Bad Sex Awards

“Each year since 1993, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award has honoured an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel.”Literary Review

Well, that’s all you need to know, right? These are OUTSTANDINGLY bad sex scenes.

I found this article on The Guardian – sorry, I hate that rag, but some friend of mine liked it on Facebook or something and it ended up in my feed and caught my eye. (Guardian got it from LR, I guess.)

Here are the contenders for 2016 (below), and they are awful.

I’m showing you these for two reasons. First, it’s kinda fun to read them and chuckle at how bad they are.

Second, to let you know it’s okay to write a sex scene that isn’t great. You won’t die. Nobody reaches through the internet and punches you in the nose.

Don’t worry that people will read your scene and laugh. These steps will help you do it right:

  • write your scene as best you can – and then
  • let your trusted critique partners read it, and
  • tell them ahead of time you’re scared it is terrible and to please advise you. They will.

Also, sex scenes are in lots of books, so

  • go to the library (or discreetly buy some on line) and
  • read examples of ones that work.
  • Ask friends and CPs for examples from stuff they’ve read.
  • There may be some in your online critique group. My online critique group has an erotica section. I’ve heard.

Read several examples of sex scenes (lots if they’re good) and learn how the good ones are done. Listen to the input of your CPs. Then put your scene out there. Because

there’s only one thing worse than people reading your scene and not liking it: people not reading your scene at all.

As a writer, to be unread is to not exist. Do the homework; then you won’t embarrass yourself. Writing requires guts, gang. Be bold in your writing. But be good if you can – and you can. Then you won’t be on this list.

Here they are. Enjoy.

A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin

The act itself was fervent. Like a brisk tennis game or a summer track meet, something performed in daylight between competitors. The cheap mattress bounced. She liked to do it more than once, and he was usually able to comply. Bourbon was his gasoline. Between sessions, he poured it at the counter while she lay panting on the sheets. Sweat burnished her body. The lean neck. The surprisingly full breasts. He would down another glass and return.

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

He closed his eyes and heard himself make a gurgling sound. And as his trousers slipped down his legs all the burdens of his life to date seemed to fall away from him; he tipped back his head and faced up into the darkness beneath the ceiling, and for one blessed moment he felt as if he could understand the things of this world in all their immeasurable beauty. How strange they are, he thought, life and all of these things. Then he felt Anezka slide down before him to the floor, felt her hands grab his naked buttocks and draw him to her. “Come, sonny boy!” he heard her whisper, and with a smile he let go.

Men Like Air by Tom Connolly

The walkway to the terminal was all carpet, no oxygen. Dilly bundled Finn into the first restroom on offer, locked the cubicle door and pulled at his leather belt. “You’re beautiful,” she told him, going down on to her haunches and unzipping him. He watched her passport rise gradually out of the back pocket of her jeans in time with the rhythmic bobbing of her buttocks as she sucked him. He arched over her back and took hold of the passport before it landed on the pimpled floor. Despite the immediate circumstances, human nature obliged him to take a look at her passport photo.

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

When his hand goes to my breasts, my feet are envious. I slide my hands down his back, all along his spine, rutted with bone like mud ridges in a dry field, to the audacious swell below. His finger is inside me, his thumb circling, and I spill like grain from a bucket. He is panting, still running his race. I laugh at the incongruous size of him, sticking to his stomach and escaping from the springing hair below.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Once they were in that room, Jason had slammed the door and devoured her with his mouth, his hands, which were everywhere. As if he were ravenous.

And she remembered standing in front of him, her dress a puddle on the floor, and how she’d started to shake, her knees knocking together, like she was a virgin, like this was the first time. Because had she allowed herself to hope, this was what she would’ve hoped for. And now here it was. And that was terrifying.

Jason had taken her hand and placed it over his bare chest, to his heart, which was pounding wildly, in tandem with hers. She’d thought he was just excited, turned on.

It had not occurred to her that he might be terrified, too.

