Marmite Moments: Writing Good Sex

There’s nothing like a touch of the erotic in a story to polarise the public.

MarmiteAround 15 years ago I wrote a series of erotic vignettes.  For a few intriguing weeks, a male friend and I exchanged intimate short stories with one another.  He wrote well and I cherished the notion that I held my own in this domain too, armed as I was with a reasonable grasp of the English language and a willingness to embrace the moment.  How wrong I was.

A few weeks ago, I was clearing out my old archive of stuff – you know – the odd bits of stuff you keep because it seems premature or a bit brutal, to discard them.  And somehow years later there they still are, in a box, tucked away somewhere.  In my archive of stuff there was a sealed envelope with a cryptic label. I realised immediately what I’d come across: my naughty stories.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to re-read.

But oh, oh… oh, how they made me weep.  I really, properly cringed at how wincingly, oozingly, butt-clenchingly ghastly they were.  What I’d remembered as intense and subtle scenes creaked with cliché, uncomfortable metaphor and the direst of dialogue. Mortifying. But at least this was all private, locked-away, shared with one other person in a mutually assured destruction kind of a way, destined never to see the light of day.

Writing sex is challenging.  When it comes to the erotic, what excites one person will bore another and offend still more.  You write about sex at your peril because it will polarise opinion, and you’ll never please all the people.  The Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award bears awesome and awful testimony to this.

Writing good sex requires so much more than a grasp of the English language; so much more than a talent for creative storytelling; and so much more than an eye for imaginative imagery and metaphor.  You can have all that and still your sexual episode can end up as a damp squib, a corny joke or, worst of all, an embarrassment of inappropriate excess.  That’s because when it comes to writing sex, it’s about more than technique.  It’s about how it’s…  received.  There are two key components, about which you as a writer can do nothing at all; your reader’s personal, private perspective, and the mood of their moment.  So you write your sex and you take it to market and, like Marmite, there’s them that’ll love it, and there’s them that’ll hate it.

A couple of weeks ago, a newbie book club in which I’m participating was discussing which book to read first.  There was considerable support for Fifty Shades of Grey.  It surprised me that several ladies in the room hadn’t yet sampled its pages – and most of these ladies keenly desired the excuse/justification to read this notorious novel.

I’ve read it – the first book only – that was enough.  So have many others; a gazillion copies have sold across the world.  Hats off to EL James for that, by the way; because whatever I think of the writing and the fact that it’s not for me, she’s done very, very well.   Many readers have found her stories stimulating and exciting.  For some it’s even been a springboard to improving the quality of their own personal relationships.  And it’s churlish not to celebrate a book which achieves that for anyone.

But I’m not one of those; I’m one of the readers who found it dreary and insipid.  Am I betraying too much of myself to say that I thought it was tame, that it ventured towards a line, but then turned right around and ran home to mummy?  I didn’t like the repeated oh my’s or the euphemistic turns of phrase.  I thought it too sickly sweet and not nearly edgy or dark enough to do its subject matter any justice.   But that’s just IMHO – and those books sold and sold and sold, so what do I know?

A touch of the erotic in a story can feel dark and delicious, or it can come across as cheap and tawdry, depending on the mood of the moment. It’s the heat of the night, versus the cold light of the morning after.  It’s candlelight and Armagnac one moment, and the stained bedsheets of a run-down motel the next.

So what of my secret package of erotic vignettes? They had their little private ‘heat of the night’ moment and that’s where they should have stayed.  They don’t belong in the cold light of the morning after; fifteen years later, in the hands of someone who fancies she’s learned a little about life since then, not to say a great deal about writing fiction.

They don’t belong; they’ve embarrassed me quite enough. Now they’ve gone for good, courtesy of my office shredder.

So, are you wondering if there’s any sex in my first novel, Singled Out?  Are you wondering if I’ve been bold enough to have another go at the challenge of writing sex into my fiction?

I have, kind of.  I’ve written a story about a singles holiday, after all.  Whilst I haven’t written romantic sex scenes (it’s a psychological suspense novel, not Mills & Boon), I have toyed with sex in one way and another throughout the narrative. Here and there it’s become quite dark and unsettling too – I think, dark and unsettling enough, although others may feel I’ve wimped out.  But it’s all about personal perspective, isn’t it?

