Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sex in Novels: Your Thoughts
In my last round of online reviews for On Falcon's Wings, I noticed several readers chiming in about the amount of sex in the novel. I have never really thought that I write truly detailed or even provocative sex scenes; they do nothing for me. One of my best writer buddies has always said she finds them tasteful. Is she lying to me? Fess up, writing bud; you know who you are. However, another writerly friend does love scenes that leave me needing a cigarette afterward. And I don't even smoke.
When there is a romance involved in the storytelling, I like to include lots of sexual tension, whether between the estranged lovers as in this book, or the couple in a pre-arranged marriage who will become passionate lovers, as in Sultana. My approach to including sex in any novel is never to be gratuitous or to write scenes according a specific formula, as in, "And they should have sex for the first time on page 163."
Also, while I write historical novels, some people assume that they are historical romance because of the interactions between my protagonists. Nothing against historical romance; I cut my proverbial reading teeth on the likes of Heather Graham, Johannna Lindsey, Betrice Small, but uh, I don't write historical romance. My characters always have rocky starts as in historical romance, but a happy ending is never certain. When my characters fall in love, I make them work for it. Sorry, but I do love to torture my creations. Makes the ending much more fulfilling or perhaps bittersweet, but more importantly, I want readers to feel all the difficulties have been worthwhile.
To me, detailing sex in a novel should be the natural outcome of the intense relationships that have been built in the preceding pages. Love scenes, like any other scene, should feel natural. It should make perfect sense that the characters would find themselves together in such a way. While I understand that some readers shy away from the details, if I've spent all that time building up the tension, showing the budding love as it evolves between two characters, should I really just close the door on the sex scene to follow? As a reader, I'd feel cheated of something if a writer did that me. But what do I know?
So, you tell me. Feel free to leave your comments, or if you don't want to go into detail, just take the poll below.
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