This is an area many writers feel weird about, and by “many writers” I mean most of the writers I’ve encountered, myself included. We’ve all giggled over what a bad sex scene looks like, and no one wants to be the one who writes something that other writers—or readers—make fun of. But how do you write a good sex scene? And what do we even mean when we say “good” in this mostly un-talked-about area?
A couple of years ago I was working on a novel and having the hardest time with the main character. I felt him so strongly, but he wouldn’t talk to me. I could see him clear as day. I knew what kind of music he loved, the exact shade of his green eyes, the way he obsessively rolled his socks. But all I had were those types of details, the ones that could be gleaned through pure observation. He wouldn’t voluntarily share anything else with me—not his past, not his current motivations, and sure as hell not his plans for the future.
You think you know your main character so well. You know where she came from, where he went to school, the name of her chosen dagger, and why he never goes to bed before three in the morning. But if you think you know everything there is to know about your character, think again. To write really juicy, complex characters you’ve got to get in there and peel back their masks.