The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

26 March 2007

That Tab A, Slot B stuff

Kimber An calls them "Standard Issue Sex Scenes", and she's not impressed:

The author feels the pressure of sales numbers to write a sex scene. She's uncomfortable with that. It's not her style and it doesn't flow well with the story. Wanting to sell her novel, she labors away at it anyway. The result is a Standard Issue Sex Scene.

The progress of the relationship up to that point is ... irrelevant. The hero is always highly skilled (regardless of experience) and selflessly concerned (even if he's only one step up from a Neanderthal) with pleasing the heroine who is always fantastically pleased. No matter how skillfully written, I'm jarred right out of the story and I toss it over my shoulder.

And that's the real issue: not the sex scene per se, but how well it fits into the story. Even a fairly-inept description can be forgiven, I think, if it's a logical progression from what has gone before, but I don't want to find myself wondering "How the hell did they wind up in bed? Weren't they just rolling down the New Jersey Turnpike?"

And this applies also to motion pictures, although jump cuts in film are somewhat less disconcerting.

Posted at 8:10 AM to Almost Yogurt


As a rule I don't write sex scenes into my fiction. If I were to try, the principle of "writing what I know" would ensure that "the hero is always highly skilled" would definitely not apply. The "selflessly concerned" might make an appearance, but would only last up until about the time the sex actually starts.

Sex can be distracting that way.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:50 AM on 26 March 2007

I guess I'm sort of old-fashioned about such things. The ideal sex scene goes like this: At the end of one chapter the couple is gazing dreamily into each other's eyes and at the beginning of the next chapter the couple is gazing dreamily into each other's eyes over cups of coffee.

Posted by: Lynn at 8:53 AM on 27 March 2007