Sex Scenes Are Worthless


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Thread: Sex Scenes Are Worthless

  1. #1

    Sex Scenes Are Worthless

    With very few exceptions, in the age of porn and politics your sexy scene doesn’t do anything except open the door for you to be mocked endlessly for your weird grasp of the other sex’s biology (men like to write about women’s nipples getting hard, women like to write about bizarre musculature configurations). Sex doesn’t show romantic love in any way that walking in the park or going for a coffee cannot. Unless you can write really bloody well, stay away from sex scenes.
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  2. #2
    Member Thomas Norman's Avatar
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    I totally agree. Sex scenes are counterproductive in stories and seem to be there simply for the thrill. I have recently posted a short story with a rape in it. I did not describe the rape, my interest was in the aftermath -much more interesting. One piece of advice I received was to make the rape more graphic! It seems; despite the considerable prevalence of explicit sex written, there is still demand. What does that say for modern humanity?

  3. #3
    It seemed pretty popular the last time I looked, with approaching eight billion people on the planet.
    I think that approaching written sex scenes with feelings and allusions is far more erotic than vivid descriptions. Wording a scene in a manner that draws someone in seems more effective than making it seem like an act of disassociated voyeurism.


  4. #4
    If you have the chops to write it, sure, but most people don’t. They just don’t. Like, even most good writers. Thomas Pynchon, Stephen King...plenty of great writers cant write a good sex scene for shit.

    Outside of erotica, can you identify a sex scene that was both essential to the plot and executed in a manner that was memorable?

    And anticipation of the “well yes actually...” crowd: Can you identify five or ten such scenes? Can you identify as many great sex scenes as, say, action or death or other “pivotal” scenes? Probably not.

    So I think the popularity of sex in writing is generally quite overstated.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    With very few exceptions, in the age of porn and politics your sexy scene doesn’t do anything except open the door for you to be mocked endlessly for your weird grasp of the other sex’s biology (men like to write about women’s nipples getting hard, women like to write about bizarre musculature configurations). Sex doesn’t show romantic love in any way that walking in the park or going for a coffee cannot. Unless you can write really bloody well, stay away from sex scenes.
    Aww, lucky, are you having trouble with your ghost erotica? Mr. Incorporeal not able to Git-R-Done? ghosts aren't exactly known for being.... *ahem* firm. Maybe you should go after the standard vampire and werewolf combo? Title them "I Don't Bite.... Hard" and "The Ties that Bind"

    Visual porn is more a guy's thing; written is more a lady thing. If guys are going to get into the written side, they tend to be hard and fast about it (erotica). Women invest in the long build up before the big finish (a romance or erotic romance).

    Maybe you're not familiar with how it works for women, but... we tend to require more investment to get in the mood. It's not a light switch. It can require effort and time. Writing/reading stories of emotional investment is far more likely to get us in the mood than just watching two plastic Barbie people degrading themselves on film. You're plainly okay with regular old exploitation for fun and profit which involves actual sex (porn) despite the actual harm said industry causes and aren't picking apart the crappy writing and nonsensical character building of porn screenplays, so why pick apart lady porn when it doesn't hurt anybody?

    Like all writing, sex scenes take a lot of work, and no matter how hard one tries, there's always some literary prude or literary snob who's just itching to tear that scene apart. Critics are harder on sex scenes than any other type of scene, I think--and so is everyone else seemingly (especially family, coworkers and members of one's church if anyone catches wind you write smut). Even a well written sex scene with deep emotional involvement that is totally necessary to understand the plot can be picked apart ad nauseum by critics--and worse yet, just writing sex can require a pseudonym to protect someone from getting disowned. There are real personal stakes in writing sex for some people.

    I've read a lot of hokey, cheesy, impossible and plain bad sex scenes--so I agree, most are bad and don't add anything necessary, but that doesn't mean that I'd want people to stop writing them. Said scenes might float someone else's boat. Not every scene's going to float mine, and that's okay. You don't go to porn for deep characters and great writing, so why go to smut for it? Why judge literary porn harsher than regular film porn? Why discourage someone from trying to write it?


    Sex can show a lot more than "romantic love," and it can definitely show more than your average "walk in the park" scene. People don't always have sex for love. There's a lot of potential character development that can happen in a sex scene--like shifting power dynamics in the relationship. Someone might have an incompatible fetish, and now the partners have to figure out how to make this work, and therefore, sex is part of a new conflict. Love is a battlefield, but sex can be D Day.

