Writing Erotic Romance – Balancing Sex And Plot

By on October 23, 2014

This post has adult content. If you are under the age of eighteen years old and/or sensitive to adult language/situations, please do not read this post.

One of the most common misconceptions about erotic romances is that the stories are a series of sex scenes strung together. Yep, kind of like very bad porn. The pizza guy arrives and, oh noes, our heroine doesn’t have money to pay him. “In lieu of payment,” our big breasted heroine pleads. “Can I strip off your clothes and ride your huge pepperoni?” (insert more bad pizza jokes here)

Some days, when I’m completely brain dead, strung out on Nutella and strawberry licorice whips, I wish it were that simple. But no, readers expect a plot (thankfully, too much sex makes stories a very dull read). They expect the same level of plotting they find in traditional romances except they also want a sensual tone.

There are some great posts by other writers on crafting awesome plots. I’ll be covering some of the issues specific to erotic romance in my post.

Sex To Plot Ratio

How much of the sexy, sexy versus how much plot should your story have?

It really depends on your story. Yeah, that’s a sucktastic answer, isn’t it? But you are the goddess of your own storytelling. You make these calls.

Every scene should reveal character or push the plot forward or change the romantic relationship in an erotic romance. This includes sensual scenes. If a sensual scene can be removed and the story doesn’t change, remove it.

Many erotic romance writers think of the sex as an additional plot. I like the sexual journey to be fully integrated into my erotic romances. Sex changes the plot and the relationship. The plot changes the sex. The relationship changes the sex.

I also like to have my sensual scenes no more than a chapter (3,000 words or 12 pages) apart. There’s no need to hyperventilate. By a sensual scene, I don’t necessarily mean sex. Your hero and heroine eyefucking the hell out of each other qualifies as a sensual scene. Your heroine pressing her breasts against your biker hero’s back, feeling the ripple of muscles under his cotton T-shirt, as they speed away from the baddies can qualify as a sensual scene.

One long sensual scene is often more satisfying than a dozen short scenes. If I can go big, I do. If I can’t, I’ll sneak in a quickie, a great handholding scene or maybe a hot fantasy.


Starting Sexy

I always try to insert a sensual scene as close to the beginning of my erotic romances as possible. Again, this doesn’t have to be sex. It could be the night breeze skimming over the heroine’s bare legs, a thousand ghostly fingers caressing her skin. It could be the feel of quality card stock under her palms, the press of the raised font against her fingertips.

Why do this?

Because I want readers to know that this is an erotic romance. This is a spicy story. They should expect a sizzling heat level. This ensures my readers aren’t surprised when my heroine strips off her clothes and rides the hero like the prized stud he is.

It is also the big dick syndrome. If I tell you to watch for big dicks, you’ll see them everywhere, thinking big dicks are as common as carrots (I wish – grins). If I tell readers this is a hot story, they’ll notice the hot scenes.


Plots To Die For

I’ve seen every subgenre in erotic romance – thriller erotic romance (From Russia With Hot Nasty Lickable Love), inspirational erotic romance (the heroine praising the Almighty both in and out of bed), horror erotic romance (fun with chainsaws), zombie erotic romance (giving a new meaning to a hero losing his shit). You name it. It’s been done. You’re only limited by your sick ass imagination.

A great erotic romance writer can make almost any scene into a panty-wetting delight. Almost every scene. There are some types of scenes that shouldn’t be pumped full of sensuality.


Kiddies

Any scene with kiddies is challenging to make sexy without raising the ick level through the roof. Even in lactation fetish erotic romances, the baby is usually out of the room when the hero and heroine get down and dirty.

It’s tough to go directly from cutsie to sexy. These are two very different tones. Not many people switch from ‘What a cute baby’ to ‘Oh my God, I’m so horny’ in one sentence. There’s often a transition scene to ease into the sexy.


Action Scenes

Action scenes also aren’t great times to have sexy moments. If baddies are shooting at the hero, he isn’t thinking of boning the heroine. He’s concentrating on keeping his tight ass out of the line of fire. When he passes the heroine a gun in the middle of a heated battle, he isn’t contemplating how soft and slender her fingers are, how he’d like them to be wrapped around his cock instead of the phaser. He’s passing her the damn gun, hoping to hell she knows how to use it.

The good news is your characters will likely be pumped up after the shoot out. They will be grateful to be alive and extremely horny, ready to jump each other. This type of passion can flow into hot and heavy, against the wall, drywall cracking sex.

Note: Many publishers will not allow weapons (knives, guns, etc) to be used in sex scenes. You have to be true to your characters and to your story but you should be aware that this might make your story more difficult to sell.

Ending Sexy

I always end my erotic romances with sex. I start with a sensual scene and end with one. It is the last ‘loose end’ I tie up (in the case of BDSM stories, literally – grins). The final scene is usually a glimpse into the couple’s sexual future. It might be tender, extremely loving or it could be even more extreme, showing readers that the couple (or more) will continue to push their boundaries.

This last scene is key. It often decides whether or not your reader feels the couple will have their romantic happy ever after or happy for now (the only requirement for erotic romance). All of the sex scenes in an erotic romance are important but this one is critical.

What tricks have you learned to combine plot and sex?

If you liked this post, you might like
Writing Erotic Romance – Making Every Sex Scene Different
or
Writing Erotic Romance – Making Sex Sexy
or
Writing Erotic Romance – The Basics Of A Sex Scene
or
Writing Erotic Romance – Word Choice

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Four years ago, Bee Carter left her tiny hometown, escaping her tormenters. She concealed her tarnished reputation under a good-girl persona, hiding her history from Nicolas, her strong and silent billionaire; Hawke, her tattooed bad-boy biker; and Cyndi, her man-crazy best friend.

Today, she’s returning home … and she’s not alone. Some of her deepest, darkest secrets will be revealed. Trust will be tested. Clothing and inhibitions will be discarded. Bee and her hometown will never be the same.

When her past and her present collide, will any of Bee’s relationships survive?

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4 Responses to “Writing Erotic Romance – Balancing Sex And Plot”

  1. Have mercy Cyn…I abso-freakin-lutely love your posts. Informative and funny as all get out. I know I’m going to chuckle through whatever it is your posting. Thanks for the edu-tainment :) Great post

  2. Monique says:

    Brilliant, simply brilliant!

  3. anon says:

    The majority of erotica I’ve read (by popular authors) is about at the level of a Penthouse letter. It’s basically just porn wrapped up in a sanitized package. But when you open the package, it’s just porn.

    • Cynthia Sax says:

      There’s some great porn available today (especially some of the female targeted lines) but I’m assuming you mean-the story is just sex. Hmmm… I don’t know many popular erotic romance stories that don’t have a plot. Can you give me a title?

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