The sex/love scene in a romance novel is of the utmost importance. It's what most readers wait for - that magic moment when the hero and heroine decide to do IT.
And the author has to make it memorable. She has an obligation to her readers to ensure they leave the book/bedroom feeling as satisfied as the two lovers.
I know it's genre dependent, but usually the sex has to be meaningful because the hero and heroine have been fighting their attraction to each other for however-many chapters. The sex can't be over in 30 seconds. Even if it's frantic, it's got to be jam-packed with emotion and a vibrant energy that lifts everyone to a climax - if you know what I mean.
Romance writers labour over the scenes in which the hero and heroine consummate their relationship. The challenge is to keep the writing fresh and avoid cliches, which takes a lot of work. Mop my beaded brow, Hugh!
But in the literary world it seems this is not the case. For the past 18 years, a British publication has highlighted usually prominent authors' godawful sex scenes.
The Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award for 2010 is being announced tomorrow (November 29) but I thought you might like a sample of two of the nominees' work. The prize rewards "poorly written, redundant or crude passages of a sexual nature" in literary works.
Australian author Christos Tsiolkas' Booker-longlisted novel The Slap made it onto the bad sex shortlist. The Sydney Morning Herald's Susan Wyndham wrote of the nomination:
'The judges cited a passage in which two characters ''f---ed for ages'' in the family home of one, ''standing up, her skirt bunched around her ankles, his jeans pulled down to his knees, moaning into each other, the drug keeping him hard and allowing him to forestall climaxing''.
'Jonathan Beckman, the assistant editor of The Literary Review, which gives the annual award, said the sheer quantity of sex also weighed heavily in the judges' choice. ''It's very repetitive,'' he said. ''The sheer laziness of saying 'they f---ed for ages' is just one example of slack writing.'''
Good luck with it, Christos.
American writer Jonathan Franzen topped the list with scenes from his latest novel, Freedom:
Here's what The Guardian had to say:
'The judges were unmoved by the hype surrounding this autumn's standout fiction title, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, citing the bestselling account of the disintegration of an American family for a description of a "phone sex" encounter where words make "their own world. One afternoon, as Connie described it, her excited clitoris grew to be eight inches long, a protruding pencil of tenderness with which she gently parted the lips of his penis and drove herself down to the base of its shaft. Another day, at her urging, Joey described to her the sleek warm neatness of her turds as they slid from her anus and fell into his open mouth, where, since these were only words, they tasted like excellent dark chocolate."'
A pencil will never look the same.