The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca

She pushed on my hips, an order that thrust me in. I entered her. Not only my prick, but the whole of me entered her, into her guts, into her darkness, eyes wide open, seeing nothing. My whole body had gone inside her. I went in with her thrusts and stayed still. While I got used to the quiet and the pulsing of my blood in my ears and nose, she pushed me out a little, then in again. She did it again and again, holding me with force and moving me to the rhythm of the surf. She wiggled her breasts beneath my hands and intensified the pushing. I went in up to my groin and came out almost entirely. My body was her gearstick.



Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

25 thoughts on “Bad Sex Awards

  1. Totally bad. No wonder they were nominated for worst scenes. Couldn’t relate to any of it. Two particularly horrid parts stuck out in my mind. (Sorry about the choice of words) The guy drinking bourbon. Well according to my mom alcohol increases desire but kills the performance, so it’s hard to believe. She’s right!
    The other one is the girl who’s legs are trembling like a virgin. Can’t relate. It’s been a long time but don’t remember that happening. Thanks for letting us read this. It’s going in my “things but to write” file.

  2. Into her guts? Really?
    In the same vein, I offer this passage described in Wretched Writing:
    “Her hips were beautifully arched and her breasts were like proud flags waving triumphantly.” – Michael Avallone, The Case of the Violent Virgin

  3. I like how they said these were otherwise good novels. That means aside form these easily avoided screwups, pardon the pun, these books would have been fine. If only they’d have read my blog!

  4. Can you go pick these apart (well maybe just a couple of them) and explain why you think they are bad. I would find that helpful. I didn’t like the filtreing in some of them, or the weird connections some people made, but would really like some discussion. :).
    Just a suggestion. Maybe turn it into a couple posts.

    1. Sure! But it won’t take a couple of posts…

      This will be different for everyone but here are my problems with these.

      A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin
      Like Annette said, it’s a bit contrarian to say heavy drinking isn’t gonna affect performance, but this one is just all over the place, too. There’s no focus.

      The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

      “He closed his eyes and heard himself make a gurgling sound.”
      He heard himself make a sound? That’s awkward AND a filter. And not sexy. Sex scenes should be sexy. Gurgling = no.
      Then there’s this: “…burdens of his life to date seemed to fall away from him… for one blessed moment he felt as if he could understand the things of this world in all their immeasurable beauty.”
      That’s a bit purple prose-ish for me. And this, too: “How strange they are, he thought, life and all of these things.”
      And this:
      “Come, sonny boy!” – what is she, eighty? Sonny boy? That’s kinda scary, not sexy.

      Men Like Air by Tom Connolly
      I gotta say, if during sex people are checking out passport photos, you aren’t doing it right.

      The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis
      Nope, no envious feet. Have these people actually HAD sex?
      Nonsexy word alert: rutted, mud ridges, bucket, incongruous. Also, “springing hair” is just bad.

      Leave Me by Gayle Forman

      This one’s just kinda reaction before action-y; “devoured her with his mouth, his hands, which were everywhere” – when you say which, you’ve gotten it out of place. His hands were everywhere, devouring her. Something like that.
      Knocking knees aren’t universal for first times, so like Annette said, it might not work well, and this: “his heart, which was pounding wildly” again, that which reads odd to my eye, and hearts pounding in tandem? Well, that’s a nice romantic thought but it’s a bit over the top for me. Tandem heartbeats seems a tad medically impossible.

      The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca
      Like Allison said, guts = not sexy
      pulsing of my blood in my ears and nose – uh, pulsing noses aren’t sexy, either. Maybe a throbbing puklse – but maybe not in your nose. That whole nose thing takes me out of it – if I was ever in it.
      “My body was her gearstick.” No. Just… just no.

      1. Thanks so much. I thought I appreciate the time it took to teach me something. 🙂
        Heads up, I thought I replied to this already so you might get thanked twice…or I just didn’t press submit the first time. Hmmm.

  5. I was dying laughing reading the guy grabbing and checking out the passport while getting blown. Seriously? laughing.
    I did like this line though, Dan: As a writer, to be unread is to not exist.
    Just cut right to the point why don’t you. smiles

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