Episode 17: YA Sex Scenes


Episode 17: We discuss craft issues and questions involved in YA sex scenes, whether you’re reading them or writing them, and reference several titles in the process.

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Our Current Reads


Women In Clothes, by Sheila Heti, Heidi Shulavits and Leanne Shapton
Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,  by Maia Szalavitz
The Careful Undressing of Love, by Corey Ann Haydu


The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
Never Look An American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American, by Okey Ndibe
Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel


— Our TinyLetter serves as a companion piece for each episode and guess what: you can subscribe here

— We’re working on an episode about censorship and YA fiction, and how this has occurred at any point in the publication or distribution process, whether you are an author, editor, teacher or librarian. We can keep each submission anonymous if preferred.  We’d love to hear from you! Email here.


“Let’s break it all down for you.”

Books and Other References

Thief of Shadows, by Elizabeth Hoyt
Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series ,by J.R. Ward
My Year Zero, by Rachel Gold
Three Truths and A Lie, by Brent Hartinger
Underneath Everything, by Marcy Beller Paul
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
Smooth Talk movie
“Welcome to the New America: Straight-ish, heteroflexible, and pansexual” 
See No Color, by Shannon Gibney
The Cheating Episode that Carrie’s “condom stalemate” anecdote referenced
The concept of lunarception
Uses For Boys, by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (and why it contains one of Christa’s favorite sex scenes)

Craft Talk Questions

— What is this character’s relationship with masturbation and their body?
— What has this character been taught about sex and desire?
— How does my character express affection?
— What does this character find attractive in general (attraction not being limited to physical beauty but often this is a marker of what complements the character, what he/she is lacking and seeks in a partner for balance)?
— Is this character able to be open about their sexual identity with their families and community?
— How has this character been shown love and support by others?
— Are there certain societal ideal beauty standards in this character’s world? How do they compare to these ideals?
— What kinds of words does this character use to describe any sort of sensory responses?

Some Good Poems About Sex

“What Saves Us” by Bruce Weigl from What Saves Us, Triquarterly, 1992.
“Groceries” by Cathy Smith Bowers, from Traveling in Time of Danger, Iris Press, 1999.
“Everything We Do” by Peter Meinke, from Liquid Paper: New and Selected Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.
“Foreplay” by Tony Gloeggler, from One Wish Left, Pavement Saw Press, 2002.
“The Widening” by Carol Moldaw from The Widening, Etruscan Press, 2008.
“First Blowjob” by Meg Kearney, from Never Before: Poems about first experiences, edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Four Way Books, 2005.
“God and the G-Spot” by Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love, BOA Editions, 2002.
“Adolescence” by Sharon Olds, from Strike Sparks, Knopf, 2004.
“Poem to my First Lover” by Sharon Olds, from The Dead and The Living, Knopf, 1995.
“First Sex” by Sharon Olds, from The Gold Cell, Knopf, 1995
“Last Gods” by Galway Kinnell, When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone, Knopf, 1990.
“Life Story” by Tennessee Williams, The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams, copyright © 1937, 1956, 1964, 2002 by The University of the South.


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