So one of these days, if Singled Out gets representation and wins the affections of a publisher, you judge those love-it-or-hate-it Marmite moments from your own personal, private perspective.

142 thoughts on “Marmite Moments: Writing Good Sex

  1. Yes, yes, yes (to quote Norah Ephron)! It is so difficult to write sex scenes because while you can be descriptive, sex is about emotion, feel and experience, which can only come from personal experience.
    I have two other cringing moments I can add having published a sex scene. The first was informing my wife that I’d written a sex scene (“there’s something you should know about the book…”) and spending a long time explaining that it was neither a) a reflection of our most intimate moments, or b) wish fulfilment.
    The second was having a female friend not being able to look me in the eye for a couple of weeks after reading the sex scene because she was convinced it was a) above. Apparently I was the talk of the village for weeks.

    1. Ha! Knowing the scene of which you speak, I’m glad for those you love that it is neither (a) nor (b)!

      I faced a similar line of questioning from one of my Beta readers, a long-time male friend. I had to reassure him that I was writing certain of the grittier scenes from this weird thing we novelists try to summon up from time to time – imagination – not, as he had feared, real life!

      My next step is those people in my close circle who are of more, shall we say, delicate sensibilities. And one or two of my marketing clients who have expressed an interest in reading Singled Out. All in good time, sometime….. But not without holding my breath!

  2. I have this theory it’s easier to write nasty sex than stuff dreams are made of sex. You don’t have to worry about whether this would hit someone’s button or not and hopefully no one thinks it’s your own predilections. Having said that, I felt rather awkward when my son read the nasty sex scene in my novel. I’d meant to take out that section but he got there before me!

    1. The ‘stuff dreams are made of’ sex suffers from the temptation to hyperbole. … The best, most intense, highest, hardest, blah blah blah. The nasty end of things, one would argue, isn’t actually ‘sex’ at all, but violence. Though that doesn’t make it any easier when it comes to sharing our writing with our nearest and dearest.

  3. I know what you mean. The first person to read/edit my writing is my sister. This is not going where you think it would. She actually demands I write sex scenes, and then she is terribly critical of them.

    1. If she’s a reliable critic, she’s no doubt helping you improve your writing. And sex scenes are amongst the toughest to get right, so it’s good to have someone steering you in the right direction. It sounds like you trust her judgement too. I like your blog, by the way.

  4. Great post Jools! I agree that sex scenes are hard to write but I’ve had a go in my novel because I think it often reads like a cop-out when you see ‘and afterwards’ on the page.

    I’ve had most of the experiences above. People asking me if, or assuming that, I was writing from experience rather than imagination. There is a sex-in-a-lift scene in my novel and I do now get comments about lifts from some who’ve read it!

    One male friend said he’d never see me in the same light after reading my first chapter, admittedly the sex in that scene is of a violent kind.

    I also cringed when I re-read my first and several subsequent drafts of the nice sex in my novel – it was more like a physical blow-by-blow account of mechanical actions than anything with emotional depth – hopefully now rectified. I agree with Suzanne that meaningful sex is harder to write than nasty sex which, as you say, is really violence.

    1. I think when one writes sex into a story, one should perform repeated sanity-checks. Re-read and revise at different times of the day and evening, in different places, and even in varied frames of mind. For we have no control over when our sex scenes are read and something that feels luscious and sensual whilst curled up in bed, or submerged in the bath surrounded by candlelight, could well induce that unwanted cringe-factor if the reader gets to it whilst they’re strap-hanging on the Central Line in the crush-hour.

      I totally agree that ‘nasty’ sex is a whole lot easier to write than ‘romantic’ sex, which can rapidly drown in sweat and syrup if left to its own devices. As for sex in a lift… I look forward to that read! 🙂

    1. My best advice is, whenever you write, whatever mood you’re in… re-read in the cold light of day. Fluorescent strip-lights, not candles; a cup of tea, not wine. Your sex scene has to pass the ‘morning after’ test. You must be able to read without cringing, snorting with derision, or weeping with shame!

