Sex

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?

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3 thoughts on “Sex

  1. I’ve read sex scenes that were way more intense than those in Prodigal. I definitely didn’t find them to be too much.

    I think there needs to be somewhat of a balance. I don’t mind a detailed sex scene, but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a porno. I think that if the sex is an important part of the story, as it was in Prodigal, and it sounds like it is in this new novel, then it shouldn’t be glossed over. Not all sex scenes are created equal, so there should definitely detail to set the tone of the scene.

  2. Who the hell calls sex long division!?!??!

    Seriously, though, this is an interesting topic. I’ve never had any issues with writing sex scenes (my problem is with violence, of any sort), and I’ve always wondered why most people seem to be the opposite. (Do people write blog entries about how much violence to show in a story? Probably, although I feel like I’ve seen many more about sex. This is not a knock on you, just a general pattern I’ve noticed.)

    I do think in non-erotica the sex scenes should reveal something about the characters – that is, there needs to be an underlying emotional resonance of some sort. Not romantic, not always. People have sex with each other for all kinds of reasons, and so I think sex scenes are way to explore characters and who they are.

    I also think a “less is more” approach is good, too, although when I say “less” I mean no naming of genitalia. Someone else might think anything more than panning to the curtain fluttering in the window is too much, but I personally find that approach cheesy and frankly a little patronizing (assuming you’re writing for adults and assuming ALL your sex scenes are like that). Why take the characters through all this story and then shove that part of it aside like it’s as unimportant as eating breakfast?

    I like sex scenes in fiction, I guess is what I’m saying. As long as they’re tasteful and show me something about the characters.

    Also, I realize this comment is already ridiculously long, but I really love sex as a topic. Not in a pornographic or gratuitious way, but as a method of exploring the way people think and the way they interact with each other. I love looking at both the negative and positive sides of sex and sexual desire. But a lot of times I think books that deal with those issues get dismissed as “women’s fiction” or romance novelsl. It irks me.

  3. Sex? Absolutely. Show it, write it, see it, have it… and then have it again… and then one more time, why not, for shits and giggles… you should read a friend of mine named Mark Haskell Smith… he’s got some of the filthiest and funniest sex scenes ever in his several novels…
    By the way, you’ve inspired me to write a short story in which the word Sizzle makes love to the word Flex and, after a brief gestational period, they give birth to the word Sex… I’ll write it on Saturday, after some extensive research…

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