Weird Writer Problems

by | February 24, 2017 | General | 8 comments

by Kathleen Bradean

Have you ever been writing and felt as if the sex scene was going to ruin your story? I have, and was weird, because I’d started out to write erotica. It wasn’t one of those other genre stories where I reached a point where the characters were getting turned on and I had to make that decision to follow them or move on to a later scene. This was the point of the story. And yet…

I’ve mentioned before that I write in another genre. I made the decision to leave out sex scenes (honestly – because my father wanted to read my work and he wouldn’t if there was sex) and find it’s difficult to stop myself when it’s the natural progression of a scene. I often feel like writing little fanfics of my own work so I can write what I imagine follows rather than let all that lovely sex stay locked in my imagination.

Why would it be so easy in those stories to scorch the pages when sometimes it’s so hard to get into the mood to write the actual sex part of my erotica? I’ve seen writer burnout in this genre. Few of the writers I “came up” with at ERWA still write. But it feels like it’s a different issue than burnout.

I think – and this may be off base – but it seems to be an issue with the characters. The pair in my series have great chemistry. Even when it isn’t about sex with them, it’s about sex. I recently reread The Thin Man and it reminded me how fun it is to see a couple that’s so deeply into each other. There was no sex on those pages either, but you just knew between the scenes that Nick and Nora Charles were all over each other.

There’s an annual bad sex writing award – which I hate. The whole idea is to laugh at writers – usually big names – who did a terrible job writing sex scenes. In every case, I can sense the dread. The smooth writing becomes awkward. At times it feels as if they wrote everything else around it, maybe using a place keeper *insert sex scene here* then circled back at the end, leaned as far from their computers as they could, wrinkled their noses, turned their heads, painfully sputtered a few words across the page, slammed the computer shut and sent the manuscript off to their editor like it was a used diaper left cooking in the back seat of a car in Atlanta in August.

Have you ever felt like the sex scene ruined the flow of your story? Have you felt it ruined the flow of the story?  How did you fix that?

Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean’s stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Haunted Hearths, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, and She’s On Top in print. Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites have also featured her stories. Writing as Jay Lygon, her stories can be found in Inside Him, Blue Collar Taste Tests, Toy Box: Floggers, and the novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons. Read more about Kathleen Bradean at:


  1. Martin Gross

    I always worry if the writing is too tasteless or pornographic for the average reader to bear.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      That's an interesting thought. I'm not a researchers with a good grip on human sexuality, but my guess is that at heart, most people's sexual fantasies are "tasteless," pornographic, and probably even violent. We don't talk too much about our darker sides.

  2. Jean Roberta

    I suspect we writers worry that the sex scenes and the surrounding plot (including character development and setting) attract mutually exclusive readers. Writing a fairly cliched sex scene isn't hard, but going beyond cliches and integrating it into a work of fiction brings up the question of who is the target audience. Readers who want a masturbation fantasy presumably skip to the "good parts," and mainstream fiction readers presumably skim over the sex to follow the plot. There probably is a critical mass of readers who want a fascinating imaginary world that includes sex, but those readers don't live in our heads! Just my take.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      I agree. There are different audience expectations and you're never going to meet the extremes in one piece. The wank fantasy end of the spectrum is harder to write than most people would suspect, but so is the other end!

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    I sometimes do find myself resisting when it comes to the point of writing the sex scene. Partly, this is because I feel as though I've written so many that I might not be able to say anything fresh or different. There's also the fact that I'm really more interested in desire — the longing that precedes the sex — than in its satisfaction.

    I also have family voices in my internal dialogue. My brother tells me I'm a great writer, but he "doesn't want to get turned on when he reads".

    • Kathleen Bradean

      Interesting. Lately my focus has turned to desire and not the sex act.

  4. Larry Archer

    I don't really worry about offending the reader. One, they should realize they are reading erotica and have to make a conscious decision to read. Two, when I'm reading a dirty story I expect sex because why else would it be called erotica? Now I write generally "normal" sex and don't go too deeply into some of the more kinkier forms such as BDSM, etc. Now if you are writing more of the extreme forms then it might be a good idea to let the reader know.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      I take it you're responding to Martin, so I won't speak for him.

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