Sex Scenes in Romance Novels: Better Graphic or Left to the Imagination?

Fifty Shades of Grey Sex Scene

Whether in movies or in books, sex scenes are always tricky. Going too far may scare people away, while keeping it too tame will start a contagion of yawning.

When it comes to fiction, particularly romance, writers are in grave danger of using silly words and cheesy euphemisms to sound more poetic. Let’s face it, saying penis, vagina, and mammary glands is not very romantic. Bad descriptions of private parts and how they interact are also the result of trying desperately to avoid ‘dirty’ words: most notably the ‘p’ word or ‘c’ word for women, the ‘c’ word or ‘d’ word for men, and the ‘f’ word for the deed itself.

Examples of euphemisms overused in romance novels

African sword from Ivory Coast

Man parts

Love Tunnel

Woman Parts
Love canal/cave
Silken sheath
Glistening petals

Pleasure button
Creamy mounds
Rosy peaks

So what to do?
Should a romance writer use clinical terms? Go for vulgarity? Try to rock euphemisms? Or just set up the scene for love and then fade out?

Most would say it’s up to the reader. Some readers like when a writer simply tells it like it is; the penis goes in the vagina and that’s about all there is too it.

Other readers like more descriptive and less direct terms like the literary nuggets listed above.

If the writer succeeds at creating enough tension between the characters, it may be possible to skip over the sex scene altogether and leave it to the imagination, but this would take great skill in order not to disappoint the reader.

There are all kinds of tastes and preferences, and it’s probably safe to say that writers should write their sex scenes in the way that feels most comfortable for them.


So how do you like your sex scenes? Blunt, flowery, or implied?

What are the worst sex scenes you’ve watched in movies or read in books?

What are the worst terms you’ve seen used to refer to sex and sexual parts?


Leave your comments below!


Photo Credits

About shondabrock

I'm a southern in my heart and a northern in my soul. I've had a few bad wines, but for the most part I've enjoyed enough good wines that it makes up for the few bad bottles. I enjoy writing, but more than writing itself, I love telling a good story, taking my reader off on an adventure starting with "What If"…. I'm a sucker for the Paranormal Romance genre. To me, its nice to be released from "What Is Expected" and believe for 250 pages in "What If's". Its like a vacation with out passports, waiting in line and an expensive credit card bill when you return home. An additional note: I've started another blog page for Home Care. I know the two are unrelated, but in my world they are. My paying job is 100% dedicated to Home Care and educating families on their new journey. One of my favorite quotes, I leave with all of my clients. "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - by Henry Miller Please Enjoy, but more importantly Stay Inspired…
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4 Responses to Sex Scenes in Romance Novels: Better Graphic or Left to the Imagination?

  1. For some reason I hate the work cock. I do not like reading or hearing it. To me keep it simple we are adults. I don’t got no damn petals as my vagina lol.

  2. I have a rather unique way of doing this, which I have rarely seen in other books. They aren’t graphic and they don’t just end right when things get started. It’s about what is felt, what’s the person thinking. So readers know exactly what’s happening without me having to go into explicit details and using words I myself don’t like to read. Every writer is different and readers are too. But if writers are honest and write what they want, there will be readers that enjoy it as well.

  3. mcysch says:

    My take is that you don’t have to be so graphic about it. I tend to skip these parts hehe.. Not that i don’t want the exchange.. It’s just that I am more interested in the flow of the story and the conversation instead of these scenes. I am contented with few hot takes in the start and leave the rest for me to imagine.

  4. Emma says:

    I hate euphemisms, but I like the fade-out approach if the book is aimed at a general audience. Like Sarah, I favour describing how someone feels as something happens, though I will give it some description.

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