  5. I have read smut so repetitive that it sorta makes me yawn………… I usually skip those parts unless I am really invested in the story and the character’s feeling. You are right that it takes a lot of effort to write a really good sex scene.

      1. Definately …….. The only ones I have liked so far are the ones which offer a fresh exploration and not the usual tick this box and it is done variety……..

        Sex by points……….lolz

        1. All good writing seeks to be fresh and absent of cliche. I only hope when the time comes, that a few people will judge that I’ve been successful – and not just with the sex scenes!

    1. Thanks for reading, and commenting. I’m just hoping I won’t look back on what I write today in future years, and feel quite that level of discomfort!

        1. And yes, that process of offloading, getting it off your chest or otherwise exercising those ghosts is another great reason to write whatever the heck you feel moved to write. Nobody sits in judgement, after all – not unless you’re mad enough to try and get published!

  6. Up to now my approach to sex scenes has rather been: Is it really necessary to spell that out in detail and ruin the imagination of the reader? Readers are not like the audience of a movie – they are quite used to call up their own pictures. Hints go down rather well as they leave space for the readers own preferences. At least that is the case when I read. I do neither need graphic violence nor graphic sex in a novel to get the picture.

    1. I guess in that way, writing sex scenes is no different from good writing generally, where you need to evoke a scene, setting or emotion with just one or two well-chosen images, not force the reader into the precise picture in your mind. I know as a reader, I like to be trusted to join-the-dots from my own imagination. The job of the writer is to put me ‘in the moment’.

  7. I’m generally postponing writing the sex scenes that really matter. I’m a newbie with no writing experience at all and I’m hoping that it will come more naturally to me as I’m developing my voice and as the story plays out.

    My husband read a chapter in my rough draft, then came to me afterwards looking pale and weary and said:” Really? Is that how you…?” So I sympathize with Dylan in the comment above. It took me quite a while to convince him that my protagonist’s sexual issues were a product of my imagination, rather than our marriage.

    I don’t even want to consider what other people in my surroundings might say if I ever publish anything. I live in a very conservative, religious community and already have a shredded reputation as a lousy housewife and an atheist. The only thing that saves me is my cake baking.

    I’m finding the idea of a pseudonym more intriguing by the day.

    1. If its any help, I saved up the few such scenes I had to write until I was in what I felt to be the right frame of mind. Then I polished them all off at once. I’ve edited since then, of course, but the key imagery and tone is unchanged.

      I do sympathise with you regarding your husband’s response too. So often, people think that writers base their stories on their own experiences or that their words somehow express their own perspectives. That may be the case…. Sometimes. But we would all very swiftly run out of material if we couldn’t call upon that greatest of writerly gifts – imagination. As writers, we have to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of characters who are. It is, and who don’t think like us. I should hope I’ve done a decent job of that, as one of mine is a sociopath – and I’m pretty sure I’m not!

      Imagination and creativity are beautiful gifts. Whatever you write, allow yourself to feel good about using those gifts.

      As for a pseudonym – it might be great fun to hold that secret; then again, it might be wonderful to look people in the eye and know you’re carving your own path in life. Only you can decide what’s right for you.

    1. Thank you! I write all sorts, about the experience of writing and my current efforts to get my debut novel in front of the sort of people who might see it into publication. I hope you enjoy.

  8. Writing good sex requires so much more than a grasp of the English language; so much more than a talent for creative storytelling; and so much more than an eye for imaginative imagery and metaphor.

    I’ve been writing for 25 years and didn’t try writing my first sex scene until three years ago – not out of prudishness, but because I have read so many phenomenally awful sex scenes. That said, I was pleased with my first effort and the second effort I wrote about six weeks ago. I put it on my blog and password protected it and it seems to have been well-received.

    1. There’s no doubt that writing a sex scene opens the writer up to all manner of harsh critique. You can fail at writing a piece of dialogue, or a moment of action; or your setting can be too sketchily drawn, and the reader will forgive you. But write a poor sex scene and the reaction will be caustic! I’m glad yours are being well received and I only hope the same for me when the time comes.

        1. I agree – some are horrific. But as I know to my cost (even if it was just in private) it’s all too easy to lose the plot when it comes to writing sex!

