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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Post: Author Steve McHugh

I'd like to introduce my friend, Steve McHugh...a fellow writer who I've come to know through my writing group, the OWG (Rebels Rule! Woo!)

Steve has a new book out called Crimes Against Magic and he's here today to talk a little bit about writing those dreaded sex scenes. Enjoy :-)

Although a massive generalisation, it’s very quickly become apparent to me that women write better sex scenes then men. I can think of, at a push, three male writers who write excellent sex scenes in their books. I can think of at least a dozen women, right off the top of my head who do the same.

Now, of course there are women who can’t write sex scenes either, but even so, the odds are firmly in the female court.

So, it was with a little trepidation that it became apparent that my first book, Crimes Against Magic, was going to have sex in it. This was a problem for one reason. My sex scenes were dreadful. They read a little bit like an educational sex talk given by a teacher for whom the word ‘sex’ should never leave their mouth. They were dry, dull and quite frankly about as sexy as wet cardboard.

So, I tried spicing them up a bit and found a new problem. They now sounded like a porn film. All I needed to do was add a handlebar moustache and have the main character come to check on the woman’s boiler, fridge, cooker, pluming and I’d have had a career in writing truly terrible sex scenes. It’s something to think about if this whole ‘published author’ thing doesn’t work out.

So I needed to re-work it again. And this time I found some good advice. Apparently, I’m pretty good at writing action scenes. So, why not try writing a sex scene in the same way? Everyone writes action scenes in their own way, but I tend to map out where everyone is and what they’re doing, or going to be doing.

Applying it to a sex scene was actually straight forward. Instead of several people all in the same place I only had to deal with two (although, your mileage may vary). So, I wrote it as if it were an action scene, or a fight. Once I had the backbone for it, I found it much easier to go through it and make it ‘sexier’, but having that base was necessary for me.

Since that first time, I’ve found it much easier to switch into ‘sex scene mode’ for writing and can usually manage it without the need for the clinical part first. I’m never going to write the greatest sex scenes of all time, but I hope I’m no longer in the same bracket as some of the truly terrible ones.

Steve McHugh is the author of Crimes Against Magic. An urban fantasy set in modern day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth century France.

Avaliable from :

Blog - http://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com


  1. I prefer doing a fade-to-black.

    I think sometimes the lead-up can be more playful and convey the feelings and moods between characters better than the act itself.

    I'd rather engage imaginations to take over, than try to work my way directing a scene while trying to avoid painful euphemisms.

  2. That's an approach I hadn't heard before. I wonder if the reverse is true? Maybe I should write my action scenes like a write sex scenes and they'll come out better. Hmmmm.....

  3. Great post! It'll be interesting to keep an eye on the process when I read it now, kinda like the behind the scenes glimpse ;)

  4. *Must ... must ... must ... try ... to ... behave* Nnnnnggghh! Phew, I think I can manage it for a bit.

    NnnnnNnnnnngh. No, sorry, I tried. I've just mentally editing about five comments - remembering that you are both people I value and would like to be able to communicate with tomorrow.

    I do think that Nate ought to grow a handlebar moustache for book 2 though. ;)

  5. Thanks very much, I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

    And, thanks for the suggest, TJ. It's something I'll keep as plan B. For the moment anyway. :-)

  6. I like the idea of using how to write an action scene to write a sex scene. I am one of the lady's who can't write one to save her life. :) So I will take any tips I can get. Thanks for sharing your wisdom guys. I enjoyed reading this post

  7. I hate writing sex scenes as they read awfully, like Matthew, I like to stick with flirting, build up the tension, finish with a passionate kiss and the closing of a door which then leaves the readers brain to kick in.

    (After all they can imagine a better sex scene for thier tastes than I can write.)

    Nicely written post though and one that I might try myself. Although I suspect that it might get too porny, especially if I use swords or daggers of actions sequence style to work out the nitty gritty. (No, don't mention stabbing her repeatedly or waving his sword about with pride.) See just there, thats true porn. I'm a lost cause.

  8. No reason why sex scenes can't read like porn scripts! ;)

  9. Thanks for stopping by!!! Lots of great comments here!

  10. Awesome advice about writing sex scenes in the same way as a fight scene. They're both action, they both get hot and sweaty, they just have a different kind of emotion underlying them (although not always!) and emotion is something that men and women writers can convey equally well :)