Seeing as there may well be the need to add some sex into a story I'm currently cobbling together, this got me thinking about what is good or bad sex in fiction. Can there ever be good sex in fiction, or is it bound to make someone somewhere squirm? Should writers just avoid writing sex?
This got me thinking that it might be funny to get you all to find a sex scene from a book you've read and add it to this discussion. Then we can decide if it's bad sex or not. I offer up two examples of bad sex:
I pressed my lips against the sky, and licked the stars into my mouth. She took my body into hers, and every movement was an incantation. Our breathing was like the whole world chanting prayers. Sweat ran in rivulets to ravines of pleasure. Every moment was a satin skin cascade. Within the velvet cloaks of tenderness, our backs convulsed in quivering heat, pushing heat, pushing muscles to complete what minds begin and bodies always win. I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea. And the wailing moan that drove our lips together, at the end, was the world of hope and sorrow that ecstasy wrings from lovers as it floods their souls with bliss. (p400) Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
Nominated in the 2004 award. Shantaram was a good book, but the sex was quite ridiculous - licking stars, indeed. Sounds like something I wrote as a teenager.
This one is from the winner of the 2004 Bad Sex Award. It WILL make you squirm:
Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth. She tried to make her lips move in sync with his. The next thing she knew, Hoyt had put his hand sort of under her thigh and hoisted her leg up over his thigh. What was she to do? Was this the point she should say, "Stop!"? No, she shouldn't put it that way. It would be much cooler to say, "No, Hoyt," in an even voice, the way you would talk to a dog that insists on begging at the table.
Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns - oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest - no, the hand was cupping her entire right - Now! She must say "No, Hoyt" and talk to him like a dog. . .
. . . the fingers went under the elastic of the panties moan moan moan moan moan went Hoyt as he slithered slithered slithered slithered and caress caress caress caress went the fingers until they must be only eighths of inches from the border of her public hair - what's that! - Her panties were so wet down. . . there - the fingers had definitely reached the outer stand of the field of pubic hair and would soon plunge into the wet mess that was waiting right. . . there-there- (p368-9) I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
"Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth" - I think I may have kissed Hoyt at some point in my life. "Wet mess"???? This just goes to support my body horror theory I never got to write about at university. I never want to sleep with anyone named Hoyt...or name my dog after him. Bad dog!
Here's the problem - unlike real life, you never remember the good sex in fiction. I just looked up the sex in Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" (which I thought was quite nice). When you read it out of context of the entire story (you only get it on the last few pages) it just reads badly.
So, thoughts and quotations please!