She had an orgasm. He had an orgasm.
The end.
There. I’ve just written a sex scene. Did you like it? Of course not. But why not? The couple has sex, they both orgasm. Isn’t that all you need for a sex scene. You know -- sex? Easy answer? No. Not even close.

My name is Tiffany Reisz, and I write erotica. It’s possible to write an excellent romance novel without a single sentence of on-screen sex. Jane Austen did it after all. But an erotica writer is required by the very nature of her genre to have on-screen sex and lots of it. In my thirty-two years I’ve possibly written one hundred sex scenes in my various stories, published and unpublished. And, not to shock anyone, I’ve had my fair share of real life sex too. I’ve come to the conclusion that what makes the best sex in the real world is what makes for the best sex in books. Here are a few tips. 

Tip for Good Sex #1 - Tension.
I’m no prude and would never tell anyone not to have sex on a first date. But if you hop into bed with Mr or Miss Right-Now too quickly (on the page or in real life) you run the risking of losing that delicious tension. Sexual tension is one of the best forms of suspense in a novel. In a thriller the tension is “Will the hero survive to the end?” In a murder mystery, it’s “Who done it?” In romance or erotica, the tension is, “Will they or won’t they? And once they do it, how will they do it?” Good sexual tension can keep a reader flipping hundreds of pages. Sexual tension is like foreplay--the more you have it, the better the sex will be.

Tip for Good Sex #2 - Oral Sex, ie Communication.
The actual mechanics of sex are fairly simple - Tab A, Slot B (Or Tab A in Slot A - I love Slot A ;) so if you want to add spice to your sex, do it with dialogue. I can still remember with crystal clarity something an ex-boyfriend whispered in my ear one night while misbehaving. Words have power, the power to reveal hidden aspects of character. A brash and brave woman might suddenly become quiet and vulnerable during sex. A fairly uptight man might let loose a torrent of delicious dirty talk once he gets his lady love in bed. Getting your characters naked physically is a great chance to get them naked emotionally. People say things during sex they could never get past their lips during any other type of interaction. Don’t waste the opportunity a sex scene provides to let your characters finally all the things they’ve been wanting to during all that build up.

Tip for Good Sex #3 - Emotion.
And by emotion I mean...emotion. Not love. Not necessarily. Love is only one powerful emotion to employ during a sex scene. Some of the most famous sex scenes in history have little to do with love. Example - Roark and Dominique on the bathroom floor in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Second example - Rhett Butler carrying a kicking and fighting Scarlett O’Hara up the steps to their bedroom in Gone with the Wind. Neither scene has the two characters staring longingly into each other’s eyes...no sweet kisses...no gentle caresses. The emotions in those scenes are hate, anger, and spite. They’re brutal and infamous...and utterly unforgettable. A sex scene devoid of emotion is merely a Tab A/Slot B proposition. Whether it’s love or hate, lust or disgust, make the emotions strong. If your characters feel nothing during the sex, neither will your readers.

Tip for Good Sex #4 - Creativity.
A literature professor of mine once said writing an original love poem was an author’s greatest challenge. Everything that could be said about love had been said about love. Writing an original sex scene might come in a close second. There are sexual positions other than missionary, sexual acts other than PIV intercourse. Some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read did not even contain sexual intercourse. In one Amanda Quick novel, the hero wraps the heroine’s leg over the arm of a statue and gives her an orgasm with his fingers while they’re both standing up. Can’t tell you the name of the book or the names of the characters, but I can remember that scene even sixteen years after reading it.

Tip for Good Sex #5 - Reality.
In life sometimes the sex isn’t great, isn’t mind-blowing, isn’t working and that’s reality. And sometimes the best kind of sex on the page is this kind of sex. In Roni Loren’s forthcoming (and entirely awesome) erotic romance release CRASH INTO YOU, a hot threesome scene ends with the female lead passing out because of a traumatic flashback. And that moment allows the hero and heroine to finally talk about the secrets she’s been keeping. In a scene in my forthcoming erotica novel THE SIREN, two of my characters try and fail to have sex because they discover during the attempt that they’re just too different to make it work. My characters not having sex does more for the story than them actually going through with it. Sex that doesn’t work can be even more revelatory than sex that does.

Tip for Good Sex #6 - Fearlessness.
Final tip is the best tip. Don’t be afraid to write sex and write it hot. I’ve yet to have anyone come back to me after reading one of my stories and say, “Sorry, Tiff, but that sex scene was just too hot for me.” Have you ever heard anyone say they enjoy nice, tepid romance novels? If a reader picks up a book with a naked person on the cover, it’s not because they’re looking for a highly articulate philosophical treatise on transmodernity, whatever the hell that is. They want sparks, passion, love, lust, and more than anything...sex. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can’t stand to write sex, get out of the genre. Or go write an Amish romance. I hear they’re en vogue right now.

That’s it! Remember this are just tips, not rules. Know your subgenre and write accordingly.

Now go forth and have sex! Either on paper or in your own bed. Me? I’ll be over here outlining this Amish erotica novel. It’ll be a real bonnet ripper.

About Seven Day Loan
A trained submissive, Eleanor will do whatever her master commands...even spend a week with a stranger. Daniel has been a recluse since his wife's death, and Eleanor's lover thinks spending time with her will be therapeutic—especially since Daniel is also a Dom.

Despite her defiant streak, Eleanor can't resist giving in to Daniel's erotic demands. But while she'll let him have her body, she's determined to keep a guard around her heart. Even if Daniel wants to make Eleanor his permanently....


