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by Jessica; Psychology graduate, student of Social Work & aspiring sex therapist
I thought it was about time that I write one of these things since a lot of people really like my erotic fan fiction. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve gotten nothing but positive reviews and constructive feedback so far for every lemon story I’ve written. Thus, I have set about to publish what is perhaps the most comprehensive guide on how to write the best sex scenes if you’ve never had experience before. When I say comprehensive, I do mean comprehensive because this is the longest one out there (unless you’re able to find one longer than mine!). If you are serious in improving your lemon scenes and smut fics, then I highly suggest to read all the way through.
So you might be wondering, “How do you write so well?” and “How can I do the same if I’ve never had sex?”
Well guess what:
Contrary to what you might think, I am a virgin and have several personal reasons to still be one.
There seems to be a slight stigma here in the West in regards to virginity. If anyone here still claims to save them for marriage, they get mocked at, shunned and pressured into losing it against their personal values and beliefs.
However, through my four years of studying world cultures (via the social and behavioural sciences) and working with diverse populations in university and at my internship, you will be surprised to find the contrary. In fact, many cultures around the world still highly value virginity—to the point where some would get ostracized for not saving it for marriage.
No, that does not make that culture ‘ignorant’—merely different in values—cultural relativism, so to speak. I mean, people here in the US already seem to get ostracized for not losing their virginity early. So what gives? If one chooses to save their virginity, do not mock them for it. For them, it is a normal thing as their culture views it in high regard. So what may be normal to them may seem strange to your culture, and vise-versa.
Anyway, just putting that out there since this is something that has bugged me for a while, and I do not like Westerners badgering me for it just because I have personal, spiritual, religious, cultural, etc. reasons for saving my virginity until marriage.
Besides, I have known people who have already lost their virginity yet still write awful-written sex scenes. In fact, one of my good gamer pals wrote smut fic for Mass Effect—arguably he is no longer a virgin by some of the information he disclosed to me about his sexual escapades—however, his writing is some of the worst I’ve seen out there, and I hesitate to tell him to improve it. :/ (And he’s all wondering why he doesn’t get many reviews, especially positive ones…)
So just because someone has experience doesn’t mean that they’re automatically a good sex writer. It really all boils down to creative skill and talent.
Nevertheless, writing erotica for me is a great outlet to vent out my sexual frustrations. It is also a great way to get my sexual creativity out on paper—I believe that human sexuality can be an art, and that exploring this through character relationships allows us to see the many layers of sensual, human emotions that accompany the art of sex.
In fact, a short story about a woman who recently had a mastectomy but fears that her partner doesn’t want to make love to her due to her ‘ugly, breast-less body’ can be transformed into a powerful, positive work of erotica. In the love-making scenes, one can have the woman’s partner assure her that he loves her unconditionally and would stay with her no matter what. Thus, he shows this to her through some tender, sweet love-making.
Erotica—when written right—can not only be exciting, but highly inspiring as well. This, along with the above explanations, are what set apart erotica from mere porn.
But you might be wondering, “Alright I get it but just HOW do I make awesome smut scenes like you do??? ( ;A;)”
Well, the first part to anything is to improve your basic writing skills. Make your sentences active, not passive. Get a good grasp on the English language. Take a writing class if you have to, or get yourself some really good beta readers (people you edit and revise your fan fics for you before you publish it) who can help you out on this. FanFiction.net has a whole section devoted to just finding a beta reader. This is pretty much how I got my start to writing serious fan fiction, especially smutty ones.
After you have done that, it’s time that we improve your knowledge on human sexuality. A lot of mistakes people do when writing their first lemon story is making their lemon into an ‘IKEA Erotica’. What is ‘IKEA Erotica’, you ask? Well, just click on the article I linked you to. Long story short, it’s when the lemon scenes are so badly written that they’ve boiled down to nothing more than:
"Joe put his dick into Jane’s pussy. Jane screamed. Joe started pounding her. She moaned."
It all sounds so mechanical that it reads as though you were reading an instruction manual on how to assemble parts for a piece of furniture that you recently bought at IKEA. Pretty much “Insert slot A into slot B” (Or in this case: insert penis into vagina).
So how do you put some life into your writing?
