Why you should avoid “sex scenes”

So you’re reading along, engrossed in the action when all of the sudden, bang! The lights go out and you hear strange music in your mind (bow,chicka,bowow!)…errm, sorry that was my Libido (Hi folks!). Yes you just stumbled over the dreaded “sex scene”!

As a rule I avoid them (the old pan up to the headboard, eh?-shut up you), for three reasons:

  1. they are distracting,
  2. nearly impossible to get right and;
  3. almost always unnecessary.

Unless the story is centered on romance I find many a sex scene to be disstracting (isn’t that the point?).  Very little character development happens in the actual scene and the action while plenty (and then some) doesn’t move the story forward (and back, and forward again, oh baby hit me one more time!).

And getting it right, forget it!

(You just have to work on your technique pal.)

Depending on the language used the story read like it was ripped from the Penthouse Letters (the cheerleader jumped up and down at the edge of the field, her tits…), OK enough…(spoil sport) or something out of your eight grade health class.  Worse when you combine words like “heaving”, “throbbing” or “deflowering” with “penis”, “vagina” and “breasts”. Clinical and tasteless at the same time.  Besides most sex scenes just read different from the rest of the story, as if the writer is trying to make up for the lackluster performance of his/hers prose.

Finally, if the idea is to say that the character(s) are having sex (people are still having sex) then just say so.  I don’t need five pages of thrusting and heaving and deflowering (sounds like somebody isn’t getting enough thrusting and heaving) to know that their doing it. If I want that, I’ll pick up the latest issue of Hustler magazine or download a video from the Net (that explains a lot, actually).

So my advice to you, avoid the sex scenes if you can.

(You can read my rebuttal here)



16 comments on “Why you should avoid “sex scenes”

  1. I think it’s quite grand advice, actually. 😀


  2. I tend to agree. I’ve had stories published in Hustler Letters- so it’s certainly not due to any shyness. 😉

    But when it comes to my non-erotic stories, I don’t want to jar the reader. So I fade to black.

    Of course, really hot sex scenes do fit in some novels. Sidney Sheldon was great at them. He fit them in seamlessly.


  3. I knew my fading to black would intrigue you. 😉


  4. Hmm, well one of my plot points centers around an affair. So while I didn’t get terribly graphic, I had to have the characters, you know, do it.

    Although I’m a bit of a tease. I got right up to the height of tension and faded to black. Isn’t that just like a woman.


  5. Yes, I think sometimes they are necessary, but I agree that we don’t need five pages of thrusting and heaving, as you put it 😉


  6. Except you can reveal so many interesting things about a character during sex. ;o) No, no, not those kinds of things, get your mind outta the gutter. You can reveal aspects of their personality that don’t come out in any other area of their lives. And you don’t even have to label body parts to do it.


    • True colby, but I think Bryn is right about “exposing” the character in interesting ways (sorry my mind is already in the gutter, it simply comes up for air once in awhile) 😉


  7. I like a good sex scene, but only so long as it fits in the story: if we had 20 pages of great plot and then suddenly we’re getting gasping and moaning with no particular reason except that the author thought it would be hot, I’m going to be annoyed. But sex scenes can be very useful for character development, as Bryn said.

    –And, of course, hot. It’s nice when they can be both. ;D


  8. I also agree with what Bryn said about bringing out different aspects of a character. The shy guy or gal who’s totally uninhibited in the bedroom. The tightlaced, type A personality worker who’s a submissive…

    One thing that’s always driven me nuts in movies is: shy, sweet person = shy, sweet in bedroom. Bad girl/guy= hot, wild! Err…that so often is not the case.


  9. […] the other hand like the proverbial sex scene (again with the not so clever self references, bravo), drop one to many f-bombs and it gets boring […]


  10. […] Yes please! But no throbbing this or pulsating that! In fact I pan to black (so to speak) when the action gets heavy. Also, no torn t-shirts, dangling […]


  11. […] genre outside of my comfort zone. I was given two choices: erotica or historical. Considering what I written about sex scenes in the past, I decided to go the safe route (yeah, I know, I iz a wimp!) and chose historical. Yes, a bit of a […]


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