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Asta’s Annotation: Taking it to the Bedroom

Asta's Annotations

Apologies for being a day late with my post. I thought I’d already scheduled this one ahead of time, but clearly I was thinking of last month’s post instead. Oops. Anyway, without further ado….

It’s summer here in Australia, and with the weather hotting up, it seemed a good time to talk about writing sex scenes. Plus, it conveniently ties in with one of our recent discussions. Below I’ll outline the four points to keep in mind to ensure your climax goes off with a bang.

1) Keep it Real

Number one rule = it has to be believable. Maybe if aliens are involved you could have hands in three places at once; but otherwise remember that it has to make sense. If you start with the characters in a certain position, you cannot have them in a completely different position in the next paragraph without showing them moving. Whatever your characters do must be physically possible. If you fail in this, your readers will spend the whole scene trying to visualise what the hell is going on and you’ll lose any emotion and/or steamy moments.

2) Random Body Parts

This is something that can cause controversy amongst authors and editors, but I am of the school of thought that believes body parts cannot perform independent actions. Let’s illustrate this with an example….

Version One: Her hand caressed Linda’s breasts and her fingers ran through her hair, gripping the strands tightly as the kiss deepened. (Random body parts perform each action, as if independent of their owner.)

Version Two: She caressed Linda’s breast and ran her fingers through her hair, gripping the strands tightly as their kiss deepened. (Here the character completes the action.)

3) Purple Prose & Euphemisms

Sadly, some sex scenes suffer from purple prose and colourful euphemisms. It is best to try to avoid overly flowery descriptions in these moments and keep your language real and earthy. Nothing makes me cringe more (whether as a reader or an editor) than references to ‘love sticks’, ‘weeping rods’ ‘aching cores’ etc. I’m not suggesting you should only ever use clinical terms, but try to be sparing with more poetic descriptions, otherwise it all becomes too much.

4) Pronouns, Names, and Epithets

In scenes involving two characters of the same gender, constant ‘he’s or ‘she’s can become confusing. However, it is a balancing act. Good, clear writing should ensure there is no confusion, but a decent rule of thumb is to mix it up between the characters’ names and pronouns. If possible, avoid using awful epithets like ‘the younger man’, ‘the biker’ etc. Reading the work aloud can help as it will highlight any confusing sentences or repetition.

Author Pic 2015

Asta’s Annotations is a monthly column in which author and editor Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J. Markus) discusses the world of publishing, offering tips and tricks to help budding authors submit the best possible manuscript.
Asta Idonea was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theater, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing. She is never found too far from her much-loved library/music room.

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