  9. I too feel that my depictions of sex and wooing are quite primitive. That is why I have avoided them in my writings. I guess I am not a romantic.

    1. I don’t think one needs to be a romantic to write good sex scenes. You need to vibe able to engage all the senses, just like in general writing, but without going OTT. That’s the biggest problem, I feel – the compulsion to over-write this type of scene.

      1. I think I am inhibited and that is my problem. I do not like myself pictured naked so I guess it is my hangup. I feel like Sheldon from the Big Bang I am above it and yet it is above me.

        1. I believe you have to let yourself go a bit to write at all, let alone to write about sex. The phrase that comes to mind is “getting out of your own way”.

  10. I wrote some very tame, implied sex scenes in my novel ‘Towards Our Shared End’ (it’s set at University for cripes sake, sex is a given) but a sixteen year old read it by mistake and was appalled…oops! And of course there is always the inevitable mother “I want to read it you’re novel” mortification to handle, but sometimes sex just needs to happen in a novel. Not everyone is squeaky, Twilight clean, let’s portray life as it really is.

    1. Interesting. I guess if you’re writing for under 16’s, it’s appropriate to avoid any reference to sex, but in a book destined for the adult market, I feel it’s not out of place, so long as it’s not inappropriate to the genre or the story… it’s that old thing – so long as it’s ‘essential to the plot’. If it is, why shouldn’t it be there? But I expect to face the exact same mortification with certain people who I expect will read ‘Singled Out’ one of these days – a mountain to climb, in due course.

  11. I’m glad I’m not the only one who hated Fifty Shades. The writing was poor and repetitive. She used ‘murmured’ a million times. It was far too tame. I’m not an avid reader of erotic novels anyway, but I thought I’d give it a bash. (Excuse the pun) But despite finishing all three books, was utterly bored and the ONLY reason I finished them, was that I was stuck in hospital.
    Congrats on making freshly pressed!

    1. Thanks! I’m thrilled with being Freshly Pressed a second time. 🙂 ‘Fifty Shades’ wasn’t for me, and my response seems very similar to yours. But I can’t help but feel a shudder of envy – would that I could tap so effectively into a worldwide seam of readers!

      1. Oh, absolutely! Definitely envious. It came so easy, with a poorly written book, yet some of the people who deserve it, just can’t crack it. (I’m not talking about myself, there are thousands of worthy writers, with so much talent and just can’t fit into a niche as well as E.L. James.) Keep at it, you’ll do it!

  12. I was given the Fifty Shades box set, and hoped I would not get hit by a truck and someone find it in the house. When things get too intimate for my character he runs for his cookbook, and picks out something to bake. Writing about actual intercourse would give me the Grue. Great post thanks.

    1. I love your response to having a copy of ‘Fifty Shades’ in the house! I had a book in the house once, that I had the exact same response to. (And sorry, no, I’m not going to say what it was – but it was a book sold through normal high street bookshops, nothing sinister!). When I realised I couldn’t face reading any more, I wrapped it up in brown paper and sealed it inside two plastic bags before chucking it in the bin!

  13. Oftentimes it is more about the foreplay, the seduction, the resistance and ultimate surrender, than it is about the act in and of itself. I imagine the same must apply in writing about it all…

    1. I think you’re right. And it’s worth considering, whatever you’re writing, the challenge is to deliver a page-turning moment that satisfies the reader and puts them ‘in the moment’ vicariously. In that respect, writing sex is no different from writing action, conflict or any other episode.

      1. Indeed. But in the UK, Marmite is well known by its advertising slogan, ‘You either love it – or hate it’, and Marmite has become shorthand for those ‘love it or hated it’ responses!

    1. Hi and thanks for the reblog – much appreciated. I hope your readers enjoyed the link to the Awards writing.

  14. Yes, writing sex is quite important, especially after the rise of EL James – sigh. As a writer and lover of literature, I am more a fan of quality over quantity; and that novel us essentially badly written porn. I have a blog on creative writing and my first post was on sex in fiction. Check it out, word nerds.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Your blog is excellent – some really great posts that I hope others will find from here. I look forward to reading more.

