Unlike bad sex, “the elements of bad sex writing can be harder to pin down,” says Maria Yagoda. We may cringe when we read it, but what exactly makes a sex scene so bad?

According to Frank Brinkley, assistant editor at Literary Review and spokesperson for this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, the usual crime in bad sex writing is hyperbole, says Yagoda.

This year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award, which will be awarded tomorrow, the most recurring crime in terms of bad sex writing is hyperbole. Take this passage from Morrissey’s List of the Lost, last year’s winner:

At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone. Both fell awkwardly off the bed, each tending to their own anguish yet still laughing an impaired discomfort of giggles whilst curving into a hunched disadvantage.


Just as it does during sex, trying too hard usual ruins the literary moment.

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