KC's Tutorial on Lemons
*To be taken with a grain of salt...

So, what is a lemon?

The Dictionary says: lem·on, noun

Etymology: Middle English lymon, from Middle French limon, from Medieval Latin limon-, limo, from Arabic laymun

Date: 15th century

1 a : an acid fruit that is botanically a many-seeded pale yellow oblong berry and is produced by a small thorny tree (Citrus limon) b : a tree that bears lemons

2 : one (as an automobile) that is unsatisfactory or defective

Mmm...okay...not quite the answer I was looking for...

A lemon is the commonly used term for a sex scene in a fic. Lemons range in type from sexual erotica to blantantly pornographic shove-it-in scenes. Lemons also range in quality from sucking...well, sucking lemons, to absolutely dripping with tangy goodness. Now tonight I'm gonna try to teach you aspiring porn--er, erotica writers, how to write the latter kind of lemon.

Normally when discussing creative writing, we must first start out by saying that there are no rules. After all, if you can write something, anything, so that it works well, don't bother worrying about rules. That said, tho', there is one major rule for writing the lemon scene. It is perhaps the most important rule and the one I'll be harping on from here on in.

Lemons Aren't Just Insertion

Sex is much different from making love. (Can you believe I'm a virgin?) Sex is the biology of the act, the actual "tab A into slot B," if you will. Regardless of whether you're writing yaoi, yuri, het or just plain ol' missionary position sex, the insertion is the sex part. The insertion, regardless of what type you're writing, should take a backseat to the real action.

How the characters react, both to said insertion and to the build up, climax, and let down.

Don't believe me? Try reading Anne Rice's Beauty series. Nothing but sex and various insertions. Now, I admit, I thought this sounded great, too, but there are no characters. Granted, there's the prince and Beauty and a few others, but they don't come off as real people. They fall flat. They are just bodies with a little bit of will to keep them animated.

You don't want you characters to come across like cardboard cut outs!

Say it with me: Cardboard cut-out characters bad.

We want full characters. We want real characters. We want characters that, when they scream at their climax, we know it's for real.

Pacing Of The Lemon!

Quickies exist, I will admit. People do indeed and in deed manage the one minute wonder hiding in the janitor's closet, or the confessional, or the telephone booth, or just the next room over. If you wanna write that kinda sex scene, that's your choice, but unless you bring in character anxieties about being caught, the scene will just be insertion. Actually, bringing in the anxiety about being caught will just make the scene that much more cliche, and the characters that much flatter, unless you're really good at bringing out character feelings.

Avoid The Quickie

You can do so much better than a quick insertion.

You can let your characters make love, the kind of soul-shattering, mind-warping, reality-shattering, adjective-inducing love session that we all dream about having but have never had. (Admit it, it wasn't that great.)

How to do this? Pace yourself. Don't worry about getting to the thrust and scream part right away. Trust me, you'll get there fast enough, but the trip there is sometimes much more fun.

1. The characters gotta get together first.

This can take whole fics to get to. I've read one fic where the "lock two naked people in a room" technique worked well, but it integrated the characters' reactions and even called attention to that technique as a plot device. It was meant to be humorous but worked with the story as well.

See, when you spot someone super hot you just wanna hump, do you go up to them and ask straight out "Hey, wanna hump?" (No, you don't, don't lie!) No, you wait to see if they even know you exist, and if they don't, you proceed to find a way to show them you do. After that, you set out to make your feelings known in a manner that reduces any chance of pain on your part. Physical violence aside, you don't want your heart trampled and lemon juice poured on it. Save that juice for your readers.

(Have you noticed that I use a lot of examples using your feelings? Not a coincidence. You know more than you think.)

2. They're Together

Okay, they know what each other feels. They aren't in bed smoking a victory a cigarette yet. Maybe they don't know what they feel. C'mon, half of us are babes, and you know we have complex emotions. Half of us wants the guy/girl, the other half doesn't, and another half whose existence defies logic says they want neither option, they want a ham sandwich.

