Are there rules to sex?

“It’s about knowing your limits Anastasia. I mean, I’m all for pushing limits, but…”

(p. 61, Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James has captured a significant chunk of the reading market with its blend of romance, erotica and taboo breaking edginess. I’m visiting Vancouver Canada this week, and everywhere I look I see women reading the book. Perched on chairs on B.C. Ferries, walking in city parks, standing in malls… They don’t seem to care if the cover shows. I haven’t seen such enthusiasm for reading since Harry Potter. Go figure!

The 50 Shades trilogy has created it’s own sub-genre called “Mommy porn” by the reading public. So what is James doing right? What is she doing wrong? Are there rules to writing good sex?  And if so, what are they?

My guru in the “writing sex department” is multi-published writer, Mary Buckham.

I highly recommend her comprehensive, on-line course, Sex on the Page. She’s offering it only once this year, in September.  Check out her website for details. I recommend it for three reasons:

  1. the information she provides is thoroughly researched,
  2. she includes interviews with other authors, and
  3. she interacts with her students.

It’s an exceptional learning experience. And did I mention, she has a wicked sense of humor?

Mary is approachable. You can ask her anything which is important when it comes to dismantling the mysteries of sex on the page. If you take her course, let me know how you liked it.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

14 thoughts on “Are there rules to sex?”

  1. Jo-Ann ~~thanks for a fun, fun post. Learning to write great sexual tension – or Sex on the Page – can be fun and make a huge difference in our novels whether we’re writing Romance, YA, Mysteries or anything because writing sexual tension – even more than writing sex – is about raising story questions and adding tension and conflict to the page. Delighted that you enjoyed how we explored the topic in class and thank you for sharing!! Cheers ~~ Mary B 🙂


  2. I took Mary Buckham’s course and it was terrific! I learned a ton about writing great sexual tension. Frankly, that is what I love to read–sexual tension–but I never knew how to do it on the page. Mary’s course helped me understand how.


  3. I work with Mary a lot and treasure her feedback, as well as her wicked sense of humor! Just signed up for this class. Wondering if “50 Shades” is required reading for it…


    1. Anne
      No, definitely not. lol. Mary’s course stays focused on the topic: sexual tension.
      I started my ramble with the 50 Shades quote because it is a controversial book, which a lot of writers are criticizing for being poorly written. I haven’t read it, and I have a lot of books I want to read before it. But, I have to say the sales figures intrigue me.
      Thanks for coming by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes


  4. Ok, I am curious as to what you meant by this: “What is she doing wrong?” The books have sold and being read in the thousands. Sometimes I think the rules must be broken. And in a story some what based on BDSM I think the rules are very much broken. What is the issue? In BDSM the aspect of pain as pleasure is strange to the general public. And if her book is poorly written, then there is hope for my little story.


    1. Mary
      I find it interesting that so many of us romance writers are critical of James’s writing, and yet she is so popular with the general public. Can we blame her high sales stats on promotion from Costco? Not entirely, as she was popular before her books hit the warehouse stores.
      Maybe, you’re right. Rules are meant to be broken and she’s doing nothing wrong in the writing sense.
      I believe there is hope for your story and mine, because there is a wide range of readers out there looking for an interesting book.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding provocative comments.
      Best wishes


  5. When I told my dentist that I was going to the Romance Writers’ National Conference, last July, he promptly started joking about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and I hadn’t read it either. I am taking Mary’s course next month, though. It should add a much needed layer to my writing. Daniela


    1. Daniela
      Interesting times. Imagine joking with your dentist about BDMS! Definitely not something our mothers would have done.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Happy writing


  6. Jo-Ann,

    Clicked your link to check out her site and got an error. Would love to check in to this course based on the glowing reviews I am seeing. I write Fantasy/Horror but even stories that are not strictly Romance can benefit from well done sexual scenes even if there isn’t any per se sex.



    1. Majk
      Thanks for letting me know.
      And yes, I think anyone writing about relationships between people will benefit from the course.


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