Steve Almond is a genius when it comes to instructing writers about writing about sex (or not writing about sex).
“Remember that the sexiest thing about sex is really desire, which is just a fancy word for not getting laid.”
In the Tin House Anthology of Essays called The Writer’s Notebook that I loaned to someone–if that was you, please don’t forget to return it to me– Almond sold me on his take on both the importance of and the pitfalls of including intercourse in our fiction.
“The thoughts that accompany the act are just as significant (more so, actually) than the gymnastics.”
Bad sex writing is not the same as bad sex; good sex, however, is very much like good sex writing. Bad sex writing is just stupid. Bad sex is stupid too, but at least you get messy. At best bad sex writing makes me chuckle and at worst it grosses me out. Ew. What did my author just write? Does it really say “even an aging bull has his limitations?” Ew.
So before you write another scene in which you “discover” yet another euphemism for a sexual organ or impotency, or worse, use adverbs like provocatively, read his advice.
How to Write Sex Scenes: The 12-Step Program: Discovered on The Rumpus (a very funny online cultural magazine).