Realistic Sex vs. Fictional Sex by Phoenix Rising
Write a drabble/short scene in a realistic style, and then the same scene using things that would probably be considered fictional sex characteristics. Have fun with it!
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Ah, fictional sex. It has about as much in common with how sex often happens in real life as the fast food you buy does with how it looks in commercials. Sure, just like sometimes you end up with a Big Mac that looks like it belongs on a rotating platform, working it for the camera, there’s that rare occasion where everything goes perfectly.
You’re horny—and so is your partner—and you have lots of privacy. The stars have aligned, and you’re both brought to incredible heights of pleasure…
Sorry, I got a little carried away there.
It’s kind of a sad joke among the romance-writing (and by extension, erotica) industry, whether you write New York Times best sellers or fan fiction, that women only read that stuff for the sex scenes. The stereotype also goes further, saying that’s because they’re lonely moms, bored housewives, crazy cat owners, sad single ladies (cue Beyonce!), or that they’re not satisfied by what they’re getting, so they have to read it.
While the stereotype can be accurate in some cases, I believe that, by far, most of us read romance and erotica for one reason.
It’s fucking hot. Or hot fucking. Both, really, so I guess that’s two reasons.
Let’s face it… If we wanted to have a dose of how sex actually is, we’d go grab our Mr. or Ms. Rights—or find a Mr. or Ms. Right-Now—and get down to it in all its messy, unpredictable glory. And that’s fine, healthy, and as it should be. It’s not perfect, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.
However, sometimes you need that little detour from real life. At the risk of sounding like a movie trailer, you want to escape to a world where there are no boundaries, to a world where you may be shoved out of your comfort zone, and where there is a guaranteed, uh, happy ending.
In both senses.
That’s where fictional sex scenes come in. Now, I completely realize that not all fictional sex scenes involve perfect, pleasurable unions; there are many that are more realistic or deliberately disappointing, mostly to scoot the plot along: e.g. when the heroine has horrible ex-sex and runs off somewhere, where she meets the hero for the first time. I’ll be ignoring these scenes for the purposes of this article and concentrating on lovin’ between the protagonist and their beloved, mostly so you don’t have to read something that’s ridiculously long.
I’ll start with the differences. Real life sex, as I said above, is unpredictable. There’s jiggling, weird noises, odd facial expressions, accidents of all kinds, bodily fluids, timing issues, and frankly, it’s not necessarily pretty. That’s because we’re human. Think about it. Even in porn, you don’t see the “oops” scenes, where someone farts or they forgot to give the girl an enema before an anal scene. Yeah. It’s real, but edited to be perfect.
Like these two, for instance. There’s something super-fake about this picture…Take your pick on what it is, though. My bet is that they’re not natural blondes…
Your characters, however, are not human. They’re something else entirely, even though they certainly can seem alive at times, and exist in this world where you can mould them however they’ll let you, providing you stay within the traits you’ve given them. Therefore, we can make fictional sexy-times as idealistic as we want. Well, mostly. I’ll get to that part in a minute. You want your hero to push the heroine up against a wall, pick her up so her legs are around his waist, and make sweet, sweet love to her like that? Hell, yeah! Want your heroine to deep throat and swallow? Bring it on! One (or both) of the pair is a blushing virgin? That’s okay. Nothing will hurt, and everyone will last long enough for simultaneous and/or multiple orgasms. Height differences? Not a problem. Your hero has the upper body strength of the Hulk, and your heroine enjoys wearing sky-high stilettos.
You get the idea.
Fictional sex is about an experience for your reader, just like the rest of your story should be. It’s about immersion…sometimes it’s whether the reader can picture themselves in the scene, or if they can visualize your characters instead. Both are fine. Fictional sex can also broaden your audience’s horizons. A reader might not be into S&M, but after reading your hot and appealingly written scene with blindfolds and handcuffs, they might give it some thought.
Despite the fact that you can take a lot of liberties with fictional sex, there are some things to keep in mind while you’re writing. It’s a good idea to keep your scene grounded enough in reality so that the reader doesn’t lose that experience. If the reader can’t identify, at least partly, with your characters, it won’t work. If you have your hero hefting your heroine up into his arms for standing sex and they do it like that for the whole scene, readers are going to roll their eyes. Your hero may be awesome, but no one is that strong; a normal guy could probably do that for a few thrusts, but then have to put her down, lean her against something like a wall, or have a seat himself, before he throws his back out or drops her.
