It seems to always come down to this question for me. In Adult Fiction, but especially in Young Adult fiction.
Are you, the author, brave enough to let your characters have sex? On the page? With physical details? A negotiated, real-time occurrence? No fade-out, no dreamy 'crest the heavens' emotionality?
I don't need to know the exact nature of fluid exchange or the blow-by-blow (thrust by thrust?) account of the sexual adventure. (I mean, feel free to do that, if you want.) But if you don't go there at all, I think you are kind of a pussy.
Well, maybe not. Maybe that's too mean.
Okay. Here's a nicer way of saying it. By not having any sexual scenes in your book, I think you are missing a big opportunity to say something about sex that is unique to you.
Could you write something about sex that will make others nod their heads? Maybe normalize the whole act into something that actually HAPPENS? Not something that could happen (porn, advertising) but something real. Something maybe only you have the guts (the balls?) to mention? Maybe even something only you - YES, YOU, YOU FICTION-WRITING SEX-HAVER! - have noticed or performed or experienced?
So, bring it to light. Have some bravery. Even though there will be people who might say you are masturbatory or prurient or just plain sleazy. Those people are fucking wankers and babies and probably not brave at all. They are the nightgown-lifters writing fiction with the lights off, eyes squeezed shut and thinking of England.
Well, maybe that's harsh, too. The nicer version? Not having your characters fuck is boring. And bullshit.
But, hey! you might say. My story is not about sex. It's not even about love or romance! I don't have that as part of the plot! My main characters are small children!
Fine. I'm not saying every book MUST have sex in it (though I usually prefer ones that do). But if your characters are of the age where sexual experimentation and questioning is happening, I encourage you to explore that at as an aspect in your story.
Put your characters in a sexual situation, early in a draft. See what happens. It doesn't have to go in the final draft. It doesn't even have to see the light of day. But just TRY IT. See where your imagination will take you. It's probably to a place where porn doesn't go very often.
(NOT SAYING PORN IS BAD! IT'S NOT! BUT PORN SHOULDN'T BE THE SOLE INFORMATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE OF SEXUAL BEHAVIOR!)
For me, writing about sex is a public service. Something I must do For The Children. Something I owe readers, especially young adult readers. I think I owe them sexual truths, however small and low-decibel they seem next to the roar of context-free porn and commercial titillation in our culture. They deserve reality and imagination, something they make in their own heads. Something more vivid and complex than porn. Awkwardness and grace and practicality and discomfort and humor and confusion and emotion -all the juiciness that sex evokes.
So, I implore you, Writers. See if you can make your characters fuck.
Have them Do It...For The Children.