A Writer's Journey

May 7, 2012

Let’s Talk About Sex

Filed under: journey,The Wedding Game,writing — mackenziew @ 12:17 am
Tags: , , ,

If you’ve ever been to my other blog, you’ll notice I tend to make lame punny titles. Sorry. (Also, shameless plug #1?)

But, in all seriousness, I knew sex was going to be a topic I had to tackle once I started writing “The Wedding Game.” Sex and romance novels go hand in hand it seems. In fact, I can’t think of a single commercial venture that doesn’t have “sex sells” lingering in the background. And there were two questions that haunted me. The first was: Does a romance need to have a sex scene?

And the answer sometimes seems yes, to an extent. The reason why, I think, is best summed up in a Dear Abby response. Abby was asked about pornography, especially regarding male and female preferences. Not having the answer herself, Abby turned to an expert—Larry Flynt of Hustler Magazine. Here’s what he had to say, according to Dear Abby:

He said that men love porn because men are aroused by the visual. Then he added that women are more turned on by the written word, which is why torrid romance novels are so popular.

And that’s the truth. Think about the success of “50 Shades of Grey.”  (While I haven’t read the book, from what I heard, it has some severe flaws. The biggest is that it’s poorly repurposed Twilight fanfiction).

Okay, that question answered, the second question was: Do I write a sex scene and if so, how?

This one’s a bit trickier. Everyone has their own definition of “sexy” and “arousing,” despite what the media tries to tell us. Think about it, ladies. We’ve probably had the answer the question “Boxers or briefs?” at one point in our girl chats. Personally, I prefer boxers. And I also prefer men who wear glasses. But there may be women who prefer their men to wear briefs and have no need for glasses.

By the same token, everyone person has their own tastes when it comes to sex in novels. I have made it quite clear that while I like her books, I am not a big fan of how much sex Diana Gabaldon puts in them. Most didn’t seem organic and I still believe they could’ve been cut without hurting the story. Down the spectrum, I like how Sara Donati incorporates her sex scenes. Unlike Gabaldon, hers feel more organic. They enhance the story rather than overpower it.

And sliding down, there is Barbara Hambly’s “Patriot Hearts.” It tells the story of four “Founding Mothers:” Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison and Sally Hemmings. Sally’s sections deal with her relationship with Thomas Jefferson. And I love how she handles her sex scenes—Hambly lets the readers fill in the gaps. One of my favorite passages is about Sally and Jefferson’s first time:

And so she waited in the darkness. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing what she would say, if and when he were to come into her room, and stretch out on the narrow bed at her side.

And one night, when summer rain poured down the steep slate roofs and lightning flashed over the river, she heard the creak of his door opening below her, and the stealthy pad of naked feet on the attic stair.

And then it cuts away. The readers put two and two together and filled in the blanks. Some people may have wanted a blow-by-blow, like Gabaldon gives. But others, like me, prefer filling in the blanks. The reader can put in what they find arousing.

So we come to my own novel, namely “The Wedding Game.” Some time ago, I finally saw an end in sight for it. I was working on Chapter 15 at the time and I realized that the story was only about another four chapters or so. I realized the Chapter 16 was going to include the consummation of my main characters’ relationship. I always knew it would be included as the scene is integral to the plot. The question was how to do it?

I also think I’ve figured it out. It will be somewhere in between Sara Donati and Barbara Hambly. It won’t be page after page of graphic details. But it won’t be all implication either. There will be a few tantalizing details revealed before the rest is left up to the reader’s imagination. Hopefully, it comes out the way I want it to.


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