How to Write Spicy Scenes That Sizzle Instead of Fizzle

How to Write Spicy Scenes That Sizzle Instead of Fizzle

3 things every spicy scene needs. for a fun game, count how many times I break into giggles while doing this video because I’m apparently a 13 year old boy at heart #writertok #authortok #romancewriter #spicyromanceauthors #writingtips #writingadvice #bookcoach #CapCut

♬ original sound – Emily Krempholtz

Even great writers get stuck when it comes to writing a sex scene in their book. Writing spicy scenes is a skill, and we’ve all seen plenty of examples of spice that fizzles instead of sizzles.

But what makes a spicy scene truly sexy and great? How can you learn to write good spice that stands out from the crowd and makes your readers want more?

Here are three crucial elements every spicy scene should have:

1. Narrative Impact

Love scenes, sex scenes, spicy scenes—whatever you want to call them, they need to serve a purpose in your book other than just sex. If all your sex scene is doing is giving us a play by play of some physical acts, you’re doing it wrong. A spicy scene is an interplay between two characters (or three, or four, or five or six—I see you “why choose” readers over there!) and it should mean a lot more than just the physical act. A good sex scene should feel a lot like its own mini narrative arc. It should have an inciting incident, there should be rising action, there should be a climax—hopefully in several senses of the word, and for all parties involved.

This should not just be a gratuitous sex scene for the sake of having a sex scene in your book. Two enemies to lovers coming (heh) together should have more impact on the story than just sex. How have the events of the plot built to this moment? How has it been earned? What does this sex scene mean for the story going forward?

2. Emotional Impact

Equally as important as narrative impact is the effect that the sex scene has on the characters. When the characters finally get together, this needs to mean something not just for the plot, but for the emotional acs of the characters themselves. We’ve spent the entire book to this point getting to know these people. We know their goals, motivations, and what’s getting in the way of those things. How does this spicy scene affect them on a personal level, and how does it affect their relationship moving forward? What does it change for them, specifically? 

As a writer, you should be thinking about who your character is. What’s leading them to the scene, and what’s leading them to act this way and be with this other person (or people)? What kind of emotions are they feeling? How is this spicy scene a turning point, not just for the narrative of the book as a whole, but for the characters? For their growth and their journey internally? Really think about these things beforehand, and know that those answers might not be the same for all of the characters involved.

Similarly, you should know how you want the reader to feel. Do you want the spice to feel heartfelt? Do you want it to feel angry? Do you just want to get your audience hot and bothered? Is this a sad scene? Is this rough or tender or surprising? 

Understanding the emotional impact of the scene will take you a long way toward knowing how to write a sex scene that feels real, earned, and authentic to your characters and readers. 

3. Choreography

There’s a reason I’ve put this one last. 

Obviously, the “what” of what’s happening is important, but an amateur mistake I see often from writers is focusing too hard on stage directions during a sex scene. 

I like to play a game with myself when I write spicy content called “Where Are Your Hands?!” Early on in the writing process, this means having a clear idea of the choreography, and being able to clearly tell where everyone’s hands and legs and other body parts are at all times. At any given point in a scene, I should be able to stop the scene, ask myself “Where are your hands?!” and clearly draw stick figures depicting what’s going on. 

Now, here’s the important part: I then go back in and edit a lot of this out, because we don’t need all of that. Your readers know how it works (and if they don’t maybe yours isn’t the type of book they should be reading). A sex scene that focuses too much on choreography and physical action is boring to read. Without Narrative and Emotional Impact, there’s no connection to what’s happening, and all the physical descriptors start to sound clinical or crass. 

It’s that action-oriented language combined with the other two elements that makes a sex scene truly great and memorable. And if you want to get your readers hot and bothered, you need to learn how to weave all three of these together in the spicy scenes you write.
There’s a lot more that goes into writing a successful sex scene. If you’re interested in working on the romance in your own writing, and you need a little help to get there, I am here to help. Check out my downloadable, printable worksheets in my shop to learn how to write your own swoonworthy romance, give me a follow on TikTok if you’d like to learn more about writing, or contact me to set up a free discovery call if you’re interested in getting some one-on-one help with your book!