On writing sex scenes

Well I am by no means the authority on this. It takes me a long time to get the sex scenes in my stories right. I’m not talking about erotic fiction here - I don't know if I would be able to do that - I would get bored. Last week I had to write a crucial sex scene in my book, it was important to get across the feelings of both characters as well as insert (snort) the mechanics of the act itself. I was chatting to a very conservative friend of mine who said that she hated when sex scenes were too vague in books and so I pushed myself a little further in my descriptions than I normally would.

I think the difficulty for me is that in a normal scene you don't write where peoples arms and legs are, and it’s not long before you just have a long list of "he did"s and "she did"s making it quite annoying to read. So, what I did was wrote the mechanical elements - the ergonomics of the situation and then I diluted it with talk or thoughts or feelings. In the end I had about 800 words worth of lovemaking. It took me 4 days. A part of that was trying to find replacement words for things like knickers - which just didn't work in the context I was giving them. Pants, underpants, underwear and shorts replaced the offending word in question.

By the time I had finished I was happy with my efforts. I think what made it harder (snort) is that while I am not a prude, there is an overriding fear of being judged on your own sexual performance - but that's where you have to make sure you set up the characters and story properly so that people forget the person behind the words. It’s a strange thing because I don't read a sex scene in a book and think - jeez - that author is fucked in the head. The way I write doesn’t really allow for the naming of body parts, and so I had to insinuate strongly what was going where and when. It would just look weird If I put the word penis (dick, cock, member etc) into the prose. I hope in the end I have done my characters justice because they really did deserve to have a good time, they had both been through a lot ;)

A friend of mine shared a sex scene he had written, complete with dicks and knickers and it worked in the context of the story he had written. I couldn't actually think of any sex scenes I had read in books, now the only one I can even vaguely remember is the BIRDSONG one, which was beautiful.

I don't really have any advice here only that I persevered and went beyond what I was comfortable with in order to deliver the scene I wanted. Its vague enough to still be poetic but not so vague that you aren't entirely sure what the hell is going on.

So maybe it’s time for you to give me some advice. Do you have any rules about writing sex scenes? What do you think is most important? What annoys you when reading sex scenes in books?