First off, this isn’t a guide or tutorial for writing sex scenes. Just like sex in real life, there are different strokes for different folks (I’m so sorry for that joke) and giving advice in a simple blog post doesn’t feel like it would adequately cover everything.
Instead, this is more of a discussion. Lots of books have sex scenes. Once upon a time it was limited to adult fiction, but now it seems that even young adult novels have graphic depictions of sex.
And, let’s face it, sometimes these sex scenes can be entertaining.
I didn’t make up that quote, either. You can read the book here. (I’m pretty sure it’s a satire, you guys).
So, what’re my thoughts on sex scenes?
I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t mind sex scenes at all. I think of novels as entertainment, and sex can be entertaining. Who doesn’t want to read a harem fantasy? Or maybe a reverse-harem science fiction? I could imagine having a grand ol time with both.
But some stories are more serious–and sometimes as an author, you have to realize that your audience probably doesn’t want gratuitous sex scenes for the hell of it.
Fun fact, true fact: the novel that landed me an agent had 5 sex scenes.
It’s a crime novel about a mobster who decides to leave the mob in the middle of a turf war. I wrote it under my “pen name” (I use quotes because it’s just my initials) and at least 3 of those sex scenes are just there for hell of it. Maybe even 4.
The point is, that novel sold to a publisher.
My sequel had 3 sex scenes (I had to pull back) and it also sold.
Other novels I have with no sex scenes, are still being held for “consideration” and “evaluation” – and one of my novels (my favorite, STAR MARQUE RISING) was outright rejected.
So, if an author is going to include a sex scene or two, what should it entail? The whole event, from beginning to end? A tasteful fade to black?
Or maybe flowery language?
To be honest, the flowery language makes me cringe so hard I almost collapse in on myself like a dying star.
But then we get to the age old question: do you use “vulgar” language or “medical” language? How do authors decide?
I, personally, went with more vulgar (since it was narrated in first person and fit the voice) but trust me when I say I was sweating bullets the entire time. Not because sex bothers me, but because I couldn’t believe other people would be reading the words I was putting to paper. READING IT.
It’s a lot harder than it sounds, trust me.
And if you don’t trust me, check out this review of a major published novel that won the “worse sex in a book” award.
This post has no point. I just wanted to think aloud.
What do you all think of sex scenes in novels? Good? Bad? Do your favorite novels have them? Do you skim over them? Only read novels with them?
I’m curious to see what others think!