Listen up. I'm gonna answer the entire "how to write a lemon" question in one line. Ready? To write a lemon, understand how your chosen character will react to your other chosen character, allowing the two to interact, reaching out and withdrawing alternatingly according to what they each do and say, ultimately heading to the goal of the two in bed.

Another example! Person A wants to enjoy a night in bed with Person B. Person A has grown up in a household that was extremely demonstrative, hugs, kisses, vocal assurances of affection, happy happy childhood, the works. Person A is not a naive sap, but is not scarred in any way. Person B, however, was hurt as a child. Person B was held down by their father and trapped under blankets first thing in the morning, not for molestation but out of play, but that "play" has left Person B afraid to be touched. Person B is claustrophobic when even touched by a person. At the thought of being held down, Person B scratches the skin they "feel" the contact on so that they know there is no contact there, rendering their skin red, welted, occasionally bloody.

Person A asks Person B to bed. What do you think is going to happen?

Monkeywrench in the works: Person B really loves Person A. Person B wants to please Person A and make them happy. Person B is scared but consents. Person A want to take care of Person B and make them happy, too. Person B breaks down in the middle and starts crying. Person A hugs them. End lemon scene. Try again later.

Maybe your lemon idea isn't so sad, but this is the general idea of character interaction. The two decide what happens. You have no control over them except to act as a guide. They will act and react to each other, according to character, and eventually take the scene where it should go.

Ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber? Neither did I, but I saw an interview with Jim Carrey about the ending, where the main character is supposed to have a happy ending by getting on a bus filled with hot babes who like him. Carrey didn't want to do that, saying that "the character would never have been smart enough to get on the bus."

When you reach a point where you can say, "no, the story can't go this way. My main character would never act this way," then you will not only write great lemons, but great stories as well.

But your thoughts on them matter only so much as you can understand how they will act. Once you know that, let them move on their own. Don't force them into what you want them to do, that only leads to Out-Of-Character (OOC) fics. Or new Anne Rice books. Never a good thing.

3. Now The Insertion

The lemon isn't done yet. You've gotten them together, gotten them in bed, gotten them past their mental hurdles, by God, they're gonna go all the way tonight! Now comes the physical, the sex, the insertion...

...the tricky part. Making it more than just sex. Know how we do that?

Yup, more character!

Person A touches Person B's face. Does Person B flinch? Does Person B smile? Does Person B start to tremble and wonder what the hell they're feeling? Does Person B say anything? Does Person A get nervous at how schizo Person B is behaving?

Person B lays back on the bed. Does Person A think about how Person B looks? Does Person A reflect on how they've come this far? Does Person A gently undo the buttons on Person B's shirt or does Person A just tear them off? How does Person B react to that? Any memories called to the surface, or is the sudden harsh gesture enough to keep Person B from relating this to what the father did, so that it doesn't make Person B feel bad?

Damn, we haven't even gotten all their clothes off yet!

Is one of them a skillful lover? Is one of them inexperienced? Both of them skilled? Neither? Both of 'em want it? One of 'em want it hard and fast, and the other soft and slow? Does one of them love hair pulling, or screaming the other's name? Or making the other person scream their name?

Marks? Acne? Tattoos? Third nipple?

Fetishes...mmm, we'll discuss that later in the Do's and Don't's...

4. Finally, Climax

How the hell did we make it this far? (don't answer) So, do they smoke a cigarette? Do they smoke? Do they accidentally set the bed on fire? Do they both start crying? Does one comfort the other? Do they roll over and go to sleep? (get used to that one, babes) Snore? Clean? Get up and watch some sports? Get up and go spar against their favorite enemy (who may have been the partner)? What would the character, as you see them, do?

The Deceptively Titled Do's and Don'ts of the Lemon

1. I hate to tell you guys this, but no one screams "fück me" in the middle of copulation. And to be honest, I've never ever ever heard of anyone yelling out "I'm coming" at climax, either. To be brutally honest, sex is rarely the thrust-and-scream-everyone-gets-theirs-at-the-same-time event that it is in fics. I'm not saying you can't do this at all, just bear in mind that it takes away some of the realism when both of them "spurt their love juice" simultaneously.

