arhyalon (arhyalon) wrote,

Racy or Sweet?

The age-old conundrum of how much sex include in one’s writing raises its head again as I prepare to dive into the new series.
The issue never came up in the Prospero Books. Miranda needs to be a virgin to maintain her power. So, I was able to ignore the whole issue (though there are a few disgusting descriptions in Hell that I wonder, from time to time, if I should tone down a bit.)
The current project has no such safety valve, as many of the characters will marry/go to bed with/have children with many of the other characters, many of the scenes would naturally take place in the bedroom.
Personally, I don’t mind sex scenes, if they are an integral part of the story (not gratuitous). They are not often done what I think of as ‘right’ (any sex scene I have to flip past because I’m bored isn’t done right,) but when they are, I enjoy them. And I like writing sex scenes because, sadly, I have discovered I am good at them. However, talent is not necessarily a justification. If a fellow discovered he had a talent for thievery or slitting throats, I would not want him to make use of it!
To date, I have never written an erotic scene that I showed to anyone except my husband. This seemed proper to me. I wouldn’t do that stuff with anyone but my husband, so I shouldn’t take about it in such a graphic fashion with anyone else either.
At one point, I thought about trying to publish erotica, but I decided against this. My main thought here was that to be good erotica, a story must push taboo limits. Well, there is no taboo left out there nowadays that I would want to contribute to pushing! I don’t mind telling my husband a story about something that’s rather risqué, but I would not want one person out there to think that something that is now forbidden is okay because I made it appealing in a story!

So, detailed, explicit erotica is out.

On the other hand, I have run sex scenes in roleplaying games for friends. As a rule, the scene was not explicit; the emotional reactions rather than the actual events being described. (“She seems very pleased with you” or “He doesn’t seem to really be paying attention to you,” kind of thing.)

But, for a good romance, there has to be at least a bit of specific description because a large part of the drama comes in how far the girl allows the man to go, and it is hard to describe this without specific descriptions of the part of the body that has been accosted. (as in “His hand slid onto her bare knee. She jumped, alarmed.”)
So, the question comes, how specific should I be in the books?
Pro and Con:
On one hand, we are talking about a series called THE CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN; so theoretically, I should be able to get away with a lot. Also, modern fantasy seems to have a lot of graphic sex, so up until about a year ago, I had been looking forward to writing quite a few graphic sex scenes.
But a number of things have happened in the last year to make me think that even though sex sells, and is currently popular, it also restricts readership. One begins to lose more descent readers, younger readers, etc.
Also, I’ve realized that scenes that seem perfectly cute when read by a decent mind can seem quite tawdry if interpreted outside their proper context. It’s been quite instructive to see how people have reacted to some of the scenes in John’s Chaos books…which ones they took to be offensive and how much of the offensive parts they included verbatim in their reviews.
So, I thought I might scale back the amount of sex  in the series…to imply rather than describe scene where the particulars of the encounter were not important to the plot
But, now I wonder if this is enough. Should I try to cut out sex scenes entirely? Shall I make them poetic rather than explicit?  I’m just not sure.
I thought of leaving out sex all together, but that I don’t think that will work. There is just too much that happens in bedroom scenes, and too much of the story is about the characters trying to decide their standards (how far to go…in a variety of areas of life) for that to make sense. (After all, what is the point of having the characters struggle to resist corruption if no one is corrupting them?)
Besides, I like such scenes if they are done right. So where to draw the line?  
Guess I’ll have to pray about it.

(Ironically, John wrote a similar subject today: ) 
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