Just as everyone likes different things in bed, everyone is going to like different things in written sex and foreplay. I’ve never made any bones about the fact that certain things just turn me off; I try very hard to keep my sex scenes what I consider classy. Erotic and hot, rather than crude—even when my characters are being crude there are places I don’t go. For example, although there’s nothing inherently wrong with having the hero manually stimulate the heroine and then lick his fingers, it squicks me out a little so I don’t write it (in fact, there is never any evidence on the hero’s face that he has just performed oral sex, because yuck. At least to me. This is what women’s thighs and bellies are for; he can kiss and nuzzle them until he’s nice and clean. Again, some women find the evidence sexy, and I certainly don’t mean and am not implying that they’re crude or disgusting because of it; come on, I find the idea of the hero drinking the heroine’s blood hot, so I’m hardly one to judge. It’s just something I don’t find arousing so I don’t write it. I don’t use phrases like “eat pussy” and I don’t have characters say things like that either. Again, personal taste. No pun intended.)
But just as we drop linguistic hints throughout the book of how hot or “open” the sex scene is going to be, we really do this with foreplay. Once the kissin’ starts, the reader learns exactly what s/he is in for, so make it count.
And what about kissing? We’ve talked so much about talking and cunnilingus and cocks, we’ve barely talked about kissing at all. It’s funny; although kissing is a huge part of a sex scene I never really think of it that way, I guess because my characters have usually kissed at least a couple of times before the sexing starts. But what about those kisses? Are they soft, delicate brushes of the lips, gradually gaining in intensity as each person feels how much the other wants this? Or are they crushing, passionate, bruising? (I know there are people who think things like “bruising kisses” are lame and cliché. But you know what? Things don’t become cliché if people don’t like reading them. I love the bruising, breathless kiss and will never give it up, personally.)
What about touching? Not just touching intimate parts, either (although of course, there’s lots of fun to be had from delving into those wet folds or gently grasping that hot, hard, thick cock already slick with desire). Does the hero bury his hands in the heroine’s hair? Does he stroke her face, her throat? Her ribcage? Does he skim his hands over her breasts, and how does she react—does she grab his wrist to hold it there (which can show she’s comfortable with him and her sexuality and wants more) or does she pull away? Does she have a moment to think how she wishes her breasts were bigger or smaller or prettier, is she that type of girl? Or is she absolutely confident that he finds every bit of her beautiful?
Where are her hands? Does she run them over his board shoulders, or press them against his chest, feeling how different his body is, how hard and manly he is? (Hey, I actually do think stuff like that, and I bet I’m not the only woman in the world who does. We like how different your bodies are, men, we want to emphasize that, just as I’m sure you like how different our bodies are.) Does she feel the heavy muscles of his back under his skin? Slide her hands down to his firm ass (or bottom, or whatever—I rarely use “ass” in a sex scene, I’m not sure why), or over his narrow hips to the front? If he’s hairy does she play with the hair, feel it under her fingers, tickling her sensitive skin like a thousand little electric shocks?
Who undresses whom, and how? In Personal Demons, Greyson—being the little hedonist that he is—takes time to undress Megan slowly; he wants to enjoy every second of it, to savor what’s about to happen, but when it comes to his own clothing he just wants it off and tears the buttons of his shirt to get it that way. He also has her remove the garter belt and stockings she was wearing; why do you think he does that? A lot of men would have wanted her to leave it on (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because obviously garter belts and stockings are very sexy and what man wouldn’t want to see his woman in them? I love wearing them myself.) What does it say about him that at least this time he wants her completely naked, so he can see and touch every inch of her? (I’d actually be very interested in anyone’s thoughts on that; it surprised me a little when I wrote it.)
But what about your characters? Do they tear at each other’s clothing? Do they leave a trail of discarded garments across the floor, or a heap by the bed? Are there articles of clothing they don’t even bother to remove at all (shirts, socks, panties still around an ankle, what?) I think half-dressed sex can be incredibly hot, especially if the clothing constricts movement.