Do a journal exercise where you put yourself into your characters’ shoes. How would they feel in the moment? How would they react aside from their basic sexual responses? What emotions are most likely going through their heads? How do they want to express this? Do they have the desire to be more intimate by caressing each other as the sexual act happens? Do they long for each other by expressing yearning in their faces? Would they kiss, cuddle and touch their lovers, showcasing to them their deepest desires and love?
Or would they rather go at it in a raunchy manner? How would they look at each other then? Would they leer at each other, showcasing their carnal desires for one another? Would they roughly handle one another, taking each by the hair and pulling or scratching their backs?
Sex is more than just the mechanical act; it is about emotion as well. This is what will engage your readers into reading your lemon scenes as it gives some vivacity to them. It shows that the characters are actually interested, if not passionate, in their performances. Simply writing IKEA Erotica would not only make the readers bored, but also give off the impression that your characters are disinterested in the act as well.
Writing smut is pretty much like directing sex scenes on film. The actors have to go beyond the basic and act, like they were paid to do. But it has to be genuine and realistic as well. Too many times are people put off by fake acting—so are people put off by fake acting in written erotica as well.
Hence this is why pornography isn’t the best source for writing smut scenes. It is really more of a hit and miss than anything. If you want something raunchy, then sure, go right ahead. However, for something softer, you’re better off relying on the basic understanding of love relationships.
If you have a hard time finding which adjectives to use when writing the lemon scenes, let me tell you: Do not be like 50 Shades of Grey. I repeat, do not be like 50 Shades of Grey. That book is the worst example of erotica done right and the best example erotica done wrong. The only reason why it’s popular is because bored, sexually repressed housewives have no high standards when it comes to literature, so they take this rubbish and think it’s the best thing ever.
If you really want to learn from the pros, then I suggest reading up on erotica that was written by authors who are well-known in the world of erotic literature, have published several books for it and have been around for quite some time. I think one of the best erotica authors out there today is Laura Antoniou. If you want to write some really good BDSM scenes and one that won’t cause embarrassment to the BDSM community (like what 50 Shades has done), then a good book I recommend by her is “The Marketplace”.
For something more classic, look no further than the works of Anaïs Nin. In fact, she is one of the most—if not the most—important figures of erotic literature, as she was one of the first women to fully explore the realm of female sexuality through her writing. She is even lauded by some to be the founding mother of modern female erotica. A book by her that every erotica writer should read is the “Delta of Venus”.
Really though, anything in the market of erotica/romance novels are good basis to go upon as long as it’s not 50 Shades.
Here’s a bad example from that book on how a sex scene should be done:
His breathing is ragged, matching mine.
“When did you start your period, Anastasia?” he asks out of the blue, gazing down at me.
“Err… yesterday,” I mumble in my highly aroused state.
“Good.” He releases me and turns me around.
“Hold on to the sink,” he orders and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I’m bending down.
He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! And… a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez. And then he’s inside me… ah! Skin against skin… moving slowly at first… easily, testing me, pushing me… oh my. I grip on to the sink, panting, forcing myself back on him, feeling him inside me. Oh the sweet agony… his hands clasp my hips. He sets a punishing rhythm – in, out, and he reaches around and finds my clitoris, massaging me… oh jeez. I can feel myself quicken.
“That’s right, baby,” he rasps as he grinds into me, angling his hips, and it’s enough to send me flying, flying high.
Whoa… and I come, loudly, gripping for dear life onto the sink as I spiral down through my orgasm, everything spinning and clenching at once. He follows, clasping me tightly, his front on my back as he climaxes and calls my name like it’s a litany or a prayer.
“Oh, Ana!” His breathing is ragged in my ear, in perfect synergy with mine.
“Oh, baby, will I ever get enough of you?” he whispers.
Honestly, taking inspiration from 50 Shades of Grey would just make your writing sound as though it were a cheesy 70s porn film. Once again, I repeat, do not use 50 Shades as a source.
Instead, take it from a classic like the Sleeping Beauty trilogy written by the famous Anne Rice (who wrote the books under the ‘A. N. Roquelaure’ pseudonym):
She made no sound; but if a person could moan silently, then she made such a moan with her whole attitude. Her head fell towards him, and he felt the hot moisture against his right had, and laying her down again, he cupped both of her breasts, and sucked gently on one and then the other. They were plumb and firm, these breasts. She’d been fifteen when the curse struck her.
And he bit at her nipples, moving the breasts almost roughly so as to feel their weight, and then lightly he slapped them back and forth, delighting in this.