    If all you're after's "romantic love" then maybe the work's better off without giving nitty gritty details--certainly--but if those expectations for good ole hokey "romantic love" are subverted, then I'd say go for it. See if it works, and then take it out if it doesn't. Sex doesn't have to end with simultaneous orgasms and exploding stars and other junk like that--it can be messy, painful, lackluster, unfinished, disappointing, mundane, mechanical, cold, shocking, revolting. It can feel like a hot bath or an ice pick to the face. Sex can make you look at a partner differently or even make you look at yourself differently. Why does it have to be different in fiction?
    Last edited by seigfried007; July 30th, 2019 at 05:34 PM.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  6. #6
    May I modify the title statement to read that "The sex in scenes is worthless"? I certainly write scenes where the action involves sex, but that is mainly implied and my words cover other aspects such as what the participants say, think and feel. In this respect I follow the old principle that sex is ten percent friction and ninety percent imagination and the ten percent can just be taken for granted. However, I find it unrealistic and a little old fashioned for a novel to suggest that a romantic walk can evoke the same depth of feeling that copulation can. Although both a romantic walk and my presentation of a sex scene may predominantly involve the couple talking, apparently unrealistically continuously throughout, the climax in the latter has far more impact than in the former unless the lady in question has been reading a lot of Mills and Boon novels and is likely to swoon merely from a single kiss.

    I agree that one should only attempt to write sex scenes if one is experienced enough and feels confident about it and even then one should have a clear purpose in mind and ideally a novel approach. Much like any other activity in a story, sex can only be a setting, not the primary objective.

    My original novel had two parts to it and each had a specific sex scene in it. Any others were mentioned simply in passing and not dwelt on. In part one the key sex scene involved the young woman using her avatar on the screen of her mind-reading computer to communicate with the young man while she lay naked and unmoving in front of him. The chapter title was tellingly "Body or mind". As a form of foreplay she used his conversation with her avatar to tempt him away from her actual physical body, as though making him reveal whether he wanted her for her body or mind. Ultimately he opted for her body, but the text suggested that her mind and body were in reality so closely connected that he was always interacting with both at once. This was emphasised when he used her bare abdomen as a touch panel to control the computer screen, but thought better of trying to type on it. This scene was therefore not so much a simple portrayal of sex but of its component parts.

    In the second part of the novel the young woman (not the same one as in part one) wants to couple with the young man both bodily and mentally, so during the physical process they indulge in equally intimate dialogue, which actually describes many of the usual aspects of living together. This covers such routine subjects as sharing washing machines, bathrooms, cars, trips out and bank accounts, in fact all the little things that bring a couple together mentally as well as physically. The scene ends with both their bodies and minds entirely fused into a single fantastic entity that they subsequently name "The Beast", partly a reference to the "beast with two backs". The story is after all a science fantasy.

    I was fortunate that an American university lecturer on English literature offered to read my draft novel for free and his comment on this particular scene was, somewhat to my surprise, as follows.

    "Graphic, powerful depiction of the act of love through her bodily reactions—very good here, romantic, violent, erotic, physiological, and philosophical all at one go."

    Given that his comments had extended elsewhere to pointing out missing commas his remark here blew me away. No doubt in his time he had encountered many failed attempts by his students to write convincing sex scenes, so he welcomed the rare opportunity to praise one. I can only suggest then that members be warned that successful sex scenes that deliver what is actually needed may indeed be a rarity. However, just as with any other aspect of writing the key point is to keep on practising if you want to do the thing at all.

    As for the problem of writing from the other sex's point of view, I recommend substantial personal research into that. Then, when you find the time and inclination to drag yourself away from your essential research, try writing about what you have learned, but not before. I lived with an angel for almost half a century before I tried writing fiction, so it may be no surprise that I apparently got at least one decent sex scene out of that. Don't misunderstand why I call her an angel though.
    Last edited by JustRob; July 30th, 2019 at 01:01 PM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    If you have the chops to write it, sure, but most people don’t. They just don’t. Like, even most good writers. Thomas Pynchon, Stephen King...plenty of great writers cant write a good sex scene for shit.

