How not to do it – the Bad Sex
Every year in the UK the Literary Review gives out its Bad Sex in Fiction award. To give you a few examples, here are a few (anonymous)
snippets from winners and runners-up in recent
I was immersed in the slush of her moist
‘She began to gasp. "Oh dear, oh my dear, oh my dear dear God, oh sugar!"’
The bed shook and bounced and walked tiny fractions across the moving
His manhood had swelled to its fullness and strove for release.
A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very much alike.
…these sorts of gyrations and five-sense
Believe it or not these phrases are all from best-selling authors in genres ranging from literary, romance, thriller and mystery.
So…how do you do it? Well, I don’t pretend to be an expert, and one person’s sexy scene is another person’s turn-off, but as a full time writer
of erotic romance I’m happy to share some of the tips I’ve learnt along the way.
Below are a few extracts from my forthcoming writing guide, Passionate Plots, to help you along the way.
Erotic language and creating your own
One of the hardest problems for writers wrestling with erotic scenes, especially those fairly new to this, is what to call things? Specifically, body parts. Personally I prefer to call a spade a spade. Or a cock, a cock. It’s certainly preferable to euphemisms such as ‘manhood’ (though these may have a place in historical settings where the characters would have used those terms) or overly anatomical terms (frenulum) and most readers will be turned off or in fits of giggles if you start talking about his manly weapon or the delicate, dewy petals of her lady
Having said that, straight to the point words such as ‘cock’ and 'pussy’ may be deemed as too pornographic or even offensive to the reader. Which
leaves the writer in a bit of a bind.
There are two approaches to this. Firstly, use words that are direct but not too explicit or anatomical. Here a few ideas.
Head (of penis)
Cleft (vagina or vulva)
Use these words in a direct manner without adding flowery adjectives – so no tumescent shafts or pearly nubs – and you can’t go too far wrong. If you don’t like these words, find some of your own. Keep a little
notebook to build up your own erotic vocabulary, and you’ll soon have a list of words and phrases to use when you want to change the heat levels or substitute one word for another simply to avoid repetition. ‘Shaft’ instead of ‘cock’ for
There’s also another approach. Don’t name the genitals at all. Consider the sentence he slid inside
her, masking her gasp. It’s explicit, to the point, and quite sexy. Yet no names have been used, because we don’t need them. We know exactly what he is
sliding where. Similar expressions would be
He entered her
She rode his body
She caressed his length
He pushed his fingers into her
As he tasted her, he looked up wickedly from between her thighs.
Try some phrases of your own, see how other authors do it, and record the phrases you like. Then have a go at writing a few sentences with
each. You’ll have the outline of a steamy scene before you know it.
You can read the rest of this article, including ways to spice up your sex scenes using the five senses, at