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Saturday, 26 September 2009

Writing Sex



If you write novels with grown-up (or growing-up) characters, I suspect there inevitably comes a point where your characters need to have sex. (Well, unless you cheat and set all your books in a monastery, like Cadfael.)

Having (almost) reached the sex-is-inevitable point, then, I started to think about how to write a sex scene (bearing in mind that my mum is my #1 fan...). As always, my first port of call for research was Google, and I wasn't disappointed: lots of people have lots to say about sex.

The advice is varied and contradictary - from "close the bedroom door discretely" to "don't deprive your reader of a full account", from "don't write sex at all if you're a virgin" to "why should 'write what you know' apply more to sex than to dragons?"

You can even read passages nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction award.

The best tip I found, though - which really sums up everything you need to know - is to write sex just like you write other scenes. With vocabulary appropriate to the POV character, and the same level of description as you'd use for other things. But given the tactile and graphical nature of most of my writing ... this could get messy!

11 comments:

Chris said...

Uh, I wouldnt even begin to know how. Especially if my mom read it. I have a hard enough time with my mom and mother in law reading my blog sometimes!

liliannattel said...

There is a book on the subject, called "The Joy of Writing Sex" and the gist of the advice is pretty much your conclusion: it's a scene, it should reveal something about your characters &/or advance the story; it should be specific to your characters. I found that pretty good advice.

Kevin Musgrove said...

If in doubt have the cat walk in and sharpen its nails on the gentleman's goolies. Saves a lot of embarassment.

Strange Mamma said...

ha...haha...ha...okay, so I totally cannot comment on this post on the grounds that it may incriminate me.....ya....

Good luck!

Jeanne said...

Great advice -- thanks!

Bagman and Butler said...

At this point, Bagman and Butler having such an argument in my head that I wouldn't know how to respond. But we'd all love to read it however you write it...

MilesPerHour said...

I don't know if I agree that you need to include sex in a story. How many writers take the time to describe their character's "doings" in the bathroom?

christine said...

Hiya :-)

Believe it or not, Mum's have had sex, and probably still do, and hopefully will continue to do so until incapacitated!!!

Write whatever feels right for your characters. I'll read it through closed eyes, if you like!

Love you
Mum :)

Kasia said...

I used to deprive the readers (not that there were too many of them, anyway) of the full account using revealing cliff hangers... But that was long time ago and luckily those stories will never see light of day again :) Later I guess I've learned, but then gave up most writing projects and only do bits and pieces for my own pleasure of writing. Yep, my tip would definitely be write sex as you write anything else. Just make the description fit the story and the language you're using. And good luck!

Chris said...

I'm working on a project where there are passionate dreams and "good" sex between a couple. I've struggled with how much detail to include as well. I also struggle with the fact that my parents and in-laws might be reading this. I try to divorce myself from any attachment to family members when I write. It's too constipating. :-)

OznAsia said...

I think your Mum's comment says it all. It seems that one of the hardest things in parenting is to be open and honest with our children about sex. Consequently children grow up thinking that parents never did it, except once or twice by accident, and certainly don't do it anymore. When you are your Mum's age, you'll look back and laugh about this.

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