Saturday, April 02, 2011


When men write sex scenes it usually involves multiple positions and multiple acts all in the space of a few hours, and the woman is ALWAYS satisfied. When women write about sex it usually reflects on the intensity of the one experience in mental, physical and emotional detail.

Admittedly, those are generalities and there are always exceptions, though I can't think of one at the moment, but sex is part of life and, therefore, part of literature. So how should writers approach sex in their work? By using a cliche: only if it's necessary to the script.

If you're writing bodice-rippers, Mills & Boon, erotica and such like, then sex scenes are a must, preferably in a lot of detail. It is also a (probable) requirement in books that are about two people who fall passionately in love, whichever genre the book is written for. In short, if the story makes less sense without the sex, then you need it.

But what if you can't write sex scenes? You're not alone. There is an annual prize from the Literary Review given to the worst sex scene in a novel, a prize that has been running for 18 years. So don't worry too much about your ability to write about sex as even the best authors come up short sometimes...or most of the time in some cases.

There's also a couple of comments from writers that you may want to take note of. The first comes a documentary entitled 'Sex and the Sitcom', that was broadcast on BBC Four recently.

In it, one writer states that people who write great comedy scenes involving sex don't have good sex lives themselves. I'm not sure how serious he is, but we all write what we know.

Another comment that comes from an unknown writer is that people who write a lot of sex scenes don't have sex at all and survive on these fantasies. Judging by some of the sex scenes in SF novels, I can believe it.

To sum up, write sex scenes if you need to (and that includes if the audience needs it), otherwise, leave it alone.

1 comment:

PV Lundqvist said...

I suppose some writers think they are spicing up their book with sex scenes. But, really, if it isn't necessary it appears like a pimple on the narrative. Turning off readers.