Posted: June 16, 2010 in Uncategorized, Wednesday's Writing Tip

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To order a Duffy book, click on one of the covers to the left.

First of all, cool your jets.

This blog isn’t going porno at least until I can set it up so I can accept credit cards, lose weight and do some ab work.

This is about writing sex scenes in non-erotic fiction.

BTW, have you read the stuff called “erotic romance”. These books are found in Barnes and Noble in the romance section and they have covers that are a tad more suggestive than the usual romance covers.

Inside they read like a Penthouse letter. (I would know this only from what I’ve read in clinical journals and trade magazines about pornography, having never opened a magazine of that ilk.)

I guess because they are marketed to women they aren’t sealed in plastic and put way high up on the shelf of shame next to the sign that says “STORE IS MONITORED BY SECURITY CAMERAS.”

I’ll leave the discussion of that inequity for another day (and wait for Jen Forbus’s reply.)

Anyway, what about the sex scenes in non-erotic books? Have your read Stuart Woods and seen how happy he gets writing embarrassingly explicit scenes? Apparently Stone Barrington got his nickname for good reason.

Then there’s authors who get so flowery I can’t even tell what the people are doing–which is probably fine. Great authors who can put you right in the middle the action suddenly forget how to write when it comes to the narrative about the beast with two backs.

There’s also the issue of realism. I guess if novels were focused on being real we wouldn’t want to read them. I mean we read to take us away from our boring drudgery. At the same time I get a little annoyed at sex partners who can do it 26 times in one evening, standing up, swinging from a trapeze and in a scuba suit. Twenty-six times? Really? That’s like twice what I can do! (I can write this because my wife never reads my blog.)

So what makes for a good bumpin’ uglies scene? Here’s what I think:

1. It shouldn’t be graphic but it shouldn’t be so obtuse you can’t tell what the hell is happening.

2. It helps if the people are ah…how do I say this.. built realistically.

3. Chill out with the extent of the bliss the two parties experience.

4. Don’t go crazy with the lovey-dovey stuff or the over-the-top gritty porn-like stuff.

5. Throw in some anxiety, apprehension and insecurity because I’ve read some people (though certainly not successful authors of dog-related mysteries) some times experience these emotions.

6. Make sure it has at least something tangentially related to the story line. Don’t throw in a sex scene every 112 pages to keep the reader’s attention.

Ouch! I find Chiropracty So Exciting!

  1. Jen Forbus says:

    Watch it, Buster! I have no idea what “erotic romance” is as I never even venture into the “romance” section of the bookstore. In most instances I prefer that you keep your “romance” out of my “crime fiction” too. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, they really don’t go well together. And if your hero is bedding a different woman every book, you can pretty much rest assured that I have no respect for him, no matter his super powers.

    All that being said, the best sex scene I’ve ever read is still written by Craig Johnson in KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED. It’s less than a paragraph and pretty much leaves everything up to your imagination. “Less is more” is the key to GREAT sex scenes.

    BTW Tom, you’re starting to contradict yourself. One day your wife reads your blog every day and the next she never reads your blog? And you’ve got that use of “really” down now! 😉

  2. ginny says:

    Bassetus Interuptus is still my favorite in a sex scene cuz I can so relate!

    My Beagle friend (I like her even tho her dogs have long legs and short ears) says she has to give her 3 dogs Busy Bones so she and her husband can get busy. Oh lordy – stop me here from making more comments on that one!

    btw – Hi Sue!

    Gotta run look for KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED!

  3. Caren says:

    I think you are right on with this. Of what I’ve read of yours so far, you do a great job. I like a sex scene that’s sexy, not trashy or overly explicit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic, but it shouldn’t be devoid of feeling. Seeing as I write for, well, children, I probably won’t get to use your advice, but hey, you never know, maybe I’ll venture into “young adult” someday….

  4. Pasquale Palumbo says:

    You know what the worst thing a writer can do when writing a sex scene? Mentioning that someone “entered” someone else. As if the recipient was a garage. Blech.

  5. catconnor says:

    Dunno how I missed this blog post. My books have implied sex. You know something is about to happen or has happened, but that’s it. They’re suspense thrillers and sex just wouldn’t move the story forward at all.
    🙂 Yes that’s it – no sex in my books because the story doesn’t require it, it has nothing to do with who might read it. (Parents and kids spring to mind)

  6. fuller says:

    great articles keep it like this guys

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