Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Does someone know how to describe sex in a book? (1 Viewer)


Friends of WF
This may be bang on the money,Taylor, but it does occur to me that people's responses in a social situation and when alone reading may be quite different. Not everyone is as upfront as RR.

Perhaps, but then one would have to assume people weren't being honest. Most of these ladies read a lot and in addition to book club they pass books around once finished. Some of those books have the odd steamy scene, so it's not like it's outside of their realm. So, I actually believe them when they say they don't prefer to read about sex in detail.

I also doubt that so many best-selling authors would avoid it, if they thought people wanted it.

Olly Buckle

I was not implying deliberate deception, but many people are considerably influenced by their audience outside their awareness.


Friends of WF
Don't shy away. If your book needs it, include it.

I was not implying deliberate deception, but many people are considerably influenced by their audience outside their awareness.

I get where you are both going with this, and I agree whole heartedly with EternalGreen. If you think your target market will enjoy it, even if you have to push them out of their comfort zone....then by all means go for it!

And to Olly's comment, I agree, don't let your audience take control of your creativity. How can we ever do anything cutting edge if we always retreat to what is already a given.


Staff member
Chief Mentor
The issue is probably that simple: as EternalGreen says, if your book needs some detailed sex, let it find its way in at the appropriate times. And that is not deliberately evasive phrasing. It's your book and no one knows the affected characters better than you. . . so if it feels right, really right, it probably is. And if the buying public says "No, we don't like it", that does not mean they're right. YOU, ultimately, must be the judge of right and wrong in your book. If you abandon that right in deference to projected reader responses, you're no longer a creative writer, you're simply a provider of a commodity to paying consumers. And there's nothing "wrong" with that either. But let's call stuff what it is. The early Stephen King was a superb writer. Had he chosen to, he probably could have gone on to be regarded as one of THE American novelists of this era. But he wouldn't have made much money. So he made a conscious decision, developed his 'plot formula' which is either out-front or weaving in the background of his books. . .and which his readers love . . .and made a lot of money. Nothing 'wrong' with that either. But when history decides which novelists from this era will be revered as masters of the form, taught in our schools, proudly displayed on our shelves, Stephen King will not be among them. By the same token, an otherwise commendable novel that uses sex gratuitously will also be sent down to the second (or lower) rank, simply because it exploits a (usually) private activity precious to most honest people, and demeans it in a misguided attempt at sensationalism.

I think. Today.

Sex-in-fiction is a complex issue. Perhaps writers inadvertently stitch their own sexual attitudes, hang-ups, desires, and stuff into the fabric of their plots and characters, failing to see that such scenarios are NOT integral at all to their book. Such miscues would be disastrous, I would think, to the whole book, but at times the writer may be unaware. One can only hope that one's deep understanding of the characters created will show the way . . . .


A lot of readers have told me in the past I write good sex scenes, so I can suggest you what works for me.
The level of detail really depends on what kind of story you are telling. Is it a romance novel? If it is, what's your targed audience? A younger one, or an adult one? And in case you are writing for adults, what part has sex played in the story before? I personally find weird when in a very romantic love story, with no mention of sex or sexual desire whatsoever before, then we get all of a sudden an almost pornographic sex scene. It totally breaks something. But if your characters have been wanting one another for the whole story, if they've been pining for each other and can't just wait to get naked... go for it!

Writing the scene itself I also believe it depends a lot on your characters. Are you writing from what kind of POV? First, third person? A man or a woman? What kind of sex are they having, sweet and romantic lovemaking or rough filthy dirty-talking lovemaking? Do they love each other? Or do they just want each other?

I find all of this can change the way a sex scene is written and how it should be written. I like to get my characters to bond through sex, often. But if you are only going to include one single sex scene in the novel, then ask yourself: what kind of emotions do you want to convey at the end of this journey with your characters? What are they excited about?
I often find talking about all of this is a lot more engaging for the reader than a rigid, stiff physical depiction of an act we all already know. It's about feelings, in the end, whether it's love or lust.

I hope this helps a little :)


Senior Member
yelling bird.jpg

Sorry, couldn't help myself but respond with this meme.

On a more serious note, it really depends on the kind of book. An erotic novel would naturally have to be more explicit than a regular romantic or action/adventure novel.

Personally I'm not a big fan of explicit sex scenes. They are way too overdone in Hollywood films, being there for no other purpose than appealing to the basest human instincts to boost sales. I much rather prefer romantic encounters described in a manner where sex is implied rather than than explicitly shown, leaving more to the viewer's or reader's imagination. In my opinion, an explicit sex scene must have some storyline merit to be there besides simply titillating the reader (unless of course it's an erotic story where titillation is the whole point). Consider for example a scene somewhat typical to James Bond films/novels, where the protagonist secret agent is seduced by a femme fatale, who secretly plants a bug under the table they make out on, while her accomplices listening in must endure the next awkward hour or so listening to the two having the time of their life. In such a case, the sex scene merits the storyline as it introduces a new plot device (the bug and the villains listening in to the protagonist), also serving as a minor humorous relief (the henchmen finding themselves in an awkward situation).


Senior Member
I find certain words to cringe me right out of the mood, if said writing got me there at all. Clinical-sounding language isn’t very sexy to me, nor are exact sizes and distances, the physics of moving, granular step-by-step.

Users who are viewing this thread