    Outside of erotica, can you identify a sex scene that was both essential to the plot and executed in a manner that was memorable?

    And anticipation of the “well yes actually...” crowd: Can you identify five or ten such scenes? Can you identify as many great sex scenes as, say, action or death or other “pivotal” scenes? Probably not.

    So I think the popularity of sex in writing is generally quite overstated.
    Have you considered that your mentality might actually be keeping such scenes from being written? You might be part of the problem instead of the solution here.

    I don't read much free-sex-included fiction, so I'm not likely to be able to point it out, but a small number of "good" sex scenes doesn't make them an unworthy goal in writing. Yes, the vast majority are as fake and unnecessary as the entire pornography industry, but it doesn't make them unable to fulfill their intentions or demean them as a worthy literary goal, if that's your shtick.

    Michael Crichton in Disclosure has a sex scene which is absolutely necessary for the plot, and I believe he handled it very well.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    With very few exceptions, in the age of porn and politics your sexy scene doesn’t do anything except open the door for you to be mocked endlessly for your weird grasp of the other sex’s biology (men like to write about women’s nipples getting hard, women like to write about bizarre musculature configurations). Sex doesn’t show romantic love in any way that walking in the park or going for a coffee cannot. Unless you can write really bloody well, stay away from sex scenes.
    People don't just walk, hold hands, and have coffee under the moonlight as church-goers do the whole 'save the world' chorus in the distance. They kiss, they touch, they get naked and dirty. Me -- I like reading both: seeing couple have coffee or have sex, mostly because the connector is, well, a damn good story that shows relationship diversity. Just because you don't think sex does anything for relationship-development, that's your opinion to have. But for me, just having a couple have coffee and walk, with every author avoiding stepping outside of that is, well, very limited writing ability to me.

    If you have the talent for it, if it forwards plot, character-building, world-building, relationship-building -- don't be fooled by nay-sayers who say it does nothing to help portray a relationship. It can and it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Norman View Post
    One piece of advice I received was to make the rape more graphic! It seems; despite the considerable prevalence of explicit sex written, there is still demand. What does that say for modern humanity?
    This show a lack of knowledge of publication. No one I know reads rape for titillation. No publisher in my genre will publish rape for titillation. If it's on-page, it's done to show, not tell, and also convey the psychological pressure and aftereffects. Writing rape for titillation will get you banned on Amazon, which is why, especially in romance, it's just not done for titillation. Also please don't try and shame readers: they don't read for titillation when it comes to rape. That's like saying all authors who write about rape only write it for titillation. Because you've written rape, you'd find that comment offensive, just like any reader would.

    And in general (generic you, here), please don't let this digress into shaming readers/authors for reading/writing sex in fiction. You wouldn't do it to horror readers who like horror, or sci-fi readers who like sci-fi.

    People like sex, it's what we do. It's what you do (when you're old enough!). Either write about it or don't write about it. That's the simple answer. But shaming readers/authors in a blanket statement really does do nothing but show your contempt of sex in fiction. Fine if you don't have sex in real life, but if not and you get naked occasionally or bonk like bunnies, I'm not only jealous -- but you're a hypocrite.
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Outside of erotica, can you identify a sex scene that was both essential to the plot and executed in a manner that was memorable?
    I think that with my lack of modesty in my previous post I just did and that was only within my own writing and in the opinion of someone due my respect and that of many others. I must therefore assume that far better writers have also achieved the same to great effect.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Outside of erotica, can you identify a sex scene that was both essential to the plot and executed in a manner that was memorable?
    Can you name ten novels where a couple having a coffee is absolutely essential to the story and memorable? You did say that was better.

    In all honesty: sex... coffee... they really are just small pieces to the whole dynamic story puzzle: and not every piece needs to be life or death explosive elements. Just a portrayal of living.

    But as for a novel outside of Erotic:

    In the Absence of Light: a male adult who's autistic who has sex for the first time. He takes his partner out into a field in pitch blackness and asks him to sit a while in the darkness so his partner can see him without all his complications: just experience. The sex after that... God... it choked me up. It was so beautiful and really portrayed how autistic people see life through a different window to us, and if we just take five minutes to step into their window and see life through theirs, with the absence of light, just touch, scent, sound...
    Last edited by Aquilo; July 30th, 2019 at 01:59 PM.
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



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