Male Nipples & Sex In New Adult Books

by Nicole Trilivas

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Sex has been a prominent feature in New Adult fiction. Just check out the book covers: there’s lots of male nipples, shirtless bodies, and attractive people about to…kiss.

Male nips!

Male nips!

Is sex in New Adult novel de rigueur? Well, lemme tell you a little story: One of the first conversations I had with my lit agent (before she signed me) was about sex in NA. Awwwwwwkward. (No, not really, it was fine.) GIRLS WHO TRAVEL is jam packed with romance, but originally, those romantic-in-your-pants moments faded into tasteful, inoffensive black. It wasn’t as if I was against writing a sex scenes, it was just that I didn’t necessarily want to write one. Prob ‘cause I’m lazy.

Although there are a few NA books without sexy sex scenes that hold their own (I’m looking at you, Slammed), most NA has sex. And lots of it. So when my would-be agent asked me rev up the sexiness factor, I made the choice to obliged because:

1) That’s what the audience expects and wants from this genre. (If you’re writing a crime thriller—there’s probably gonna be guns and a dead body. If you’re writing NA—there’s probably gonna be some boinking)

2) Sex is often common experience and a real-life factor in a new adult’s life

3) My manuscript allowed for it—there were obvious scenes that I could flesh out (prob not the best bad choice of words) to include sexy time

So in my humble opinion, if you’re writing NA and you want to sell that NA, you should aim to have sex scenes in your story. That said, the sex doesn’t have to be gratuitous. Sex can be a brilliant plot device or catalysis for character development. In GIRLS WHO TRAVEL, I used a sex scenes to exhibit character’s personalities (Is your protagonist hesitant in bed? Controlling? Can she get out her own head? Etc.), as well as to move along the plot (now that your characters have had sex—what’s the outcome? Is there an outcome? Etc.) Also, it’s worth noting that all sex doesn’t have to be of the standard-issue hot and steamy variety. Sex can be portrayed in an awkward or more true-to-life way.

And remember that art imitates life. Sometimes sex is just sex, and there’s nothing else between two people. As a writer, you need more than just great sex scenes to float your story. The actual sex scenes should be like the sprinkles on top of your already fully baked and frosted storyline. So that’s my take on it. Need help?

25 HUMPALICIOUS STEPS FOR WRITING YOUR FIRST SEX SCENE, by Delilah S. Dawson

25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING SEX, By Chuck Wendig