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The question is whether the dialog should be written at all if the dialog during a sex scene doesn't serve any purpose. There's also this notion that a writer might feel shame when writing the dialog during a sex scene - should the writer ignore that impulse or should he act upon it? I see a lot of sex scenes in comics that are silent, so I am wondering if it's a good idea. Also, I am wondering if the sex scene should be removed if it doesn't serve any purpose, and hence the dialog also doesn't serve any purpose.

The issue with my particular case is that I am using it in a way it becomes a moment where the narrative just gets put on pause and to titillate the readers.

I am thinking that in shows like Games of Thrones, the sex scene are almost never useless and thus passing the Chekhov gun, since sex always has a political implication good or bad for a person, but if the sex scene serves "to reward" your readers, can it just be removed? If I shouldn't remove it, should I include the dialog, which are somewhat useless and don't really serve a purpose?

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What kind of weirdos talk while they're having sex? Before, sure. After, maybe - if neither falls asleep and one (or both) still have the energy to think. During - nope, too busy.

The problem with sex scenes is that everyone has different expectations about what it should be like - and those expectations are very personal. If you get detailed, you'll interest some readers, cause others to lose interest, titillate some, and disgust others - and mostly satisfy nobody.

If it isn't integral to the story, leave it out. You can imply it happening and leave the content to the reader's imagination. If something important happens, then work it in such a way that you don't have to describe the slippy-slidey details of what the characters are doing.

"Reward the readers" is a strange concept in this context. What kind of "reward" are your readers looking for? I'm looking for a good story, not a porno. If I want porn, I'll go find some (or go get "the real deal.") Half hearted "reader service sex" that is unlikely to be satisfying (or even interesting) is just not even in it.


I find the "sex has political implications" argument rather specious. The same "political implications" can be made without naked skin. It's there simply because "sex sells." The Game of Thrones viewers like skin and stay glued to the screen, hoping for a glimpse of naked whatchamacallums.

"Political" stuff can be handled in dialog before or after just as easily, with the implied coercion through political (or physical) power handled before or after the titillating stuff (which can happen off camera.)

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    What kind of weirdos talk while they're having sex? The kind(s) of weirdo that pop up in fiction all the time! Weird behaviour (let's not argue about whether or not talking during sex is weird) is not something that all fiction need steer away from. Sure, you might put off some of the potential readership, but that's true of almost anything you might write. Save me, please, from stupid stories about child wizards ... Sep 23, 2022 at 10:10
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    The thing about sex scenes is that the expectations are so diverse that you'll surely drive off readers who were otherwise interested in your story. I mean, Harry Potter is popular but if you have him sucking Hermione's toes you're going to lose a lot of readers.
    – JRE
    Sep 23, 2022 at 10:19
  • The fan-fiction on the other hand will be really popular. :P
    – user54131
    Sep 23, 2022 at 10:33
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    @JRE 'Harry Potter is popular but if you have him sucking Hermione's toes' - I'd buy that book. Sep 27, 2022 at 14:23
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    What about those stories of people calling out the 'wrong' name during sex? Of course some people talk. Feb 28, 2023 at 16:50
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Which is steamier, having two characters simply silently going through the motions of this or actively communicating with each other?

Because then they can tease each other to increase tension, flirt a bit to set the mood, and learn more about the other person.

Mindless fun is all well and good, but if a scene's not developing the plot it should be developing the characters.

Is character A inexperienced? Nervous? Excited? Then that will show through their dialogue, and then we'll learn more about the character as a person. It might serve as an excellent contrast to the persona they present in public. They're normally very brave and confident, but when it comes to deeply personal, intimate moments, they're completely out of their depth.

What about character B? Have they been in countless relationships before? Is this a fling or is character A the love of their life? Are they nervous too? Fully on board? Do they have second thoughts or even another possible love interest?

Good dialogue can help the readers get into the heads of these characters to know exactly what they're thinking. As an added bonus, it ups the sexual tension because now the characters are actively flirting. It also shows that they have a healthy relationship. They're communicating. Letting their partner know if they feel uncomfortable. Slowing down if the other needs a break. Telling the other if there's something wrong.

I can see only two reasons why a sex scene would have zero dialogue. Either the characters are in such a whirlwind of emotion that they can barely contain themselves, or they're bored and only going through the motions.

The first is fun. The second isn't fun for anybody.

