The dos and don'ts of writing sex scenes

Just kidding, I don't have any dos. But Sonya Chung at the Millions put together a list of sex writing don'ts. My favorite is:
Beware of sensory descriptions which include food analogies – “honeydew breasts” (Styron), “like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg” (Littell), “the oysterish intricacy of her” (Anthony Quinn), “he felt his cashew become a banana, and then a rippled yam” (Updike) – or “wet” verbs like smear, suck, lick, slither, slide.

A do: leave your sex writing don'ts in the comments. Extra points if you can come up with something worse than "oysterish intricacy" (which was oddly reminiscent of the facts of duck sex).


  1. I suspect you are not a lesbian: 'oysterish intricacy' at least gets points for accuracy.

    The cashew/banana/rippled yam progression, on the other hand, I find alarming.

    Best sex scene I read recently was in The End of Mr. Y. Truly filthy.

  2. "As he devoured her breast he was distracted by the fear he had a milk mustache."

  3. Any sex scene written entirely in metaphor, culinary or not, is terrible.

    Did anyone see Steve Martin and Stephen Colbert do a reading "duet" of a Danielle Steele sex scene a few months back on the Report? They just straight up read it. Out loud. And it was hilarious.

  4. I'm with the first Anon. "Oysterish" should not be a word, but I fear for the state of the anatomy with which Updike was working.

    I also find the word moist to be an instant turnoff.

  5. I'm with CKHB. Moist is no good. Wet is much better.

  6. oh god those are horrible.

    I'm really against euphamisms. If you can't use the correct terms, then you probably shouldn't be writing sex scenes

  7. Though sex scenes tend to make me giggle like a middle schooler, I've had to write one myself (in a novel that will never, EVER see the light of day). Here it is for you, in all its second draft glory:

    "You wanna... you know?"

    "Rub our stuff together?"



    The two of them got down like it was China Town. And then, after getting down, they got up, because they had to be at work early.

    Oh, and here's a sex scene don't:
    Don't. Ever. refer to a man's penis as his "vagina baster". It's just gross.