This is a topic I’ve written about before. But I came across it again last week, so I feel like writing about it again.
That’s because it gets under my skin.
Because it’s so. Exceptionally. Stupid.
Now, when it comes to writing, there are a lot of stupid thoughts and practices out there – many of which I’ve committed myself over the years. Some of which, my editor would no doubt point out, I still commit.
For instance, she’s constantly calling me on getting too far into my character’s heads and using too many adjectives. As in way too far and way too many. To the point where it’s safe to call both habits ridiculous.
Just not as ridiculous as the post described below and its follow-up explanation…
Here’s the question I found on one of the Facebook writing groups I belong to:
Hey guys how are you??? I have a couple questions.
I have a new book coming out it’s heavy on the sexual detail. It’s part of the development of the characters relationship and pushes the story along. Does this mean it’s erotica? And does Amazon truly suppress your book and put it in a dingeon when you list it as erotica? Please help!
“What purpose do those details serve?” one respondent wanted to know. To which she replied:
it pushes the plot forward it’s a lot of sex scenes like i think 4 in the first book maybe five
and like 6 in the second book. the graphicness is detailed like exactly what his body part is doing to her body part and all the liquid, sound, touch and tastes that go with it
Oh yeah, and it’s a 60,000-word book. And there are also “cute little naughty scenes” – whatever that means – and “fooling around” scenes.
Sorry if I’m sounding judgmental here (actually, no I’m not). But I’ve read hard-core “regular” romance novels before that had less than that.
So really… How is that not erotica?
I’m not trying to sound like a prude here. Again, I’ve read romance novels before.
And if I ever go for my doctorate in literature, I swear I’m going to do my thesis on 50 Shades of Grey – which, having read it, I can personally attest to being one of the stupidest books ever written.
But at least it’s honest about what it is, unlike the delusional writer quoted above.
First off, if a manuscript has that kind of graphic description 4-6 times (or more)… then it’s pushing the romance line right into erotica.
Secondly, I can’t think of a single scenario where that many sex scenes – much less graphic ones – would actually push the plot along. They might spice up the story, at least in theory. But the plot itself can almost certainly survive without them, or at least without them being so vividly laid out.
For that matter, the story – if there is, in fact, one at all – can actually suffer from too many sex scenes.
Part of the appeal of “normal” romance sex scenes, after all, is the suspense that comes before them. The buildup. The teasing. The will they or won’t they?
The less of that delicious torment you offer, the more you risk downplaying the actual climax, or “character development,” you’re going for.
So if you find your story going that far that often, I'd strongly consider cutting back. Don’t let your readers have it so easy.
Unless, of course, you want to write erotica. And then I guess anything goes.
Even a story worth reading.