Thursday, December 10, 2009

I don't like ho-hum sex...

Do I have your attention? People are starting to read this blog thinking where is she going with this one. But of course this is a writing blog not an article for Playboy so when I refer to ho-hum sex it’s in my romance novels.
Now let me be very clear, this is not to say that I only read books with extreme sexual content. I’m actually not much of an erotica fan unless I trust the author who is writing it. To me there is just nothing worse than bad erotica.

What I mean by ho-hum sex is that scene that feels like it was just put in there for the sake of being put in there. We know they have to have sex. It’s expected, but you can tell when reading it that the author just doesn’t put a whole lot into it. It’s more about blocking and steps. Step one: clothes off. Step two: petting. Move to the right, hit the bed, turn over. Step three… you get the idea.

Now I love my steamy reads. I think Elizabeth Hoyt has mastered the art of what I consider to be good sex. It’s always a little different. It feels authentic. And it’s hot. Kresley Cole is another author who I think succeeds with this. She tends to push some boundaries, which is fine as long as it’s true to the story. Pushing boundaries just for the heck of it doesn’t work for me either.

But there are also authors who create the most intense scenes with very little description. One of my all time favorite sex scenes is by Laurie R King who writes the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books. In A Monstrous Regiment of Women, Russell and Holmes marry and consummate the relationship. The scene however is overlaid with the first kiss. Interspersed between dialogue we get just a hint of that scene behind the bedroom door and it was intense and very heated with nothing more than a few written lines. Nothing ho-hum about that.

As a writer I always try to remember that. It’s not the words, the positions, or crossing some taboo lines. It’s about the characters and why we as readers want to be a part of that very intimate moment between them. Someone once asked me if I just cut and paste the sex scenes from one book to the next. (A man who doesn’t read my books who got a very nasty glare from me after such a comment.) But I hope that if I ever attempted such a thing that it would be very obvious. The scene from one story should simply not fit with the couple in the second story. If I’ve done my job anyway.

Talk to me, do you like it as RT rates it these days…. Mild, Hot or Scorching?

11 comments:

Emmanuelle said...

I like my love scenes hot, not to mild, neither too scorching. I'm ususally a bit disappointed by the "fade to black" scenes although some authors are really good at it, I agree (Kristan Higgins, Julie James). Too much sex doesn't work for me either. Just yesterday I read Trial by Fire and some of the sex was really too hot for me (butt-sex...Ew). I really enjoed the story and the characters though so I don't regret reading it at all.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Sinead has this annoying thing about how every scene has to do something - change something - reveal something. And my favorite sex scenes are the ones that aren't actually about the sex but about what is being changed or revealed. I think JR Ward is a master master master at this and you're right most of the time so is Elizabeth Hoyt. And remember that scene in the John Adams mini-series, the scene in Paris and you saw how all this mutual repect and admiration between John and his 'dear friend' was heavily heavily colored with love and lust - which we hadn't seen before. Such a good scene.

Alli said...

Depends on my mood, but needless to say, it has to be well written. I would agree re: Elizabeth Hoyt. Excellent stuff!

A well-known author friend of mine sucks at writing sex scenes. She has another author friend who excels at them, so they usually collaborate when my friend needs to add sex to a story. And to be honest, if I didn't know that was the case I would never have guessed. The collaboration works perfectly!

Laurie King said...

My blushes, Stephanie...

Stephanie Doyle said...

Ms. King... if it was possible to bow in comments I would do so.

And if you happen to check back just know that I'm so thankful to you for such an amazing (and I believe profoundly romantic) series of stories.

A dedicated fan.

Eileen said...

Oh, wow! Totally what Molly said. It's a moment of such intense vulnerability for your characters and can say so very much about them.

My last book had the first on-screen sex scenes that I've written in AGES. With chick lit, you pretty much wink and shut the door (or fade to black). With romantic suspense, it needs to be on the page. As an author . . . well, I worry that I'm revealing things about myself that I don't want anyone else to know.

Maureen McGowan said...

I think that sex scenes, like every scene in a book, need to change something. And in a romance, something important. Too may writers seem to think the sex scene is a free pass not to try hard enough to show anything beyond the action. It's gotta be about more than the action...

Sinead M said...

For me it's the build up(pun intended)

If an author does a great job of building sensual tension, the scene could be three paragraphs long, with the most vague wording ever and it would still be satisfying.
But too often it feels like the sex scenes are there to increase page count, and add nothing.

Eileen said...

Oh, and Emanuelle? I'm so with you on the eww factor. When did that become romantic?

Phone Sex said...

Sex having no meaning requires that we trust ourselves when being sexual. First, it means making choices from a vast array of options. Will we make good choices? Choices that reveal things about us we're defended against? This is far worse than simply being exposed as having lust in your heart. Will we be attracted to activities that "good people" are not? Will our choices hurt our partner, our family, our country?

Emmanuelle said...

Eileen, I know !! Obviously I read Romance so I'm not a prude but I really didn't see it coming and franckly I was shocked. I didn't enjoy reading it at all. Not romatic and pretty gross to me (the hero had to take a shower afterward OF COURSE, yuk). Lol. Anyway it was my first scene of the genre and I hope it will be the last. I need my romances to be romantic !!;-)

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