SEX IN CHICK LIT…A Guest Post by Clodagh Murphy

I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING…

 I love that moment in a chick lit book when the hero and heroine have worked out their differences and sorted out their misunderstandings.  They know they want each other.  All that angst and unresolved sexual tension is finally going to be resolved, and you’re right there with them, tingling with anticipation of what’s about to happen, feeling the thrill of that first kiss, the excitement as they head towards the bedroom.  And then …

Cut to next scene.

Aaargh!  Don’t you hate it when you’re just getting into it, and then – nothing?  I certainly do.  It’s frustrating.  After all that build-up, I want the payoff.    I want more.  Sex scenes don’t have to be graphic or long or even include much of the sex act itself, but they should be enough.  They should leave the reader feeling satisfied.  Just like sex, really.

I don’t want to get all worked up just to have the bedroom door shut in my face, and if it is, I feel cheated.  After all, sex is an important part of modern relationships, so I expect it to be included in a contemporary love story.  Besides, I like a bit of raunch.  One of the most enjoyable things about this genre of fiction is that you identify with the heroine – live her life, experience her emotions, walk in her shoes – and I like my vicarious fictional life to include lovely food, big drinks, and a nice fat dollop of really good sex.

Granted, writing about sex is notoriously difficult.  There’s the naming of parts and the tricky issue of what words to use – the ‘ick’ factor is potentially very high.  You must steer a course between coy and crude, between gross graphic detail and ludicrous emotional hyperbole – all of which can leave the writer avoiding it like the stereotypical 1950s housewife avoiding … well, sex.

However, I think it is something that chick lit writers do particularly well, and some of the best examples of good sex writing are to be found in this genre – because sex in chick lit is rooted in reality.  It’s not idealised like in some romance novels, but neither is it as grim as it is depicted by those literary contenders for the Bad Sex Awards.

The characters in chick lit are real people with inhibitions and hang-ups, concerns about their wobbly bits and insecurities about their performance.  They don’t suddenly turn into sex gods and goddesses when they get into bed, and sex doesn’t take place on some higher plane – it’s earthy and real.  It can be awkward, embarrassing, funny, fantastic, routine, messy, plain awful, and even transcendental – and when it’s good it can be seriously hot.

When I did a quick survey among my friends about sex in chick lit, I was inundated with suggestions, both of memorable scenes and of writers who consistently nail it (pardon the pun) when writing about sex – among them Jennifer Crusie, Anna Maxted, Louise Bagshaw, Fiona Walker, Sophie Kinsella (the raspberry picking scene in The Undomestic Goddess), Freya North (the food seduction in Sally), and Katie Fforde (more food and sex in Flora’s Lot).  Personally, I think Sarra Manning writes brilliantly about sex, and though it is a very long time since I first read Jilly Cooper’s Riders, that scene with Billy and Janey and the dock leaves is still vivid in my mind.

So here’s to sex in chick lit!  Keep it coming (as it were)!

 What are your favourite sex scenes?  And do you feel cheated if the bedroom door is closed, or do you prefer it left to your imagination?

Clodagh Murphy is the author of THE DISENGAGEMENT RING and GIRL IN A SPIN.

More about Clodagh’s Books


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9 Responses to SEX IN CHICK LIT…A Guest Post by Clodagh Murphy

  1. Chanpreet says:

    I am very often disappointed when sex is completely left out of chick lit books. It’s even worse when the book just leaves off and picks up the morning after.

    Some of my favorite sex scenes have been in books by Louise Bagshawe. Of course, those were in her earlier books. It seems ever since she became an MP she’s taken some of the best parts out to risk censure. I still love her books though.

    One of the latest chick lit books with sex I readwas “A Brand New Me” by Shari Low, and it was well written. I was very impressed. Hopefully more authors will cross this tricky ground.

  2. Cresus Archipelago says:

    As a bloke (of the worst unreconstructed kind) and an engineer, I prefer diagrams, a complete list of parts and a full service history from kiss to Kleenex (as it were) – sorry.

  3. Oh, great blog.

    I think it depends on the story as to whether I feel disappointed or not. Obviously, if reading a Mills and Boon Cherish I know it’s not going to be there! But yes, usually, I do like to ‘see’ the action and not have a fade to black moment, especially if the sexual tension is so ripe and you want to bang their heads together, let alone their bodies! How boring is that? It’s a total anti-climax, pardon the pun!

    I did have this problem with writing my first novel. At one point while writing it, I couldn’t see how I was going to get sex into the story and it not be gratuitous, but I also knew it would frustrate my readers (if and when it got published) if these two didn’t wind up in bed. (And I didn’t want the bedroom scene to be the ‘happy’ ending either). Luckily, I got an answer, and was able to rectify this problem. Whether it will end up in the Bad Sex Awards is another thing. But I hope not… if one day it does find itself on a bookshelf.

    We all want to read the sex, but not if it’s written poorly!

    Also, reading my manuscript through, I spotted a bit where I did have a fade to black moment, and realised I was missing a key scene here. The heroine gave the go ahead, and the next minute, I’d told the readers the hero had removed her clothes on the way to the bedroom. Doh! The reader would like to be shown this, Teresa! Thank, goodness for editing! I sauced up that problem too!

  4. Melissa A says:

    I totally agree with you. I’ve critiqued books for leaving out such crucial scenes when they were begging to be included! My favorite sex scene author is Sue Margolis! (http://suemargolis.com/Sue_Margolis/Welcome.html.) Her sex scenes leave me breathless each time!
    Jennifer Weiner wrote some pretty hot ones in “Fly Away Home.”
    Josie Brown is also good for a hot scene or two.

  5. clodaghm says:

    Thanks for all your comments. I’ll definitely be checking out some of your suggestions for sexy chick lit!

  6. Great blog! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Jenny says:

    My Best Friend’s Life by Shari Low!!! Sexy and a great laugh!!

  8. Might I inquire if you’ll be ok with fee based articles or
    content? All I’d want is for you to draft material
    for myself and merely a web link or reference to my website.

    I could possibly pay you.

  9. Carla says:

    Rachel Gibson also writes good sex scenes.

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