Like deadly sins, dwarves, or even deadly sins committed with dwarves, there are seven rules for writing good, compelling sex scenes. Seven. Sure some 1920s carnival huckster out there might try and convince you that there are 12 rules, or that you can get three rules for a nickel, but this is a ruse. He is only after your pocketbook. There only has been, and forever will be, seven ironclad rules for good, steamy literary sex (full disclosure: the shadowy and mysterious eighth rule added in 1988 specifically for the Seoul Summer Olympics only applies when you're detailing non-fictional accounts of time spent in a Turkish prison). Now, there is no denying that this list is sick. It is ethically bankrupt, legally suspect, and largely obscene-- as in "pertaining only to prurient interests" as defined by the landmark 1959 Wisconsin obscenity trials. The bottom line: If you are a sheep living in 1959 Wisconsin, read something else.
Rule the first: A good sex scene must include an orgasm. Now this might initially seem basic, but the reality is this list is really old! I didn't write it; I didn't create it (keep that in mind, you law enforcement witch hunters!); like herpes, I'm just passing it along. And to be fair, the "no killing" portion of the 10 Commandments is pretty fucking obvious too. A huge problem with modern sex scenes is that they have this "polite, fade-to-black, implied orgasm," sort of innuendo. It revs the groinal engine, but leaves the car (read: penis) with no place to park; this is the literary equivalence of a lap dance. I don't care if it's him blasting "load after sticky load" from his "throbbing manhood" or her "twizzling goop" from her shemale "protuberance;" hot sex scenes need a beginning, a middle, and a goddamn happy ending.
Rule the second: We need COLORS! If her so-called va-jay-jay turns baboon red when stroked like a Spanish guitar, tell us all about it. Semen isn't merely "white," it's semi-translucent pearl, it's smoky alabaster; it's "spackled with dots of bloody reds, gastrointestinal browns, and the occasional skin of some undigested yellow corn. Her eyes said no-no, but her buns said yes-yes."
Rule the third: No writing sex scenes involving a woman aged over 28 or a man aged over 105. This is another obvious rule.
Rule the fourth: You can use clinical genital names only once. No one wants to read "penis" this, and "penis" that. Women want to hear about "swollen members," "turgid wieners," and "tumescent dingdongs." I guess they like that kind of stuff.
Rule the fifth: Thou shalt not craft the penis "too big." Look, it's already hard to be a guy with a small dick in today's celebrity-obsessed media market; if the Romanticists turn against us too, all is lost. We need to manage expectations. Granted, it's fantasy, but she could flick her bean just as easily to a "five-inch, veiny schlong that's smattered with kinked pubic hair, and maybe a chancre or two" as she could to a rock-hard ten-inch meat wand with the girth of two stacked Pepsi cans.
Rule the sixth: Don't omit the "good" stuff. Queefs happen. Reading modern sex scenes, you'd think that every act of coitus was some laboratory-sterilized, function of biological necessity rather than two drunks rutting on a lopsided pool table during "half-priced shoes night" at the Bowl-a-rama. Odd smells, menstrual remnants, and "sharts" are the requisite spice sorely missed from today's so-called "juicy parts." You can no better make broccoli chowder without chives than you can write a realistic sex scene without the occasional forgotten tampon.
Rule the seventh: Don't be afraid to get Weird. Most amateur writers think, "Okay, I've got a female protagonist; she needs to fall for, and mate with, a healthy, rich viscount or a charming peasant who dreams big and has the goods to back it up. And that is period writing--modern females fall for suave admen, poets, and crooks with a heart of gold. You never read about main characters falling in love with inanimate objects, St. Bernard's, or the dead. Which would you prefer--four pages of dryly pleasant aristocratic intercourse between two consenting adults, or the unhinged saga of a rambunctious lunatic trying to "make it" with a chicken? Not surprisingly, your answer will determine if you are just another writer, or if you are a motherfucking legend for the ages. Trust your crotch.
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