Don't concentrate simply on the mechanics or you'll have an awkward "tab A in slot B" scene that will make readers collapse with laughter. – C. Margery Kempe
I have recently discovered that the one award in writing I don’t mind not winning has been awarded once again. It’s Britain’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. I posted a blog on this last year, when the 2008 winner was Rachel Johnson for Shire Hell.
For those who don’t remember, the award (a plastic foot) was created in 1993 by literary critic, Rhoda Koenig and then editor of the Literary Review, Auberon Waugh, "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it."
The winner for 2009 was The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell. According to the Literary Review, “The judges used the occasion to praise an ambitious and impressive novel. They said: ‘It is in part a work of genius.’ However, a mythologically inspired passage and lines such as "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg" clinched the award.” The author was not available for comment, but the article said, “We hope he takes it in good humour.”
To read the entire winning exert, click here. You can also read clips by the runners up who included Paul Theroux, Nick Cave, Philip Roth, Amos Oz, Anthony Quinn, John Banville, Richard Milward, Sanjida O'Connell and Simon Van Booy.
According to a separate article I read on guardian.com by Tim Adams, “Sex disappears from the British novel as authors run scared of ridicule,” this award may be scaring authors from writing steamy scenes. The article states that former poet laureate, Andrew Motion, after reading through 138 novels to come up with the shortlist for the Booker Prize concluded that, “… no one was writing much about sex anymore.” Motion said, “It's as if they were paranoid about being nominated for the Bad Sex Award…” He is also quoted as saying that "there were a lot of people writing about taking drugs, as if that was a substitute for sex."
It’s an interesting article about the obscenity trial for Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence and “lust” highlights in literature. Adams says, “In 1961, the year after Lady Chatterley's Lover was allowed to be published in the UK, the book outsold the Bible, with two million copies bought (200,000 on the first day).” He goes on to list books on “Literary Lust: 10 Milestones,” such as Fanny Hill by John Cleland, Ulysses by James Joyce and Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, which had a part in changing the history of acceptable sex in novels.
The articles left me wondering if authors are shying away from writing about sexual encounters because they’ve all been done before; they don’t have the shock value that they once did; they are too difficult to write; they’re worried about the Bad Sex in Fiction Award; society is reverting back to the puritanical values of our ancestors; drug scenes have become the new sex scene; or they aren’t backing away at all. What do you think?
If you have trouble writing sex scenes and want to be sure you don’t win the foot trophy, check out last year’s guest post by C. Margery Kempe for her tips on writing these difficult scenes.
Other helpful articles I found are:
20 Steps to Writing Great Love Scenes, by Karen Wiesner at writing-world.com
How to Write a Fictional Sex Scene, by Catherine Chant at eHow.com
How to Write Sex Scenes: The 12-Step Program by Steve Almond on Nerve.com
Do you have trouble writing sex scenes? Have you read a scene you think might deserve the Bad Sex in Fiction Award? Do you think drug scenes are surpassing sex scenes in fiction?
Thanks for stopping by today. I hope to see you again next Monday.
Tags: C. Margery Kemp, bad sex in fiction award, writing sex scenes, Jonathan Littell , Lady Chatterley’s Lover , D. H. Lawrence, Fanny Hill, John Cleland,Ulysses ,James Joyce, Philip Roth,