How do you guys feel about sex scenes in crime fiction? Honestly, I avoid them because, well, I don't feel I'm very good at them. Most of the sex scenes I come across in published books aren't very good either, IMHO.

Are there any authors out there who write good ones? Is there any such thing as a good one?

Let's see examples!

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That's probably good advice, Cynthia.
Any sex scene like any other scene has to either move the plot along or show something about the characters.

I like a good sex scene but I have to say, in general they aren't done that well. To me they often seem ridiculous and more like a "How To Manual". "They went into the bedroom and had sex" tells me just as much as "First, she hung upside down from the chandelier as he danced below her dressed as a traffic warden". Well, maybe not quite, but I'm not sure that I need to know that the protag has a thing about men dressed as traffic wardens :o)

Those who do good sex scenes do them really well. I can't think of any specifics at the moment. I'm out and about and the good sex scenes are all on my 'special' shelf at home :o) Also,even the best sex scene sounds a bit twee when taken out of context.

In many cases though it seems as though a sex scene has been chucked in because it has to be there. "You've got to page 169 without a sex scene, don't you think you should throw a little rumpiy pumpy in there." So totally out of character, totally out of the blue, there's some humping going on. It's not the sex scenes that bother me, it's the gratuitous nature of some of them. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of gratuitous sex, just not in books :o)

And, if they're supposed to titilate and arouse, well, I do a lot of my reading while commuting and when I'm on the number 62 on my way into work in the mornings and I'm sitting next to some bloke who's catching up on his sleep, while snoring, burping last night's curry all over me and drooling down his chin and the two women behind me are twittering on about what happened in East Enders, I really, really am very unlikely to be titilated. I'm British for god's sake. I don't want to be titilated on the number 62 bus.

So, if authors take me under the blankets, then there'd bloody better be a clue there along with naked, writhing bodies.

There don't seem to be many authors who do it really well. I read a book a couple of years ago where the woman was asleep and the man slid one hand between her thighs and the other into her mouth. And this was supposed to be erotic. I'm sorry, but if anyone slides ANYTHING into my mouth while I'm sleeping, then I'm probably going to dream it's a chocolate eclair and chomp down hard.

The ones which do it best for me are the ones which leave a little to the imagination, include grunting and sweat instead of heaving breasts and chiselled jaws, and include a little bit of humour. Sex is fun. A lot of sex scenes are just too earnest.
LOL Donna! I'm thinking sex scene on a bus now. Something about pubic transportation...
Now there's a good Irvine Welsh book title: PUBIC TRANSPORTATION. Could be a collaboration with Jon Stewart?
Irvine Welsh does fab sex scenes - funny, macabre and down right dirty. They tell you so much about his characters.
Juice Terry in Glue and Porno lives for women and sex and it is his puppy like enthusiasm that makes him seem so vulnerable dspite being a bit of a bastard.
The best chapter in Trainspotting has got to be The First Shag in Ages which sums up the whole madness of one night stands so well.
Me - I stay clear of them - I describe the build up then move away.
HB x
Me - I stay clear of them - I describe the build up then move away.

You're such a tease. ;)
All right. To take this seriously: I write sex scenes. I read sex scenes. These days I read them critically. (Not so much fun). I also read action scenes critically. I've become convinced that men and women write sex differently. Male authors like their female characters to be accommodating and flattering to the male protagonist's ego. Female authors like to show the male as a sensitive, considerate, and very grateful partner. Occasionally, the tough female protagonist comes across as a "user" who has to prove that she is still feminine enough to attract men.
My guess is that a lot of that sort of thing is influenced by the author's view of how things should be. (Hence the heavy emphasis on romantic foreplay in women's fiction).

But not all sex scenes are that way, and in any case it is good to stay in one's chosen POV. Some sex scenes are there because plot, characterization, or theme necessitates them.

I should add that one of the best reviewers of ISLAND OF EXILES was mildly disturbed by the fact that the married protagonist had an affair while away from his wife. Of course, in his world, that sort of thing was not only accepted but routine. So sometimes the historical context may also prompt a sex scene.
Yes, often the sex scenes are conspicuous by their absence. Same thing with things like drug use. For some reason vioence and torture have become mainstream. Oh well.

For me, for the characters I write about, sex is an important part of their lives and therefore the stories. It has led to the point that my wife describes my books as, "Sex and violence and filthy language." At a reading someone said, "could be more sex," so now there's even more.

I tell myself the sex scenes always reveal more abaouth the characters - how selfish they are or how confident - and this is inportant, but really, I just like it.
Sex and violence and filthy language.

I think you should negotiate for larger advances, John!

Ha ha. Let's wait and see. July 21st, two books come out in the US. I'm a little... apprehensive.
Good points, I.J.

I wrote a sex scene from a female character's POV once. Not easy at all. I guess the most famous case of a man writing from a woman's perspective is the last chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses. Not a sex scene per se, but Molly does mention using a banana. I've always wondered: Do women really have those kinds of feelings toward fruits and vegetables? ;)
I know I don't!


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