His desire had been hard and almost painful to him when he had come into the room, and now it was urging him almost mercilessly. He mounted her, parting her legs, giving the white inner flesh of her thighs a soft, deep pinch, and, clasping her right breast in his left hand, he thrust his sex into her. He was holding her up as he did this, to gather her mouth to him, and as he broke through her innocence, he opened her mouth with his tongue and pinched her breast sharply. He sucked on her lips, he drew the life out of her into himself, and felling his seed explode within her, heard her cry out.
And then her blue eyes opened.
Do you see the difference in the quality of writing between the 50 Shades trilogy and the Sleeping Beauty trilogy? E.L. James’ writing is primitive compared to Anne Rice’s more classy one. So if you have a hard time using adjectives in your smut writing and don’t want to come off looking as though a 12-year-old wrote it, then take it from Anne Rice. Or pretty much anyone else but E.L. James.
Using words like:
- Rigid lust thermometer
- Tantalizingly tree-trunk-girthed Soviet missile
- MIGHTY MAN NOODLE
- Slipper sex sceptre
- Throbbing purple spear of destiny
- Rod of muscle and blood
- Meager meat pole
- Flaccid love truncheon
- One-eye wonder worm
- Hairy wolf dingaling
- Ninja growing rod
- Purple-headed womb groom
Would just make people laugh at your fic and not take it seriously.
Here is a guide from Lust Bites that really helped me back then when I was starting out with my writing:
You may use Latin terms, but for erotica writers, ‘penis’ usually won’t do. “He placed his penis in her vagina” is a public information documentary, not smut. On the other end of the scale, no erotica pastiche is complete without a throbbing member, as in: “He thrust his throbbing member into her dripping honey-well.” So what do we say?
Jean Auel, of The Mammoth Hunters fame, is the queen of throbbing members; they’re huge, hot, and they always throb:
Jondalar was so swollen, so big, how would he fit himself in her? … Her eyes were drawn to his throbbing member…His manhood was throbbing eagerly, impatiently …Only few women had depth enough to take in all of him…
– Jean M. Auel, The Valley of the Horses
No penises for Ms. Auel: members, manhoods, or—at a push—shafts. She wouldn’t pass the Black Lace guidelines, which beg authors to ‘hold the euphemisms’ and specifically not to say ‘the centre of her womanhood / his rampant manhood’ etc. Body parts, they observe stiffly, only throb when they’re injured, and men do not talk about their ‘glans’. What’s arousing in a situation is “not the exact length, colour and consistency of the guy’s cock”.
In his seminal (and there’s plentiful semen) book, John Cleland does much the same as Freud: take men’s experience, mirror-image it, get women’s. Voilà! And so he describes dicks, from his female characters’ points of view, with the loving attentiveness usually reserved for breasts:
I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the plaything of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard that, had proportions been observed, it must have belonged to a young giant: yet I could not, without pleasure, behold, and even venture to feel such a length, such a breadth of animated ivory! perfectly well-tuned and fashioned, the proud stiffness of which distended his skin, whose smooth polish and velvet softness might vie with that of the most delicate of our sex, and whose exquisite whiteness was not a little set off by a sprout of black curling hair around the root, through the jetty sprigs of which the fair skin showed as in a fine evening you may have remarked the clear light ether through the branch work of distant trees over-topping the summit of a hill: then the broad and bluish-casted incarnate of the head, and blue serpentines of its veins, altogether composed the most striking assemblage of figure and colours in nature. In short, it stood an object of terror and delight.
– John Cleland, Fanny Hill, or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
We tend to be more restrained about ‘prodigious engines of pleasure’ and ‘tools of monstrous proportions’—it’s a cock, not a battering ram. We’re describing sex, not a photographic close-up. Occasionally, however, it’s an object worthy of detailed attention:
My mouth goes first dry, then begins to water with sensual hunger. As does his glans … I smear the silky fluid over the hot, flared head of his cock. The solid flesh is hard, like polished wood, the superfine skin stretched by his extreme arousal. This magnificent organ is a thing of raw, physical beauty, the very expression of primal maleness, the essence of man.
…His body is a gift, a living sex toy.
And an object of worship.
– Portia da Costa, In Too Deep
She said glans! (I promise not to tell.) She also, mostly, says ‘cock’. We have a plethora of synonyms—just take a listen to Monty Python’s Penis Song…
… but, as Janine Ashbless says, “Everyone knows what a cock is”, even if she prefers prick.
