Home » Sue's Posts » Can Women Write Sex Scenes from Male POV?

Can Women Write Sex Scenes from Male POV?

Can a woman write a sex scene from a man’s point of view?

This is a question I asked myself recently when writing a hot sex scene between my heroine and hero.  I initially thought I would write it from the male point of view but after a couple of paragraphs I began to question my wisdom.

man thinkingDo I really know what a man thinks and feels emotionally when having sex? Does a man feel differently when having sex as opposed to making love? Is there actually a difference for men? Do men just have sex, regardless? Does my reader want to know what really goes through a man’s mind or does she want to imagine what she’d like him to be thinking?

I suppose the obvious answer would be to ask a man, or several, but I wouldn’t be sure if he was telling me what he really thought or what he thought I wanted to hear. I’m of the opinion, these are two different things and not only that, I could get myself into a bit of bother canvassing men to share their inner most thoughts on sex. Unless, of course, it was Richard Armitage … now there’s an idea [goes off to stalk him on Twitter.] What? That’s inappropriate? Okay delete that Tweet. Back to writing from a female point of view it is.

What are your thoughts on writing sex scenes from a male POV?

Should women attempt it or should they steer clear?

Sue Fortin profile

Sue

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41 thoughts on “Can Women Write Sex Scenes from Male POV?

  1. Great question. In Gunshot Glitter there is a very long hetero sex scene which is a pivotal moment in the narrative for two characters and I wrote it switching POV, it wasn’t a deliberate, calculated decision, I wrote what felt right. I’ve been told I’m very empathic and I have a lot of male friends and I’m not shy about discussing sex. I think if you have any of that, then it’s not a struggle or something to question whether you’re qualified to write from a male POV. That scene has had a very powerful effect on everyone who’s read it. I was worried it might be too much for a few demographics, but I had a reader in her sixties tell me she wished GG had been around when she was in her 20s!

    But for me, the real challenge is writing a gay sex scene because I can’t fall back on any personal experience at all, that’s where for the sake of being able to do a scene justice I’ve already recruited a few gay friends who’ve assured me they’ll be happy to talk me through anything that doesn’t ring true. My third novel will feature a character I’m already in love with who’s gay. I’ve also watched more alternative gay porn; anything that demystifies, educates or lets you get into the mindset of your characters gives you the confidence I think to convince your readers on the page. It’s about trial and error and asking questions until you can ‘own’ the male mindset or the sexuality of the mindset.

    • Hi Yasmin, it’s great if you have got male friends you can talk freely about sex with. I haven’t had to deal with any gay sex scenes so far. Good luck with your novel and thanks for such a great reply.

      Sue

  2. Oh gosh, I hope so – I do it all the time! In all honesty, I think I write them from a female POV but as I’m mainly writing for women, that doesn’t bother me.

    • That’s what I ended up thinking last night, I’m writing mostly for women, so hopefully they will appreciate how I deal with it.

      I think it would be interesting to write the same scene, once from a woman’s pov for women and once from a male pov for men – sadly not enough hours in the day to indulge in that.

      Sue

  3. I’ve tried it in ‘Little Boxes’ – hope it works! Maybe if you dress the part while you’re writing? No, that sounds sick and wrong… 🙂

    Celia x

  4. Since I always write from a male pov now, I’ve had to get used to this… but I think what matters most is that we write in a way that feels convincing to our readers. And men can be so different from each other. Sometimes sex will be a more emotional, meaningful time for them, and sometimes it won’t. For the purposes of our fiction, though, we’re likely to be choosing the more emotional times as they move the plot forward.

    About the only tip I’ve found helpful to get into a male POV is to pay close attention to the visual aspects of sex. Most men seem to have their sex drives closely linked to the visual and are likely to want to watch what they’re doing. Not necessarily in a mirror, although that could help!

    • Hi Josephine

      Yes, I think you’re right in that we are writing it for the emotional development of the plot. Interesting what you say about men being visual, I hadn’t considered this before.

      Sue

  5. Great post. Being a bloke, I tend to write mine from a male POV, occasionally from a female one. If I do that, I often ask my wife (or one of my female pre-readers) if it’s realistic.

    My fear is writing a female POV, as a male and having the lady obsess over her breasts etc., so it becomes a male-fantasy rather than a real woman.

    • Hello Mark

      First of all, thanks for taking the time to reply. The thought of a woman obsessing over her breast etc, did raise a smile, but I know what you mean. I think I’m going to have to research some male pov written by men, I’d be interested to see how it differs from a female writer.

      Sue

  6. Great post! And I didn’t know Richard Armitage was on Twitter! *goes off to stalk him also*

    In terms of writing sex scenes from a male perspective, well, my answer is yes, we can do it. Most definitely. I write erotica and erotic romance from all angles, perspectives, sexualities, etc, and I’ve written from the male perspective several times. Four short stories, a novella and a just-released novel all have my male POV, plus sex scenes. I actually enjoy writing from the male POV. It’s different, but good different, I think. I’m lucky to have male friends who know what I write and are very open with me about that kind of stuff, so I find it quite easy to adopt a more masculine tone when writing. Of course, it could just be because I’m a bit of a tomboy… but I’ve had no complaints yet.

