Take it away Neil....
Do You Get Taken Seriously If You Write About Sex?
The other day I suffered from coitus interruptus.
Not the way you’re thinking about it – I was in the middle of writing a sex scene and I had to stop what I was doing to hurry to a meeting of my writers’ group. We are a group of five mystery writers (well, I span the gap between mystery and romance) – four women and one guy, me.
That day, as it happened, we were critiquing a chapter in which one of the women (let’s call her S) had written her first sex scene. It was very impressionistic – short phrases piled on top of each other, without specific references to genitalia or to tab A being inserted into slot B. Since I already had sex on my mind, we got into a discussion of the ways we write about sex. S was writing a mainstream suspense book, and though part of the plot involves a romance developing between two characters who don’t know that they’re related, she didn’t want to get into too much detail.
Another woman, K, began her career in romance, where she was required to pull back that curtain and show what goes on in the bedroom. She got tired of that, and in her current career as an Edgar-winning mystery author, she has cut way back on the explicit sex.Would she have won that Edgar (the highest award in the mystery world) if her detective got randy in every book? Probably not.
Another woman, M, has written four books in a series and only at the very end of book four did she allow her heroine to finally get naked with her handsome, sexy lover. Well, I can’t say that she does get naked, though I sure hope so, because the book ends with said lover waiting outside her remote house in the Everglades complete with a banner congratulating the heroine on her 40th birthday. I’m guessing they didn’t go inside to eat cake.
The final member of our quintet, C, has avoided romantic entanglements completely in the work she has submitted for our critique. Her current work is set in the early 1900s, so the characters receive genteel kisses and the occasional clasped hand.
These women all seem to believe that adding explicit sex to their works will somehow shift their books into the realm of romance, and lead to disdain from the literary establishment.
I gave up on the literary establishment a long time ago in favor of writing the books I wanted to read. I like throwing a bunch of good, old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon words like dick and cock into my books. My characters never “fade to black” after they embrace. And I wouldn’t have them any other way.
In my newest romance, Love on Stage, my protagonist was kind of a himbo – a really good looking guy who had sex all over the place. But since it was a romance, after all, I had to pull out some of those scenes with other guys and focus on the developing romance between the hero and his love interest.
I write mystery, romance and erotica, and each of those books has the same elements, although in different proportions. It’s great fun to write down and dirty sex scenes—and I hope my readers enjoy them as much as I do!
Well, there you have it, folks. Writing dirty sex! And what it means for different authors....
Neil Plakcy’s newest M/M romance is Love on Stage, second in a series about young gay men on South Beach looking for love and career success. More about his work at www.mahubooks.com. http://www.loose-id.com/love-on-stage.html
Thanks so much for coming by, Neil! It was great to have you.