Writing About Consent

Note: There is, of course, dubcon and noncon (dubious consent and nonconsent), but those are very particular erotica categories that I won’t get into here. This post is for authors who want to know more about writing affirmative consent into their work.


#consentissexy and #consentismandatory have swirled around the media for a while now. But for romance/erotica writers, what do those ideas mean for us?

But Naaadiiiaaaa, why is this even important?

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Romance novels and erotica have a lot of emotional conflict, yes? The protagonists are often fraught with angst about whether they should kiss, sleep together, or even dive into a relationship, right? Well because of that, intentions and true feelings are not always clear. Adding affirmative consent removes doubt for the characters and your readers and therefore, everyone can enjoy the sex way more. Everybody wins! 

But Naddiiiaaa, does this mean my protagonists need to ask each other “Is it OK if I do [x]?” at EVERY step of the way?

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Depends. Read the room, people, read the room. Is one of the protagonists a rape survivor, and have they spent the last 200 pages figuring out how and in what circumstances they would like to have sex again? Um, yeah. You might want to take it slow and have their partner to do regular check-ins along the way. Have these two people been flirting hardcore with each other for months and they are READY? Then sure, you can keep the request for consent pretty simple. In this post, I’m going to address those simple consent requests.

But Naadiiaaaaa, romance and erotica are just fun escapism and fantasy. Affirmative consent shouldn’t apply to romance fiction because it totally ruins the moment for the reader. They end up happily ever after, so of COURSE there’s consent there, right? Right?

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Um, no. But writing affirmative consent into romance/erotica is stupid easy and doing so could help promote healthier sexual habits and relationships so…FUCK IT! LET’S TRY IT!

Concern #1:

My hero is super alpha and possessive, so it wouldn’t be consistent with his character to ask for consent. He takes what he wants and RAWR it’s hot!

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WARNING! ALERT! ALERT! Are you sure you’re not writing an Alpha-hole hero? A hero can be dominant without being a total assface. Let’s look at some examples.

(Note: BDSM is a totally different ballgame, but boundaries and limits should have already been established before any of the fun starts.)

Solutions for Concern #1:

Solution A – The request for consent can still be growly and aggressive.

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. Sophie bit her lip. He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust.

“What do you want?” His voice was a low, demanding growl.

When she hesitated, Travis leaned in close and brushed his lips against her ear. “Do you want me to slide my cock inside you? Fuck you until you come and scream my name?”

A moan escaped her lips as heat shot right through her. Her fingers dug into his biceps. “Please, yes.”

Solution B – Writing a rom com? Make it a teasing game.

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. Sophie bit her lip. He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust.

“What do you want?” he murmured with a sly grin.

When she hesitated, Travis leaned in close and brushed his lips against her ear. “Do you want me inside you? Do you want me to make you come?”

A moan escaped her lips as heat shot right through her. “Please, yes,” she whispered.

The man had the gall to pull away from her. He cocked his head at her in feigned confusion. “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

Dazed, she said, “I said yes. Please, I need you.”

Travis ran his fingers through her hair and frowned. “I don’t know…doesn’t really sound like you want it.”

Sophie dug her fingers into his biceps. “I said yes, damn it.” She crushed her lips against his and held him close.

Solution C – Still really against the whole question thing? The least you can do is make the heroine (or hero, as the case may be) speak up and give her agency.

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. Sophie bit her lip. He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust.

Leaning in close, Travis brushed his lips against her ear. “I’m going to slide my cock inside you and fuck you until you come and scream my name.” His voice was a low, demanding growl.

A moan escaped her lips as heat shot right through her. Her fingers dug into his biceps. “Do it. I need you.”

Concern #2:

I want my scene to be dialogue-free so it doesn’t break the flow of the moment.

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Solutions for Concern #2:

Solution A – Use telling to your advantage!

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. Sophie bit her lip. He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust. She thought she might lose her mind when he leaned in close and brushed his lips against her ear. He told her how beautiful she was, how much he wanted her. When he asked if she would let him have her, heat shot to her core. Her fingers dug into his biceps as she moaned and told him yes.

Solution B – Use brief dialogue. The rest of the scene doesn’t’ have to be chatty.

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. “Do you want me?”

He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust. Sophie bit her lip and nodded. “So much.”

She thought she might lose her mind when he leaned in close and brushed his lips against her ear. When he brought her flush against him, heat shot straight to her core. Her fingers dug into his biceps as she moaned his name.

Concern #3:

The moment is just so intense and quick and OMG it just happens!

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Solutions for Concern #3:

Solution A – See above solution about using telling to your advantage.

Solution B – Be direct and skip dialogue tags

“Wanna fuck?”

“Hell YEAH I do!”

[Insert all the quick, fierce sexy times here]

Concern #4:

It’s not romantic!

Solution for Concern #4:

Solution – Please. Just. Ugh. It’s SO easy.

Travis stared at her, his gaze dark and intent. “I love you, Soph. Do you want this?”

He wasn’t even touching her, but she felt dizzy with lust. Travis leaned in close and brushed his lips against her ear.

Sophie bit her lip. “So much. I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”

As he kissed her, slow and sweet, she realized he was the only one for her.


I hope that was helpful, but the bottom line is that affirmative consent doesn’t have to be robotic.

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“Hello, sir or madam, will you let me partake in fornication with you?”

Now go forth and write something steamy!

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