Being an erotic romance writer, I spend a lot of my time crafting sex scenes. It can be either a perk or a downside of the profession, depending on your view. For me it’s a bit of both. People who read erotic romances are the ones who like it hot. They want to be aroused and they like graphic descriptions. Forget subtle innuendos or teasing suggestions. Screw that! Erotic romance readers want pulse-pounding, explicit details of every thrust and suck, every lick and bite, and they want to know who’s doing what to whom and exactly where it’s happening.
It’s fun writing those scenes – the aforementioned perk. On the flipside, it can also be tough. When written well, sex scenes can be amazingly hot. Your readers get more turned on from reading a hot scene than from seeing a photo of Bradley Cooper naked. Well, almost anyway. But get it wrong and rather than squirming in their chairs readers will be laughing with their friends – leaving the writer feeling more shame than a pet dog wearing a medical cone. Of all the elements in your book – characters, plot, pacing, prose – none is subject to more potential ridicule than a badly written sex scene. So why not make fun of them!
Satirical blog site The Rotting Post, “The Finest in Literate Snark,” recently put forth for readers’ consideration a “Worst Sex Scene in a Modern Novel” competition, with readers choosing the best of the worst as the winner. Blogger Dan Blum offered two finalists from somewhat recently released “serious” novels (no romances here, friends!), complete with his detailed critique on what made the selected scenes stand out so horrendously. And I have to admit, I laughed my head off.
Admittedly I initially felt a bit conflicted about doing so. These are fellow writers, after all. I should be supporting them, right? Not mocking them. But frankly, Dan Blum is right. The scenes are awful. They make you simultaneously cringe and cackle because, damn. They suck. The fact that well-regarded authors produced them adds an additional layer of abhorrence. These writers should know better. Tom Wolfe. Really? But in my opinion (and cleary that of Dan Blum’s), Mr. Bonfire of the Vanities is more than deserving of his nomination from his novel Back to Blood. Check out the below, cited by Dan Blum in his blog post:
His body impinged on hers, and his hand was stroking her here…and there…and there and there and there, and she despaired. She was a whore for the Korolyov Museum of Art in the body of an oligarch…
Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swalloing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw – all this without a word…
He seemed to be able to last forever, so long that sounds finally came from her lips…”Ah…ah…ahh…ahhh…Ahhhhhh”.
Ahhhhh….What the f**k? I get the whole “riding a pony” metaphor. Oh yes I do. But um, when using that particular literary device in a sex scene I’m not sure that summoning forth a jockey image and comparing it to the male appendage adds anything of merit. Am I right? However, for a truly laugh-out-loud critique of this scene, check out what Dan Blum has to say.
At Lady Smut we’re not a review blog so any postings on that front are pretty sparse. Yet that’s not to say we can’t appreciate a well-written critique from others. Check out The Rotting Post and see what you think about the two finalists for worst sex scene in a modern novel, and feel free to add your candidates in our comments section below. And be sure to follow us at Lady Smut, where we can appreciate a badly written sex scene as well as anyone.