I invited author Penny Watson over for a visit to discuss the wrong way to perform…
The Never-Ending BJ
Once upon a time, I was minding my own business–and reading an erotica book—and I started reading a “BJ” scene. (“BJ” a.k.a. oral sex, blow job, Barry Johnson, lip dance, knock the dust off the old sombrero, have lunch downtown, etc…you get the idea.)*
Started off well enough, and then it kept going…and going…and going….and 16 pages later I thought….
Good grief! Just come already!
Yes, it was the Never-Ending BJ. Which is probably superb for a man in real life, but is hideously bad in an erotica novel.
“Why?” you ask. “Why, oh why, Miss Penelope, is a Never-Ending BJ Scene bad?”
Erotica writers want their love scenes to be sensual, satisfying, emotional, intense, and very, very sexy.
Boring….not so much.
When a sex scene goes on and on and on for 42 pages, it’s like watching one of those porno movies where your eyes glaze over and you start thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch. A grilled veggie sandwich or a cup of soup? Because frankly, too much graphic sex loses its “sexiness” after a while.
A good sex scene needs to be the appropriate length (yes, I’m thinking of a naughty “length” joke, and no, I’m not going to say it. Not. Going. To. Say. It.) If it’s too short, it’s not enough for an erotica reader. And if it’s too long, it screws up the pacing of the narrative. It needs to be…just right, Goldilocks!
A good sex scene needs to be integrated into the story and make sense. If it’s just thrown in there for no good reason, it’s jarring to the reader. A gratuitous sex scene that has no meaning for the story or the character arcs is basically porn.
A good sex scene should move the story forward and give some insight about the characters and their relationship. Sexual intimacy should progress naturally in the story. You can’t have the characters kiss for the first time in one chapter, and then get out the whips and chains in the next chapter. Too fast!
A good sex scene should include sensual details, but not too much graphic, clinical information. In other words, how are the characters feeling? What do they smell, taste, touch? Most importantly…what are their emotions during the scene? How do they feel about their partner?
Hot erotica scenes do NOT need to use the words “cock” and “pussy” to be edgy or sexy. Sometimes the sexiest love scenes don’t use any terms for the genitals at all. Think about the level of graphic detail you’re using. Is it necessary? Is it making the scene more sexy, or detracting from it? If the scene is reading like a medical textbook description of reproduction, it ain’t working.
Think about the language you’re using. Labia, scrotum, clitoris, perineum, anus? If you’re over-using terms that sound clinical, your sex scene has just lost its sexiness. Use them sparingly. Also, if you use the word “cock” 20 times in one paragraph, it will lose its effectiveness. And make your hero sound like a poultry farmer.
Don’t forget dialogue! Just because your characters are getting down and dirty does not mean they have to clam up. Dialogue can be a wonderful addition to a love scene…dirty talk can add a real sexy quotient, sweet talk can up the emotional ante.
Best way to judge your love scenes? Check with some beta readers….do the sexy times make your readers tingle and sweat? Or did they snooze and skip to the next section of the book? You want your sex scenes to hook folks just as much as the rest of the story, enhance the narrative, show how the connection between the H/h is growing.
Writing a successful love scene is one of the most challenging aspects of writing romance/erotica. Don’t describe the scene as an objective observer. Part A goes into Part B, which rubs on Part C. Really get into your characters’ heads (no…not that head….cripes!…the other head!) How is he/she feeling, responding, reacting…is he/she scared, excited, nervous, touched, aroused?
Be the character. Live the character. Experience the character. (I’m sweating.)
Remember…there can be too much of a good thing. If your sex scenes are 46 pages long, it’s time for some massive editing.
Massive. Huge. Gigantic. Rock-hard. Editing.
(I’m sweating again.)
All things in moderation.
Hoping I never snooze off again while reading an erotica book,
* Various and assorted expressions for oral sex from The Big Book Of Filth by Jonathan Green
***Note from Julia: I looked for an appropriate image, I really did, but I couldn’t find anything, um, right for the job.