I am thinking of adding a sub-plot to my story where we have say, Adam and Eve. They do not quite like each other but one thing leads to another and they have sex.

After that, Adam wonders if he should do something for Eve, influenced by the fact that he slept with her.

I want to show the erotic scene in the story to explain their motives throughout the rest of the story, but I am torn as to how detailed the scene should be written and even how to describe it altogether.

Should I be abstract / metaphorical (magma eruptions all over the place), or should I be direct (see hidden quote below)?

His erect penis entered her tight, wet vagina.

Any advice on how to approach this would be great, thanks.

6 Answers 6


If the goal of the scene is to show why a person decides what he or she decides, then you only give the detail necessary to demonstrate that.

If part of what changes Adam's mind afterwards is the way she looks, you need to focus on her appearance and not the act. ("He watched her face change as he slid into her" or "his eyes roamed hungrily over her breasts"). But if it's about the act, then you focus on how he feels rather than what she looks like ("Sparks of pleasure shot up his spine at each thrust").

If it's not about the act, you can elide a lot of the descriptions of genitalia into pronouns and vague references (he slid himself into her, she took him into her mouth, he touched the core of her, etc.). That gets the idea across without going too far into adult territory.

  • 14
    And if we just need to know that they slept together, the entire sex scene could be skipped altogether and alluded to after the fact. For instance, she's stuffing her panties in her purse on her way out the door to catch the train. (This has the added advantage of making the extent of the author's experience less obvious.)
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 11:42
  • 8
    Keep your audience in mind as well. You'll want to handle things very differently if you are writing a genre story versus a traditional romance versus an erotic romance.
    – Roger
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 14:48

First of all: it's your choice how far you want to go into detail.

When two characters having sex is a plot point in a story which is not supposed to be erotic or not even romantic, a detailed description of the deed can seem out of place, especially when you aren't really comfortable writing it.

This can go so far as to just imply that sex has taken place (chapter n ends with a flirtatious dialogue between the characters, chapter n+1 starts with them waking up next to each other) or handled with a single sentence ("Then they went to his hotel room and had sex.").

When you decide to go into more detail, for example because you want to use the sex scene itself to further character development or just because you think a bit of fanservice can't hurt [TVTROPES WARNING], you should generally stay away from purple prose and stay consistent in your overall writing style. When you usually don't use flowering methaphors, don't start using them suddenly just because you are writing about sex. Otherwise the scene will look out of place just because of the writing style.

When you are writing for a readership which is old enough to read erotic scenes, you can assume that your readership knows how sex works. This means that overly detailed description of the exact interactions of various bodyparts is usually unnecessary (except when you want to write explicit porn). What's much more important, though, is to describe the characters feelings and impressions. Not what are they doing, how are they doing it.

Do they love their partner or is it just about sex (or money, power, duty, fear, something completely different)? Are they sensual, aggressive or even violent lovers? Are they shy and ashamed or openly expressing their desires? Do they care more about satisfying their partner or more about satisfying themselves? Do they cuddle afterwards or get dressed and leave? These aspects can tell much about the personality of your characters and their relation.

For further reading I can also recommend the article "So You Want To Write A Sex Scene" on TVTropes.


To clarify on the alternative method that the others have posted: instead of writing the erotic scene, build up to it and fade to black just before it starts. Leave the act itself to the imagination of the reader.

The problem with erotic scenes is that it's easy to write a scene, but it's hard to write it well, and it's even harder to write it so that it fits the overall theme of the book and the style of the writer. There is a reason that there are multiple "worst sex scene in literature" awards handed out every year, with winners often being so badly written that readers often just laugh at scenes like female genitals being ripped out (one of the top 3 laureates in a contest last decade), even when they're intended for drama and seriousness.

Another problem is that people often read books on public transport (train, bus, metro), and some people rather would rather not read erotic scenes on such transport.

The concern is also that, if the book is in a series, there are often fans who form personal "ideal pairings", or "Shippings", as they're called. These often even involve slash-shipping, with people of the same gender. Fans can get heavily disappointed, sometimes even upset, if their favorite shipping doesn't actually happen. Of course, this also happens with the fade-to-method I described above, but people can always imagine that something got in-between at the last moment, like a prophylactic that didn't cooperate or a sudden emergency.

