How far do you go???


When it comes to writing sex scenes involving your characters, how far do you dare to go? Bearing in mind that a written work containing anything that might be considered vaguely pornographic, is seriously frowned upon by all reputable publishers, especially those domiciled in the US? Even that book cover you want may not be acceptable! Read on to find out how I deal with this dilemma.


In one of my novellas – 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 sans any detail. 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.

The Guardian demanded that I go a stage further. In this particular instance I dealt 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 in the story, 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 but for one thing – their sexual proclivities.

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 consenting 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 the problem I had with Lynne and Adler; so far I had involved them in just two scenes together that can either be described as erotic or voyeuristic, depending on your point of view. It was childsplay compared to what came next – their first no holds barred love scene. Well, that’s not strictly true. I had written the original seriously filthy version several weeks earlier. I returned 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 it became merely suggestive, the state it would remain in until I took another look at it at a later date. Hopefully it would end up being a suggestive erotic love scene, not as easy to achieve as some of you may think, believe me.

Remember this – while one person might consider a love scene like the one I’m talking about to be erotic. To 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 on their own, while uttering the imortal words – “utterly disgusting!” to alleviate their hypocritical moral outlook.

Face it folks, as writers we just can’t win. Either we’re damned if we do or damned if we 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.

Oh by the way – the red highlighted words are book links, not just a spot of colour for effect in a sea of black type!!!

More later if you are good.


19 thoughts on “How far do you go???

  1. When I was a young teenager I loved historical novels, but always felt helpful practical details were ommited, such as how they got out of their clothes, let alone actually DID IT. In one story the heroine has more adventures in bed with her new lover than her husband would ever dream of, I asked my poor mother what on earth these adventures could be! Surely they were either doing IT or not doing IT. Most authors are probably better off avoiding details, lest the reader disolves into giggles. On the other hand it can be disappointing if we’ve waited through the whole book for them to get it together only to be shut out at the bedroom door!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, very interesting. Which one, if you don’t mind my asking? My silly site has been “saving draft” for over 20 minutes … so I thought while the computer was just showing me a twirling ball, I might as well be neighborly on my Kindle. On the one “Denzil, Too Short”, I clicked on “No, it was not useful to me.” The other one there’s supposedly a ” full” review on his website. I’m going to go look at it. Is he the one you “know” on facebook? They both have three stars, which isn’t hateful? I know, I’d be crushed if I was rated only 3 stars, too, especially on this book. I gave you three on the other, but you knew it was weak, but I saw your potential! The point about editing … is valid. I am a very mentoring/kind editor, but meticulous as well. I classify errors as hard and soft. In this book, they were mostly soft; that’s why I didn’t knock a star off for editing. It didn’t detract from the story, but then I know how you feel about editors, too. STILL SAVING DRAFT!!! I should know better than to work on Saturday… Okay, off to check out what he put on his website. If I’m bothering you, just tell me. For some crazy reason, I like you. Don’t worry, I’m harmless. πŸ˜‡

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In Denzil’s review on his blog, I only found 15 editorial errors in his 5-6 paragraphs. Ha, ha, ha! Pathetic. Needless to say, he won’t be reviewing for me, and I’m looking for someone to handle promo for me. I posted that I needed a legit company, not a scam, on the Facebook group, but haven’t been back to check. I have 4-5 editing books that could hit me at the same time, all return customers, but I always count on someone being late.

    Okay, I liked the simplicity of the cover. It meshed with the timeframe and historical darkness thereof, but that’s a personal thing. I like pictures and color and design, but if it works; it works. The editorial stuff he goes more into detail on his blog review; he’s right. I caught them, too, but as I said it didn’t detract from your story. Do you self-publish/format yourself? It’s an easy fix to swap out a manuscript. In fact, I document-send my own work to my Kindle first. A lot of things jump out at you if you do that, especially if you go to black background with white text. Somehow, it makes little things “pop” that you’d normally read right over.

    Do you do all your own proofreading? That’s an impossible job. The brain retains what you wrote, so the author misses it completely, even me!

    Anyway, he gave you “his” opinion. And you know what that’s worth, right?

    My website is STILL saving. Time to try another day … alas!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad I read your take in sex scenes, Jack. Think my sex scene level is simpler for the young adult reader. I had to do an internet search to get the the β€œscenes” right on a psychological/physical level. The end result came out nicely for the main character, a 19-21 year old girl. The attraction phase important, the looks, hand touching, face touching, gazing, leaning in, etc. First kiss, and first sex scenes were many rewrites. Did you know the different kinds of kissing have psychological meaning and can define the kissers character? Interesting stuff. Having fun with this. Love the research! Have a great weekend.πŸ“š Christine

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Interesting post. I am writing a trilogy which has no sex scenes at present but the protagonists may partake in later books… So how to handle it particularly when you are writing YA fiction. Judging by Jay Kristoff (A New York Times bestselling author) you can get away with much more than I ever imagined. Not only does he write sex scenes but there is oodles of death too. But I love his writing! So I will be referring back to his awesome YA novels if I ever write sex scenes.


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