How to write sex scenes:
Instructors teach a taboo subject at Toronto conference

Two presenters at this weekend's Creative Writing in the 21st Century conference at Humber College in Toronto are helping students to avoid the Bad Sex Fiction Award by teaching them about how to write sex scenes.

Nicole Markotic and Suzette Mayr will host the provocative workshop to give writers tips on how to make sex scenes plausible while avoiding the typical embarrassment and fear associated with such imagery.Quill and Quire spoke with Markotic on the subject on Thursday.

"Suzette had a situation where a student came to her and wanted to write erotica," Markotic said, according to Quill and Quire. "You can’t say to students that you’re not allowed to do something – the attitude is you can write what you want, but it has to be a literary work. So she did a bunch of research on literary erotica and writers from the modernist period, and it grew from there."

According to Markotic, most writers she admires write that aren't offensive or violent, they're simply boring. She also found that none of her students even thought to write sex scenes between non-heterosexual couples.

Markotic brought in sexual scenes from Canadian poetry and literature, particular the work of Michael Ondaatje and Leonard Cohen. Her and her students discussed if there were such things as normal sex scenes in Canadian literature. In the discussion, the students determined that sex scenes should teach something about the character and be important to the narrative.

As far as what Markotic hopes to get out of the conference, she is interested to see if other writers have avoided or taught how to write sex scenes during their classes.

"I do know that when you teach Canadian literature – when you teach Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage, or Leonard Cohen and Robert Kroetsch, you can’t do it without discussing the sex scenes. So we’ve taught it a lot, but rarely to creative writing students," Markotic said, according to Quill and Quire.

The conference is hosted by the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs organization. The class will be held on Friday afternoon during the "Writing Sex, Objet Trouvé and Sex in Paris" section of the program. 

Done with How to Write Sex Scenes? Go back to Creative Writing Tips.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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