How far do you dare to go?


My current muse

When it comes to writing sex scenes involving your characters, how far do you dare to go while knowing that a written work containing anything that might be considered vaguely pornographic, is seriously frowned upon by all reputable publishers?

Read on to find out how I’m currently dealing with this dilemma.


In my previous novella – Cataclysm, I alluded to the way the hero Gilbert Briggs and the beautiful transexual he fell in love with, Arianna, made love by simply saying just that, even though it doesn’t take much imagination on the part of the more intelligent among you to realise how they went about it. But precisely because of the transexual element, no lurid details were employed. I agonised over it for several weeks, and I freely admit that I was seriously tempted to spice it up at the time of writing it last year.

But this time, my current science fiction WIP The Guardian demands that I go a stage further. In this particular instance I’m currently dealing with the love affair between my principal characters, Lynne Crawford and Adler Stevens. The other characters, some of whom have already been involved in an orgy, are a lesbian Bayla and a bi-sexual Karin, plus two of the five other males – Anatole, Moshe, Philippe, Brett and Cliff, all of them perfectly normal individuals.

Thinking about it, who or what is considered normal these days, especially when it comes to the often thorny subject of sex? It’s weird how some people become totally prudish when confronted with the subject in a novel or novella, yet see nothing wrong in engaging in what after all is a perfectly natural act between two people, no matter their gender preference or indeed their preferred way of making love. A clear case of double standards if ever I saw one…

Getting back to Lynne and Adler, so far I’ve involved them in just two scenes together that can either be described as erotic or voyeuristic, depending on your point of view. Now I’m engaged in writing their first no holds barred love scene. Well, that’s not strictly true. I wrote the original seriously filthy version several weeks ago. In fact ever since then I’ve been returning to it from time to time to tone it down, first of all by gradually downgrading it from extremely to moderately pornographic, through to highly suggestive. At long last by yesterday lunchtime it had finally become merely suggestive, the state it will remain in until I take another look at it at a later date. Hopefully it will end up being a suggestive erotic love scene, not an easy task to achieve as some of you may think, believe me.

Remember this – while one person might consider a love scene like the one I’ve been working on to be erotic, to someone else, namely those of the prudish persuasion, it will always be nothing but unadulterated pornographic filth. The funny thing is that I bet the latter will re-read the particular passage several times, while uttering the imortal words – “utterly disgusting!” to alleviate their hypocritical moral outlook.

Face it folks, as writers you just can’t win. You are either damned if you do or damned if you don’t. In the end all you can do is leave it up to your readers to decide, always providing of course that it gets past your publisher first.

More later if you are good.


19 thoughts on “How far do you dare to go?

  1. I admit, I write and read mostly YA, so there is no sex, sometimes just a whisper of those first faint stirrings of sexuality. I strongly disagree with sex in YA novels; some writers forget that although the protagonists may be 17 and therfore legal, the majority of tbe readers will be way younger than that, ‘aspiring’ teens, if you like, 10 to 12 years old, and whilst I dont believe they should be sheltered from real life, writers have a duty to write responsibly.

    But back to your novel; you dont have these concerns. Why have you watered it down? There is a huge market for erotica. You dont seem like the kind of person who ‘plays safe’. If your instinct is to include a sex scene, then why not do it?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think it so much depends on the book. I’m meh about sex (and violence) when it feels gratuitous, but if the story needs it to deepen the characters or advance the plot, then go for it. I usually only dip into sex in my books, but in the latest one, I was much more explicit in one scene. In the book, there was so much coercion around sex, I felt it necessary to balance that out with one memorable, loving, healthy sexual relationship. Authors have choices to make and we should respect our instincts. Not everyone is going to like every book anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When I’m writing an erotic story, it’s pretty frank, for romance it’s less graphically presented. For one pen-name, (he’s squeaky clean), the scene basically fades to black before anything really happens.


  4. A difficult subject. I tend to explore the dark and destructive side of sex in (some of) my novels. Why? You can find the answer here:
    Because of that tendency, I noticed that in Anglo-Saxon countries some readers find these novels shocking, provocative and, well, “filthy.” Strange, I’m also translated in French and in Italian. There have been no such reactions, neither in Belgium and Holland. I don’t write gratuitous sex (or “commercial” sex). On the contrary: writing about the destructive side of sex is utmost difficult and requires a carefully balanced, literary style. I tend to shy away from those scenes, but – if you’ve read the text on Goodreads you’ll know what I mean – my experiences as a travel writer in conflict-zones have taught me the hard way that sex can indeed be a weapon in conflict, be it between groups of people or individuals. For me, it’s very important that literature has the freedom to delve into our most hidden impulses. If we don’t shine a light on them, if we don’t try to analyze them, we will never fulfill our human potential. That said, I often condemn my Muse for forcing me to take that way…. And, again, please remember, that the situation may be shocking, the language isn’t….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you read some of the romance genre, you might blush! I think including sex in a book is totally dependent on the context. If it fits naturally, then put it in. Otherwise, it can be left to the imagination, which sometimes can be even better. Trust your instinct!

    Liked by 1 person

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