Thursday, November 17, 2011


by Isabo Kelly

Intense, action-packed, emotional, potentially dangerous, and reveals a lot about who and what your characters are. What type of scene does that describe? If you guessed a fight scene and a sex scene, you’d be right.

In fact, these two scenes have more in common than many people might realize. And you can learn a lot about writing a good sex scene by studying the way fight scenes are written. When done well, both add levels of intensity and emotion to a story. But these scenes have to matter each and every time. They have to add to the plot and to character development. And that’s the trick with writing erotic romance, to manage so much sex without it getting boring.

So what do both fights and sex have in common? Each of these scenes has four major elements that are necessary to both to make them important and engaging for readers: emotion, choreography, believability, and character. Let’s look at these characteristics in a little detail.


Emotion is what distinguishes erotica and erotic romance from porn. Emotion is what makes each scene significant to the plot and the characters. And you can’t write either a convincing fight scene or a convincingly erotic sex scene without this element.

What emotions are portrayed depends on your characters and what you want from the scene. Even the most jaded protagonist will get a charge from being in a fight or from having sex. There is always some kind of emotion involved, even if that emotion is not what a reader might expect.

This fight scene is from my fantasy romance, THE HERON’S CALL, published with Samhain Publishing. In this scene, the warrior heroine, Rowena, has just flashed back to a traumatic afternoon many years earlier and it’s put her on an emotional edge. She turns her fear and pain into a fight with the hero.


Gods, he’d probably seen her tears. Humiliated, she started back to camp, but he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. She spun around to face him and without thinking, her sword was in her hands. “Leave me alone, Kael. I mean it.”

“No. Tell me what’s wrong. Why are you crying?”

“I’m not. And it’s none of your business anyway.”

His eyes narrowed, sparked with a dangerous glimmer. “Yes. It is.” He pulled his own sword from the sheath strapped over his back, touched his blade to hers. “Winner take all,” he murmured.

“You don’t want to fight me.”

“You’re right. I want to fuck you. You’re the one insisting on a fight. So we’ll play your way first. Then we play mine.”

Her fear morphed to anger. “Arrogant bastard.” She spun away then swung back to catch his blade with her own, the sound of steel on steel ringing in the dark copse. There wasn’t a lot of room between the trees, but she used what she had, unleashing her anger and frustration, slashing, testing, pushing him to show her just how good he was.

He tried to back her against another tree, but she turned the trick on him, had him braced between bulging roots, barely able to deflect her attack as he untangled himself. She laughed at his growl, let the energy rushing through her wash away everything but the battle. Her muscles bunched and flexed, her feet danced, her blood pumped in time to the rhythm of the fight. “You underestimate me, Heron,” she said, swinging her blade to push aside his blow.


But on his next attack, he overstretched. She twisted around behind him and slapped him across the ass with the flat of her blade. She laughed, pleased with his yelp. As he turned on her, she continued to grin, enjoying herself, reveling in the play of skill against skill. He was good. Very good. And it made the battle more exciting.


Notice it’s not so much the fight itself but the way the two characters are reacting and how they feel that matters here. Rowena enjoys a good fight and losing herself in this one lets her forget her fear. Contrary to what a reader might expect a character to feel, Rowena is using this particular duel to bury feelings of hurt and confusion so she doesn’t have to deal with them. And it’s those conflicting emotions that make this fight scene important to the story.♥

Excerpted from FIGHTING SEX by Isabo Kelly. For the full article as well as many more fabulous articles on spicing up your sex scenes, pick up: HOW TO WRITE HOT SEX: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors, edited by Shoshanna Evers.

Isabo Kelly is the award-winning author of multiple fantasy, science fiction and paranormal romances and erotic romances. Her newest fantasy romance, BRIGHTARROW BURNING, is out now from Samhain Publishing. For more on Isabo, visit her at

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