But the first only works with good characterization and build-up beforehand, such as two characters that have been building up unresolved tension for chapter after chapter. Once you've built it up enough, the audience finally gets a sense of catharsis now that the two they've been rooting to get together get a chance to actually enjoy the moment. No more monsters or bad guys or whatever drama kept them apart in the story.

The second situation is interesting. Two characters with little to no chemistry throwing caution to the wind for a night. This could lead to a lot of interesting story situations and character interactions, especially if the act doesn't even compute until the deed is done. Character A might think B is head over heels in love with them while Character B is embarrassed and wants to put the whole situation behind them.

Here's an interesting misunderstanding that could lead to a lot of drama. After the fling is over, both character A and character B had a great time and are now head over heels for each other. But because both of them stayed dead silent during the whole exchange, they're both convinced the other person never wants to talk to them again. You see, that's why characters need proper communication.

If you want the relationship to work out, I'd suggest them both have compelling and healthy communication as that is the foundation of any relationship. If you want them to have nothing more than a night of fun they'll both forget afterward, then sure, have them say nothing. Up to you.

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I would not include a sex scene to "reward" readers.

I generally exclude explicit sex scenes, my only exception would be if something happened during sex that changes somebody's mind.

If two people are having sex for the first time, I often portray enough of the start so there is no ambiguity that they had sex; but much like what you see on modern network TV; it is just R rated, not X rated.

There are good reasons to include sex in a story, as I heard one SciFi author say, you don't risk your life and cross the universe to save a woman because she is a good conversationalist.

Sex changes relationships, it is a motivator like few others. Sex that betrays another is a very plausible reason to turn a lover into a hateful adversary.

But a hefty percentage of readers just do not like gratuitous sex, and prefer the sex just be hinted at. Strongly perhaps, but not explicit.

If two (or more) people are in a sexual relationship, it might be natural to show that they do have sex, even regularly, but I would need a good plot reason to include explicit sex. Something would have to happen there that alters the relationship, and depicting that moment of change would then be important.

But in decades of writing, I have not had reason to do that.

I can certainly understand depicting a violent rape, perhaps, the impact might be crucial to the rape victim's response.

I will say that porn does sell, many want to read it, or watch it. If that is your goal, just write porn. Write erotic novels or short stories. I'd study other erotic writing that sells, and see how it is done.

But I wouldn't try to just add a few pages of erotica to a novel, just to keep the reader's interest. If you think your story is getting boring, fix it. Don't try to put an erotic bandaid on it.

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    I have to disagree with your take on depicting a violent assault. You never want to go into detail over such a thing. It brings up repressed trauma in audience members. They might have a panic attack or a depressive episode or who knows! The act itself is horrifying enough through implication alone. Better to show the horror purely through the character's reaction. They have nightmares. They can't sleep at night. The thought of their abuser makes them vomit. They need to see a therapist. They have panic attacks. Etc. Audiences are smart enough to fill in the blanks from there. Sep 23, 2022 at 14:03
  • @Nyctophobia457 Hard disagree, there's certainly valid story-reasons for including a depiction of a violent assault - if done properly and it's not gratuitous (i.e. not just for "shock" value) and there can be plenty of reasons why the options you describe aren't available or appropriate Sep 23, 2022 at 17:13
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    Well, I can't speak for other people, but personally I prefer not to be traumatized by what I read. I suffer from a vivid imagination. So please, if you think a story calls for graphic depictions of violent assault, put a big fat warning label on the cover so I know to avoid it. Yes, there may be good story reasons for including it (or, for that matter, anything else real or imaginable), but there is no valid reason for traumatizing unwitting readers.
    – user54131
    Sep 23, 2022 at 19:51
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    @Nyctophobia457 I can't count the number of murders I have seen on TV and in the movies; the number of robberies at gunpoint, the number of hostages murdered on screen, the number of people tortured, even the number of suicides. Depictions of people killing and dying in war, despite the well known number of PTSD soldiers. "Never" is far too strong a word. If somebody has suffered a violent assault; it is their responsibility to avoid the entirely voluntary act of consuming fiction about one. Reducing fiction to only what will never "trigger" anyone leaves us no options.
    – Amadeus
    Sep 23, 2022 at 19:53
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    @towr I don't object to the warning label. "R" for violence, and/or "XXX" for explicit sexual acts. But when I watch an "R" rated or "XXX" movie, I am signing up for those, as an adult. I have no legitimate complaint if I find them traumatic. Something similar on books would be fine with me.
    – Amadeus
    Sep 23, 2022 at 19:58

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