How Do You Write About Sex—Seriously, Irreverently, or Not At All?

by | Oct 4, 2021 | Articles | 0 comments

“Writing about sex is like engaging in sex: it’s hard. Or, it should be.”

—Sean Murphy

 

Today I want to talk about fictional scenes where characters either discuss sex or engage in sexual activity.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, because I’m working on a novel about a Hollywood director who decides to direct a “mainstream” porno…and release it to theaters worldwide.

It’s been a while since I wrote a scene where the characters talk about sex, and even longer since I wrote an actual sex scene. Like many writers, I took that scene seriously: it was the consummation of the romantic relationship between the main character and his love interest, and the treatment was as erotic as I could make it.

No one ever complained about the scene, but no one praised it, either. I guess that means I did all right.

 

Erotic vs. Comic

One of the greatest difficulties writers face is whether or not to treat sexual discussions or activities with reverence. The sex scene I mention above was sheer reverence, yet that’s not always how people think or talk about sex—especially men.

In my third novel, Miles of Files, some of the characters discuss sex in terms that might not please a romantic reader. I’ve learned that Google Assistant filters out profanity, and its algorithms may lead to skipping over sites that include profanity. So while I don’t censor my characters in the books themselves, I’ll screen out the naughty words here.

Here’s a look at Mac Flambet from Miles of Files:

 

Someone had recently asked how old his kids were and, without thinking, he’d replied, “About three and a half marriages.” And that was true, though since he hadn’t found number five yet, he still hadn’t gotten completely over ex-wife number four. He’d told the psychiatrist as much the previous Friday.

“I still think about f**king her sometimes,” he’d said thoughtfully, his eyes fixed on some distant unseeable point beyond the St. Petersburg skyline. “Anybody would think about f**king her.”

 

Sex vs. Love

You like the concerts and studios

And all the money, honey, that I make, but…

Do you love me?

—Kiss, “Do You Love Me?”

 

With that in mind, here’s a sneak peek at Hollywood director J. Edgar Schnatz talking about the porno project with his girlfriend Maura.

Maura arched an eyebrow. “What about all these b*tches on the set? You’re going to try to get the hottest porn girls out there. Won’t you be tempted?”

He shook his head again. “Pros never want to do it on their own time, babe. But no, I’m going to look for straight film actors for the cast.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yep. People who f**k for a living are too jaded. Bunch of dead-eyed whores. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it wouldn’t work for this movie. Besides, a porn addict might recognize one of his favorites and then be unable to suspend his disbelief.”

Now it was Maura’s turn to shake her head, more in disbelief than anything else. “I don’t know how anyone can have sex without at least caring about the other person. Sex and love belong together.”

He smirked. “Nah. You can have sex without love, love without sex, or sex and love together. Shi**y romantic comedies and love songs led people to believe you have to have love to have sex, babe, but it’s all bullsh*t. All three combinations are possible, and they’re as common as dirt.”

“Well, I still think sex with love is the best.”

“Oh, no doubt.” He pulled her close, then slapped her bottom. “I’d never argue that point.”

 

As that excerpt shows, I’ve chosen to go with irreverent for this book, especially considering the subject matter. It’s a comic novel.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!

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