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, babe. 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, 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!

black friday

From Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday: A Reflection

​Not so long ago, it was easy to think of the week of Thanksgiving as “Gratitude Week.” In fact, I actually did that: back in 2016, Facebook reminds me, I posted an entire week’s worth of “Things I’m Grateful For” to my timeline. It was fun, and certainly provided...
followers

Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post is a special exception. Social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to guest here.If you don't know Frances, you should: she's the author of numerous books on social media for...

Short Story Contest

As we head into September, I'm struck by how quickly this year has flown by. I have a radio interview in two days and a book fair next month, and I'm sure there will be much more happening as I go full bore with marketing campaigns for Miles of Files, Jana, and...
book

Who Gives A Damn About Your Book?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post called What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. Since I have those six years of experience, I figured I’d list six things I’d learned—not necessarily one per year, but one for each year. The response was...
launch team

Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

If you're reading this blog post in April or May of 2019, you probably already know that my fourth novel, Whizzers, will come out later this year. I'm working on launch ideas of all sorts, and the launch itself is likely going to be late July. For the uninitiated,...
cringe

Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe

So I've been looking at some topics for blogs, and I find all kinds of great ideas.  One of the more amusing ones is posting about personal stuff or pet peeves, so your readers get to know you better. This idea can work, but it can also be a disaster. I've seen...
Whizzers

New Year, New Projects

"A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napoleon HillI had this quote in my head today without actually remembering who said it. So I was a little surprised when I looked it up and found it attributed to Napoleon Hill. After all, I'm more likely to remember Charles...
syzygy

From The Shadow Side to the Syzygy

Anima rising, Queen of queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me - Joni Mitchell, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow   I’ve always enjoyed learning new words—or, as is more likely at my age, relearning words I’ve forgotten—so I was pleased to put syzygy in the...

Self-Care for Creatives

Today's post is not about coronavirus, because—let's face it—aren't we all sick of being bombarded with news and info about it all day, every day? The situation is getting worse, and will be for a while before it gets better. Duly noted. However, I do want to give...
shoemaker

“Shoemaker, Stick to Thy Last!”

I always try to help my fellow indie authors by passing on my experiences. Among the most important, in my mind, is don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find your niche, and stick with it. This might not be the greatest advice if you’re already a...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...