Steve Almond on How (Not) to Write About Sex

Fiction writer Steve Almond is a master at combining eros, comedy and tragedy in such books as The Evil B.B. Chow. Venturing for the first time into this dangerous territory myself, I found his advice in this article from the Boston Phoenix newspaper quite helpful, and entertaining to boot. Along with specifics like “never compare a woman’s nipples to Frankenstein’s bolts,” he reminds writers that good erotica is about the ways in which sex reveals characters’ personality and emotions. A humanizing dose of comedy lends realism and sets your writing apart from mere porn.

Following Margaret Cho’s philosophy that the best thing to do with an embarrassing moment is to broadcast it over the mass media, I’ll share this incident from the writing life: Last weekend I finally forced myself to write the all-important first sex scene between my novel’s pair of male lovers. My longsuffering husband comes into our studio and begins asking me a home-repair question. “Not now, sweetie, I’m in the middle of a blowjob.” Adam says, “Uh, you know the guy from the roofing company is in the room, right?” 

If this were my novel and not real life, an hour later we’d have gotten the shingles replaced for free…

12 comments on “Steve Almond on How (Not) to Write About Sex

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