Guest blogger: Kylie Griffin
This is perhaps one of the less queried, but more interesting questions I get asked as a romance author.
The ones usually thrown my way in conversation consist of, ‘Why sex scenes with paranormal creatures instead of normal people?’ or ‘Do you draw on real life experiences when writing sex scenes?’ I have answers for both but depending on how you ask me those questions will determine the tone and type of the response I give you.
Let’s get back to the original question and see if I can’t answer it … How long does it take to write sex scenes?
For me personally I find it much easier to write action scenes than sex scenes. Action scenes play out like a movie in my head but sex scenes don’t come as smoothly or easily. Yet I love writing them because they’re such an integral part of the story. They’re part of the characters journey’s as much as anything happening in the external plot.
I find getting the balance right between the physical action and emotional intimacy or internal growth to be the most time consuming thing when writing these types of scenes. It’s so important to get that right, to make what they do ring true otherwise the reader senses something is amiss or off or forced.
The wonderful thing about sex scenes is that there are so many different types of scenarios you can include in a character’s story arc. There’s the initial tension building scenes, the first kiss, the teasing/innuendo/near happening sex, the first time they have sex, hot raunchy sex, intimate sex—all different and all able to convey character growth (or throw hurdles in the way of said character).
So, how long does it take for me to write a sex scene? Well, it takes as long as it takes. Let me give you an example—here’s a snippet from Allegiance Sworn, the tail end of Imhara and Arek’s first kiss scene.
Imhara’s goaded Arek with his worst fear—intimacy with a demon—and not being one to let his fear rule him Arek’s taken up her challenge and kissed her. He expects to prove to her that he can hold his own with a quick peck on the lips but it turns into an explosive, and unexpectedly, passionate kiss. Something neither anticipated:
Blood pounded through Arek’s veins. The insane hunger for another taste of her mouth tempted him as nothing else ever had. He grit his teeth and battled it, every muscle aching at the enforced command to do nothing until he had mastered his body. He concentrated on quelling that desire, determined to regain control of himself. But his thoughts kept returning to the defining moment.
Merciful Mother, he’d kissed her. A demon.
He hadn’t been sure he could, but he had, unwilling to let her challenge go unanswered, and—here he balked at the thought—he’d found pleasure in the kiss.
He’d experienced desire for a Na’Reish demon. So hot and intense reason had gone south, just like the blood in his veins. He was semi-hard just from kissing her, aching with every beat of his heart.
And he craved more.
That fact drained the blood from his face. He sucked in another breath. How could he feel all that for her? Her goading couldn’t be used as an excuse. He was an adult, not some juvenile pressed into a silly dare.
Why had his body betrayed him?
But what shocked him more was the realization that she’d enjoyed their kiss, too. He’d kissed enough women to discern when one reacted out of obligation or passion. Her fervent response equaled his.
Even now the touch of her fingers where she gripped his arms through his shirt burned. Merciful Mother help him if her intent ever changed and she decided to do more than hold on to him.
Arek shook his head. He wasn’t ready to deal with any of this. Not now.
When I wrote this first kiss scene—the dirty draft—it took me about an hour to write. Then over the editing stage I layered a little more into it, tweaked sentence structure, checked that what I wanted to achieve re: both character’s internal conflict and growth was ‘just right’, changed a few words to something with more precise impact…and so on. That probably took me another hour or so.
Fast forward to the first physical-they’re-actually-doing-it-sex scene. Imhara’s just fended off a rival’s interest in Arek, and is now being challenged about the way she went about claiming him. This is part of the lead up to their intimate sex scene (in Trader Ilhan’s House)—you didn’t think I was actually going to let you read the juiciest bit, did you?
Imhara slid her hand from his chest, over his vest, to trace the edge of the gold band on his bare arm. The metal was as warm as his skin. “The emblem of the Kaal Clan.”
Arek grunted. “You tapped it. Made sure Miana saw it.”
“My mark of ownership. Protection for anyone wearing it.” Her fingernails scratched his flesh in a light caress as they went down his arm. “I may have wanted to claim you in front of her”—dropping her hand to his thigh, she ran her fingers up the inside seam of his breeches—”but I didn’t know if you’d accept this—” She cupped him, the press of her palm firm. His sharp inhalation fired her blood. “In public.”
She closed her hand around him, her own breath catching as he hardened with her touch. What she wouldn’t give to unbuckle his belt and feel him, flesh to flesh. He’d be smooth, velvet steel. Pulsing and hot.
“Crude but effective.” She stroked the length of him, from base to tip, felt him shudder, and smiled. “You like me touching you like this.”
“You already know I do.” That came from between gritted teeth.
On the next stroke, he made a sound in the back of his throat, and pushed his hips toward her, thrusting into her palm. She teased him again, slowly tightening and easing her grasp, up and down, watching the skin across his cheeks tighten in pleasure, the color in them darken.
His growing hunger fed hers. Her heart pumped the heat right around her body, until she trembled like he did. She brushed her fingers over the rounded curve of his sac, squeezed it gently, then retraced his length again and felt him thicken, liking how quickly he responded.
Leaning in close, she grazed her lips against the shell of his ear and smiled at his sudden indrawn breath. His chest brushed against hers, the sensation causing her nipples to pebble.
Light, that felt good.
“You asked how far I’d have gone to prove my point to Miana.” His cheek touched hers, his jaw flexing, his breathing shallow, hot against her neck. “I wouldn’t have stopped with a quick feel, Arek. Given the nature of the celebration she was inviting us to, we’d have both ended up naked. There’s nothing that says, you’re mine, more than if I’d ridden you, then made you beg for release.” Drawing back, she met his gaze. “And you would have. Guaranteed.”
The whole chapter, including this part, took me a week to write, mainly because of the size of the chapter/scene/points I wanted to make sure I included were there. There was so much happening in the external plot and this was a defining moment for both the characters, so the internal motivation and growth had to be right.
With Miana’s interest in Arek, Imhara found herself dealing with emotions like jealousy and this made her question the depth of her feelings for Arek. The external plot also pushed Arek and Imhara into a situation where the internal plot needed to be taken to the next level—physical sex.
It was very much a tug-of-war sort of scene for both of them as their feelings for each other were exposed and each had to decide how they were going to handle them. The whole chapter was a heck of a lot of fun to write, to finally get them together after so much build up and strife, so that ahhh-satisfaction factor had to be spot on!
So, how long does it take to write a sex scene? Well, this is a very long-winded way of saying it all depends on the type of scene. But I bet you the author’s response will be worth the time it takes to answer!
Now, seeing as we’re on the subject of sex, help me celebrate the release of Allegiance Sworn by answering this question—What sort of sex scene (in fiction) do you enjoy reading and why?—and as temptation to participate—there’s a signed copy of Allegiance Sworn riding on your answer! NOTE: Giveaway draw restricted to Australia. UPDATE: The giveaway has now been drawn – congratulations to Helen S.