Related to shipping: it might actually be advantageous to just not have sex happen at all, not even allusions to the act. Often, people really quickly figure out that there's sexual tension between characters, or it's blindingly obvious that 2 characters are intended to get it on. If you then subvert that, by keeping the tension unresolved (or not acting on it until the end of the book), the book becomes less clichéd.

  • You know, I have been doing the last (unresolved sex tension) too often. or either I just put all characters same sex and made them heterosexual. There is no real plot I have in mind now, but I would like to my main hero to finally have sex :) Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 11:32
  • @PavelJanicek in that case, don't make it unresolved. but there's still the possibility that it happens during a scene transition or a travel period.
    – Nzall
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 12:55

I can't write the direct and explicit scene, and I don't think they are necessary. And really, as a reader I feel like they are 'telling' me something and hoping I will translate that into character feelings and sensations: In your example, shouldn't that movement produce some sort of feeling in him, or in her, or in both of them?

I say forget what is happening with their body parts, what is happening in their heads? What are they feeling? What permanent change is now present, what does it mean for the future?

There is a "why" of how they came to be naked together, so what is satisfied in that final movement of P finally meets V? As Lauren says (+1), skip the genitalia, mechanics, etc. Even if they are not virgins, first sex with a new partner you have known for some time is transformative for both of them, it begins a new chapter in their relationship, and that moment when P meets V is a singular moment because of how it irrevocably changes what they wanted and anticipated doing into what they have done.

The mechanics are not so important. A full sex scene is pretty boring; sex is mostly repeating a motion many times. So I'd avoid writing the 'middle' at all. How they came to the point of intimacy is important, even if you only show him kissing her (or vice versa). Next in importance is the transition out; from completed act to 'normal' (I presume eventually you want your story to continue with fully dressed characters).

Third in importance is the moment actual sex begins (beyond kissing); and what it means to at least one of them. Fourth is any moment of climax. Those are not in order of how they happen, and show what you can skip.

For example, on TV some stories show two fully clothed characters kiss [finally], then fade out, and fade back in with the two characters fully clothed the next day, in the office or court room or whatever. The audience knows they boned, their attitude towards each other shows that too.


To be honest, it depends what the sex scene represents. If it's a consummation of a romantic arc that's been established as capable/having forged a genuine relationship, a focus on the emotional and physical intertwining should be the focus. If it's instead a person getting some fun, empty sex, then the physical should definitely be the focus, perhaps, if the hero is particularly byronic, some reflection on how this doesn't magically give him a soul like he wishes it did.

If the protagonist is giving or receiving pity sex then obviously a great feeling of hollowness and a sort of... bare-bones, dead sexuality should be evoked, and if it's an affair, the emotions and physical involvement could run the gamut of excitement, fulfilment, guilt, physical lashings out against confinement, etc.

My basic point is this: The feeling of a sex scene is not some one-size-fits-all thing. Sometimes the physical is the most important aspect, sometimes it isn't. You need to look at your sex scene and ask what you want to achieve with it.


What did you think of the erotic scenes? I have the same opinion and bring into being them redundant. Forthrightly, I skipped those scenes. The poet says,” Forever wilt thou she love and be on fare”. Actual love is the solution of real companion. Erotic scene is not needed to display in the book or in a film. About this inquiring feeling, my comment is self explanatory and sole enterprising. once two typescript having sex is a stratagem dot in a story which is not hypothetical to be erotic or not even quixotic, a comprehensive explanation of the accomplishment can give the impression out of position, particularly when we aren't if truth be told at ease inscription to a certain dimension. This tin can set off so far as to just entail that sex has taken place. When we decide to go into more detail, for example because we fancy to use the sex prospect itself to extra quality growth or just because you think a bit of fan service can't wound. we should by and large hang about away from purple prose and stay consistent in our overall writing style. When we usually don't use flowering metaphors, don't start using them unexpectedly presently for the reason that we are writing about sex. Otherwise the scene will look out of place just because of the writing style. When we are lettering for a readership which is old enough to read erotic scenes, we can assume that our readership knows how sex works. This means that overly detailed description of the exact interactions of various body parts is usually unnecessary. What's much more important, though, is to describe the characters feelings and impressions.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Firstly, could you break this up into paragraphs? It's very hard to read at the moment. Secondly, the question is "how to write good erotic scenes" and you seem to be saying, "Don't write erotic scenes" - I'm not sure whether that actually counts as an answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 5:40

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