Honestly, it really depends on just what kind of lemon fic you’re writing. If the sex scene you’re writing about occurs in a historical setting, then it makes more sense to use softer words rather than those such as ‘cock’ or ‘hard dick’ or so.
In historical settings, you can get away—as Janine does—with ‘pintle’, ‘pizzle’, and ‘tarse’ (I’ll pass). She swears blind that ‘phallus’ is good for high fantasy settings and she even throws in a few Latin terms: phalli, anyone? Erastes, also writing historicals, manages to slip in some ‘loins’ in Standish and—this is man-on-man—cocks abound:
Then oh joy, hands again, on the top of his thighs, rubbing them gently, hot breath on his cock, then a tongue, lapping at his scrotum, making him gasp as each sac was licked and nipped, and taken into a hot mouth, rolled around and then left in the cold, while the mouth moved on, never still.
– Erastes, Standish
Action, not description, is the order of the day with modern erotica, but even to describe a cock in action you still need more than one word. Thus, below are some words conveniently listed for you to pick out. Choose carefully! Remember, it all depends on what kind of smut you’re writing. Is it historical? Or is it historical but raunchy as well? If so, then you are free to use words like ‘cock’, ‘hard dick’, ‘cock head’, etc. If you’re writing about hot scientists getting it on, then you are safe to use euphemisms such as, ‘his thick rocket slipped into her’ and so on.
Here are some words that were thought up during a brain-storming session by Lust Bites members. The words fell into categories, most distinctly masculine. We had…
weapons: club, spear, javelin, flesh burner, arrow, shot-gun, and sabre.
We had machinery by the truckload: sledgehammer, drill, rocket, tool, sputnik, gear-stick, hose, shuttle, and piston.
We had a bit of food (sausage, meat-and-two-veg, hot dog) and some appeals to the natural world (stamen, branch, woodie, slug, snake, trunk).
We got coy, with manhood, length, appendage, his triumph, hardness, member, loins, and lingam, or preferred to describe the smoke rather than the fire: his bulge, his groin.
We turned childish: weiner, willy, schlong, and dong. No-one remembers or will admit to putting forward ‘fish’.
I once wrote a fan fiction where a kind of Eastern sexuality, called ‘Tantric Sex’, was a major element in the couples’ love-making. In Tantra, the words ‘lignam’ and ‘yoni’ are used to describe penis and vagina respectively. Thus, these words were appropriate to use in my fan fic. However, anywhere else, such as in a Titanic fan fiction, it would look out of place. So I went with the usual ‘manhood’, ‘member’, etc. coy words to describe a scene what was soft-core in nature.
Take this example from The Ten Visions, where Adrian gives it to his ex with Sarah witnessing it all through magic. In this scene, the usage of weapons euphemisms are perfect:
She felt the thrill of that constricting passage, the ache to push harder, how Adrian’s spear danced with excitement at Clara’s wail. His hand seized one of the small breasts, using it to pull himself up from his knees onto her. His weight lodged his weapon deeper inside and the girl howled to be fucked.
– Olivia Knight, The Ten Visions
In a very different scene between Sarah and Adrian, they’re in a place of perfect purity and she’s discovering his earth-magic, so the flowery terms I disdained suddenly have their place:
The deliberation of each movement made it exquisitely tense, as they trembled against each other’s skin. She pulled her leg up gradually until her inner thigh rested on his sharp hip bone. Her tender lips unfurled like an orchid, exposing her entrance to the cold air. The swollen head of his stamen nudged against her small bud.
Like I said, it all really boils down to just what kind of lemon story you’re writing. In "Barely Grasped Pictures", only ‘cock’ would do, but in "Innana’s Temple", which takes place in 3000 BC, ‘tool’ made sense. And in the novella The Dragon Lord, words such as arrows, rods, shafts, and even ‘slug’ all made sense.
Basically everything has its time and place. When written well, erotica is a work of art. When written poorly, it just looks like purpose prose published by an inexperienced 12-year old.
Perhaps I’ll go hard-core urban soon, and use some drills and sputniks.
Aside from all of this, you don’t need to take an anatomy & physiology class with lab just to write the most realistic sex scenes out there or become a licensed sex therapist just to write the best erotica. A basic understanding of the art, science, and politics of sex is all you need, and you can learn all of through simply reading a textbook on human sexuality.
