Creating Incredible but Credible Characters: Sex Scenes (Part 2)

[This is a continuation of a previous post: Creating Incredible but Credible Characters: Sex Scenes (Part 1)]

The most explicit sex scenes I’ve written are in my first novel, More Deaths Than One. My character, Bob Stark, is stark in everything he does, but the more one learns about the character, the more extraordinary he seems. His first sex scene is with a stranger. Her manner seemed to be that of a person who had decided on a course of action and now wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, but Bob turned out to be something of a pro at satisfying women. Since the skill seemed so out of character, I explained it with a flashback, though I do not advocate flashbacks during a sex scene. Of all scenes in a book, sex scenes are the most immediate, and should be done in the present, but in this case I followed an even more important rule: everything in service to the story.lovescene

He moved in her, slowly, steadily. He caught the scent of frangipani in her perfume. All at once sixteen years disappeared, and he was back in Thailand, the first time he’d gone to Madame Butterfly’s.

The sex scene that followed is graphic, too graphic to add here, but the point is the perfume. Smelling the frangipani catapulted him into a reverie, where the woman beneath him became unimportant, but later in the book when he makes love with a significant woman in his life, the scent has a completely different effect on Bob.

Twining her arms around his neck, she brought his mouth to hers. The kiss was hard and short, but immediately her lips sought his again.

He gathered her closer. Their kiss deepened.

All at once she pulled away and hopped out of bed. “Omigosh!”


“I forgot. I have a present for you.” She flashed an impish smile and darted into the bathroom. She emerged a few minutes later wearing a dark rose cheongsam that accented the swell of her breasts and the taper of her waist. “I bought it in Chinatown. What do you think?”

He couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe. She looked flushed, radiant, beautiful.

She jutted out a hip. The side slit parted, giving him a glimpse of shapely leg.

He felt a shock that started in his groin and radiated upward. From the glint in her eyes, he knew she was aware of the effect she had on him.

He slid off the bed and moved toward her, stepping slowly and carefully as if he were in danger of falling off a precipice. As he neared her, he smelled her new perfume—frangipani. From now on, he knew, whenever he caught a whiff of that scent, it would remind him of this moment, of her, of the teasing look in her eyes.


This article is anthologized in the Second Wind Publishing book: NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING, which was the 100th book released by Second Wind.

“As someone who constantly evaluates novels for publication, I was astonished at the breadth and clarity of the wonderful advice contained in this handbook. It addresses concerns as grand as plot development and as simple but essential as formatting your submission. It offers crucial advice on literary topics ranging from character development to the description of action. Virtually every subject that is of great concern to publishers — and therefore to authors — is covered in this clear, humorous and enormously useful guide.” –Mike Simpson, Chief Editor of Second Wind Publishing


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “Creating Incredible but Credible Characters: Sex Scenes (Part 2)”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Thanks Pat, now I know how else to improve my sex scene. And now I know what those cheongsams are called.

  2. Kathy Says:

    That is pretty fabulous, Pat!

  3. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I hadn’t really thought about creating much of a sex scene for my new novel Cold Water Conscience. It is written in the first person and, when it comes to women and sex, the main male character is rather shy. He doesn’t expect much and when he does come upon an attractive woman who wants to take that step with him he is absolutely thunderstruck. Saying too much about what went on in the bedroom feels like a betrayal to him. He sees sex with her as a gift that has been bestowed upon him and he doesn’t want to mess things up by over analysing what happened and where it might lead.

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