I Was Wrong: Sometimes A Sex Scene Really IS Needed

This post, by Andrew E. Kaufman, originally appeared on The Crime Fiction Collective blog on 4/3/12 and is reprinted here in its entirety with that site’s permission.

I recently reached the halfway point in my next novel. I sat back, smiled, and drew in a giant breath of relief…

Then I almost fell out of my chair. Swear to God, if you were there, you would have seen the whites of my eyes. Yes, folks, there was horror: plain, raw, and oh, so very real.

Horror because I came to a shocking realization, that I had to do something I vowed I would never do in one of my books. Not only had I made that vow, but I’d made it with fists pounding, lips pursed in utter defiance, right here on this blog, indelibly written for all of cyberspace to see.

I said would never put a sex scene in one of my novels.

And I quote. On November 8, 2011, I said this:

Sure, a romp in the hay would be good fun and all, but there’s a time and place for everything, and if some killer’s got a bullet with their name on it, they’re not going to be thinking about getting it on; they’re going to be thinking about getting the hell out. Period.

And this:

Besides that, in suspense, pacing is everything, and it seems to me this would only slow things down, and if it doesn’t serve a purpose, isn’t it just gratuitous?

And, of course, there was this:

And then there’s the predictability factor. It’s just too easy.


Little did I know those words would come back to bite me on the ass with the sort of vengeance only an author could dream up, and that I’d be forced to eat every one of them with a fork and spoon.

So here I go. I’m just going to come right out and say it now.

I was wrong.

There, I said it.

It’s not like I want to have sex (in my book). The fact is, during my relatively short career as an author, I’ve managed to avoid it at all costs (Well…there was that one part in my first novel where the two protagonists almost did, but I gently avoided that trap by ending the story just in time).

However, this time around, there will be no avoidance. My. Characters. Must. Have. Sex. Not only must they have sex, but they must have mad, passionate, crazy-assed sex. Why? Because the plot dictates it, and if they don’t, I’ll lose my credibility as an author (and trust me when I say, if there were a way out of it, I’d so be there).

I’m not going to give away the story, but let’s just say there’s this certain femme fatal. She’s bad news. Real bad. And during the heat of passion, she reveals a deep dark secret about herself. Of course, my protagonist being a typical dude, is too busy enjoying the pleasures of the flesh to pay any attention to it, and it’s only years later that it comes back to haunt him.

 See what I mean?

The fact is I’d do anything to not have to write this scene (have I mentioned that?). I don’t even like to read them. But life does have strange and interesting ways of teaching us things, and this, without a doubt, has to be one of the strangest. And humbling. So when the truth reveals itself, you can do one of two things: you either swallow your pride and try to learn something, or you go the way of fools. Guess which way I’m headed.

So what has Drew learned?

   1. I will never say never again (because one day I just might have to).

   2. Yes, there is a place for sex in suspense thrillers (he said, rolling his eyes).

   3. It’s important to admit when you’re wrong: I was wrong (he muttered, grudgingly).

Now I need to figure out how to write the damned thing.

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