That Bad Sex award: is it a gift or a curse? Does a writer fear it or want it (all publicity is good publicity, etc.)? For the uninitiated, the award was originated by the Literary Review, UK, in 1993, and is awarded to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel.

There have been many illustrious winners: Sebastian Faulks, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer. John Updike actually won a Lifetime Achievement Award. Sadly, there’s no corresponding award in India.

So, a bright spark had the thought of asking me to nominate my choices of bad (and good) sex writing in India. I was originally conflicted about this, since I had to name books and passages that I had enjoyed or laughed at (not least because I also work in publishing), but simply because you don’t tell someone publicly that their fly is open (and this could apply to both sexes, naturally).

But as a recently published writer, in whose book there is a heavy dose of the physical act, generously detailed, and received well (fortunately), my curiosity got the better of me.

Indeed, why does such an award exist at all?

Penguin Books famously published Lady Chatterley's Lover and even more famously won a long-drawn legal battle to keep the book in print. It was brave, and imaginative, publishing. Penguin also famously published Lolita. A book you must acquire a copy of immediately, and also begin to read immediately, if you haven’t done so already.

Ayn Rand's Fountainhead (some would call it infamous) was, besides being a game-changer, a book that could be, and has been too, accused of celebrating rape, in the brief scene where Roark forces himself on Dominique. On re-reading, the sex is violent.

Sethji's seductive swastika

Closer home, Khushwant Singh and Shobhaa De, not only individually (Delhi: A Novel, Sisters, Starry Nights, Sethji), but together (Uncertain Liaisons) stuck their hand out and held the average Indian sensibility by its b***s, showing us how (or not, depending on your sensibility) sex could get out from under the sheets to between the covers.

They have been champions of sex, Scotch and scholarship for more than three decades. Once again, bold and imaginative publishing? A tad indecent too? I leave that to you. I am merely quoting instances.

Anirudh Bahal and Manil Suri are the two Indian writers who have had the privilege of being on the receiving end of this award. I don't remember (and don't have a copy) of Manil’s books, but Anirudh's left an indelible, but amusing, image; the man snipping and shaping his lover's bush into a swastika. You have to agree that it was, if not anything else, imaginative.

This is the third time I am making that point: imaginative.

I think sex in fiction is susceptible to scrutiny, partly because of the language and description (sometimes seriously lacking imagination) and the uncomfortable, maybe even disgusting, but hilarious images it might conjure, but also because of the very existence of sex where it has no purpose whatsoever.

In the few instances that I quickly managed to read, the characters might as well have been scrubbing their bathroom floor together! And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some of the most successful books with sex at their core have neither been nominated nor won this award.

Evidence does suggest that more than fifty shades of bias could well be at play. The book I have most enjoyed, boringly enough, is our dear old Kamasutra. It is brave, imaginative (oh boy!), and delightfully indecent too!.

So, here are my six tips for naughty writing:

6. Making love? Having sex? Don't get caught in that. Potahto, potayto.

5. If you think about it anything can be sensual (sexual). And a lot can be achieved before anyone gets naked.

4. Choose very carefully. There's a world of a difference between the following words; insert, thrust, push, squeeze, tickle, hold, touch and feel.

3. You have to be comfortable with the sexuality you attempt. If you force it, it will show. And don't make it funny. There are other, simpler, ways to attempt humour.

2. Sex is fun and should be enjoyable for everyone. For your characters and your readers, especially your characters.

1. And here is the cardinal rule of writing great sex (I love using the word cardinal and sex in the same sentence). If women don't enjoy your writing, you're screwed! Period.

Ananth Padmanabhan is the author of Play With Me.