What we can learn from the bad sex in fiction awards

For you, it might be that time of year when you start getting festive. Hauling your Christmas decorations out of storage and putting an advent calendar on the mantelpiece to start counting down the days. But for sex writers like me, it’s that time of year when we pore over the Bad Sex In Fiction Awards, wondering whose prose has caused the most cringing.

The annual Bad Sex In Fiction Awards were created by the Literary Review to highlight some of the more awkward sex scenes in literary fiction. This year, the author Christopher Bollen had the rather dubious honour of ‘winning’ the award, with this passage:

“She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.”

I think it was the ‘billiard rack’ that did it.

Other nominees included Binet:

“Bianca grabs Simon’s dick, which is hot and hard as if it’s just come out of a steel forge, and connects it to her mouth-machine.”

And Venetia Welby:

“The green grass curls around Tera’s left breast as she curves her sleek physique around Matty’s diabolical torso like a vine. Paralysed, complete, the marble statue of the lovers allows itself to be painted by the dawn’s lurid orange spillage.”

It sounds a bit harsh (and it probably is) to haul writers over the coals for bad sex descriptions. After all, not everyone can be as liberated as we are here at Sextoys.co.uk – most people have grown up in a world that frowns upon open sexual discussion, and although the tables are turning many people still find it difficult to articulate their sexual desires. How can we talk about sex in a hot way if we haven’t had much practice? I’m sure my own dirty talk is a million times better than it was when I was in my early twenties, because since then I’ve had years of practice via my own sex blog.

If you want to improve your own dirty talk (or dirty writing – after all a sexy email or sext can often be as sexy as a whispered word in someone’s ear) here are a few tips that might help you out.

1. Listen to the words your partner uses

Choosing what to call someone’s penis or vagina (those medical terms might work for some, but they’re not often the words we’d choose in a sex context) is one of the trickiest things. Too direct and you might sound aggressive or offputting. Too euphemistic and you end up with Christopher Bollen’s ‘billiard rack.’ So step one is to listen to the words that your partner uses. Engage them in a bit of sexy chat and mirror back the language they use. If they say ‘dick’, you know you’ll get a better turn-on hit rate with ‘dick’, rather than ‘member’ or ‘peen’ or whatever.

Or you could sit down with them in front of a computer and do a bit of sex toy shopping: browse the new products and ask them what they like. Starting a conversation like this is a great way of getting to know not just what their fantasies are, but how they’ll describe them and the kind of atmosphere they get most turned on by.

2. Practice your dirty talk frequently

As I say, the first time you talk dirty to someone you’re likely to have more ‘misses’ than ‘hits’ – you need to get into the flow a little, and learn from their responses. Sometimes they’ll respond with an ‘mmm’ or an ‘aaah’, and that’s when you know you’re really nailing it. If in doubt: ask! Dirty talk shouldn’t just be a monologue performance, you can ask questions in a sexy way too. Think:

“What would you like me to do to you?”

“Tell me your hottest fantasy.”

“What was the last thing you masturbated to?”

Personally I think the best dirty talk is a back-and-forth conversation, where you can build on each other’s words and cues and ideas.

3. Get inspiration from the experts

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but sex bloggers like me can be a really good source of dirty talk tips and inspiration. Finding a sex blog or two that you love reading, and can share with your partner, can often be a really good way to get a sexy chat going. Why not send them a link to your favourite dirty story, and offer to read it aloud? Not all of us are word wizards, after all, and I don’t think any of my sex blogging colleagues would mind if you borrowed a little from our work to help turn your partner on.

If your dirty chat inspires you to take things a little further, and become a sex writer in your own right, we run a conference in Camden every year in March, where we all meet up and exchange tips and knowledge on everything from sex blogging to dirty writing. It’s called Eroticon, why not come and join us?

Meanwhile click the link above to check out some of the worst bad sex scenes, as judged by the panel from Literary Review, or if that’s all too much and you want something sexier, browse some of the best sex toys and pick them up today at 25% off. Use the code SAVE25 at the checkout, and feel free to use them while someone reads aloud to you from the sexiest writing you can find.

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