The official blog of Jane Domagala


In my last post I spoke of violence in adult fantasy fiction. Today I'm going to continue the discussion of adult content in adult fiction and talk about SEX. To me, sex in fiction means a number of things; sexual interests, the way people behave around the opposite sex (or same sex if that's your fancy) and of course the physical act of sex. In my opinion fantasy books should have a combination of all three. All adults think about sex, engage with the opposite sex and (if they're lucky) have sex. There's no avoiding it. So why should your characters.

Quick note:  I am generally talking heterosexual interactions, however, everything said can apply to any sexual orientation your characters may take, monsters and aliens included. Also, I am speaking from a woman's point of view, so guys if you have a difference of opinion, would love to hear about it.

Sexual Interests.
The sort of fantasy novel you're writing will dictate how deep you go when it comes to romance, but that doesn't mean you should ignore sexual interest. Your characters can still be attracted to others without falling in love. Obsession for the one you can't have can really drive a character's decisions.

You can't go through life without being attracted to someone and neither can your characters.

The way you behave.
The lack of sexual interaction is one of the most frustrating things for me when I read a book.

Men and women check each other out. Sometimes you get caught, sometimes you don't. To all the women writers, don't make your male characters overly sensitive. When there's cleavage in the room men are going to look. To all the male writers, women are looking too, it's just our wider peripheral vision makes it easier for us to be subtle.

We alter the way we behave around people of the opposite sex, especially if we are attracted to someone. We make excuses to be closer to them, or touch them. Or if we're shy, we desperately avoid eye contact. We have all flirted at one time or another with the opposite sex, even when there is no sexual pursuit involved. Flirting is a great way for your characters to  subtly manipulate, or be manipulated. We have all talked about sex – wish mine were/was bigger, what are they like in the sack. Whether we are comfortable, or embarrassed in sexual discussion can depend on who we are with.

There are always going to be people who push you out of your comfort zone and become crude and crass. Or maybe you are the one doing the pushing. Put your characters in awkward positions with the opposite sex. Don't make it easy for them.

The physical act of sex.
The fun part. I find it most unsatisfying when the main character, who I've invested my time in, spends the whole book eyeing off their love interest only to get a kiss at the end (or not even that in some of the books I've read). Not all of your characters are going to have sex in your book, but in real life people are having sex. Don't avoid it in your adult novel.

This doesn't mean you have to write graphic thrust by thrust descriptions. On the contrary, writing a sex scene can be an opportunity to bring out your literary side with metaphors and colourful imagery. If you're feeling bold then you may want to add some detail; give the reader something to remember. Don't be afraid to use the word penis. Just be careful your descriptions don't cross over into erotica if your aim is to write down-the-line fantasy.

It can be hard knowing the limit of how much or how little sex you put in. Too much and it becomes porn, too little and you have yourself a young adult novel instead. When you do find that balance it will add a whole other level of depth to your story.

Coming up: Swearing - the fun I have making up words.


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