Sex is one of the great many taboos of modern society. Luckily it’s getting less and less so. Lucky for those of us who enjoy letting our freak flags fly, that is. Which is possible if you’re a creator of any sort. I don’t know why entirely, but these go hand in hand. I like to think that it’s an artist’s passion to feel things and make others feel things. I don’t know which of these is more important. It’s sort of a chicken and egg thing, if you get right down to it. So here’s a few guidelines that’ll help you on this path.
Do write sex if:
- It advances your story line. That’s really important. If it feels like it doesn’t make sense to your plot, leave it out. No one likes to hear about people fucking out of nowhere. It just doesn’t make sense. And it won’t feel right, either. But if you’re of a mind to do it and it suits the plot, go for it. Smut for smut’s sake generally isn’t all that great. But a lot can be progressed with a properly timed scene.
- You make it real. This is multi-faceted. Probably don’t use porn as a reference. Silicone and acting aren’t what you’re going for, unless of course you’re actually writing about porn. Do use real experiences, this is the best teacher. The second best? Your imagination. You are writing fiction after all. Write the smut you’d want to read, and you’ll be golden.
- It’s genuine to the characters in question. The first rule of writing, for me at least, is to know your characters. Know what they’re like. Know what they want. Know what they don’t. Know what they would do and under what circumstances. If the action is true to them, it’s alright in my book. No pun intended.A lot of people start with fan fiction, which I’ll touch on another time. This is kind of great, as it already has your characters spelled out. Hopefully rather well.
- It fits the tone of the story. There has to be an element of tension, sexually. And often otherwise as well. Tease your reader with it. Make them think the characters are about to have sex and then take it away from them. Do this until it nearly drives you mad. And then let them have it. Like any other kind of tension, really. Delayed gratification is a good thing. At the very least it makes ou want something more if you have to work for it.
- You want to. This is kind of common sense, but if you get your jollies off to the sort of things you write, someone else will to. And that’s what your end game is, isn’t it? For people to get your work. To make people feel things. That’s what we’re all about, right? So do that, as best you can. Feel something, and make other people feel something.
Don’t write sex if:
- You’re not comfortable doing so. If it sounds stiff (no pun intended) then it’s probably because you aren’t comfortable writing it. And that’s okay. You do you, baby. If you’re sort of vanilla, don’t get into heavy BDSM scenes. If you’re kind of prudish, don’t write sex at all. Let it happen behind closed doors. This is easiest for writers who aren’t into it. And it reads alright, still.
- It doesn’t fit the story. This really is the most important. Do what feels right, and if it doesn’t, don’t do it. Don’t have your characters just arbitrarily decide to sleep together. If there isn’t any sort of reason for them to have sex, then they shouldn’t. Be it a romantic thing, or a physical thing. Know the difference. Come to think of it, We’d all probably do well to remember that in our own lives as well.
- It’s not right for your audience. Age is a big debate regarding writing that’s of a sexual nature. A lot of YA writers have gotten some heat for including such elements. Even though they’re part of adolescence. John Green got a bit of heat for Looking for Alaska, which was absurd. The real answer is that it depends on the nature of the prose. Something really smutty probably isn’t appropriate. But something that’s fair to the characters can be included. Just a little teaser. Maybe reminiscent of your own teenage fumbling.
- It feels weird with the genre, tone, or any other element. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t write sex if you aren’t writing a romance or erotica novel. I’ve read some rather good sex in non-romantic novels. I suppose smut is all around. Some very good writers write very bad sex. Some mediocre writers, write good sex. I recommend Updike for a good start.
- You’re worried about the repercussions and don’t want to use a pseudonym. If these two things are the case, chances are you shouldn’t write it. Because timidity is for people who aren’t writers, really. What you write has to be pure, in a sense. And fear will prevent that. Don’t let fear choke the words. That’s the biggest cause of writer’s block.
While sex doesn’t fit every book, it can lend itself well to a lot of stories. Whether on the page or off depends on you. Your level of comfort with it. Your willingness to take risks. Soon to follow, I’ll be writing a post about what makes good fictional sex, and what makes it cringe-worthy. Which is the case more often than not. Until then, keep on being freaks. I love you for it.