This is something that I struggle with – writing about it without including gratuitous details or off-putting graphic references to body parts. Here are couple of snippets from books I have read that really don’t do it for me:
“maintaining his erection against her thigh, he lubricated her with his hand”
Sorry but Yuck!
“she felt the length of his shaft”
They were down a mine, right?
If I am reading a love scene, I feel cheated if the couple go off to bed and shut the door on me, but yet it can be cringe-making to be allowed behind the door.
As a teenager I loved the work of DH Lawrence and must have read just about everything he ever wrote – and how sensitively he wrote it! Yes, he could be graphic, but then the ‘C’ word in his day sounded okay. DH Lawrence also describes human emotions as they are, sometimes forsaking delicacy. His characters feel anxiety in their bowels rather than as a butterfly fluttering in the chest.
Many years ago I read Roald Dahl’s ‘My Uncle Oswald’ (and I might quote this wrong as my copy got passed on along with all the Lawrence books) but I still recall a scene where he is looking through a window and he narrates something like this;
“I am not a voyeur. The act of copulation is like that of picking your nose. It is okay to be doing it yourself but to witness someone else doing it is a singularly unpleasant spectacle.”
That cracked me up when I read it and has stuck in my mind since about 1990, and probably explains why I struggle with sex scenes and why I will never be entirely at ease with writing them. But I hope to keep practising …