You always need to be asking the question: "What is different for them, between the beginning, and the end of the scene?
So, being on staff provided me with comprehensive education about sexual orientation and gender, as well as contraceptives, STDs and consent, in ways I probably wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Even with the world at my fingertips I wasn’t able to adequately educate myself on my own. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, and that’s terrifying in its own right.
I've pondered the odd business of writing sex before, but a good post by US writer Sebstien de Castell, about writing fight scenes, made me start thinking about it again.
Sex and violence are hard (that's only the first double entendre) to write because both kinds of arousal involve an altered mental and emotional state which interacts with relatively complex choreography; what happens isn't built of words even if words are involved.
But that makes sex scenes an irrestistible challenge to many writers, while others will do anything to avoid putting them in.
The extra complication is that since humans seek out altered mental states, the pornography industry has thrown up large Scylla of crude words and cruder outcomes on which we might wreck our story, while there's an equally large Charybdis of engorged and purple prose on the other side.
The channel between is very narrow, so how to you steer a safe course between them?
De Castell's points about writing violence, translated, are a good place to start: Every sex scene should advance the story.
But even scarier is the fact that most of my peers will never learn these things, especially in states where sex education is abstinence only, if it even exists at all.
Sending young people out into the world without comprehensive sexuality education is setting them up for failure.
I was hired as a staff writer for Sex, Etc., a sex education magazine by teens and for teens, overseen by a board of writing and medical professionals.