Writing About Sex: Just How Hard Is It?

In light of the Guardian article today about Bad Sex Awards 2018, I remembered this New York Times article a few months ago about writers who don’t write about sex talk about how hard it is to write about sex…

Sex is notoriously tricky to describe. A writer’s tumescent member is a reader’s risible euphemism. “No throbbing manhoods,” declared Jennifer Weiner, who wants her fictional sex to be consistent with what her characters would normally do and say: “You try to make the way people behave toward one another when they’re in bed line up with the way they behave when they’re out of bed.”

In a climactic sex scene in the novel “Golden Hill,” set in mid-18th-century Manhattan, Francis Spufford’s narrator briefly steps outside the story to grumble to the reader. “How hard it is to describe a desirable woman without running into geography! Or the barnyard. Or the resources of the fruit-bowl,” he complains. “I do not want to write this part of the story.

-via How to Write About Sex, New York Times

They even asked Stephen King, of all people, who does NOT write about sex unless it’s a BDSM scene gone awry (Gerald’s Game). No wonder, to these unfortunate lot, sex is “notoriously tricky to describe.”

Here’s a piece of advice to those writers who don’t like to write about sex: DON’T.

If they really wanted to know if sex is “hard” to write, why not ask romance authors who actually know how to write sex and actually love writing about it?

But then sex isn’t all just sex. There’s more to it than meets the eye… or the P and V. Always.

roger-ebert-foreplay-quote

 

19 thoughts on “Writing About Sex: Just How Hard Is It?

  1. I would say it is easy to write about, carefully though, the label awards are unforgiven. But again many books are on sale in the drug stores that are read daily by many people, my ex-wife was one of them. At the time I had her a subscription and she received 5 per week. As for me, I can not.

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    1. I remember when I was hooked on romance novels when I was a teenager but that dissipated as I got older, preferring suspense thrillers instead. I like the occasional steamy romance though.

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    1. It is extremely problematic (not going to say ‘hard’ so there. Damn, I said it!)
      I’ve had some of my stuff described as ‘complete filth’ and ‘disgusting smut’. It wasn’t, it’s just the people wanted to be disgusted, well they must have, cos they kept on reading!
      I loathe the ‘left hand down a bit’ instruction book stuff, it’s cold and so unexciting. Mostly we want vicarious thrills, no actual pain, no real chance of being let down. What we want is emotional involvement in the act, we want good characters in good stories, the rest writes it’s self.

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      1. We certainly do want that emotional involvement and maybe that’s why the best sex scenes are found in books written by romance and erotica writers, not literary fiction authors which kinda comprises most authors if not everyone on the bad sex list.

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  2. Lol I remember it being described as the “typewriter turn on” yea, that was a loooooong time ago, but it’s still true. If you don’t feel it, neither is anyone else. And putting that down in words is seriously difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! I doubt any of these authors were turned on by what they were writing. It’s like, their editors said you gotta put a sex scene in here and they roll their eyes and say, oh, okay even though they’d rather eat nails.

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  3. I love writing sex. You might know that. I love the nuance and the teasing and I love trying not to use the same words everyone uses. I don’t know how successful I am, but I think I’ll keep trying. I’m getting better at not caring what haters think. Or, I’m not easily shamed these days…. hmmm.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We should totally look into cowriting! I kinda stop and go when it comes to writing sex because I’m too busy going through what needs to happen next in the story. This last book, Friends with Benefits, came naturally for me but for other books, those scenes just don’t.

      Yes, stop caring about what other people think. Just write.

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