If you put the words ‘erotic’ and ‘dialogue’ together in the same sentence chances are some phrases will pop to mind that wouldn’t sound out of place in the repertoire of an adult phone line worker. Erotic scenes can often trip up the most experienced writers when it comes to authentic dialogue and so many writers avoid it altogether. For this reason in many erotic scenes main characters, even the most loquacious, suddenly become very quiet. Erotic interludes can go on for hours without any of the participants murmuring so much as a ‘left a bit darling.’
This is a shame, because well-crafted dialogue, used at the right moments, can add depth and authenticity to your characters erotic encounters as well as ensuring they remain pivotal to the story rather than seeming separate from them. As I argue in my guide to writing erotic scenes ‘Passionate Plots’ (Compass Books, 2014) any sex scenes, regardless of genre and explicitness, should serve to move the story forward in some way and should be an integral part of the plot. Tacky or non-existent dialogue can pull the reader out of the story as well as making erotic moments seem superfluous.
So what should your characters be saying? The first thing to ask yourself is, what would they say? By the time you get round to being comfortable enough with your characters to get them naked together, you should know them well enough to have a good idea of the way they would express themselves in this situation. And it’s not just about talking dirty; as I also state in Passionate Plots, if your lead female character is generally incredibly well spoken and quite reserved, it’s highly unlikely that in the bedroom she will suddenly morph into auditioning for Debbie Does Dallas. So let your characters lead you.
Also, think about why they are having sex right now, at this particular point in the story? Erotic scenes are an excellent way to deepen your characterisation and reveal more of your protagonists to the reader. As dialogue remains one of the pivotal ways to ‘show, rather than tell’ a well-timed sentence or short exchange can reveal a great deal about how your characters are feeling. Rather than telling your reader that John felt over awed by Jane’s naked beauty, for example, he can say ‘My God, you’re beautiful,’ or even a simple ‘wow’ as Jane unrobes, or whatever words would best suit your character. Sex scenes aren’t always Hollywood style romance either; a giggled comment or in-joke between the characters at the right time can perfectly illustrate moments of awkwardness, shyness or even intimacy. Tenderness can also be evoked in just a few words. In the following short extract from my New Adult romance ‘Unconditional’ (Lodestone Books, Feb 2014) the characters have just made love for the first time;
We touch each other for a while longer, exploring each other, and I soon forget my shyness, losing myself in each new sensation. I feel kind of awkward and fumbly, it’s no Hollywood movie or even a scene from one of my romances, but somehow everything is just right. After a while we stop and he pulls himself up on his hands, leaning over me.
‘Do you want to?’ he asks, and I nod, biting my lip.
‘You’re sure? Because I don’t want to rush you.’