    Go for it!

    • Hi Lucy, I don’t think RA is on Twitter either that or he’s blocked me 😦

      I’m encouraged by your post and that it’s different but good different. Can you recommend something of yours? I’d be interested to read it.

      Sue

  7. Oooh definitely! I’d say, yes! There’s only one caveat, I suppose. As men clearly don’t ‘think’ about sex in the same way we do (‘we’ being women), and as they wouldn’t be seen dead talking to their mates about it in the same way we do (we do, don’t we?)… I guess writing a sex scene from a male PoV implies, by its very nature, putting words into their mouths. (That sounds REALLY wrong in this context…but you know what I mean). I salute every female writer who’s written a male PoV, and a sex scene to boot! This is an area I have yet to try my hands at (why do all these sayings seem loaded with meaning in this context?) and I’ll be glad to remember that y’all say it can be done. Rock on, great post!

    • I really enjoy writing the male POV, it was just when it came to the sex stuff I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off (now that sounds very wrong). Maybe if I forget men might be reading it and just write it for women, I would angst over it so much.

      Thanks for dropping by Nicky.

      Sue
      x

  8. I appear to be the only man posting on this but it’s interesting reading. Men are much more visual, I think there’s probably less “romance” (for want of a better word) in the process, but generally speaking I’m sure the process is the same. As I said before – and I don’t know what the female equivalent of this would be – writing from a female POV it’s important for blokes not to focus on ladybits, which must (pardon the phrase) stand out badly.

    • It is a fascinating conversation, am so glad you joined in. You mention the ‘visual’ side for men too with less ‘romance’ – I think that might back up what I was thinking, that men probably have ‘sex’ more often than women who tend to make love.

      You managed to make me laugh out loud this time with the ‘ladybits’ word 😀 Wondering if I can use that in my WIP?

      Thanks Mark.

      Sue

  9. Absolutely we can do it! I do it all the time but tend to have the sex scene from both points of view. Some people don’t like head hopping but I think it works if you do it right. I started writing the male POV from book 4 onwards and my men are loved the world over! Imagination and fantasy does have to come in to play a little bit though – no one wants their hero looking over the heroine’s shoulder to catch Match of the Day while he’s doing the business!

    • I wondered when you’d turn up! 😉

      When you say imagination and fantasy does have to come into play, is that your disclaimer? MoTD is a no-no but shopping lists and England are perfectly acceptable!

      Sue
      x

  10. ooooo interesting question, Sue.. In my latest I switch POVs (if edits don’t knock that on the head but.so far so good). It’s a rather big scene too but with the way the story had led to that point, I felt it needed both. I switched at strategic moments when the going may have been getting tough 🙂 Not the easiest scene to write but got into it 🙂 X

    • Hello you,

      I found that too, once I got into it, I actually quite enjoyed it and it turned out to be a bit more risque than I intended. I remember thinking, ‘please don’t let my mum read this’ then I lost the moment and had to put all thoughts of my poor mum out of my head, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to write another word.

      Sue
      x

  11. Interesting post! Not having written a sex scene I don’t feel qualified to comment on that, but this post was a fun read – the responses, too (is that also layered with meaning, Nicky Wells?!)

    I have, however, written from the male POV – in our series, in particular – luckily I have my co-author, Ron, to ensure that everything comes across as being authentic. 😉

  12. Yes, of course, but with a slight caveat! The sex scenes in my novels are more about the emotional charge between my characters, showing – no pun intended – the ups and downs of their relationship rather than what’s happening to their bits and pieces. When I write from my hero’s pov, it’s to reveal his thoughts and feelings about the heroine as much as demonstrating his desire for her.

    • Hi Chris

      I’m totally with you on this one. I do think that what a man thinks, isn’t always what he says he’s thinking so getting into their head for the emotional side is a great way to show this.

      Sue
      x

  13. Great responses – you started a good one off here, Sue! Lots to think about, and thanks for all these viewpoints.
    Celia 🙂

  14. I’ve written a sex scene (the first, between my two MCs) in The Dust of Ancients, and I reeeeally hope it works, because, to be honest, I’d never questioned whether it could/should be done by a female writer! I was in “Richard’s” head at the time, and since the scene moved quite naturally on, I just went with it! However, the follow-up bit, I wrote from “Laura’s” POV and I quite enjoyed being allowed to describe how freakin’ HOT Richard is! 😉

    • Hi Terri

      Funnily enough, after writing my hot scene, I texted my friend and said something along the lines of ‘God, do I fancy my hero, of what?!’