      1. Great, I’m glad you enjoyed it! There’ll definitely be much more to come in the future 😀

  15. Great post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. It’s almost easier to jump over the sex scenes, but if done right, they can add so much to your reader’s experience. So true, that you can’t predict your reader’s interpretation or how it will be digested.

    1. Thanks for joining in the discussion. I jumped over certain scenes with a sexual component until I felt ready, then I wrote the first draft of all in the same day, when my mood was right!

      I’m loving the Freshly Pressed boost – so good to meet so many new readers and fellow bloggers.

  16. When I was in high school, a friend of mine dared me to write a sex scene.. Me being a virgin, it was weird.. But my friends said I did well. Lol but when I got into college, I found it, and reread it. It was so “fairytale” like and nothing at like how sex really is.
    Portraying sex in the way some people experience it is really hard and people always take it in an offensive way or they feel ashamed to know you.

    1. It’s a classic case of not being able to please all the people, all the time. Those people who are ashamed to know a writer who is honestly developing his or her craft and stretching themselves by writing what doesn’t come easily or sit comfortably in fluffy-wuffy-land, have problems all of their own.

    1. I hope the bin men didn’t pay so much attention to my rubbish that they fought their way through two plastic bags and a layer of brown paper and knotted string. Now that would be worrying! I can’t speak to the merits of Vegemite over Marmite, as I’ve never tasted it – but I’m one of those who loves Marmite (as you’ve probably gathered, since the pic above is from my own cupboard).

    1. I hope you enjoy my book – when it comes out. I’m currently seeking an agent, and you might guess how big a challenge this is. Self-publishing may come, but not yet.

  17. It’s true some people just can’t write good sex. I showed a juicy scene to my g/f a few years ago and she started laughing because she thought it was so unrealistic and funny.

    1. I sympathise – that can’t have done your pride much good. On the other hand, isn’t it every man’s goal, to make their g/f laugh? 🙂

  18. how about not writing sex scenes at all.. just hinting the readers and leaving the rest to their imagination. But hey! there’s no fun in that right?

    1. There are many different ways to tackle the thorny issue of ‘writing sex’, ranging from avoid at all costs to let’s go for it, erotica stylie, and everything in between. It’s certainly possible to write a scene which involves a sexual aspect without being lurid and base, and that’s a lot about suggestion. And it can be a great deal more evokative to hint and suggest. What’s difficult, is getting the balance right for the nature of the sexual encounter, and the type of story your’re telling. Experience? Judgement? Trial and error? Drafting and re-drafting? The writer’s lot in life.

        1. I guess that’s it – balance and appropriateness. Not that this is easy. Best advice I can offer is to re-draft and revise until it reads to your satisfaction, whatever your mood, whatever your moment. Then give it to someone else to read, and hold your breath…

  19. The best erotica I’ve read is by Anaïs Nin. In French or English, it’s beautiful. Perhaps her writing is more appealing to female readers, of that I can’t fully ascertain. Personal perspective is important. Are we writing about fucking or making love? Context. I like erotic fiction but hate 50 Shades of Grey. I found it mediocre and really lacking substance. Money for old rope, as far as I’m concerned. But writing about good sex, while it does require a firm grasp of the English language or a cunning linguist, it also requires the writer to have experienced a lot of sex. Good sex. The best writers write about what they know. Impacting that means empathy. It also requires careful selection of what to refer to the sexual organs as. Miller and Bukowski would be graphic, and gritty; while Lawrence showed reserve . I too have written some erotica- and I’m still grappling with that. I don’t claim to be good at it, but like sex, I know what I like in bed. And I know what I like to read. It is all about communication. Thanks for sharing this. I found I could really identify with you- and your candour. I too read back some of my early pieces and cringe. It’s all down to learning. About oneself and how we fuck and write about it later.

    1. You make excellent points, which all go to show that it’s not easy, and writers need to bring a lot to the table, including – possibly – some of their own experience. But I don’t think it’s necessary that the writer has experience of the precise components of their sexual narrative, just as their readers won’t necessarily all come to the story with the same level of understanding. That’s when imagination and creativity combine with experience and awareness – and writerly skills – to deliver something that’s hopefully compelling, but essentially fiction, as opposed to memoir.

