10 Tips To Write Smut In Your Story - BookAvatar (2024)

In novels and literature, “smut” refers to a subset of writing that focuses on explicit sexual content. It can be a standalone piece, such as a short story, or a part of a larger narrative. While “smut” is used colloquially, some might perceive it as derogatory or informal.

The term doesn’t necessarily refer to the quality or value of the writing. There are many works with explicit sexual content that are considered literary or artistic. However, there’s also content labeled as “smut” that may be considered more gratuitous or purely intended for sexual arousal.

In mainstream publishing, the line between erotic literature and what might be called “smut” can be blurry. Factors like character development, plot integration, thematic depth, and the intended audience can influence how a work is perceived.

As with any genre or subgenre, various levels of craft, complexity, and artistic intent within works contain explicit sexual content. Sexuality is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Literature that includes smut can provide a space to explore, represent, and reflect on various facets of human sexuality.

Types of smut in novel writing

In writing, the portrayal of sexual relationships can vary widely in tone, content, and purpose, depending on the intended audience, the genre, and the writer’s own style and intent. Here’s an overview of some of the ways smut scenes might be depicted in story writing:

Implicit or Closed-door or Fade-to-Black: This approach is more suggestive than explicit. The characters share a kiss or intimate touch, but then the scene “fades to black,” and the actual sexual scenes is left to the reader’s imagination. The writer builds up to the moment with flirting, kissing, or other forms of intimacy, but then the scene will “fade to black” or shift focus before the actual sexual act.

Romantic or Sensual: This type focuses on emotions and sensations rather than the explicit mechanics of the sexual act. The language is poetic or lyrical, aiming to evoke the beauty and emotion of the experience.

Open-door or Erotic: In this type, the writer does not shy away from describing the physical aspects of sex. The focus is on pleasure, desire, and the physical connection between characters. It can be graphic but is usually intended to be arousing or titillating rather than crude.

Clinical or Matter-of-Fact: This approach describes the sexual act straightforwardly and unembellished. Here, the sexual act is not meant to be arousing or romantic but is a part of the characters’ experience or the plot’s development.

Comedic: Sometimes, sex scenes are written with a humorous tone, focusing on awkwardness, misunderstandings, or other comedic elements that can arise in sexual acts.

Disturbing or Dark: In some stories, a sex scene might be depicted in a way that is meant to be unsettling or disturbing, such as horror or dark fiction. This can include scenes of sexual violence or coercion, although you should approach these subjects with extreme care and sensitivity to the potential impact on readers.

Metaphorical or Symbolic: Sometimes, a sexual act is described metaphorically, where the act symbolizes something else in the story, such as a character’s inner transformation, a power shift between characters, or a broader theme.

Fantastical or Sci-Fi: In genres like fantasy or science fiction, sexual acts might include elements beyond human experience, such as magical or alien aspects.

In all cases, consider the scene’s purpose within the story and the potential audience. Some readers may find explicit content offensive or disturbing, while others may look for a more detailed or sensual portrayal. Including content warnings or appropriate age ratings can help guide your readers to material suitable for their tastes and comfort levels.

How To Write Smut?

Writing romance with erotic or “smutty” elements is a specific genre that requires careful handling of both character development and intimacy. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you handle this territory while still maintaining a respectful and tasteful approach:

Understand Your Audience

Know who your target readers are, and make sure that your content is suitable for them. Some readers may want more explicit content, while others may seek a more suggestive or subtle approach.

Example: A more metaphorical and less graphic approach to intimate scenes may be suitable if your audience consists of young adults.

Establish a story

First, you need to establish whether or not your story is appropriate to feature such explicit sexual content that smut is known for. It should be obvious, but the sex in this type of work is very descriptive. I’m not saying there can’t be sex in a young adult novel, but it will not be to the extent found in adult novels. Build tension and chemistry between characters. This can be achieved through dialogue, shared experiences, and the way they react to each other.

Develop characters

Create multi-dimensional characters with genuine emotions, needs, and desires. Their attraction to each other should feel real and grounded in their personalities. It would be unbelievable if your story features an inexperienced male or female character, and then when it’s gone, they’re the best their character has ever had. Not believable at all! For example, in Silent Rage, Jedrick, and Lily are new to the BDSM scene, and they learn from each other as the novel progresses and not only to the lifestyle of BDSM.

