Screenwriting : Writing a sex scene by Jonathan Gilberto Juninho Grünspan

Writing a sex scene

as an amateur screenwriter i have decided to write a screenplay for a movie and i'm at a point where i am adding some sexual content.

 i find it pretty hard (literally) to write down a whole scene. 

should i try to write as many details as i can or is it something that rolls along on the set?

can anyone give me tips about the format of the scene?

i have added a "vision" or "flashback" in the middle of it .... can anyone tell me about his/her experience while writing a screenplay?

Jonathan Gilberto Juninho Grünspan

thank you for the reply.

should i elaborate about characters in the action section when i introduce them for the first time or shall i add the info in a note? ( i am using CELTX to write down the script)

Walter Martin

I've never added any sexual content into a screenplay before, but if I were to attempt such a thing, then I would probably put as much detail as I can. Although, in my case, I'm usually the one who is the director on set anyways. If I were to write it for someone else, then I might confer whoever the director is because it might depend on their directing style. That is just my two cents though.

Jonathan Gilberto Juninho Grünspan

thank you for the replay.

if you are the director and you receive a screenplay, would you prefer it heavily detailed on paper or meet up with the writer to get notes? (i'm totally new in this business, any info and POVs would be much appreciated)

Dan MaxXx

Watch movies & read the scripts, see with your own eyes how writers put the words and mood/tone on the page.

Comedy sex - American Pie, The Hangover.

Thriller Suspense sex - 9 1/2 weeks, Fatal Attraction, Dressed to Kill

Freaky sex - 50 Shades of Grey, Eyes Wide Shut

Study movies & scripts.

Jonathan Gilberto Juninho Grünspan

Dan MaxXx seems so logical. That is how i actually started writing my own. I've read some screenplays and watched youtube videos. Thx again !

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

I wrote a scifi screenplay that is set in the future where a sect is eating human flesh and organizes orgies. Its all fun and laughter. I wrote down what I thought was funny and tried to make it not very erotic as in adult movies. In the same script I also wrote some very tender love scenes that had more to do with sexuality in the sense of coming of age. I refer to the film "Boogie Nights" as being very explicit about sex, but at the same time just very funny and entertaining.

Dan Guardino

I think most people know what sex looks like so I don't waste a lot of time or words describing what is going on when a director will describe how they want will want show it to be seen on film anyway.

Kimmie Easley

I'm a romance author, as well as comedy/drama scriptwriter - so, I'm versed in both. I agree with Dan. Less is better and the director will take on that creative effort Much luck!

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

Leave it to the director? Its important movies have seks in it, and its better if its written. I don't agree with Dan and Kimmie on this. Do it right.

Doug Nelson

Go with Dan G on this - KISS.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I write sex scenes like any other scene. However, I don't hit people over the head with graphic descriptions a la Penthouse forum. I prefer to show a romantic scene with characters initiating sex and then letting the reader's imagination take it from there. Beyond that, I find graphic depictions of sex in films a bit tasteless. But to each his own.

Walter Martin

In response to your question you asked of me, I would say every director is different. Some would want as much detail as possible and some would want less. Each director has their own sense of style. But no matter how you write it, the director is most likely will make changes of their own to best fit their own vision. So I guess it comes down to the reason you're writing this particular story. Are you going to direct it your own or do you have someone who will direct it for you? If you have a director attached to the project, then it would be best to confer with them about this. Every director has their own style of directing. I have worked with past directors in which they always collaborated with the writer. Meaning they both wrote the script together. I once met with another director as part of a networking event where he said he would rather have the writer write the script and have them on set. Namely because he would like to discuss what their thought process was when they wrote a particular scene. But if he couldn't have the writer on set, then he would want a script that would be filled with as much detail as possible because writing is not one of his biggest strengths. And that's why I mean when I said you should confer with the director if you have one already attached to your project. If, however, you're just writing it because you have a story to tell and you're going to sell it to various directors or to a production company or whatever the reason is, then it is up to your discretion as a writer. Only you can decide how much or how little detail to put into it.

Dan Guardino

Willem. What I suggested is not the wrong way to do it.

Owen Mowatt

I think whoever struggles to write a sex scene, watches WAY too much porn.