      I think when we’ve made that connection, we know we’ve probably got it right.

      Sue

  15. Many times when I read a sex scene that seems mechanical and devoid of emotion, I think, “No wonder. It’s written by a man.” So yes, speaking very generally, I do think that men think differently about sex (not necessarily all men at all times, but let’s say “often.” ) The trick for a man, is to write the scene to please a woman, and at the same time not to go overboard and turn off his male readers. A tough job.

    • Hi Anneli

      Yes, getting the balance can be tricky. Whilst you want a good love scene, you don’t necessarily want it to be erotica and similiarly the sort of thing you find in top shelf magazines (not even sure they still exist now, what with the internet, but you know what I mean)

      🙂

      Sue

  16. Great question, Sue. I’m firmly in the ‘yes’ camp with this. Both as a writer and a reader I love the opportunity to get a peek inside the hero’s head at that most intimate and telling of moments – when the otherwise hidden depths of desire and emotion can reveal so much of his true nature and intentions. As long as the scene is written in a way that is consistent with the hero’s personality and voice throughout the story, I think it’s entirely possible for a female writer to lay down a convincingly male pov during the sexy times!

  17. My gut reaction, is definitely yes, of course we can. Ultimately any writer of fiction is making stuff up, and any character who isn’t exactly like you will think and feel about their experiences in a way that requires the writer to use imagination. I’m also a wee bit wary of saying “Men think about sex (or anything else) like this…” or “Women think about it like this…” The question is how does this character think/feel about it? There are soppy blokes and hard-as-nails women.

    The actual physical sensations of sex, rather than the thoughts and emotions, I do think are more difficult though – not impossible, just more difficult. Describing how bits of anatomy, that you don’t have, feel is a challenge, and weirdly, in my experience at least, men get a bit freaked out if you pull out a pad and pen and start making notes on their reactions at delicate intimate moments. ‘Tis generally considered a bit of a moodkill 😉

    • Yes, imagination is key and can be easily used for the emotional development. As for describing parts of the anatomy and how they feel, what you’re saying is, no to note taking, I’m not to get the pen and paper out at all – this is clearly where I’ve been going wrong.

      😉

  18. What a fascinating subject this is! I’ve read all the comments and had a chuckle to myself but also learned a lot. Made me think. I have only written one sex scene and found it excruciatingly difficult to write at first. In fact, I kept putting it off as I was constantly thinking of the people I know who may read it one day. Then I put some music on, watched some romantic film clips and got on with it, but I was in the head of my heroine, not my hero. I think, however, that it should be just as easy (or difficult) to write from his point of view. By the time I reached that scene I was so totally smitten with him I think I could have written it from his viewpoint if I’d wanted to, but the scene wasn’t building that way. Maybe the trick is to question all my male friends and find out what is really on their minds during their most intimate moment. Wonder how honest they’d be? 🙂

  19. Wow! Great post, and so many reactions! I love writing sex scenes from both points of view. I sometimes do include a pivotal pov change, but now always. For me sex is always a huge part of my characters’ being. Sex is a crucial part of the way they express themselves and develop through the story – only showing it from one side would be like excluding something very important.

  20. I think in some ways the answer to this is that, if you’re writing FOR women, the male POV during sex will appeal to your readers more if it fits what she would like to think the man is thinking/feeling. After all hundreds of Disney films, rom coms and chick lit books have made us believe relationships with men are a certain way and that men are either damaged but underneath it all totally ready to be in love and worship us (Christian Grey & Indecent Proposal) or nervous and shy but also actually worship us (Four Weddings/Notting Hill/Bridget Jones).

  21. This is one of the great enigmas of life, isn’t it. There’s a great deal of individual leeway, of course, and allowances have to be made for circumstances and time of life. An infatuated 20-year-old is not likely to experience sex the same way as a middle aged man, while both may make adjustments depending on whether they are with the woman of their dreams or a transitory flirtation.
    Circumstances could include possessing charisma, status or good looks which make a man more desirable and therefore perhaps feeling blasé about sex conquest. I tend to write about male characters who can’t always get what they want. I find unrequited love/lust to be a great aphrodisiac.
    As a man who has, at times, pondered deeply on what it must be like to be a gorgeous woman and have men genuflecting, I conclude that the classic but unfashionable view of our sexual roles has a lot to offer in the way of insight. Man’s instinct is to pursue and possess; woman’s to tempt/attract. That can be a source of frustration for both.
    Media and art through the ages indicates to me that a woman in ecstasy is a huge turn-on for a man, and that a significant measure of a man’s self-worth, in his own mind, is his ability to exercise the power to trigger that in a woman. And so I see dominance/seduction and surrender as having a big part in sex, although not necessarily with the man dominating. Men like to be seduced too.
    Big generalizations, I know, and probably not very popular with romance readers. Still, I do believe this perspective is worth a thought when writing from a man’s point of view.

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