Sex. The dirty bop. The horizontal boogie. The beast with two backs. Knockin’ boots. Banging. Screwing. Hitting it. Humping. Tapping that. Getting some. Poking. Porking. Long division. Bumping uglies. Nookie. Making love. Doing the deed. Boinking. Doing a bit o’ the ol’ in-n-out. Hammering. Drilling. And my personal favorite, the one that rhymes with duck.
Do we have all of our adolescent giggles out of the way now? Good. Then let’s really talk about the subject. The area of the country where I grew up, you didn’t talk about sex. You made oblique references to it and hoped to have it some day. One of the biggest scandals in my high school was when a girl gave a guy a blowjob on the bus during a trip to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Most educational field trip EVER.
We didn’t talk about it, of course, but as I remember it there was a quiet desperation for it to happen to us, balanced by fear. Growing up on the buckle of the Bible belt, we were afraid of Hell, of pregnancy, or any other consequences in general. And we would have risked all of that if someone had been willing to do it with us.
But seriously, folks — it’s just sex. Two bodies, one function. Happens every day. And, in my opinion, it’s all up for grabs (at least when it comes to writing). As a writer, I think you can go anywhere, from tasteful depictions all the way to the, ah, nitty-gritty, so to speak. What you should not do is ignore sex and the fundamental human drive it represents. Sex/love/lust can be an incredible motivator for your characters.
I had a few people tell me that Prodigal’s sex scenes were a bit much for them. But as a writer, I felt the worst I could do was to turn my head away from scenes that impact the characters and the readers. I’ve gotten to thinking about this right now because I’m working on a new manuscript that is, in essence, a forbidden love story.
I’m at a scene that is incredibly sexually charged. The characters sense it. Moreover, I sense it. At this point, I am fairly certain these two characters are going to end up in bed together — and their decision to do that is going to have serious consequences down the road. But in writing this scene, I almost see this as a dating relationship: yeah, they’ll get there, but it’s not quite time yet.
I’d be really interested in hearing what some of my fellow writers think about sex 1) as a subject; and 2) as how they approach sex scenes in their work. And readers, I want to know what you think about sex scenes: do you prefer explicit or a more reined-in style?