      When I started writing this Marmite/sex post, I didn’t have in mind any particular type of sex scene. Whilst what I’d tried to write years ago was a (risible) attempt at erotica, I wasn’t only thinking about stories which would be categorised in that way. The same challenges exist in general fiction, where there may be scenes involving aspects of sex, acts which in some context would be considered sexual, or sexual feelings, as well as moments of passion and more. Whether you’re writing about someone’s passing sexual thoughts – as I do, frequently, throughout my first novel, Singled Out – or setting up a passionate physical encounter, whatever language and imagery you choose, however long you stay in the moment, or however briefly you pass over it, some readers will love it and others will rush to ridicule.

      When it comes to erotica, I would agree with you, there is beautiful writing, and beautifully disturbing writing out there in literary land, as well as the mainstream (about which I don’t feel equipped to comment, as it’s never been my genre of choice, either to read or to write).

      1. it’s all very subjective isn’t it? all of it. thanks for commenting back and continuing the discussion. I am following you and will read more of your writing in due course. Singled Out eh? I’ll be sure to look out for that! all the best. X

  20. Glad I’m not the only one who struggles with writing sex scenes. Not that I’ve written many… For me it’s getting even more complicated when I’m trying to write about something I know zero about (in my case: sex between two men). I try to focus on the emotions, but I still fear that it all comes out wrong because I’m of the “wrong” sex *sigh*

    1. Ah… that’s an even more tricky scenario. I had a pair of gay characters in my novel’s first draft, but I was advised they ‘weren’t convincing’ and I have to say, those who advised me were right. It’s hard enough to write sex, without writing the kind of sex with which one has no intimate familiarity. Good luck!

  21. I recently went to the AWP discussion “How Far Should You Go – Sex in YA Literature,” and someone said “only write the sex scene if it’s truly important in your story.” (Unless, I suppose, you’re writing romance.) Anyway, it’s a good point. You don’t write about a character going to the bathroom unless it’s integral to the plot and/or helps reveal character. I guess the same is often true with writing about sex. Because, yeah, it’s really hard to do it well!

    1. That’s a very good point, only write it, if it’s essential to the plot. And I would think there are extra challenges – and responsibilities – writing sex into YA novels. That’s a ‘tread carefully’ zone.

    2. Funny you should mention going to the bathroom… I have a character in my novel that utilizes the facilities and it’s a rather important scene as it’s integral to revealing his character. 🙂

      1. I think it’s great to use all sorts of settings, actions and the like to reveal character. I wrote a post a while back about the Sweetie Snafflers – how different people take a dip from the office sweetie bowl!

  22. So glad to have found someone else not blown away by Fifty as well as someone who keeps the “early stuff” sealed up. We keep those old writings for a reason and you’ve outlined it beautifully. So glad I stumbled across your site from “Freshly Pressed.” I look forward to reading more!

    1. I have kept a few things from younger years, sealed up, much as a defunct nuclear reactor is buried in concrete! Sadly, I’ve also destroyed a few things which I wish now that I’d kept – letters, and the odd photograph. I would say, if in doubt, keep your ‘stuff’. Some of it might embarrass you in years to come, but much of it will bring a tear to your eye – but in a good way. Thanks for finding my blog, and drawing me to yours in return. The pleasure and privelege of the blogosphere!

    1. Many thanks for the reblog, and for introducing me to your own blog. Much appreciated! As to whether you might go back and re-read… gather your box of tissues and your comfort food before you begin.

  23. It is really hard to write sex scenes I would have to agree. It’s so difficult to put those feelings in to words and not be super awkward about it.

