Friday, 4 December 2009


By Richard Jay Parker

Thought I'd pick up on Matt's blog about writing sex scenes (I couldn't really resist).

There's nothing worse than sex that's shoehorned into a story. I've read some books where it appeared to be cut and pasted onto the plot at precisely calculated intervals. One book had it every twelve pages.

Don't get me wrong, I love reading about sex. It's the one thing that unites most readers. A large percentage of us are interested in it in one form or another. It has an even more illicit thrill here in the UK because even though we're in the 21st Century there's still a large number of readers who still approach reading about it as something furtive.

It's bizarre that we're happy to discuss the most explicit violence but still have a block on something as natural as sex. OK it depends which books you read. If you combine the two we're in a whole different territory.

But when it comes to consenting sex there's certainly an expectation of it in the thriller genre. It's a welcome spice to any holiday read but it has to be relevant.

STOP ME doesn't contain any sex. It didn't occur to me that there should be any because it just didn't figure in the story. The new book that I've just finished does contain sex. It wasn't a directive or a conscious decision - the character dynamic within the story demanded it. The story revolves around a sexual relationship and the question of whether it will be rekindled. Not boy meets girl but boy has already met girl. Their lives have moved on but now they've been thrown back together with all the baggage of their intervening years.

Restraint is often the key, however, even though sex is as subjective as violence. Too much for one person is not enough for another. You can only strive to be true to your story rather than thinking of who you're going to excite or offend. If your story is good it's only part of a much bigger picture.


  1. Naturally, the title got my attention, but one point you made is interesting. Yes, I’ve read thrillers where brains were drilled into by a psychopath, scientists were dropped screaming out of helicopters by government baddies, and other sensational, sinister and delightful scenarios. But sex – be careful; Heaven forbid a child gets their hands on that book.

    Also, Unless I’m reading a romantic-thriller, I don’t really expect sex scenes in the thriller genre. Innuendoes, certainly, but I’m also the type of guy that likes to use his imagination.

  2. I agree that sex within a book should only be there if it fits in with the story you are telling, not just putting it in to try and capture a larger audience.

    I am a reader of thriller books, and I would say that there is generally a reasonable lack of sex within this genre (not that I'm complaining). If there has been, then it has been in line with the story itself.

    Fitting sex into stories should only happen with the likes of the Collins-Sisters (Jackie, Joan...), and the readers expect it! If there was no sex in these books, there would be uproar!

    I think us Brits (in the past) have been brought up to think sex is something that you don't talk about, very much frowned upon. The only way to find out about it was by reading books of this ilk, and by reading these books, you felt naughty in some way.

    Time has moved on, nowadays talking about sex is common place in chats with your friends. We are slowly lightening up!

    As you say, it is the 21st Century....

  3. Thanks, Charlie. Yes it is a bizarre state of affairs where graphic violence is casually discussed and people have to think twice about mentioning sex. Think both are great elements of any story if they're in context - personally I'd rather sex over violence every time!

    Natalie - yes I think we have moved on in our attitudes in the UK but there's still a way to go. I think the over-the-shoulder test can be applied here. If somebody is stood behind you on public transport do you feel uncomfortable if you're reading about violence or more so if it's a sex scene?