What Exactly Makes Over the Top

Fifty Shades Darker opens in theaters February 10th, and Christian and Ana’s explosive and boundary-breaking sex scenes will once again rile up audiences all over the world.

Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we all have to start somewhere, MarieClaire.com asked four erotic novelists for insight into what makes those sex scenes tick—and how to turn fiction into fact. The five tools you’ll need for amazing sex—according to author Tiffany Reisz? Tension, foreplay, emotion, creativity, and fearlessness. Let’s break them down.

“You can create tension by simply holding back, even when you’re turned on. Whether that means taking a break from manual stimulation and stringing kisses along their neck; or doing a sexy little striptease; or taking off one item of clothing before you go further—you can build up your arousal and add playfulness to your sex life. Basically, tension can be fostered by taking your time.” —Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series

“The actual mechanics of sex are fairly simple: Tab A in Slot B (Or, Tab A in Slot A—I love Slot A). So if you want to add spice to your sex, do it with dialogue. I can still remember with crystal clarity something an ex-boyfriend whispered in my ear one night while misbehaving. Words have power. People say things during sex they could never get past their lips during any other type of interaction.” —Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author of The Original Sinners series

“Instead of simply rushing into sex, say ‘I’m going to [*fill in the blank*].’ You can even up the ante by saying something like, ‘I’m going to lick you in your favorite spot…if you’re good,’ and add tension by keeping the other person on edge, hoping they’re good enough to get rewarded.” —Rachel Kramer Bussel

“When you’re in the bedroom with someone, you’re at your most vulnerable. Even if you’re having wild and crazy swing-from-the-chandelier sex, you’re the most exposed you’ll probably ever be. Multiply and use your emotions to enhance sex. Don’t hide them. If you’re feeling playful, build on that with role play. Feeling aggressive? Tell your partner what you want—or what you want to do to them—in explicit detail. Then do it.”