    1. The trick, I think, is to learn how to get out of your own way – to set aside all your own prejudices, preconceptions and discomforts and ‘awaken the writer within’. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  24. I think it’s the absolute hardest topic to write about. One of the above commenters put it down to the fact the sex is about emotion and therein lies the problem. Guilt, loneliness, nostalgia, fear are all emotions but much easier to write about than sex. Maybe the guilt, nostalgia, loneliness and fear of sex are what we don’t like to have to confront when writing about it! Zadie Smith once said that if men really knew what went on in women’s minds during sex, they’d be turned off. I think it’s hard to be authentic because it’s the animal side of us we must let loose, not the glossy, hair tossing side of sex that TV conveys, not the scripted moans and cheesy words of porn movies but something much deeper that we’re not always comfortable unleashing. It’s easier to tackle it with humor, I think…

    1. I daresay if women really knew what went on in men’s minds during sex, we’d be turned off too! I think one particular challenge is that it’s ok for most other emotions (guilt, loneliness, nostalgia, fear etc) to be seen in public, but sex carries a weight of privacy. Most of us therefore, mostly, only have our own experiences to go on.

  25. Reblogged this on ohyesjulesdid and commented:
    I agree that writing good sex scenes in fiction is exceptionally difficult and requires skill and command of language and storytelling techniques–avoiding cliche while creating tension.

    1. Hi, and thanks for the reblog – it’s much appreciated. You’re right too – cliche is the enemy of all writers, whatever their topic of the moment, but particularly in writing scenes with a sexual content.

    1. Hi, and thanks for the reblog – much appreciated. I know that ‘frozen’ feeling too. For my first novel, I saved all mine up to do in one day!

  26. It is funny when you look back at something you have written, whether it is naughty fiction. It is okay to cringe and laugh back. thanks for writing about this. Brings back memories.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes it’s ok to cringe and laugh – and great to recognise that we have come along some way since whatever it was that made us cringe. But then again, when I’m 70, I might be cringing at the things I wrote yesterday. It is the nature of self-reflection.

  27. I enjoy reading erotic poetry as opposed to stories, although poetry is a story in it’s own sense, I’ve never attempted to write any erotic poetry though, maybe I should, hmm

  28. I am writing about a real life experience and still find it challenging to write the erotic elements. It’s deepened my respect for erotica writers. I would appreciate any feedback.

    1. Whether real or fictional, writing about sex or sexual matters will never be easy. You should enjoy writing whatever you feel moved to write. Write with passion and your words will find an audience.

    1. Hi, and thanks for the positive comment – I really appreciate it. My novel isn’t exactly on the topic of sex, but I might easily write about writing about sex again in a future blog post. The Marmite post has generated quite a bit of feedback from others who seem only too familiar with the challenges I was facing when writing certain episodes of my novel. As for the scenes in my novel which might be regarded as having a sexual content (I’m wording it carefully here), one of my beta readers said to me, “are you sure you don’t want to write under a pseudonom?” Now I’m beginning to wonder!

  29. Coming from a novice writers perspective, sex scenes have been attempted but failed to deliver in my written world… I cringe at what I’ve written then delete it immediately for fear someone might see what I’ve written. Great post though, thanks.

    1. You do have to put yourself ‘out there’ when writing a sex scene in particular. But more than any other type of scene, they have the potential for that ‘cringe factor’. They’re so easy to get wrong. But that’s no excuse to side-step them if you’re a writer – if they’re important to your plot. Worth practicing, trying different approaches, playing with different choices of words, different emotions, levels of intensity… a bit like the real thing perhaps 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  30. lool we made a marmite challenge where one of my friends ate 2 containers in one session. u could find the link on the right hand side of my blog. in videos. It was hilarious

    1. Marmite is best in small quantities – and that’s if you can bear to eat it at all! I love it, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. A friend recommended Marmite and peanut butter on toast and that, I couldn’t stomach!

  31. I am surprised you managed to get through the whole first book of Fifty Shades…
    I managed about 5 pages, and couldn’t read any more of it’s juvenile dribble – but hey, that’s just me.
    I think that another problem with writing sex scene’s is that in some way’s, there just isn’t really the right words for getting across some of the things we think and feel, so we often then end up resorting to cliches to describe. Getting the pacing right is excruciatingly differ cult too.
    Perhaps the biggest issue though, is that sex is inherently a ‘time and place’ thing.

    1. You’re right about the cliche of sex scenes. It’s our discomfort with the ideas and physicality, I think, that causes us to resort to the well-worn, cliched imagery. I agree with you too about the ‘time and place’ thing. Your sex scene might be being read by candlelight in a sumptuous boudoir, but it’s more likely to be being read on a commuter train or in a coffee bar!

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