Monday, August 14, 2006

To Sex Or Not To Sex...And If So, How Much??

(With apologies to Will S.)

Does anybody but me ask themselves that question when it comes to writing romance novels these days? At the recent RWA conference, all I heard was sexy paranormal, sexy futuristic, sexy chick lit…

Um, apparently sex sells.

Oh, there ARE the exceptions. Christian chick lit is supposed to be hot. And Avalon doesn’t publish anything containing sex in any way, shape, or form.

Still. No doubt about it. Sex is hot. Write hot sex and you multiply your probability of selling.

Strangely, I find my books going in the opposite direction. Less sex and what there is of it is less graphic. More emotional. In fact, I debated putting any in Leftovers at all but the plot and the heroine’s growth arc demanded it. Still, I left most of it “off stage.”

Not that I’m against sex, mind you. (Who is? Okay, besides the Pope?) But I’d like to think it’s not crucial if the plot and the characters do their job. And I’m certainly all for sexual tension…but what if the story’s not about that?

I just finished reading Meg Cabot’s Size Twelve Isn’t Fat and guess what? No sex. I mean, not even a passionate kiss. Granted, as it turns out, this book is the first in a series but I confess, I felt a little robbed.

So that brings me back to my stories, and I guess I have to ask myself what I hope to achieve with the reader. Am I trying to titillate? Am I trying to build up sexual tension then deliver with a graphic release? Is it enough to tell an emotionally satisfying romantic story?

Or is it that I’m afraid my father will read one of my books?

God knows, it’s not that I don’t like the research….


John said...

My 80 year old mom read Catching the Wind, which ends with a sex scene. I asked her if it was done OK, and she (who never once discussed sex with me in 79 years) thought it was tame. Your parent maybe be OK with it, mine was. She did comment about language, and appreciated the lack of certain four letter words. So, who knows.

Brooke said... does seem that all you hear at conferences is sex, sex, sex,...and then more sex. And yet, I've read quite a few books recently that more illude to the...uh...for lack of a better word... sex part. Once again, we keep receiving so many mixed signals...

I think the bottom line is you (all writers...) have to be true to your own particularly writing style. The one mantra that is repeated almost as often as sex, sex, sex, is don't follow the trend just to be following it. If a more "detailed" sex scene is what the story requires to enhance the conflict, then it goes in. If not, then the reader will use her imagination to fill in the blanks.

Happy Writing!