Sexual content – how much is too much?


By trimming things, like the fabric of his boxers being stretched tight, you’re turning down the intensity level of the picture.

With YA you want something a bit impressionistic. A little soft and fuzzy. So you want to focus less on graphic details and physical feelings, and more on the mental and emotional feelings of those new experiences.

I mean… why didn’t you just write about his natural lubricant dripping from the glans? His body was likely feeling that in the moment too.

Well because the devil is in the details. Right?

Each detail you add makes the picture more and more crystal clearly erotic.

Is the point of the scene to get people hot? Or is this moment more about building trust and intimacy between the characters?

And honestly if you were to query an agent and get signed, they might come to you and say that even what I wrote is too much for the publisher’s target audience and it needs to be even “fuzzier”


The other thing to consider is that if you can isolate it into its own chapter and readers can skip over the content and not really miss anything crucial for the plot or characters, then it’s likely not needed for the story at all other than for titillation.

You could just fade to black.

If a reader skipped the scene I shared above, they’d miss finding out a lot about my MC. She learns a lot about herself in each of her intimate encounters in my story. It wouldn’t be the same book without them.


In my opinion, it can be as sexual as the author wants. I think, just because some people find it too much for themselves, doesn’t mean they should impose those views on the authors.

@MariaJoWrites I personally find your example paragraph very intriguing, and if I were to read the whole chapter – I’d figure it wouldn’t just be about the sex, etc, but the emotions as well, as you have clarified.

A lot of teenagers want to read the stuff you’re putting out, purely because of the sexual intimacy – it would be quite bad to exclude it, I agree. As a lot of the audience want that stuff. I know I did when I was ‘peaking’.

If things like a certain paragraph appear often in your book, I highly suggest just rating the whole book Mature. And no need to worry about not being eligible for the Hotlist, etc, as that’s been changed now.

In one of my books, sex and sexual intimacy is literally one of the main themes (along with other complimenting dark topics, such as forced sexual escorts, prostitution, murder, etc).

Here is a quick snippet from mine:

I couldn’t distinguish terrified shivers from pleasured ones as his fingers slowly pressed into me. His lips latched onto my neck, as his other hand urged my jacket off of my shoulders.

I personally don’t straight out mention the words ‘vagina’ or ‘penis’ because I find something kind of sexy when you replace those words. For example:

My heart pounded as I convulsed in and out of her softness, my eyes fell to the back of my head as her voice grew more prominent amongst the silence and she tightened around me.

That’s just how I personally write. Although I would totally read your book, with it’s sexiness and all :herb:


I write erotic teen fiction so this is very acceptable to me and I know it’s what many teens are looking to read, but I think it’s still not traditionally publishable. They don’t want it that explicit in published books yet. Maybe a few more years as the walls keep tumbling down. But here on Watty you wouldn’t even have to rate it Mature now.


Sorry but traditionally published Young Adult novels can not be as sexual as you want it to be.

If you want to get traditionally published then you need to approach the sex in your story differently than you would for an adult audience.

And even with adult literature, if you want to have a book with tons of sex you are going to look into publishing in the Romance or even Erotica genres.

Genres exist for a reason. Publishing is a business and you need to realize the target audience.

If you’re writing without any desire to attempt to publish, then sure, go crazy.

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I don’t particularly like adding the warning either as I feel the same about them as you. I’m only doing it as a courtesy to the reader. And it just happened to fit that I was able to sort of isolate the act itself in a chapter of its own, my other sexual content is not. The example I added in this thread, comes at the very end of a chapter with a lot of dialogue e.g.


To add to @BridgesTunnels , it doesn’t only matter what teen readers want but also what their parents feel is appropriate. Teens don’t have credit cards to buy books and as a parent myself, I do keep a moderate eye on what my kids read. That’s just the way the market works.

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Okay. I see what you mean now and it makes sense. Thanks for explaining it a bit more. :relaxed:

:laughing: You keep making me laugh with these extreme examples.

And yeah, if I was going for erotica I could have gone that route. I’m not, though.
As I wrote in the opening post, I’m trying to aim for real while keeping in mind that this is teenagers – so toning it down. Because I’m definitely conscious about the level of details. Of course, I would even say.

Writing the example I use here, I was thinking back on some of my own first experiences and what sensation that stood out for me back then.
Like, I remember the first time I was on the edge of putting my hand down a guy’s pants – that first little “almost” that danced on the edge of want and curiosity mixed with not really knowing if I truly dared.
I wanted to use what I remembered without making it erotica – just real.

But it’s finding that line that can be a little “fuzzy”. :wink: And which led me to my original question of how much is too much.


