Monday, January 19, 2009

The Top 5 Mistakes Made in Sex Scenes

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne




Inspired by Robin Burcell's post on the top ten stupid things cops do in books as well as Laura Benedict's great post yesterday on 'age appropriate' material, I couldn't resist turning my sights on the top 5 really stupid mistakes that writers make when writing sex scenes. Now I admit that I have fallen afoul of some of these myself and my creed is always, 'if it makes me giggle it's gotta go' but I still find that one of the most annoying things about many otherwise great books is the sex scenes...or as I like to call them the 'unsexy scenes'.


Number 1: Sex in the most unlikely moments
So the heroine and hero have just been chased through the sewer or nearly decapitated by an axe murderer and so naturally as soon as that's over their thoughts turn to getting hot and heavy...Hmmm...don't know about you but after a really harrowing incident I'm probably not in the mood for a bit of slap and tickle and yet, some authors really believe that people would do this? WTF?!


Number 2: Taking the euphemisms to a new climax
If the words 'throbbing' and 'member' are in the same sentence then something is seriously awry between the sheets. Enough said.


Number 3: Supernatural sex without the vampires
Now nobody even in fiction could possibly have the most amazing, unbelievable, day-long lovemaking fests with everyone they meet so why in some books is there no average or even (let's face it) unsatisfying sex. The exception is where sex involves vampires, demons, wizards or werewolves - then sex is (obviously) allowed to be out of this world. For the rest can authors please avoid hyperbole or stamina-defying love orgies.


Number 4: When no really means yes
Enough with the struggling and young maiden protests - No means No, not 'if i succumb I will inevitably have the best sex of my life'. I loathe the pseudo-masochistic violence begets sex stuff unless of course the villain is involved...


Number 5: Fantasy island
Why with male authors are the women 'goddesses' who have the most amazing bods and libido and yet are too dumb to turn down the overweight, alcoholic protagonist with enough emotional baggage to sink the Titanic...I have to confess the same goes for many female authors. I participate as a judge in a romance writing contest and couldn't believe how all the men were the same. Tall, dark haired and handsome with the most fantastic bodies imaginable. The thing is these fantasies are, inevitable, totally unbelievable.

So what are your top gripes about sex scenes? - but be kind don't throw one of my own back at me. Afterall, sex scene are hard (excuse the pun)...Next week look out, I'm going to give my top 5 list of the best sex-scenes in literature...you have been warned.

9 comments:

  1. Whew! Looks like I avoided all those mistakes.

    I'd much rather write a grisly murder scene that write a sex scene. It's so much easier!

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  2. That was supposed to be "than" not "that".

    Must get more coffee.

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  3. Joyce, I agree - murder scenes are much easier than sex scenes! Who knew writing the 'good stuff' would be so difficult!

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  4. No sex scene has ever survived to the final draft of any book I've written. Women write that stuff better than men, I think, because they learned sensual prose from the masters of the romance genre.

    I learned mine from Penthouse Letters.

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  5. Anything that makes me giggle automatically goes into my books, so that means I usually have a problem with sex scenes (as a few readers have pointed out). I think that great sex has its funny moments, like when the headboard won't stop squeaking and the guy rips the mattress onto the floor so the action can continue. But that's just me! I could never have been a romance writer with my tendency to go off the hot-and-heavy reservation.

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  6. Ah John - if only it were true that all women writers did write sex scenes better! Kathryn, I agree that humor and sex oftn go hand in hand (so to speak) and maybe that's when the difficulty arises - making it intentionally rather than unintentionally funny!

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  7. "Women write that stuff better than men, I think, because they learned sensual prose from the masters of the romance genre."

    John, now you know why I have a female co-writer.

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  8. I credit my puritanical New England upbringing with the fact that I have yet to write a sex scene in any of my books (although in my first, unpublished novel, there was actually a bad sex scene. In that the sex was bad).

    I never actually read romance novels, so perhaps that's why (many other women are in the same boat, I suspect.) I just find that since my books are thrillers taking place in a tight time frame, there isn't a lot of room for a knock down drag own sex scene (for Clare's reason #1).

    Best sex scene I've read in a book in a long time was a chapter into David Corbett's Blood of Paradise. He does the menfolk proud in it, and man, it goes on, and on...

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  9. I'll have to check out David's book Michelle - maybe it will make it into my top 5 next week!

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