Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Talk About Sex

We've all heard the classic advice for writers, "Show don't tell." When describing a scene, character or situation it can be challenging, but well worth the effort to truly show the reader. When it comes to sex though, there's a fine line between suggestive literature and just plain old smut.

Where does one draw the line? If so, how much can be shared with the reader before it crosses that line?" These are some of the difficult questions that authors must battle through as they deal with (or avoid) the biggest issue to face your typical red-blooded human being... SEX.

I don't pretend to have the answer for when it is, or is not, appropriate for an author to include a sex scene (romance novels and erotica aside). I know in my own reading adventures, I've discovered a lot can be implied with little said and that sometimes the best place to take the readers is into the darker recesses of their own minds via the "..."

In a good book (Romance and Erotica aside) do you prefer a sex scene or two? How much it too much?


Sophie Playle said...

There was a good article about this in a recent issue of 'Mslexia'. I wish I had it to hand, but I think I recall the advice was to ... try and describe non-cliched things, focusing on more original details, relying more on the power of suggestion (as you say) rather than being explicit. To try and not create a fantasy, but to include moments of awkwardness and even light comedy to create a sense of the real.

Definitely one of the hardest things to write. And the treatment of the sex scene must definitely be influenced by your narrative voice. If you have a confident, unpleasent narrator, (s)he will probably be much more blasé and explicit - unless, of course, you're creating deliberate contrast to show a different level of character.

Anyhoo, I think I've rambled long enough.

(And, of course, there's this:

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't mind sex scenes outside of erotica and romance. I don't really need them, but if they are well done and come naturally to the story I'm good with them.