There are a few other things that might make your readers go, “Huh?”
Both the language you use or don’t use can also lend credibility to an amorous scene. Don’t give your characters long, gushy monologues. In reality, your lover would probably roll their eyes and try to find a better use for your mouth. Write the amount of dialogue you’d be comfortable using in a real-life sex scene. That’s a good guideline. Obviously, if your scene would be mostly grunts and moans, try to find a good way to convey that without it sounding like the Geico cavemen are having an orgy.
The same goes for flowery language. Would you want your hooha referred to as a “weeping furnace” by your partner in real life? I didn’t think so. Please don’t use that in your fictional writings, either. However, the scene may have a need for more dialogue than people would use during real sex, and that’s okay. Since we can’t physically see the characters and are reading about their experiences, the reader will need slightly more dialogue than would be used in reality to stay with the scene.
Swallowing. Yep, I’m going there. There can be a big difference between fictional sex, where nearly every virgin is a sex kitten waiting to suck her hero’s cock so she can unleash her amazing lack-of-gag-reflex skills on him, and realism here. While it’s okay to not make things taste like a dessert in a five star restaurant, you don’t have to (necessarily) make the heroine’s experience a negative one. Just keep this in mind when cultivating your oral scenes. Plus, there are other places for the man to come than in the heroine’s mouth. Just sayin’. Get creative!
Lube. Another thing to remember. In realistic sex, sometimes things aren’t as slick, slippery, wet, soaked, gushing (*note* I am NOT using the word moist) as we’d like them to be.
So, a little lubricant can make things go much easier. Even with real sex, you’ll likely need it with condoms, and definitely when involved in any water action. Check out the water sex article for more in that department. And no matter whether you’re doing an anal scene straight from real life or writing a fictional scene, lube, lube, and more lube. Nothing takes a reader out of a scene with buttseks where no lube is used. Just…no.
Birth control and protection. In real life, this is obviously a necessity. You and your partner need to have the “Can I get you pregnant/do you have herpegonosyphilaids?” conversation if you’re responsible adults, and, hey, you’re mature enough to be having sex, so you should be able to talk about this stuff, right? This issue is a little bit tricky in ficland, though. If you’re writing something the length of a short story, which is roughly anything under 20,000 words (just an estimate…word count is flexible), then it’s kind of up to you. When I’ve written anything of that length, it’s usually a complete story. No need to worry about pregnancy or weird itchy bumps; the story ends with a happily ever after, and that’s all she wrote.
With longer works, however, the responsible thing to do is to follow your real life example. Have a brief birth control talk, or even just have your hero reach into his bedside table and put a condom on, no chatting required. Quite frankly, the safe sex talk is not sexy. But being safe when it comes to sex is. Because then you can have more of it.
Climaxes. Orgasms. Stamina. Our fictional heroes (and heroines, too) seem to be made from the same stuff the Energizer Bunny is. They can screw all night, barely get any sleep, and then do it all again immediately/the next night/all day without any recovery period, soreness, or chafing. As most people know, this is pretty much impossible. That’s not to say that there aren’t folks out there who can manage this, but for the general population, it’s not realistic. But this is one of those things that I’m going to advocate that you don’t touch for the sake of making fictional sex more realistic. Leave this one alone. It’s hot.
Things to take away:
- Feel free to take liberties with your fictional sex scenes.
- Ground your scenes at least partly in reality. People like a little plausibility along with their fantasy, so they can identify with the characters.
- Keep dialogue realistic, but don’t be afraid to expand a bit on what your characters are saying. Just make sure it’s no more or less than is necessary for the scene, so it doesn’t distract the reader.
- When writing an oral scene, have fun with it, but keep it rooted in reality.
- Lube and birth control/protection: Don’t be shy about writing them in! They can be done in a sexy way, so use them. Again, this makes your fictional sex scene more real for the readers.
- Stamina and climaxing. Leave this be. It’s one of the reasons you and your readers read smexy books and stories…hot people who can go allll niiiight loooong!
- Above all, have fun writing them! They can bend the rules a bit…it’s what makes fictional sex so appealing to read.