If possible, however, I highly suggest that you enroll in Human Sexuality. At my university, it was called the “Psychology of Sex” (they wanted to be cheeky and not call it “Human Sexuality” class like the other unis out there). Here, I learned more than just the biological functions of sex. I learnt about the various spectrum of sexuality, sexual identity, sexual politics, sexual issues, etc. I learned about the whole realm of BDSM and how it can be safe, sane and consensual…I learned how to view with an open mind about others who have ‘kinky’ interests…I learned the various kinds of sexual abnormalities out there listed under the DSM and ICD…I learned how certain state, province or country laws have impacted human sexuality over the years and thus gave birth to the sexual revolution…it is a highly interesting class to take. There are just so many dimensions to human sexuality that I guarantee you such knowledge will make your writing equally multi-dimensional as well.
Sometimes, being up-to-date on the latest sexual research would give your fics an edge that others don’t have. For example, I did extensive research on Tantric Sex as I wrote it for my term paper, and have been one of the few so far to incorporate this knowledge into my fan fics.
Plus, we all know about the G-spot, but what about the A-spot and U-spot?
This new research on the ‘A-spot’—a spot located deep inside the women’s vagina, near the cervix and in the anterior fornix area—allows her to become immediately lubricated and aroused. This spot is highly pleasurable if the man knew the correct positions to hit it. Then women can experience vaginal orgasms at last. It’s a shame that it has only been 10 or so years since its discovery, as many women believe that there is no such thing as vaginal orgasms (a majority have a hard time climaxing solely through penetration). Hopefully, this breakthrough would change how we few female sexuality. As my professor says, “Right now, we are in the dark ages of understanding female sexuality”.
There is also another erogenous zone on the vagina called the ‘U-spot’ (urethral spot), located right under the clitoris and above the vaginal opening.
A little bit of TMI info here but let me tell you…I really love stimulating my U-spot, even more than my clitoris. I stimulate the U-spot first then immediately move on to my clit as I reach climax as that intensifies the orgasm.
Just putting that out there in case anyone here believes there is no such thing as the U-spot (already are people debating if the G-spot really exists pffft). Plus I’ve used this as head-canons for some of my smut fics so that they have spice. ;D
Watching this video can show you how these spots can be stimulated and how you can incorporate this into your erotic writing.
Viewing this vid as well can also help as many people really don’t know much about their own bodies. It is important to know your body and how it reacts sexually so that way, you can translate that into your writing to make it realistic.
This brings me back to my point from earlier: just because someone had sex before doesn’t mean that makes them equipped to write great smut. They need to have knowledge and talent for it first.
So many people have done the deed yet many really don’t know much about their own bodies…they’ve only barely scratched the surface. And this is coming from a virgin who knows more about anatomy & physiology than most lay people (thanks to the my pre-Nursing major from my first year and of course, my Human Sexuality class). Seriously you guys, you don’t know how many times I have *face-palmed* when males tell me that they don’t know where their frenulum is or even know that it’s pleasurable—some out there don’t even know what a refractory period is, or where your perineum is located, or what is even the P-spot and how that is the most pleasurable spot for men…I mean c’mon, how many of you here have even heard about the A-spot and U-spot before I mentioned it?
Welp. This is pretty much all I have to say. Overall, get to know your body, get to know erogenous zones, learn about the sexual response cycle and pretty much a holistic but general understanding of the anatomy and physiology of sex.
Along with this, just approach your characters how you would approach relationships in real life. Observe how people interact with each other and how you can translate this into written language. If you have a hard time writing about the sex act itself, hell…just masturbate. Use that experience to translate it into a realistic, orgasmic (pun intended) scene. If you have personal reasons to not masturbate, then read up on some sexuality books in the sexuality section of Barnes & Nobles or whatever to see how an orgasm is like. Gather sources wherever you can…online, in libraries, etc. And see how you can transform something that is mechanical in nature to something that would sound exciting to your readers.
To describe orgasms, stuff like ‘waves of pleasure’ would do. Remember, you can do all of this by the advice I wrote here about which adjectives, euphemisms, etc. are best for whatever situation your characters are in.
But yeah, if you ever have trouble, just keep reading up on other erotic novels and learn from those. Apprentices do learn from the best, after all…
Anyway, thank you for reading this, even though it’s so long! I highly appreciate the time you took to read my article. :)
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