Happy February, love is on my mind and today I wanted to talk about sex. Specifically, sex scenes in novels or other media! This Deep Dive topic will highlight what people think about the topic. I’ve divided things up into ‘yes, no, & maybe so’. The answers are variant, and one category might not have as many as another. I want to strongly emphasize that all voices are important here! So even if a response category did not get as much, they are still valid and should be heard.
That said, for those new to articles where I do this, I send out a tweet every month about a particular topic for a ‘Deep Dive’. I am in a community of creators, many of who are authors, so I gather up some tweets, credit them, and discuss my thoughts. These are meant to spark discussions and thought! Previous deep dives include urban fantasy, vampires, and dragons.
Without further ado, here is the tweet! You can look into the tweet as well to see more responses. I can’t include everyone (I wish I could!) but the pool is pretty large and it’s good to read through people’s thoughts if you’re interested in this sort of thing.
Yes to sex scenes
Kira comes in with an excellent perspective. I was so happy to see some ace rep here, especially given her comment about being annoyed at that stigma. She’s right. I’ve met many ace folks who don’t mind sex scenes at all and even love them. Not to mention, we can get excellent perspectives on sex scenes too from folks with a different mindset. I’m with her there, really weird stuff can be a fun read.
Amanda is an ace questioning person who brings up they’re not happy with the stigma against ace folks and all of them being sex-repulsed, which is entirely fair to be frustrated about! As we see, some folks are asexual and still can perfectly enjoy sex scenes. It makes perfect sense to me. I enjoy fight or horror scenes, but do I have the desire to be ripped apart (non sexually)? No.
G.W.Wolflord is another person who is ace who enjoys reading sex scenes, which is excellent. They brought up the complexity of writing sex scenes and how their writing could be seen as boring. My thoughts on this are to encourage folks to write it if the feel like it! You never know what different perspectives can write gold. Plus, editors and sensitivity readers or just questions in general can help out a lot. I know I’ll need to ask questions when I write a wlw sex scene in my manuscript because while I’m bi, I’ve only had a single relationship before and that’s with a cishet guy(an amazing one).
Maxime brings emotion into the fray, something I agree with quite a bit. Sex scenes reveal an emotional side of people when written well, in my opinion, and this reveals important information that can help the reader connect to a character. As a reader, I can also agree with this a lot. This roadmap is as important as seeing characters in battle and how they handle those situations.
Dan and Nadja reinforce this so much, yes! I love what they mentioned here. Also, I agree that sex scenes are undervalued. It’s a shame that romance and erotica aren’t taken as seriously. I also see romantic subplots in fantasy (what I do) being scoffed at. In reality, there’s so many relationship dynamics to be had and can be revealed in the most intimate of moments.
Maria mentions preferring detailed sex scenes for either moving the plot forward or just being there, and that’s an excellent take. Reading or writing sex scenes can be a lot of fun, and you learn things about your characters you wouldn’t know previously. Saying this as a reader too!
Chrissy sees the scenes as a flow of emotion and connection for love, which is great too. In a relationship story, as opposed to a one-night-stand(which is entirely valid too!) this stuff, as I said before, brings to light the deep inner thoughts of characters.
Tod brings up a great point on important things to include–and this is extremely relevant for the next sextion (this misspell is intentional). CONTENT WARNINGS ARE A MUST! I also think consent is important to include and should be written about more.
No to Sex Scenes
JT takes a great stance of ‘not my thing but you enjoy’! I love folks who do this, given it’s a great way to handle things. Indeed, sex scenes are not as common in some genre, like those he mentioned. I myself only have a sprinkle of one or two in each of my books given I write action stories with fantasy subplots. But yeah, this is a good point–there’s some genre where you’ll just naturally see less of them.
Katherine makes a good point here. Some folks get right into the minds of characters, and that can be appealing to some readers. However, for those who are made uncomfortable, it can bring them down and ruin the story. Fade to blacks fix this sure, but for those who enjoy writing and reading detailed stuff, this is where content warnings are so important! We need to be respectful of all points of views, and what I enjoy will not apply to everyone. Content warnings are excellent in these situations.