Where do they kiss each other? Earlobes, necks, collarbones? Stomachs? The hipbone is incredibly sensitive on men and women; nibbling it always evokes a response in both the character and the reader who’s had it done to them and remembers what it feels like. What about toes and feet and legs? Hands? I’ve never been a fan of writing finger-sucking simply because once the finger is in the mouth it can be awkward to pull it out. But you can do it, and simply replace the thumb with her mouth or whatever, thus skimming over the awkward stuff. Does he suck her breasts and nipples? Hard or soft? Slow or fast? Does she bite his chest gently? Does she suck on or otherwise play with his nipples? A lot of men like that, too.
And what about oral sex? What is he doing with that mouth of his? Savoring, sucking, nibbling? Exloring, teasing, tasting? Slipping his tongue inside in a shallow rhythm? Does he pull her plump, hard little clit into his mouth? What does she do when she comes, when she feels herself getting ready to? Is she a bold woman who buries her fingers in his hair and presses him closer, or is she biting her fingers or palm or gripping the pillow or fisting the sheets in her sweaty, trembling hands? Is he holding her legs open, or caressing her breasts? Are her feet propped on his shoulders?
How about when she goes down on him? Is he gathering her hair in tender hands, holding it above her head, out of the way? Is he watching, and if so, what does he see and how does she feel about it? Does it turn her on to know he’s watching? Does she look up and meet his eyes? How intense is that? Is she running her fingernails over his balls, scratching lightly? How about his inner thighs? Is she just sucking his cock or is she letting her tongue play over the top, down the heavy, hard length of him? Does she vary her speed or the depth? Does she flutter her tongue over that little skin ridge on the underside, or down to his sac? Does she pull one of his balls into her mouth? If you’re writing a very graphic scene, is she bringing her fingers into play at his rear entrance? How does he feel about all this—safe, sexy, incredibly turned on, desperate?
When you write foreplay or sex, you’re inviting the reader to experience what the characters experience (hell, when you write any book you do that, but you know what I mean.) You want to use things the reader has felt, seen, tasted, smelled, as well as evocative words and dialogue and all that other stuff, to evoke a physical and emotional response. In short, you want to turn them on. So think of writing foreplay as trying to get your partner into bed. What do you do? What are the buttons you have to press?
Describe everything! Foreplay and sex is where you can let your language go; be as evocative and descriptive as you can (next week we’ll do another list of words to help get you going).
Foreplay is your chance to write a long, hot scene where nobody gets too graphic if you don’t want to. For example, most of the lines and suggestions I’ve made above are more graphic; they’re ideas for you to use as well as wording suggestions. But you can write an oral scene where he kisses down her stomach—spend some time on it, make her really feel and think about it—and then “his mouth moved against her, his tongue, so hot, so wet (remember, everything should be wet!!)…she’d never felt anything like it before. He teased her, tormented her, calling from her sounds she didn’t know she could make and feelings she didn’t realize she could feel, until her entire body convulsed and she was left breathless, her heart pounding, floating somewhere above the bed in a delicious daze.” See? Nary a four-letter word in there, but we all know what happened and that it was good.
So. Take a good hard look at your foreplay scenes. Where can you expand them? How much do your characters move? You don’t want anyone to ever be still; that’s not sexy. Keep them moving! Are they feeling every bit of what’s happening, thinking about it, tasting it, experiencing? Are they truly interacting or does it feel like they’re bloodless paper dolls? Remember, oral sex is more than a few quick dips of the head—it should generally be more in your scenes as well. Take your time, and let your characters take their time if they’re so inclined. I promise you, most of what turns your readers on will be foreplay; just like in real life, don’t think you need to hurry up and get to The Good Stuff. This is the good stuff!
Find a published foreplay scene you particularly like. What are those characters doing? How is what they do different from a scene you don’t like; is it language or graphicness or is it something deeper, something you’re just not connecting with? Why do you think you didn’t connect with it?
Take those pure-touching scenes you wrote Wednesday and add some interaction. If he’s thinking how beautiful she is while he strokes her breast, how lucky he is or how much he wants her, how do his thoughts intensify when he sees her ladyparts? What does he want to do with those? Likewise, if she’s touching his muscled chest or the thin line of hair on his abdomen, how does she feel when she sees his cock there? What is she anticipating? Write it down! Write it all in there!