Steve Edward Farley


Human beings have been attracted to each other since the dawn of time, when not in pursuit of our own sexual desires we like to watch and read about others engaging it in. But when is writing about sex too much. The beauty of writing is that you can be as detailed as you want but somethings should be left out right?

                “Emma wakes up in the morning, the sun woke her but she isn’t fully alert, once getting into the restroom she sits on the toilet, a loud noise echoes off the toilet rim, she feels her dinner from the night before vacating her body, when she is done and her bottom is clean Emma dresses and leaves for the bus stop.”

                With the exception of educational purposes that is a very gross statement no reader needs to read. It is better to keep it clean.  “Emma wakes up, she doesn’t feel fully alert, going through her morning routine fixes that, once dressed and ready, Emma leaves for the bus stop.”

                I have never read a printed book that outlines a character’s bathroom activities unless the character is suffering through an illness. Why is that, all people go to the bathroom, because one it is fluff writing, two ever hear the term no one cares what you had for breakfast the same is true for how you get rid of the meal.

                But on the same token why is writing about sex okay. Well for one it is in demand and also if it is written in a way that is pleasing to the reader it can even excite them. Sex scenes build suspense, usually by the time two characters are stripping off each other’s clothes for a good shag the reader has been feeling the tension building for several chapters. In my opinion the best sex scenes involve the characters emotions coupled with contact but limiting the lewdness.

                That means if you are using terminology that might read in a pornographic context it has no place in your novel. The words are too blunt, it took me a long time to understand that. Often writers are blinded by what they think is sexy instead of thinking about the scene objectively. The sex between the characters is the final frontier in many respects, if it is done right between two main characters it creates a strong bond that lasts throughout the story.

                What kind of details are acceptable. Well descriptions of body parts, detailing something unique to the person, a small birthmark, a tattoo hidden on their thigh. Hair pulling, hot breath and sweaty and slippery bodies are some excellent details to add that can keep the pages turning without scaring off readers. Some readers don’t like sex, others don’t like hearing sex coming from a member of the opposite sex. I have written several stories that proved this hypothesis, I used a female pseudonym and got much more positive response compared to when I posted them on my own page.

                I have also had a certain relationship aspect drive an entire series. I wanted to write about two characters in an arranged marriage, I wanted their relationship to be cute and silly but unique, I wanted them to deal with similar issues that couples in our world deal with but also ones unique to them. I had the characters married at the ages of six and seven. In the following book in the series I got to explore this, I was naturally able to age them to the proper ages. Once Eighteen and Nineteen I was able to discuss them, when they slept together for the first time at these ages it needed to be sensual not hot. These were two characters that the readers followed from small children to their adult hoods. My plan worked it allowed them to view them as sexual beings without being turned off. Following the emotions of the characters I got what wanted.   

                The final thing to understand when writing sexual scenes or elements. Characters must be of age. I have even seen publishers state sex scenes between characters must be over the age of seventeen, some say sixteen, but I feel that is too young to write about. As a writer there are so many things that I take into account while writing, not wanting to turn off any readers I hold back on the sex scenes, but am I holding back or organizing my thoughts to be presented in the best possible way. I want my readers to love my characters and to cheer them on in all aspects of their lives.

                My approach may not be to the liking of others. Someone else writing a romantic novel might want to add golden showers and donkey punches, however I would rather keep my novels to emotional connections that can form from a sexual relationship rather than the raw sexuality and primal servitude that pornography inflicts on others. I hope this was constructive, sex scenes should be natural and should enhance the story not burden it, anything that turns off readers should be treated as a burden.

                Instead of making their sexual scene all action, add a sensual element. A warm bath, a cold tent can set a tone and expose a character’s vulnerabilities much more than having a character pile drive another.

                Finally let’s touch on graphic details, we discussed how no civilized person wants to read about another person using the toilet. That is not the same as a chilling graphic. As stated in other posts, I often write about fictional battles and wars. In one scene in a story called Ann’s Tale I detail a brutal sacking of a city. I took my lead using examples from history. Two examples from history that I researched were the Japanese attack on Nanjing and the Soviet invasion of Berlin, or also known as the Rape of Berlin. In my story I didn’t hold back as the enemy swept the city, the main characters witness an enemy soldier holding a baby by the soft folds of his feet and swinging the baby like a cub, smashing the child’s skull off a wall. I didn’t write something like that lightly, my editor thought it was too brutal. I told her humanity does not hold back its horrors, how can I… But we take chances with harsh language, that scene to a mother who lost a child might close up that book right there. But having something that harsh in the first chapters also tells the reader what to expect should they continue.

                Ultimately the writer will choose the language that they think will yield the best results, keep in mind if you go with the no holds barred sex scenes it might not be given the same reception that Fifty Shades of Grey was given. But you will never know until you finished that manuscript, edit it, and send it out there. Thanks for reading.