No one really cares if the husband comes home and finds the plumber plumbing his wife. But we DO care about the husband coming home and finding the plumber plumbing his wife, if we're supposed to care.

No one cares about the schoolgirl who got an E when she needs an A to graduate and would do anything to......anyway, I could be here all day.

Jenna H

Sex scenes are FUN to write. Add enough detail to show what's happening and get the feeling across. And yes. As Laura Scheiner said it has to be purposeful and drive a part of the story.

Jonathan Gilberto Juninho Grünspan

i believe that if i create to movie on paper i should have a say on every scene due to fact that it is my vision after all...(i think i should insist on the rights to a final cut..correct me if I'm wrong) lets just that i did not write explicit stuff which sounds like a porn scene...it is kinda sexy passionate and a bit erotic...not erotic as in close up to the guy's balls but more of a passionate matter such as grabbing the waste at a missionary position or the old switcheroo from one position to another. i would gladly screenshot it and show you so i can get notes and stuff. here let me know what are your thoughts. thanks a lot in advance :)

Patricia Poulos

I've just removed the explicit sex scene from my script 'Untouchable!' because I felt it may have been too much. Mind you, you really didn't see much flesh - just boobs in cradles and movement.

Adi Tantimedh

First you need to answer the question: Why do you need a sex scene?

Second question: Would you be willing to go through what your actors would go through in filming it?

Owen Mowatt

First absolutely agree,

Second absolutely disagree as irrelevant.

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

I am not argueing with you Dan. Its just that my way to do it seems better from where I stand and the movies that I have made so far.

Adi Tantimedh

Second question is relevant: if the actors object to doing it, you'll want to understand why rather than find someone willing to do it. You have a duty of care to your actors, not just expect them to go along with anything you write.

Owen Mowatt

I'm sure we can organise a tape measure if either of you need one?

Adi Tantimedh

Is that how you plan your sex scenes?

Owen Mowatt

First you say ask yourself, which is largely irrelevant, now you say ask the actors, which is it?

If my actor is heterosexual in real life, but is playing a gay man, I'm not really interested in his objections to kissing/fondling another man.

Patricia Poulos

Boy oh Boy!!! Can't watch 'sex' in any degree. In that respect I'm a prude really. So I really shouldn't be commenting here except that I wrote this piece which for me... was saucy - perhaps not for others. My character is an arrogant pig who demands it from his secretary -- true story.

Adi Tantimedh

And why are you only bringing up stereotyptical pr0n scenarios rather than actual scenes that tell a story of human interaction?

Owen Mowatt

Actresses??

Touching, fondling, which body parts, which to show, which to cover are practical, delicate issues that need to be worked out.

Not when you're writing the story they're not. You seem to be adding more irrelevance to your irrelevance.

Adi Tantimedh

I'm talking about when it comes time to film. What's written in a script is supposed to be filmed. In prose, you can write whatever you want. A script is a blueprint for collaboration with a whole cast and crew.

What happens when actors or producers or directors refuse to do it? That's relevant.

Pamela Bolinder

Adi, a producer can shoot the script however she/he wants after purchase. If you want your script to be represented exactly the way it is in your head—shoot it yourself. If you are involved in a rewrite after purchase—do what the producer asks you to do.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Sex Sells! Always has! Always will!

Chad Stroman

I would suggest what Dan MaxXx said back at the beginning. Read produced screenplays that have sex scenes in them.

Basically it has to serve a purpose (like any other scene). What that purpose is and whether it serves your script to it's benefit or detriment, is for you to figure out.

Dan Guardino

Willem. You said, "I don't agree with Dan and Kimmie on this. Do it right." I am just saying my way is not wrong. What works for you when making short films has nothing to do with someone trying to break in the industry as a screenwriter.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Adi, just to add... those kinds of details tend to be worked out beforehand during development and often clearly specified in contracts. An actor/actress may have restrictions, for example, how many seconds they will appear "nude" on film, what body parts will and will not be shown and how they are shown, say, only side profile, etc. Some request body doubles. Or the filmmakers digitally alter/enhance/hide.

