Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Seduction


Just so you know, they didn't always close the bedroom door in the fourteenth century...

Some readers prefer sweet romances with that door closed for a variety of reasons, including personal taste and principle, religious or otherwise - not because they are priggish, narrow, stuffy or preachy.

I only have a problem with explicit sex vs. no sex when one school seeks to exclude the other or impose a uniformity of genre. Controversy along those lines reminds me that evangelism may also be secular.

Yesterday, Tanya raised the question of how too much sex too soon might destroy a novel's sexual tension and lead the reader to skip multiple boinks as repetitive mechanics. The climax being the climax, as it were.
This raises questions of structure and skill, not really one of taste.

If your plot devolves mostly around your main characters hopping into bed then you may have blown it, if the crucial scene occurs too soon. If that's all there is you may have just tossed your suspense under the bed along with the heroine's discarded undersilkies.
Of course, in some erotics, the multiplicity and variety is the plot - so the traditional structure does not apply.

The question of just where you plan to introduce your sex scenes emphasizes the oft-repeated advice about the need for complex characters and complicated conflict, because many readers - particularly of stories with a strong romantic plot - may unconsciously hold firmly to the belief that once the primary pair have at it, the story is basically over.
Overcoming that conviction is the challenge.
So, where do you structure your sex scenes, if you use them?
And how do you lead the reader on?

49 comments:

Ric said...

Yea! We're talking about SEX!

(must have been a helluva weekend in the big city.)

Robyn said...

I told you, ric, I just know she's gonna show up on a "Poets Gone Wild" video.

As to the sex in books, I think there are also different kinds of sex scenes that can move the characterization and relationship along. One of my faves has the first boink with a hot, frantic, set-the-sheets-on-fire feel. It shocks both of them to a certain extent. Subsequent boinks (and I'm just immature enough to love using that word multiple times in a serious discussion)were just as hot but slower, more emotional, showing the romance more than the sex; a physical parallel to their growing relationship.

I think if sex serves the story, boink on. If you have to throw it in to serve a genre standard, it will feel contrived and boring.

Bernita said...

I suppose I could get offended by the implication, Ric, but I'm assuming you mean it in fun!
~just didn't want you to feel your favourite subject was being negelected~

Hmmm, don't think you would be disappointed in my novel's sex scenes, Robyn, but you've pointed out something I should enhance a bit about the hero.

Robyn said...

Mind elaborating?

Gabriele C. said...

They definitely didn't close the door in Meidaeval times - fabliaux, anyone? And the reason Ganelon (from Song of Roland [in]fame) is seeking quarrels with his stepson Roland all the time lies, according to a source come down to us in an Old Norse translation, in the fact that Ganelon's wife had seduced Roland.

Since I don't write romance, I can decide how much or little sex I have, and it varies a lot for my different projects.

EA Monroe said...

Boink! I knew ric would come out to play! I need to think about this some more, Bernita! My wips are a mixed up genre bag, so sex always gets steamed up in the plot and characterization, i.e. what will he/she do (or not do) to get what they want. I like to build tension and anticipation -- will they ever get together?! After sex -- that's when all hell breaks loose. It's complicated!

Sela Carsen said...

Boinking isn't always the same boinking. In the beginning, it's often about lust, but if that's all it is, that's when the story gets old, fast. The story -- the characters -- always have to drive the sex, even in erotica. Sex can be the only way that some characters can share emotion.

Bernita said...

Sorry I was so long responding. Installed a new anti-virus program and it decided to slow everything down to a crawl for awhile.
That even though he had been lusting after her, Robyn, that it might shock him too.

The topic is certainly mentioned, but don't remember anything explicit, Gabriele.

In fact, EA, sex, however explicite, can complicate things considerably, that's the reality. Will they manage an HEA, for example? I'm wondering about the reader's expectations though. Do readers often consider boinking to be the end all and lose a certain interest?

And one may have the situation where for the male character,Sela, it might well be all about lust - before one cuts him off at the knees, that is.

kmfrontain said...

This so depends on the characters, I find: sex first chapter, sex later? If I have some other issue to resolve after the sex, then I've had sex in the first chapter. The sex may have been the reason for the issue. I never write a story with only sex as the issue. Bores me soooo much.

Bernita said...

I don't think sex gets enough respect sometimes, Karen,it hugely changes how characters respond to each other in areas outside of the act itself.

spy scribbler said...

Well, robyn, I agree: it feels contrived when I write it, sometimes. I have to throw in one sex scene every chapter. I really, really strive to make it naturally flow from the plot line.

And I try to make the plot more interesting than the sex (insert guffaw here), and the conflict between the characters weaved into the sex scene.

I also aim for character change and growth in each sex scene. And relationship growth, too!

I don't know if I succeed, though!

Janie said...

Hello!

Sex changes everything, imo. Bonk-fest books do nothing for me. I like to keep the pot gently simmering with unconsumated sexual tension for as long as possible.

Once the main characters have had sex it is difficult to get the tension back again. If the story is just a canvas for bonking, it all goes downhill pretty quickly after that!

Bernita said...

Hi, Janie!

That's why I've put it off, hoping by the time it occurs, the characters will have introduced enough tensions to carry a kind of relationship suspense further, ie. is this a one-night stand or will they-won't they?
Also one of the reasons why I think my stuff is not a "romance" per se, just romantic.

JM Snyder said...

What an interesting post. As an erotica writer, it definitely caught my attention.

In short stories, I tend to write the sex at the climax (no pun intended), then just tack on the ending as the dénoument and leave it at that.

In novels though, it's very different. It depends on the story, really. My novels are never about one character bedding another ... I like to think there are loftier goals involved.

In my current novel ("Stepping Up to the Plate"), if/when the sex occurs between the main character and his main love interest, it will be at the very end of the last chapter (I say if because for a while I toyed with not including it at all, but my thoughts on that are slowly changing).

In the novella I have coming out next month, there is sex staggered throughout the story, but the emphasis is not on the relationship but rather the interruption of said relationship while one of the character's mother is visiting.

I personally love sexual tension but when the time comes to do the deed, as it were, I want full details, no skimping.

Thanks for giving me something to think about though. I'm going to have to come back :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jm.
I get irritated too when the sexual tension is full blown and clearly expressed and then the writer chokes and weasels out at the finale.

archer said...

Yesterday, Tanya raised the question of how too much sex too soon might destroy a novel's sexual tension and lead the reader to skip multiple boinks as repetitive mechanics.

Well, that is how you tell a good novel from a bad novel. A bad novel gives you really great sex right away. A good novel makes you wait, e.g., Moby Dick where after 1000 pages a one-legged guy plunges his harpoon into a bleeding white hump again and again and again.

Bernita said...

~chortles~
That's...um...classic, Archer. Truly.

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