On writing sex scenes … don’t

They looked deep into each other’s eyes, hypnotized by lust like a couple of sexy moths staring into a smokin hot light bulb. Their lips quivered, like if you put a plate of cranberry sauce on the washer during spin cycle—you know, that jellied stuff your mom buys every Thanksgiving but only your dad eats. Their hands clamored over one another’s bodies like five-legged dancing crabs at a Jitterbug contest during the Saginaw Methamphetamine Festival. “I am your king,” he growled hornily as his massive school bus idled into her sultry Quonset hut. She mewled like a moose gargling pudding and said, “Hoist me with your love-crane, Papa Bear.”

Even as amazing as the preceding paragraph was, I hate sex scenes.

I have never read a book or watched a movie and thought it was better for having included the hunka-chunka.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sex scenes per se. I’m a big fan of adult entertainment. Well, not a “big” fan. I mean, I’m as much of a fan as one can be without coming off as creepy.

However, I don’t care for it in my literature or screenwriting.

Illustrating sexual activity in a story feels to me as necessary as showing a character eating a sandwich or taking a shit. It’s mechanical and a fact of life but generally reveals nothing concerning plot or character.

I said generally, I’m sure there are a few instances where the way the characters do IT shows us something we need to know.

But, for the most part, you show me a book or movie—whose sole purpose isn’t erotic stimulation—which contains pornography, and I’ll show you a work which can be improved by its removal.

Nothing elicits annoyed groans from me like watching a good drama come to a screeching halt so the main characters can grope, pant, rub, and lick each other into an adjective-laden soup.

OK, there are a few things which get me groaning … but I’d be breaking my own rules to talk about them here. (See, I put the awful picture in your head without firing off one “throb” or “heave.” Two snaps up!)

There are better ways to slow down the action and far more effective means to show character attraction.

I’m not bagging on romance fiction. That genre’s purpose is to entertain with romantic entanglements which, by decree of science and the almighty E.L. James, are sexy-part-and-parcel of the operation.

Obviously, there are a great many people who enjoy a little smut smeared on their literary bagel, otherwise there wouldn’t be an industry devoted to the ripping of shirts and the rippling of tanned stomachs.

My problem is that I enjoy much of the romantic and dramatic elements of these books and movies but for some reason am really put off by the … p-p-payoff.

I love-love-love Outlander. The characters, the settings, the story-lines.

But, when the zippers unzip and the corsets are untied and the breathing gets heavy, I roll my eyes and skip on past to where the story starts back up.

Like I said, my real gripe isn’t with “romance” books and movies but with literary dramas, thrillers, adventures where the author felt it necessary to drop a big old steaming pot of s-e-x on the breakfast table—and right in front of grandma.

In Updike’s Rabbit, Run, he goes on for pages and pages and pages about his doins with the fleshy prostitute in—forgive my punnery—as literary a fit of mental masturbation as I’ve seen.

Don’t get me started on Henry Miller—even though I love the old misogynistic gargoyle—whose sexual descriptions really do become tedious.

You don’t have to go all the Way to William S. Burroughs, who so slathers dear reader in bizarre and lecherous salve, to find examples of carnality gone gauche.

My own lovely Patron St. of Perverts Charles Bukowski (but geezus I read a lot of degenerates), though much of his work is centered on his relationships with women, still often devolves from his cleverer self into color commentary, blow by blow if you will (don’t faint now), accounts of his multifarious sexcapades.

Again, I am not offended by the sex. It takes a lot to make me blush.

What I am concerned with is wasted pages and author-itis, wherein the writer becomes so enamored of his own bullshit mythos as creative titan that he forgets what master he truly serves … the poor unfortunate reader … who’s now so goddamn bored he punts what might otherwise be a tasty bit of word-smithing and goes back to tweeting about what an asshole the president is.

My rant’s over.

John Fox has an interesting piece on sex scenes in literature here: 50 Incredibly Written Sex Scenes in Books

If you must write a sex scene, check out these here tips: https://www.jtellison.com/lets-talk-about-sex/