The question is also if you only intend to keep this on WP or plan on publishing. For WP, it’s probably okay since there are plenty of readers on here that enjoy steam. For publication outside of WP, it’s probably too graphic for young adult. The line is very thin.

It also depends on the publisher. I was at a writer’s conference and one of the young adult publishers doesn’t even allow the F-word, period (forgot who it was, but one of the really big ones). I write mature young adult, so my books are labeled as 16+, but I had reviews on Amazon where readers warned that these were “heavy adult themes” because most of my stories have abuse elements. The lines are getting softer but graphic sex is still an area that is frowned upon for the Young Adult market while violence and gore is mostly okay – Michael Grant’s Gone series being one example of that.

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Yeah, no, the chapter is not about the sex. An emotional talk between the MCs proceeds it. :blush:

Which is one of my points and why I brought in the example of Twilight fanfiction. :+1:
I mean, it seems like it’s an ‘adult concern’-issue rather than the target audience.

I remember when I was in my early teens, reading a YA series where the MC has her first sexual experiences. It was exciting. Those books were published in the early 80s and included some descriptions of the boy ejaculating and how leaves were sticking to her labia. The fact that I remember that to this day says a lot, I think.

I would rather teenagers got their first introduction to more graphic sexual content through books, using their imagination while reading scenes like that - sitting in the safety of their own room. Because the arrow is pointing in that direction no matter what, why fight it with overly cautious adults who don’t want kids to grow up?

It doesn’t. It’s mostly just making out. There is a bit in chapter 31 and the example I used is from chapter 39. So it is far from a mature rating in my opinion. Like, the “sex”-chapter isn’t until chapter 66… (I try to write shorter chapters.)


This is very true, and why I also mention that I knew it would be too graphic for an (American) publisher. I do realize that. If I was ever to pursue a publishing deal, I would have to rewrite and shorten my story quite a lot I think. But right now, I’m just written my story the way I want it.
Then (if ever that would be the case) an editor can chop and cut away at scenes. I just want the initial version written the way I want it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’ve found that some readers just aren’t mature enough to understand the benefits of having a good sex scene in a novel. I had one user on Quotev tell me to “rewrite” one of my earlier novels that has only 4 chapters in it because she thought the main character was between the ages of 15-17.

She said the scenes made her uncomfortable and she wanted me to completely rewrite the book from scratch. The thing is, is that the scenes were suggestive, but they weren’t completely sexual in nature. I haven’t established the age of my character in the book because it’s way too early to start guessing at this point.

And the other thing, I haven’t really gotten far on the novel since I started writing it 5 years ago.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I have some ideas, but nothing concrete.

So, I declined her request on these grounds.


Yeah… I have a lot of those too… like, a lot. :laughing: I’m not writing with the intention of seeking a publisher right now. I just want the first edition of my book to be written my way.

My story is definitely more mature YA too. But Wattpad doesn’t really have that as a category.


There are some pretty important moments leading up to it, as well as after. But I don’t want to cut and jump from one to the other – it doesn’t feel natural for me to write that way. - And there is a lot of personal development and growth in experiencing your first time for most people – it’s one of those things that stand out to a person – so I don’t want to exclude that. Especially because it’s a turning point for one of the characters.

The only reason I’m saying people can skip it in the warning, is if the sexual content would make them uncomfortable for whatever reason.

– Also, there is the fact that because of my injury, I’m a slow writer. So, the bigger my chapter stock is, the better my chances are of keeping with my schedule, even when I go through long periods where I can’t seem to focus enough to write. So that is another reason why I don’t want to drop it - besides the fact that I hate the “fade to black” solution to avoid scenes that are more controversial.

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My take on this is that suggestion is often more powerful than graphic. Much more erotic for the reader to use their own imagination. There are ways of doing this, using the right words and description. There’s a definite skill to handling a sex scene. If it’s done badly or clumsily it can ruin the whole book.

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Unfortunately the excerpt from your story is a little too explicit for the forums. Please keep in mind all ages look at these forums, if something would have a mature rating on Wattpad, it doesn’t belong in the forums.

A moderator will be by shortly to remove the excerpt.

Makayla :makaylasophia: - Community Ambassador in training

Ask the Ambassadors Anything.

Seriously? Where can I read those rules?


I think mature descriptions would fall under the “Please help make Wattpad a friendly and welcoming place that everyone can enjoy. By keeping your discussions polite and friendly, you spread the positivity that makes Wattpad so special” part of the guidelines, but there doesn’t seem to be an actual rule against it. Hmmm…

flies off to the ambassadors thread

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Haha, a woman with a mission! :smile:


I’m just curious to see how it works (and to quietly suggest we put an obvious rule about not having mature content on the forums lol)