I don’t mind a bit of erotic writing when it’s done well. But bad writing sticks out like a, well, you know. The shortlist for the Bad Sex in Literature contest has been announced, celebrating the worst erotic writing of the year. The contest was originally started as a way of "gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels."

The winner of last year’s award was Norman Mailer for his book The Castle in the Forest.

Some examples of bad sex writing from this year’s shortlist are Paulo Coelho with this gem – "At last, she could no longer control the world around her, her five senses seemed to break free and she wasn’t strong enough to hold on to them," Coelho writes. "As if struck by a sacred bolt of lightning, she unleashed them, and the world, the seagulls, the taste of salt, the hard earth, the smell of the sea, the clouds, all disappeared, and in their place appeared a vast gold light, which grew and grew until it touched the most distant star in the galaxy."

And this from Tony Blair’s ex-communications director Alastair Campbell – "He wasn’t sure where his penis was in relation to where he wanted it to be, but when her hand curled around it once more, and she pulled him toward her, it felt right," Campbell writes. "Then as her hand joined the other on his neck and she started making more purring noises, now with little squeals punctuating them, he was pretty sure he was losing his virginity."

The full shortlist:

  • James Buchan for The Gate of Air
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore for Sashenka
  • John Updike for The Widows of Eastwick
  • Kathy Lette for To Love, Honour and Betray
  • Rachel Johnson for Shire Hell
  • Isabel Fonseca for Attachment
  • Ann Allestree for Triptych of a Young Wolf
  • Russell Banks for The Reserve
  • Paulo Coelho for Brida

If you have come across any really bad writing about sex recently, post it so we can all learn some tips from the masters about how not to ‘do it’.

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is Australia and New Zealand’s only guide to the writing industry. While providing submission and contact details for the print media and publishing industry.

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