Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


Creating the Sizzle in Sex

By Maria Zannini
Maria Zannini

You've been dreading it, shying away and skipping over to the other scenes in your novel, but you can't avoid it any longer. You have to write that sex scene.

If your current work-in-progress is in need of a little passionate lovemaking, I can give you some surefire rules to keep the sex not only fresh, but also riveting.

To begin with, determine what kind of sex your main characters are going to require in your novel. The heat varies by genre, author style, and characterization. If the level of intimacy has remained cool throughout the novel you don't want to drop your heroes in the middle of a raunchy sex-capade. The degree of eroticism is dictated by the emotional response of your main characters and the world they live in.

Fictional sex is just like real life sex. In order to make it mouthwateringly good, it has to evolve from tiny, teasing moments where each partner learns about the other incrementally.

Take it slow. Just like real life, you don't want your characters stripping down to their skivvies within the first couple of minutes of being introduced -- unless it's that kind of novel. Making love is all about perception and detail. It's the caress of rough fingers along the nape of her neck, or the tug of a pearl button on the top of her blouse. It's a dance of give and take, of breath and sigh. It's at this point that you want to focus on the characters' intense awareness of one another. You want the hunger, that moment of hesitation when they realize they've crossed over that invisible threshold of intimacy.

The most erotic thing about sex is the anticipation. The steps your characters take to reach that hallelujah moment is what glues readers to a story. It's not the end result, but the journey that makes our fingers cling to those pages with eager expectation. Wring every bit of sexual tension you can into your sex scene, and you will never lose a reader.

Watch your language. Oddly enough, the thing that usually ruins a good sex scene is the language. Authors sometimes err on the side of propriety and end up using all kinds of Victorian euphemisms to describe the sex act. The author could be uncomfortable using explicit language or perhaps he's afraid to offend his readers.

But here's a hint: use the language that's appropriate for your characters. The story is about them, not you. If your protagonist is a rough, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, expect him to use cruder language. If he's been a sheltered virgin, unaccustomed to the ways of the world, his innocence should be reflected in his dialog and description. Know your characters and you'll know their pillow talk.

Have sex for a reason. One of my pet peeves is when people throw in a sex scene just to spice up their stories. Sex is an important aspect in relationships, but not always necessary for the success of the story.

Ask yourself: is the sex a natural progression of the evolving relationship between characters? Will it help develop the characters or the world? Does it advance your plot? If you can answer "yes" to all these questions then you are using sex for the right reasons.

A sex scene is no different from any other scene in your story. It still requires an objective, an obstacle, and an outcome.

The most important thing to remember is that you must engage your reader with all five senses so that he feels he's part of the scene. The level of excitement is calibrated by degrees. How far you turn up the heat will determine the sizzle. That's not bacon frying, my friends. That's amour.

Maria Zannini is a writer and graphic artist living in the wilds of Texas. Older than dirt and twice as ugly, she analyzes everything to death. Every once in a while she figures it all out. ---that's when they change the questions.  Visit her at or drop her a line at