I'm not writing erotica - I'm writing fantasy and sci-fi. But sometimes my characters make love, sometimes in ways I cannot be familiar with. In one story, it's two guys (I'm a girl). In another story, there's a character who uses a wheelchair.

How do I research this, so I can get the relevant scenes right?

I have gay friends, and I have a friend who uses a wheelchair, but I can't exactly ask them about positions and the like.

As for Google, Google is all too happy to provide me with porn. And the thing about porn is a) I'm not actually comfortable watching it, and b) porn is not realistic. I need to understand what a scene like that would really be like, what's realistic.

Of course, since I'm not writing erotica, I can lower the curtain on a scene, describe more of what the characters feel than what's actually going on, etc. But the thing is, to describe a scene, I need first to see it, and then to pick out what I want to focus on. And here, particularly in the second case, I see a lot of question marks. "Lowering the curtains" has to be my artistic choice, not an "I don't actually know what's happening, so I'm going to skip it".

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    I saw a documentary recently about a sex positivity party for people with disabilities. It was called 'Deliciously Disabled' and the subjects were very frank and open about their experiences. It might be of interest to you.
    – sudowoodo
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 12:36
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    The podcast Writing Excuses covered love scenes a few years back. I highly recommend the episode. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 5:27
  • A porn scene with a man in a wheelchair definitely will be unrealistic. Maybe it will have a plot twist: the disabled person getting "cured" miraculously.
    – rus9384
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 7:09
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    @rus9384 You'd be surprised what men in wheelchairs get up to. Probably not porn - videos made to arouse others, but they very definitely have sex. Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 9:01

4 Answers 4


You might find that research isn't quite so important. If you're describing a banquet, you don't need to picture how the guests chew and swallow their food.

For the scene with the two guys, you can focus on the foreplay - kissing, caressing, nibbling, petting, arousal, i.e all the things a person of either gender can imagine as pleasurable - and pay less attention to the genital stuff.

If you feel compelled to describe the physical positions during coitus, it's also going to depend on how (a) experienced and (b) adventurous each character is. The mechanics are pretty simple: a guy comes by having his penis stimulated, usually involving friction - mouth, hand, anus, groin-to-groin, etc. The two guys can take turns, or they can stimulate each other simultaneously. But honestly, how they come is less interesting to the reader than how they each feel and behave - are they nervous? confident? over-eager? submissive? playful? dominating? clumsy? tender? overwhelmed? shouting "ride me cowboy"?

For the guy in a wheelchair, sex may be more complicated. What's the nature of their disability? If it's a spinal injury, you'll need to address whether they can feel anything "down there". If they can't, there are special techniques to stimulate the penis to erection/ejaculation, but you'd have to research this - maybe the rehabilitation wing of a local hospital might be willing to help you.

If the guy in the wheelchair can achieve an erection through the usual means, then it comes down to how restricted they are in adopting a desired position. Beyond that, see my comments in my second paragraph.

I applaud you for the diversity of your characters, and not denying them the pleasure of physical contact. Most adult readers have experience of giving love and being loved; in the scenarios you've described, your task is to connect the reader with that experience. The mechanics are only relevant if they're important in the story.

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    +1 for the eating metaphor. Describe the deliciousness, not the chewing. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 5:34

IMO, pornography is realistic enough; seek out the "homemade" variety. I think you can tell if these are scripted or being "acted". Particularly if there is any hint of role playing; it isn't realistic, and probably if there are multiple camera angles, it isn't realistic. (An exception for iPhone video, where the hand holding it can move about).

At least some of them really are just a fixed camera focused on the bed and two people going at it.

Be aware, sometimes initial minutes are cut as "boring", getting undressed or ready.

Besides that, aid your own imagination with props. Whether you have experience or not, find a wheelchair to sit in, perhaps at the E.R. of the local hospital. Imagine for yourself what could be done. Take picture of it, or yourself in it. You can find on porn a picture of a naked guy with an erection sitting, so you can see the logistics problem. Now wrap a wheelchair around him, and see what's possible. It will be truly be easier if you are sitting in one!

