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Bad sex

I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before how much I relish certain kinds of bad writing.  Whether it’s found in queries so incoherent they make you want to request the manuscript they reference to see if the actual pages can possibly be as gawdawful (I do not recommend this as a tactic for getting your foot in the door), a passage so ripe in an otherwise well written novel that you question everything you ever believed about the author’s talent, or a subject so tricky that even otherwise skillful writers royally muck it up time and again when attempting to capture it in simple, lucid prose.

Sex is one of those subjects that turn good and even great authors into flailing amateurs.  It’s so hard to depict well that there should be dedicated writing courses teaching young MFA candidates how not to  screw it up (no pun intended).

That said, bad sex writing is a particularly fun subset of bad writing, and the 22nd Bad Sex in Fiction Awards once again celebrate that badness.  So, wander on over to the Literary Review for a peek at the nominees for “Britain’s Most Dreaded Literary Prize.”

Can you come up with anything similarly cringeworthy?

3 Responses to Bad sex

  1. Lorelei says:

    Any time I think of bad sex in writing, I think of Haruki Murakami. The one downside of audiobooks is you can’t skim over the awkward bits. You’re forced to listen to the entire grim encounter. I am deeply hesitant to buy his “Norwegian Wood.”

  2. My family memoir, Coming About: A Family Passage at Sea, contained approximately 650 words of sex scenes in a 70,000-word manuscript. (I counted!) But the sex is what everyone talked about. I heard my sex called “mundane” and “marital,” and I heard that someone returned the book because they thought it was a “family” book and wanted to read it out loud to their kids, until . . .
    Never again. Not until I take the course that Miriam is envisioning.
    Promise: it’s really hard. (writing about your own sex, I mean)

  3. Lynn says:

    All I know is writing a sex scene that works is difficult to write. In my opinion, this is one time when less is more. My WIP has two very different sex scenes, but in each one I feel alluding more to what’s going on and letting the reader use their imagination rather than being graphic and in their face is the way to go.

    I will say this about last year’s awards, Woody Guthrie and Jonathan Grimwood were definitely a close second to Manil Suri!

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