Both Jedrick and Lily are sexually inexperienced, so as I said ago, it’d be very unbelievable for Jedrick, who has never had sex, and Lily, who has never had sex, to both be excellent. So, flesh out characters with backgrounds, dreams, fears, and personalities.

Example: Sarah, a shy librarian with a hidden passion for dance, meets Tom, an outgoing choreographer, reigniting her dreams and hidden desires.

Do research

I am by no means suggesting you go look at pornographic material. However, using pornographic material as your main source of information is equivalent to using Hollywood as your main source for using firearms throughout your books. Somebody who knows what they’re doing will say that you didn’t do any research.

Since I already brought up Silent Rage, we’ll use BDSM as a reference. The BDSM lifestyle has many aspects. For instance, establishing your role in that lifestyle. There are dominant and submissive relationships, top and bottom, master and slave relationships, or mistress and slaves. Then there are individuals known as switches.

What that means is in their relationship, they’re going to be times when they’re going to be either dominant or they’re going to be submissive. Another very important aspect is limited. So in my research, I discovered there are three types:

Must limits: The first is what is known as a must limit, which the submissive wants in a scene. That could be something as simple as role play.

Soft limits: Then there are soft limits that the submissive is open to, but they might be slightly nervous. They’re unsure if they want to do it just yet, and it’s not required in that scene.

Hard limits: A hard limit is something that the submissive does not want to do at all. A great example of this could be something involving fire. One more thing to take into account is safe words. So safe words are used as communication to the dominant or mistress or master throughout a scene to make sure everything is going smoothly.

So as examples, we’ll use the colors green, yellow, and red. In this case, green would mean to keep going. Yellow would mean something’s up. I need you to dial it back a bit. Red would be, I need you to stop everything right now. That all boils down to what you want to use in your work.

Get involved with other authors

Learn from existing authors who have successfully written in this genre. Analyze what works and what doesn’t. Twitter is what I recommend. That’s where I’ve met a lot of other romantic authors, and you can have a lot of fun with them.

For instance, about three weeks ago, I was involved in one of these threads with many authors, and it was an awful lot of fun. Topics ranged from sci-fi erotica involving robots, believe it or not, from the perspectives of both male and female authors. The more serious issue of abuse disguised as steamy also came up. That was very interesting to read through.

Choosing name

Will I use my real name, or will I use a pen name? That particular topic came up as well. Many people write under pen names merely because they might write something they fear being judged for, or they might live somewhere where it’s frowned upon. Or they might use a pen name to hide their gender as well. Quite a few male authors write under a female name to write erotica!

Another aspect is maybe their job might hinder them from writing explicit sexual content. The company might have reservations about working with someone who writes sexually explicit content. That’s up to you if you want to use your real name or a pen name.

Popular smutty tropes you can use

Consider the work’s tone, content, and audience when writing in these areas. Consent, healthy relationships, and responsible portrayals of sexuality should be approached with care and sensitivity. Many readers appreciate stories that explore these themes in a way that emphasizes character development, emotional connection, and mutual respect.

Forbidden Love: Characters are drawn to each other but are kept apart by external forces, such as family, duty, or societal expectations.

Enemies to Lovers: Two characters start off in opposition but develop an attraction over time, leading to a complex and passionate relationship.

Friends to Lovers: Two characters with a deep friendship realize they have romantic feelings for each other, adding depth and complexity to their relationship.

Love Triangle: A character is torn between two potential love interests, leading to tension and drama as they try to decide between them.

Second Chance at Love: Characters with a history together rekindle their relationship after time apart, working through past misunderstandings or betrayals.

Mistaken Identity/Fake Relationship: Characters may pretend to be in a relationship for various reasons, or there might be a case of mistaken identity that leads to romantic entanglements.

Slow Burn: The characters’ relationship develops slowly, building tension and anticipation.

Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics: This is more specific to certain subgenres of romance, where characters may fall into particular societal roles or classes that impact their relationships.

Soulmates or Bonded Pairs: Characters are destined to be together due to supernatural or predestined factors, leading to an intense connection.

Power Dynamics: This can include relationships where one character is in a position of authority or control over the other. This must be handled carefully to ensure the portrayal is responsible and consensual.

