Thursday 13 for November 29: 13 Steps to a Great Love Scene

Published November 29, 2012 by The Author

Or smutty scene. 😀

Writing a smutty scene is a great way to warm up a cold autumn night (even though it already feels like winter here in the mountains…). Of course, it’s even more fun to act one out with a partner! We’re talking about that during the HOT AUTUMN NIGHTS Blog Hop, happening between now and Sunday, December 2. Win a copy of my steamy novella NEPTUNE RISING and be entered to win a great grand prize — over $150 to spend at either Amazon or B&N!

Don’t forget that the ROMANCE REVIEWS YEAR-END SPLASH PARTY is still happening (until Dec. 15)! If you rack up points by playing games, chatting with authors on the forums, and answering trivia questions, you can win terrific prizes, not to mention discover a ton of new authors! On December 16, I’ll be giving away a copy of THE VEIL, so make sure to drop by my original post about the party and take part in the Rafflecopter there!

Now the THURSDAY 13: 13 Steps to a Great Love Scene! (Or Sex, or Smut… whatever term you like to use)

Thursday 13

The “Sex Scene Cycle” was originally taught by Morgan Hawke.

1. Plot/Setup — Even if it’s “just” erotica, you need to paint a picture setting up how and why the participants are there. This is where you can tell us why they’re sexy, why they’re attracted to each other. If it’s in the context of a larger story, why are we taking time out from the main plot for some smut?

2. Set the Scene – There are a million backdrops for great sex, from an elaborately decorated bedroom with a giant bed, rose petals and soft candlelight, to just dropping and doing it in the grass. Whatever you can imagine, you can do. Set up the physical scene for your characters.

3. Initiating Act – Who makes the first move and how sets the tone for the entire scene. Gentle kisses? Do they just jump each other?

4. Initial Reaction – Same here; this establishes where the second (third, etc.) sex partner is in the situation.

5. Partner’s External Action: the next physical action a participant makes – What was done.

6. Viewpoint Character’s Reactions: Physical (How did they react? Shiver, shudder, flinch, writhe?); Sensory (How it felt); Emotional (What did it make the character feel?)

7. Viewpoint Character’s “next move”: Internal or Vocal comment, encouraging? Feedback? Dirty talk? What does the character do to the partner in return?

8. Partner’s External Reaction: Physical action or dialogue, or action then dialogue — no internalization, as there should only be ONE viewpoint character in a scene. Head-hopping is confusing and few authors do it well.

9. Start the whole cycle again, or hit other characters in menage or more scenes!

10. As each cycle plays out, the tension and reactions should become more intense.

11. Viewpoint Character’s Reactions

12. Viewpoint Character’s Next Move

13. Partner’s External Reaction

It all breaks down in these terms:

Stimulus > Reaction > Perception > Emotion > Response

  • Something happened
  • Their immediate physical reaction
  • What they sensed
  • How they Felt
  • Deliberate Response

And don’t forget to make sure you get ALL of the senses into the experience: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound! If you’re writing a paranormal, you can even throw a few “extra” senses in there. I like those. With vampires, you even have the extra “bite” step in addition to the “standard” sexual moves.

If you’re writing menage or more, you need to make sure everybody gets in on the cycle of action! Make sure you’re clear in expressing who is doing and experiencing what. It’s easy to get lost, especially in menage or more, but it’s just as easy to be confusing in m/m or even m/f.


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6 comments on “Thursday 13 for November 29: 13 Steps to a Great Love Scene

    • Honestly? I know I don’t consciously follow it. I think about how a real sex scene plays out in bed, and try to express that on the page. Not coincidentally, it does sort of happen the same way as Morgan wrote in her guide!

      Happy TT!

  • I always struggle with “reaction”. I get caught up in the POV of whoever’s head I’m in and forget about the other person (s). LOL! This is great stuff, Heather.

    • I know! I mean, we’re essentially in the POV character’s head — as long as there are no objections from the partner, it’s easy to forget! But it does make the scene richer, I guess. I try to follow this pattern, but I don’t always get it the first time. I have to go back and make it more complete later!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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