  1. Excellent post. I don't write romance or erotica myself, but I include details of sex scenes as I feel they're needed.

  2. Yay for one of my favorites guest-posting on another favorite's blog! (I have diverse reading habits, ok?)

    Well, said Tiffany!

  3. Hi Tiffany:

    I loved your comment about characters not having sex sometimes. The non committment can actually be more powerful and pack a greater punch. Especially if your character's norm is to be highly-charged in that sense.

    My drug of choice is the alpha male. I love messing with his power and getting into his mind. Meh, okay, I'll admit it, there have been times when I've held a hero back from having sex because he's too aggressive in the moment. It's the old double edged sword thing though - there he is doing something that's fast approaching questionable territory until he reaches deep - and controls himself. That's when it get interesting, because that's when you see that maybe he wasn't the one pushing all the emotional buttons in the scene. I love that.
    Good thoughts. Thanks.

  4. Great post. Thanks for the advice, Tiffany!

  5. Right on! Great post.

  6. I've been writing sex scenes for over ten years now. I've never heard "Your sex scene was too hot" either, although I did make my mother-in-law blush.

  7. Great post, Tiffany! And agree with you on every point, especially the communication one. Sexy dialogue can make all the difference in a scene.

    (And thanks for mentioning my book!)

  8. Loved the tips, loved the voice, loved the author bio. I would leave a better comment but I have to go follow Tiffany over to her blog now. Thanks for having awesome guest bloggers, Janice!
    - Sophia.

  9. Thanks for the great comments, Everyone. Come see me on Twitter - I'm @tiffanyreisz.

    And remember, that smut won't write itself! WRITE!


  10. Great post!! Made lots of mental notes and I may also bookmark for later reference!! :)

  11. I am shocked! Shocked, I say! I google "highly articulate philosophical treatise on transmodernity" and I find smut!

    Seriously, though, I like the part about reality. Not all my sex scenes are about fulfulment... some of them show the frustrations and awkwardness of my characters. But it's very difficult to do that while still keeping the reader entertained!

    Now I need to work on "Fearlessness" and forget the fact that my mother will eventually read this lol!

  12. Thanks to Tiffany for shaking things up today :) I think all her tips work for romance scenes as well as sex scene.

  13. fabulous post! Clear and awesome.

    happy writing!

  14. Thanks for the great tips! While my own writing doesn't include erotica, these are all still great to keep in mind in case there is a need for sex in a story, even if it's off screen. In fact, your tips work well for buildup of successful off-screen scenes.

  15. Tiffany; fabulous posting. This is a subject seriously overlooked in writing courses, books. One of my favorite books is the Romance Writers phrase book. Not to be plagerized of course, but used as inspirational resource, lol! WORDS are key to igniting the heart and soul, and lubricating everything else.

    Woman are seduced by the poetry of love, men are inticed by the visions of love...

    You set in context the points of romance/sex in the storyline. This is a major part of a good story.

    I personally write Paranormal and fantasy fiction, but without my spontaneous sex scenes it could be pretty tedious stuff. Without sexual tension "Pride +Prejudise" would be just another 19th C. novel.

    Thank you for your honesty and sparkling style... I look forward to reading your Erotica.

  16. I know this is a really old post -- but as it's not the kind of thing I usually see on here, it caught my eye and raised some interesting questions.

    As someone inexperienced in the field of romance and erotica, I have to ask: With each sex scene, what does the sex have to do with the story, and how does that change the sex scene? For instance, it's quite a different book if the couple starts out having sex casually and builds up to a romance, vs. a book where the growing romance builds up to sex. How does that affect some of your tips, like the one about having emotion? Casual sex probably wouldn't evoke strong passion, whether of love or hate, but going with another tip, it would be unrealistic if it did. How would you handle something like that? Or would you just not write a plot like that?

  17. Laura, I was chatting with Tiffany today and told you about your comment. Hopefully she pops on over to answer it :) (If not I'll give it a whirl)

  18. Hi Laura!

    Janice told me someone had commented with some interesting questions. I try to make sure my sex scenes accomplish one of two things. Either they move the plot forward or they create characterization.
    For example, in my new full-length book THE SIREN (which you should totally buy and read right now), my female lead character has sex with more than one person. With a stranger, she does it to help him because she's kind of a kinky sex therapist. With a friend, she has sex to celebrate. With her former lover who she still misses, the sex is as painful as it is pleasurable and you understand her longing during the sex.
    So even if there isn't a lot of "emotion" spelled out, there's always "motivation." It's never sex for sex's sake. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
    Great questions!
    Happy writing! And I'm serious, read THE SIREN.


  19. Whoot! She came by, Thanks Tiffany!

  20. Kinky sex therapist? Where do you, ah, get certified for that? ;) (I am now imagining what a resume for a sex therapist would look like. LOL.) Now I HAVE to read THE SIREN.

    Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for your insights! You answered all my questions.

  21. Excellent advice, Tiffany, many thanks! I'm coming late to your post, but I enjoyed it immensely, particularly the tip about keeping it hot!
    Yes, sex has to have motivation and move the plot forward. I don't write erotica as such but I do enjoy writing sex scenes (and I hope my readers too...) After all, sex is about enjoyment, isn'it?

  22. Not all my sex scenes are about fulfulment... some of them show the frustrations and awkwardness of my characters. But it's very difficult to do that while still keeping the reader entertained! Sexual Tips