How to Write a Sex Scene

Writers spend pages expertly developing sexual tension between their characters, but when it comes time to bring them into the bedroom, they panic. Many of the literary greats have struggled with sex scenes, but some have pulled it off more successfully than others. Telegraph writer Maeve Haran surveys the best literary sex scenes to see how the classics stack up. The sexual encounters in John Donne’s erotic poetry rank high on the list, but D.H. Lawrence’s steamy scene in Lady Chatterley’s Lover makes Haran squirm. Then there’s the sex in the library in Ian McEwan’s Atonement, which, for all its build-up, is “moving rather than erotic.” The biggest dilemma for writers, naturally, arises in anatomical nomenclature. Writes Haran: “Do you call a spade a spade or risk ridicule by getting all metaphorical?”