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Writing Sex Scenes

Writing Sex Scenes - Sh! Women's Store
Guest Blog by Paul Burston
Sex scenes are, pardon, the pun, hard to write. That’s why we have the Bad Sex Award, to recognise those authors who tried – and failed – to liven up their prose with a bit of flesh on flesh.
I must be a glutton for punishment, because much of my writing revolves around sex and sexuality. As a gay writer, I often feel that I’m caught between a rock and hard place (sorry). On the one hand, I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that all gay men ever think about is sex. At the same time, I don’t want to be dishonest and pretend that all they ever think about are the finer things in life like opera.
My first novel, ‘Shameless’, was full of sex scenes. This made sense, because it  was about a gay men thrown back onto the dating scene after an unexpected breakup. In the story, Martin goes looking for love in the all the wrong places, winding up in sex clubs or off his face on drugs at gay underground parties.
My second novel, ‘Star People’, was about a gay male prostitute in LA. Naturally there was quite a lot of sex, because this is what the main character did for a living.
After that I wrote a book called ‘Lovers & Losers’, where there was less sex. And more recently I published my fourth novel, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, which is about a gay man planning his civil partnership. Again, there are quite a few sex scenes.
For me, sex scenes work best if they reveal something about the character. People have sex for all kinds of reasons. They might be having fun. They might be expressing their love for their partner. Or they might be feeling insecure, or unloved, or have some other agenda.
It was Oscar Wilde who said that there are two tragedies in life. The first is not getting what you want, the second is getting it. For me, the best sex scenes are when a character thinks they’re getting what they want, only to find that they’re not.

If you'd like to see Paul read from his new novel The Gay Divorcee then come along to Sh! this Thursday where he will be joining Rebecca Chance and Stella Duffy for a Sexy Summer Book Reading.
Tickets are £3 and include cupcakes and lashings of pink bubbly.
Email us at to book yourself a space!!

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