Mia also reiterates this, preferring not to read them. Many folks who are against them take a respectable ‘If you like them go for it, I just don’t’ and that’s great. Again, I know I’ve repeated myself, but this is where content warnings are important. Not every book will have a sex scene, and there shouldn’t be that expectation. While I prefer them myself in romance, there doesn’t have to be one there for me to be happy (or any relationship at all). However, if there is, there should be content warnings for folks who really aren’t comfortable or don’t like them.
Why would you want someone to be miserable reading your work, anyhow?
Maybe So to Sex Scenes
Desdemona discusses how they feel sex scenes should be relevant to the work and how they wouldn’t read the scenes just for the sake of erotica. They prefer some flavor, something I very much agree with. Details are important to many readers, along with relevancy. I’ve seen this mentioned with fight scenes as well and lean toward agreeing. Some will choose little detail, some a lot, but either way, there are many books with sex scenes following a romance plot/subplot.
Shane likes the tasteful stuff, and I’m in the same boat with him. I agree wholeheartedly and am not into just straight up porn myself. It’s why even if I delve lightly into erotica, I want a story. And yes, he mentions no shame to those who like it. I agree with that too! Everyone’s preferences, so long as they aren’t harmful, are valid. I love this take and of course have it for myself.
Iza brings up a lot of good points here. They mention how they do things, in terms of preferring to fade to black in their own writing. Some folks would rather not write the scenes out, which is entirely reasonable! I had no idea they were common in horror, that’s new to me. Fantasy and sci-fi I would agree, though I do see one or two at the end of a slow burn for the subplots. I would say, based on my experience, that indeed those genre have less in number than romance.
D.L. Homes again brings relevancy into the equation. Sex scenes, to them, should be relevant to the story or the characters themselves when they write. I see many readers taking this stance, the ‘it should be relevant’, and like I said above, I’m in that boat too.
Kate brings up a good point–‘sex sells’, and if it doesn’t add anything, it might not be the best read for some folks. Some don’t mind sex out of the blue (which is valid), but as someone who loves story, I agree with this stance. I like story with my sex.
John brings up the conditions which they should fall under in their opinion, which I entirely agree with. Any ‘no’ in the equation removes any possible emotional growth and should not be written in a positive light. I am unsure how I feel about detailed scenes where any one of those are ‘no’, but they definitely should never be seen as a positive thing, in my personal opinion.
ShameezWrites pretty much says my exact stance. Slow burns then sex scenes, yes please! I like 1 or 2 sex scenes myself in a long fantasy work with complex slow burn relationships. It’s the buildup that’s important for me, honestly. That makes the endpoint and reward so much more fun.
More on my stance
By now, you probably understand that I’m pro-sex scenes in works. I love reading them, and I love writing them. I’m a gore writer, after all, so if I’m going to describe the horror, I should also be able to describe the romance. Given I write in the dystopic and dark fantasy genre, I think that’s fair indeed. I don’t dive into erotica much, though I have written it with stories even if there’s a lot of sex.
I agree with the folks saying that a story behind it makes it more intriguing. The folks who read sex just for sex are completely valid too! I’m just stating my personal preference here. I really like a detailed sex scene after a slow burn romance. It’s so fulfilling and makes me feel great–not to mention, it’s really hot. With regard to erotica, porn does nothing for me, so it’ll have to have some element of story to be hot to me.
All of that said, I am a strong supporter of content warnings. Some folks are legitimately uncomfortable by sex, and that is okay. If a book has graphic sex scenes (and isn’t marked as erotica), it should have a warning of graphic intimacy. I make sure to do that with all of my works that involve it!
Hopefully you enjoyed this deep dive into sex scenes! (hehe) What do you prefer? And what topics would you like to see from me in the future?
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