Satire: My all-time favorite type of erotica byfar is satirical smut. Who doesn’t love an adult joke? Satirical smut deserves moreprops than it gets because it’s so funny.

Reverse harems: A reverse harem refers to a narrative where one main character (female) is pursued by multiple love interests (male). This can create complex dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and opportunities for character growth.

BDSM: BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism, and literature exploring these themes includes elements of power dynamics and consensual non-traditional sexual practices.

Multi-genre: This is a gateway for every fangirland fanboy to indulge in their wildest fantasies.It givespeople that fantasy they’ve been craving but have been too embarrassed to admit.

10 mistakes writers make while writing smut

Writing romance with mature content can be rewarding but complex, and it’s not uncommon for authors to encounter challenges. Here are some of the most common mistakes that romance writers might make when writing more explicit or “smutty” content:

Lack of Consent: Failing to depict clear and enthusiastic consent between characters can be problematic. Consent should be explicit and ongoing throughout the narrative.

Unrealistic Portrayals: Writing overly idealized or unrealistic scenes can detract from the believability and authenticity of the story. This can include physical actions, dialogue, or emotional reactions that don’t feel true to the characters or real life.

Ignoring Character Development: Focusing solely on the physical aspects without developing the emotional connection or depth of the characters can make the story feel shallow or unengaging.

Inconsistent Tone or Voice: Switching suddenly between different tones or styles can be jarring for the reader. Maintaining consistency helps create a cohesive and immersive reading experience.

Overuse of Clichés and Stereotypes: Relying too heavily on clichés or stereotypes, especially around gender roles or power dynamics, can make the story feel unoriginal and may reinforce harmful ideas.

Poor Research or Understanding of Subject Matter: When dealing with specific kinks, practices, or cultures, inadequate research can lead to misrepresentation or misunderstanding, which can be offensive or alienating to readers.

Ignoring the Importance of Safe Practices: If writing about more adventurous or non-traditional practices, failing to depict characters engaging in safety measures (such as safe words, aftercare, etc.) can send the wrong message to readers.

Overemphasis on Physical Description: While the description is essential, excessive focus on the physical without weaving in the characters’ emotions, thoughts, and sensations can make the scene mechanical.

Failure to Consider Audience: Understanding the target audience’s expectations and comfort levels is key. Providing content warnings and being mindful of the genre’s conventions helps create a satisfying experience for readers.

Lack of Editing and Sensitivity Readers: Well-crafted scenes require multiple revisions and careful editing. In some cases, employing sensitive readers with experience in the specific content can help avoid mistakes and ensure a more authentic and respectful portrayal.

These challenges are not insurmountable, and many authors successfully face them by focusing on character development, emotional depth, consent, realism, and a respectful understanding of the subject matter.

Writing intimate scenes/smut examples

As James and Emily stood on the balcony, the city’s twinkling lights seemed to fade away, leaving only the two of them in their own world. Emily’s eyes sparkled with anticipation and vulnerability, and James could feel his heart racing as he gently brushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

10 Tips To Write Smut In Your Story - BookAvatar (1)

Her breath caught, and she looked up at him, a question in her eyes. He answered with a soft smile and leaned down, his lips meeting hers in a tentative kiss that quickly deepened.

Emily’s hands reached James’s shoulders, pulling him closer as the kiss became more passionate. They were both lost in the sensation, the connection that had been building between them finally finding its expression.

Eventually, they pulled apart, breathless and smiling, knowing something significant had shifted in their relationship. The night was still young, but they were content to stand together, hand in hand, enjoying the moment’s intimacy.

Important guidelines

Some important guidelines and check in the list while writing smut:

Consent: Ensure that all intimate interactions are consensual.

Respect: Avoid objectifying or demeaning language.

Emotion: Convey the characters’ feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

Detail: Be descriptive without being overly graphic unless that’s what your specific audience wants.

Plot and Conflict: Build a compelling storyline around the romance. The characters’ relationship should face challenges and grow through the novel.

Language and Tone: Use language that fits the mood and tone of the scenes. Your word choices should reflect the scene’s emotion, whether sensual, passionate, or intense. Example: Use “ardent” and “yearning” for a passionate scene; “gentle” and “tender” for a more romantic moment.

Consider Professional Editing: If you’re uncertain about handling this specific genre, professional editors specializing in romance can help ensure that the intimate content is handled appropriately.