I'm pretty sure fellatio would be pretty easy for a guy in a wheelchair; perhaps something like a backwards cowgirl could be executed; or in that link click on the "seated" tag and there are dozens of positions shown, I see 2 or 3 that might be possible (for a flexible girl).

Don't sell your imagination short. A few pictures to get the mechanics right, and the rest is fair game. Nobody else is exactly like your characters, so as long as you don't break the laws of physics or biology I think you'll be fine.

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    Being a wheelchair user doesn't necessitate that all sexual activity requires them to be IN the chair though. Also, @Galastel doesn't specify the gender of the character who uses a wheelchair.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 15:26
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    I think this is an example of why research IS so important when writing about experiences you're not familiar with. The most basic example is a writer with no experience of anal sex overlooking the details about lube... Ouch. And maybe YOU can't foresee any problems for intercourse for a wheelchair user, but if you gave it even a ten minute search on Google I'm sure you'd find plenty (depending on the disability, of course, but take cerebral palsy as an example). By guessing, you risk getting something terribly wrong and misrepresenting something important for an already misrepresented group.
    – sudowoodo
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:51
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    @sudowoodo Quite... I appreciate Amadeus’ intentions but I don’t think there is a great deal of helpful advice. Galastels’ first objection to porn is that she dislikes watching it, so being told that it should be easy enough to tell what’s real is if limited help. And the chairs lying around in an ER are of a type intended for patients getting moved around rather than what wheelchair users actually use day to day which are differently proportioned and tailored to the mobility issue in question.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 17:04
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    @Amadeus: “if an author […], they have no business writing erotica” — The very first few words of the question are: “I'm not writing erotica”
    – celtschk
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 18:10
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    @Chappo of course. But there are things to learn even before positions. For example, in the media, if there's sex between two guys, it's anal. A bit of research, and there are several other options. Or, if a character with paraplegia would find some extra pillows helpful, I need to place those pillows in the scene. Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 0:12

I would suggest reading multiple sex scenes. Stop in at the library or even book shop and head to books that you know are likely to have sex scenes, find them and read through.

Keep in mind you are reading romance through to erotica which is not your genre so it doesn't need to be as detailed or explicit as what you're reading. However it will give you a good idea about the flow of sex scenes, and what's included. Normally it's not so much about mechanics and more about the chemistry and emotions.

To be honest, when I write sex scenes I get drunk af and then worry about editing them later.

For what it's worth, my female cousin is in a wheel chair and has an active sex life. They do it in bed. Part of your issue is that being in a wheel does not give enough information about the disability. You need to know what their abilities are, how much movement they have, how much feeling they have. My cousin has spina bifida. She is able to get herself out of her wheel chair and onto bed. She can stand for very short periods of time. She dresses herself. I've never read or seen it so can't vouch too much for it, but 'Me before you' is a romance with a male in a wheelchair. I assume they have sex. Watching and reading that may help.

  • Hi Jessum! Welcome to Writing.SE. Thank you for your answer. A quick note: the way formatting on Stack Exchange works is you need a double enter for it to start a new line. :) Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 23:59
  • Oh, sorry! I'll make sure I do that.
    – Jessum
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 0:06
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    “I get drunk af” — what does “af” mean?
    – celtschk
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 15:37
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    @celtschk - Ah, my sweet summer child.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 11:50

For writers of fiction, research is not the answer. The basic instruction for new writers is to 'write what you know'. If you detail an experience of a deaf person having sex . . . and get it woefully wrong - you will be called out as a fraud. You will lose that demographic forever.

With experience you'll learn to 'associate' and 'map'. If you feel you've ever been denied a job opportunity because you are a woman, then you'll make a good fist of faking the same POV as an African-American.

The mechanics of sex are relatively unimportant. The thoughts of a gay person losing their virginity are probably no different to straight a person's.

Deep thoughts about these issues can be source of great scenes . . .

A mute girl consents to sex but in the middle of the act changes her mind - how can she communicate 'no'.

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    "For writers of fiction, research is not the answer." that is an over simplification. Many writers will suggest you that you have to do your research no matter what. "Write what you know" refers to the social milieu, to the experiences, but unless you write a diary there is always a certain amount of stuff that you don't really know about and requires some research.
    – FraEnrico
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 8:14

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