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What Makes Smut Worth Reading? The Anatomy Of A Good Sex Scene

Do you ever find yourself reading a love scene in a book, and you start feeling warmth in the pit of your belly? You feel a rush of blood come to your face, and your mouth opens slightly to let out a slight gasp. That, my friends, is a sign you’re reading some really great smut. Another sign is the lack of a “throbbing cock” anywhere on the page.

Romance novels are bigger than ever. Even when overall book sales were declining in 2023, romance books were flying off of book shelves. The tag “smut” has received over 6 billion views on TikTok, and “booktok” is full of people sharing their favorite sex scenes in novels. One of the bigger reasons that erotic literature is gaining in popularity is because people are finally moving away from the “throbbing cocks” of it all — there’s more content out there that actually depicts good sex (AKA sex that women enjoy).

But writing a good sex scene is a lot more than just thinking of better words to describe someone’s genitalia against someone else’s. Jaimee Bell, erotic story writer and producer at Bloom Stories tells Betches that it has a lot to do with the characters and how an audience can see themselves in them.

“I always build sex scenes around the characters involved to make sure they remain their authentic selves throughout,” Jaimee says. “Before I even begin writing, I create a picture of exactly who they are, and I also take into account their abilities, comfort levels, and how they interact with one another.” And it’s these more minor details that let the reader feel invested in the story — and the sex that happens throughout it.

It’s easy to notice when a sex scene is bad (we’ve all gotten the ick from terrible dialogue), but what makes a sex scene hot af? We asked Jaimee to tell us what makes a good sex scene.

What Makes A Good Sex Scene?

“It’s important to find the balance between making scenes feel realistic but still exciting,” Jaimee says. She explains that typically, when sex is portrayed in media, it’s all very clean-cut and perfect. Two conventionally hot people get horny, one person gets on top, and (magically) through about 10 seconds of penetration, they orgasm together — end scene.

It’s hard to enjoy something that feels so fake. Real sex involves different-looking bodies doing really weird things to each other — and that’s what makes it so sexy. So, when Jaimee’s writing a sex scene, she keeps this in mind.

“Removing all the awkwardness and silliness is such a shame,” she says. “I love keeping in laughter, conversation, and even a leg cramp here and there so the audience can see their own sex lives reflected right back at them.”

And as for the miraculous simultaneous orgasms every time (Hey, they happen! Just not all the time), she makes sure to make it real.

“I love writing scenes that include multiple orgasms, reached at different times during both foreplay and sex,” she says.

And she doesn’t stop at the climax anyway (it’s called a climax for a reason — we need a comedown!) She says including a clean-up and aftercare scene can be a lovely and tender place to leave your audience. 

“When I’m writing a sex scene, I always think to myself: how would this sex scene look with real people, in a real situation?” Jaimee says. “I want my audience to think, ‘Yeah, that could be me!’”

Romance Novels Often Focus On Female Pleasure

penelop colin bridgerton
Image Credit: Netflix

We could solve a lot of life’s problems if we just stopped making everything about the “male gaze” — and sex scenes are no exception. When sex scenes are written through the male gaze, we’re left with scenes that not only focus on super unrealistic bodies but also completely ignore foreplay and anything that has to do with female pleasure.

But Jaimee says that shows like Bridgerton are taking it back to the type of sex scenes that know how to leave people wanting more. “This is largely driven by audiences who are increasingly seeking out slow-burn sex scenes over the ‘in your face’ style that was everywhere in years gone by,” she says.

And at the end of the day, whether written on your page or playing out on the screen in front of you, the chemistry between characters makes or breaks a sex scene. And Jaimee keeps that in mind both in text and on-screen.

“I aim for the kind of tension where after a scene, the audience is pulling out their phone and searching online to see if the actors are dating in real life,” she says.

Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad is a sex & dating writer at Betches despite not remembering the last time she was in a relationship. Just take her word for it.