Writing about sex – badly
Let’s talk about sex, or rather write about it. Usually badly. Take The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills for an example: ‘Down, down, on the eschatological bed.’
What does eschatological mean anyway?
Both the Sunday Times and The Guardian followed up on a Radio Times article by novelist Julian Barnes on why the British have a specific problem about sex in literature. (Just literature? I thought we were hung up about sex generally…)
Apparently it’s really hard to write well about sex. I think it’s really hard to read about good sex. Starts making you squirm with inadequacy.
Anyway, as a writer, you can end up in the Bad Sex in Fiction awards, like David Guterson for overusing “back door”, “family jewels” and “front parlour”. I believe there is something worse than that. Your readers – or audience – think that’s a) how you do it and b) that you must think about sex all the time.
In Martini Bond, there is one very funny sex scene. Simulated while tied up under a laser. It’s all Fifty Shades of Grey. We even use that line and it gets a laugh.
The problem is that I’ve had quite a few members of the audience (usually – make that always – men) approach me afterwards and say something like: “I didn’t know that’s what’s on your mind…”
Oh god. It’s not. It’s fiction. And we thought it was funny. In rehearsals. Where no one can approach you…
Anyway, must be off for a spot of Carry-On style hanky-panky, rumpy-pumpy… all in the name of research.
PS A big thank you to everyone who sent messages of support over the stolen car. The show went on. We got a great review – Spoof genius for Bond fans. And we could be back in Manchester in the summer for the Pride festival.
Have you written a sex scene? Will you give us some lines? Do you squirm when you read sex scenes? Or was it good for you? And what does eschatological mean?