Content Warnings: Include a content warning if your book contains explicit scenes. This helps readers to know what to expect and decide if the book is right for them. Example: “This book contains mature themes and explicit content suitable for readers 18+.”

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Ensure your content adheres to legal standards, especially if it is categorized under erotica. Example: Verify legal requirements for publishing explicit content in your country.

Get Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from beta readers familiar with the genre. Their insights can help you strike the right balance.

By following these guidelines and drawing inspiration from successful authors, you can create a smutty romance novel that is engaging, passionate, respectful, and tasteful.

Final Thoughts

The key to writing intimate scenes is focusing on what feels genuine and true to your characters and story. By focusing on the emotional experience, using effective literary techniques, and carefully considering your audience, you can create scenes that resonate without becoming overly explicit or uncomfortable.

Writing romance with smutty elements is about more than only the intimate scenes. Developing characters and a plot that engages the reader emotionally will lead to a more satisfying and resonant story. Happy writing!

More Writing Tips:

How To Write Sexual Tension?

How To Write A Sex Scene?

How To Write A Kissing Scene?

Learn from books:

15 Steamy Paranormal Romance Novels

20 Best Steamy Historical Romance Novels

7 Exciting Spicy Romance Books

Table of Contents

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

In novels and literature, "smut" refers to a subset of writing that focuses on explicit sexual content. It can be a standalone piece, such as a short story, or a part of a larger narrative. While "smut" is used colloquially, some might perceive it as derogatory or informal. The term doesn't necessarily refer to the quality or value of the writing. There are many works with explicit sexual content that are considered literary or artistic. However, there's also content labeled as "smut" that may be considered more gratuitous or purely intended for sexual arousal [[1]].

In mainstream publishing, the line between erotic literature and what might be called "smut" can be blurry. Factors like character development, plot integration, thematic depth, and the intended audience can influence how a work is perceived [[1]].

Types of smut in novel writing

In writing, the portrayal of sexual relationships can vary widely in tone, content, and purpose, depending on the intended audience, the genre, and the writer's own style and intent. Here's an overview of some of the ways smut scenes might be depicted in story writing:

  1. Implicit or Closed-door or Fade-to-Black: This approach is more suggestive than explicit. The characters share a kiss or intimate touch, but then the scene "fades to black," and the actual sexual scenes is left to the reader's imagination. The writer builds up to the moment with flirting, kissing, or other forms of intimacy, but then the scene will "fade to black" or shift focus before the actual sexual act.
  2. Romantic or Sensual: This type focuses on emotions and sensations rather than the explicit mechanics of the sexual act. The language is poetic or lyrical, aiming to evoke the beauty and emotion of the experience.
  3. Open-door or Erotic: In this type, the writer does not shy away from describing the physical aspects of sex. The focus is on pleasure, desire, and the physical connection between characters. It can be graphic but is usually intended to be arousing or titillating rather than crude.
  4. Clinical or Matter-of-Fact: This approach describes the sexual act straightforwardly and unembellished. Here, the sexual act is not meant to be arousing or romantic but is a part of the characters' experience or the plot's development.
  5. Comedic: Sometimes, sex scenes are written with a humorous tone, focusing on awkwardness, misunderstandings, or other comedic elements that can arise in sexual acts.
  6. Disturbing or Dark: In some stories, a sex scene might be depicted in a way that is meant to be unsettling or disturbing, such as horror or dark fiction. This can include scenes of sexual violence or coercion, although you should approach these subjects with extreme care and sensitivity to the potential impact on readers.
  7. Metaphorical or Symbolic: Sometimes, a sexual act is described metaphorically, where the act symbolizes something else in the story, such as a character's inner transformation, a power shift between characters, or a broader theme.
  8. Fantastical or Sci-Fi: In genres like fantasy or science fiction, sexual acts might include elements beyond human experience, such as magical or alien aspects [[1]].

It's important to consider the scene's purpose within the story and the potential audience. Some readers may find explicit content offensive or disturbing, while others may look for a more detailed or sensual portrayal. Including content warnings or appropriate age ratings can help guide your readers to material suitable for their tastes and comfort levels [[1]].

10 Tips To Write Smut In Your Story - BookAvatar (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 6645

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.