It’s funny all the different things said by readers and other writers about sex in fiction.
There are some writers who feel that anyone who writes on page sex scenes lacks any true writing ability—that you’re only adding sex scenes because you can’t write an interesting story without those to catch readers’ attention.
There are readers who either prefer no sex or “fade to black” (off-page sex), or who are simply tired of multi-paged sex scenes. But there are also readers who are disappointed when certain genre books don’t have at least one sex scene in them, because that’s what’s become the norm in those genres.
Sex is a normal part of life, and I personally think it’s weird to write characters that never think about or have it.
My rule is: If a sex scene makes sense for a particular story, it goes in.
I think I only have four titles out that don’t include sex scenes, though one of them does have two mentions that the characters had sex off page: Deadlands Hunt.
Up until recently, Deadlands Hunt was my best reviewed title, but at least two reviewers mentioned they’d have liked it to be steamier. It’s most commonly labeled a “sweet romance”, which is what it is. When I wrote it, the first draft did have one on page sex scene, but it felt wrong for the characters, so I took it out and revised the story.
Deadlands Hunt was released in August, 2010 and has sold less than 100 copies so far.
I have an erotica title that was released a month before Deadlands Hunt, and it’s sold twice as many copies.
Go figure, right?
Even funnier is what’s happened with my Discord Jones series. There are two on page sex scenes in Arcane Solutions, and a few reviewers have mentioned that it is nice sex isn’t the end all, be all of the story. Yet I’ve also had at least one reader completely forget there were any sex scenes in it.
That last actually pleased me quite a bit. I don’t want Discord’s sex life to be THE linchpin the series revolves around. I want the sex scenes included to be so normal as a part of her life, that they aren’t the first things that pop to mind after finishing any of the books.
I had a tiny disagreement with one of my beta readers because Something to Curse About, Book #2 in Discord’s series, has no on page sex. She felt readers would be expecting a couple of sex scenes since there were some in the first book, and they’d be disappointed by there not being any. I didn’t think one was necessary, nor could I think of a spot in the story where one would make sense.
Tonya, my editor and the reader who forgot, pointed out the only really suitable spot one could be included, and after thinking about it, it made sense to make mention of it there and I did, instead of writing an actual sex scene.
So far, not a single reviewer has mentioned the lack of sex scenes in Book #2, either positively or negatively.
That really makes me curious what readers will think of my Shadow Connor series, when I start releasing it.
My House Hunney is getting extremely tired of sex scenes in movies. He thinks that 9 times out of 10, the sex scenes can be removed without any effect on the movie, and he’s been saying the same about books. I have to admit, the beginning of a sex scene in a movie is normally the time I get up to make more popcorn or refill drinks.
There are some series I read that after the first 3-4 books, I begin skipping over the sex scenes. Because I do that as a reader, I think it makes me more inclined to “sprinkle” sex scenes rather than look for places to stick them into stories.
Even in my AtF titles, where sex does play a noticeable part, I’ve checked back and usually only have one on page scene, with others fading to black or implied after the fact. I could say that it’s because the majority of them are supposed to be romances and not erotica, but it’s more likely my personal tastes as a reader guiding me as a writer.
Basically, I’ll sum up my personal feelings about sex in books like this: If it makes sense, put sex in, whether you go with fade to black or on page scenes. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t.
I think in many cases, at least mentioning sex will make sense simply because it is a normal part of life.
What do you think?