2. Member, organ, manhood, Vlad the Impaler, call it what you will, but try to say it as little as possible in the fic. Contrary to popular belief, men are not just life support systems for a penis, and the story does not revolve around where "it" is and what "it" is doing. "It" does not tell the guy to go up the stairs and knock on the door, and if he is unwilling or too shy, "it" does not knock for him. "He" is more important than "it."

2.Corollary: This goes for just about any sexual organ and bodypart. Maybe this is just prudish me (I know, me Puritannical?) but detailing "puckers," "virginal barriers," and "nodules" is just a turn off. Don't worry about getting medical about your terms. Trust me, everyone online knows what the male and female bodies look like, and probably have a few samples to go on in their personal porn folder (don't lie, I know y'all got one.)

3. Do go heavy on character detail, but I don't mean tell the reader the guy's exact height in inches (5'9'') hazel eyes, black hair than ran to his mid-back, well-muscled...For one thing, give your readers some credit for imagination. No matter how well you describe someone, people are going to picture him differently. It's better to leave some to the imagination.

3.a. Show us what the characters are feeling. How would you react to sex if: it was your first time? Dive in headfirst, or would you feel a little nervous? How would the character react? If a person has been raped or molested, that certainly colors the sex-perience. You don't even need to get that dramatic, a person's upbringing will influence how they feel about sex. (yes, I'm harping on this. Think maybe it's important?)

4. Exotic locations don't make for hot lemons. A body in bed is the same as a body on the beach. If that's as far as our erotic fantasies go, we might as well grab a cadaver and enjoy.

5. Fetish and foreplay are useful tools, but don't go nuts, especially with fetish. You can take too much time detailing the whip and the torture devices and the various games, but then you both lose the reader's rapt attention and reduce the characters to bodies again. You would react differently to being tied to the bed than to the couch, with or without an audience, with or without your chosen mate. Apply that to your characters. How would they react? (Repitition is our friend...)

Finally, Erotica

What exactly is erotica? I won't stick in another stupid formal definition, I'll just tell you it's the fine art of detailing a lemon without detailing the insertion. Paradox? Oxymoron? Yes, but it can be done. For starters, go easy on the body descriptions. Don't get medical, and don't get flowery. Don't call it a manhood. I'm sorry, I bust out laughing whenever I see that. The best erotica doesn't tell you exactly exactly exactly what's going on, trust me, your reader is intelligent enough to figure some of it out.

The erotic man does not tell someone to "suck my *insert penis epithet here*" or "I want your *insert penis epithet here* in me." What does he say? Things more like "I want to feel you inside me." It's never the body part that's erotic, but the person attached to that part. "Hold me," "please," and "...(silence)..." is much more erotic than "do me, harder, faster, deeper!!!" For one thing, the exclamation points are excessive. Another, the guy may have a hard time with that deeper part.

Fear and helplessness are so damn erotic it's not even funny. I'm not talking rape, I mean being absolutely helpless with someone who loves you, and being afraid of what they're gonna do but submitting anyway. I'm gonna say something that's gonna upset some people, but it's a fact: "no" does not always mean "no." There are several different "no's", one which means "please stop asking, it isn't going to happen," one that means "get off me, you son of a bitch, before I kill you," one that means "I'm not sure, I'm very confused, I could go either way right now," and one that means "have your wicked way with me while I pretend to struggle." How to tell the difference? Well, if you're not in an alley or backseat, and she isn't going for a knife or mace, it's probably one of the last two. It's all in the tone, in the surroundings, what's come before, what's planned after...wow, such an easy physical maneuver becomes a mental gymnastic routine, ne?

And that's what's erotic. All the mental. Little of the physical.

You're human! Act like it, and don't worry about the animal so much as what's going on in their heads. Of course, sometimes it's fun when characters "go into heat" and act like animals, but I have to admit, the after effects of that kind of mating is more fun than the ripping of clothes.

Now Go Try It Out

No, not like that! This isn't something you have to research to figure out, believe me. But practice your lemon scenes. Practice definitely helps, even if you're a natural at writing 'em. Get creative. Have fun. But not too much fun, you've gotta keep your focus or else that lemon is gonna go all over the place. Which, of course, could be just as interesting.