But I have to admit, I skip any sex scene.
It’s not that I’m prudish. It’s that I get very easily bored. There is a finite amount of ways to describe the act itself, and it gets repetitive.
Besides, everyone has different tastes and what is titillating and exciting to one will be utterly foul to someone else.
Sometimes it seems to reduce a love story to a mere shag-fest where the word love barely seems to exist. The love story becomes not so much a meeting of minds, two souls coming together as one, but as a series of more and more outlandish opportunities for copulation.
And there’s always the danger it will be unintentionally funny. There’s a very fine line between passionate and ridiculous prose, especially when its all about body parts slapping together noisily.
There is a fashion recently to rewrite classic books,such as Jane Eyre, with added sex scenes. The authors don’t seem to realise the sex is already there, it’s just hinted at, subtle and soft and far more erotic than a blatant description of the act itself. Mr Rochester softly brushing Jane’s hand is very sexy, with the reader’s added imagination.
But…but…I have read one or two amazing sex scenes. Just a couple. Just enough to make me realise good sex can be written. I think they worked because the characters were strong, and because their love for each other was wrapped in and around the act. They worked because the prose didn’t become too purple, it was just a description of what happened. They worked because the author focused on the people, and what they felt and what was happening to their minds and bodies, rather than a detailed description of body parts. They worked because there was a slow, long build-up, or subtle, under the surface eroticism.
They worked because they were a description of what happens. They were real. The writer was not trying to be erotic or sexy. They were just trying to describe a moment.
Sex sells, I know. Many people – most people – aren’t as picky as me when it comes to sex scenes. But if we’re to be true to ourselves as writers, if we’re to be true to the story, sex scenes should be just as good as the rest of the book. They shouldn’t become part of the book we skip, they should become a moment of character revelation.