And, Jonathan, just to add two more cents to the thread topic, less is definitely more. Generally speaking, no need to get explicit in a screenplay. In other words, no need to overwrite —treat it like any other scene. You just need to give enough information to paint a picture in the mind of your reader. Take, for example, in Boogie Nights, a film about the porn industry, the script is pretty straightforward. No over-the-top descriptions. No gratuitous nonsense. Also keep in mind, if say, submitting a screenplay, there's no need to "offend." And I am not talking about some reader being a prude (okay, some could be, sure), but rather about annoyance. I'm talking about craft. It is crystal clear when something is gratuitous. If you read the scripts Dan M listed above you'll see effective use of good writing. Another script to read is Black Swan, in it, the sex scene is very well written and very relevant to the story—what's going on in her mind. So... look for great examples and observe how the writer handled such things on the page. Hope that helps! Good luck!

Adi Tantimedh

Yes to all your comments.

Dan Guardino

I agree with Beth plus keep in mind when you write a spec screenplay you don't know who will be reading it. I recommended a writer to my agent and she turned him down because of his graphic description she felt was too much. That was years ago and he never found an agent to rep him and never sold a screenplay.

Travis Calvert

Give serious thought as to why you are writing the scene. Every scene should have one of two purposes... to reveal character or advance the plot. Given that consideration, let that dictate how you write the scene. Also consider step 2 of John August's How to Write a Scene in 11 Steps ( https://johnaugust.com/2013/writing-a-scene-in-11-steps ).

Christine Capone

If you're writing 50 Shades of Grey then yes, but for me, if I'm writing a sex scene in my movie, then I just write "sex scene" or they "make love". I mean you can describe how it leads up to it but I think the actors can pretty much take it from there, in my opinion.

Pamela Bolinder

Christine makes a good suggestion to describe what leads up to making love or sex scene. Screenwriter Dean Georgaris wrote: “The truth is, you don’t have much control over a screenplay once you’ve written it. Sometimes, scripts make it through unchanged and turn into these beautiful movies. We celebrate that one got through, but oftentimes they don’t. They change quite a bit. But, that’s the reality of the big-studio business. Holding on tight doesn’t do anything for you.”

Christine Capone

I just can't imagine an actor reading how he/she is suppose to have sex and a director telling them out loud what is on the page! haha.

Dan Guardino

In, out, repeat if necessary.

Bill Costantini

I wrote a sex scene once that went like this:

INT. BEDROOM

BOOMCHICKAWAWA!

(End scene)

It doesn't get any better than that, at least not in my thighs - I mean, at least not in my eyes.

Pamela Bolinder

Dan, you're so warm and fuzzy—the perfect lover.

Pierre Langenegger

I'm going to steal that, Bill ;)

Debbie Croysdale

If writing the actual sex itself is proving difficult, you could cut to Exact moments after. There is powerful subtext in this and it can depict both their frames of mind, and as to whether or not the sex went well. You can also set the intimate scene to include items, that later on are involved in moving plot on. Eg A gun on bedside table, a note shoved into a red high heel ......etc etc. Eg. They both lie bunched up on either side of the bed, not facing each other, the only sound the cranking old ceiling fan. He grimaces and bites his lip, before sitting up and quickly gathering his strewn clothes. Only one boot on the floor beneath him. His eyes dart anxiously around the room. “Have you seen my boot” She pulls the quilt over her head and does not answer. Or Eg. They wake facing each other, the wool tartan rug covering their naked bodies up to the waist, and she reaches out to hug him. He cups her chin with one hand, tilting her face upwards, forcing her eyes to meet his. She smiles. “Hey girl. We are good. No. F...... Incredible.” The two above excerpts are written a bit simple cos Ive only just rushed them off my keypad , to make the quick point of comparison .....that one is Awkward while the other Intimate.

Bill Costantini

Pierre: It's all yours. I also wrote another one for a producer who wanted to make an art-house type-of film. In the sex scene, Instead of using words, I copied and pasted an image of Klimt's "The Kiss". They passed on it. Can you believe that? We're talking Klimt here! Art-house my ass, the freaking Fascists!

Shara Maude

I've written quite a few sex scenes now. Not in screenplays, but in novels. Well, I guess I did in Harold Godwinson. Writing sex is okay but make sure it's realistic. That means 50 Shades sex is probably out. It's neither realistic nor sexy. But watching films with sex scenes is probably good advice. Watch it, read it in scripts. Hell, read it in novels. I wrote a spicy one just the other night, LOL.

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