Monday, January 23, 2012

It's About the Sex

Good morning, yes, you read the title correctly, this post is about sex.

You know how I tend to go on and on about how I don't write sex, don't put it in my books, how I think it's just soft-core pornography, well...Well, I did it. I put sex in my books.

Okay, wait a second, before you start throwing nasty words at me like hypocrite, liar, smut girl, let me explain the reason why I put it in.

THE DUKE'S DIVORCE revolves around Robert, the duke, and Fiona, the Scottish lass. Without giving away too many spoilers, they have to get married. The caveat is, Robert will not bed her, and at the end of 6 months, Fiona will get an an annuity for her trouble and Robert will get his annulment.

However, this is the first book I've written where the H/H are married, so naturally, they SHOULD have sex. I mean that's what husbands and wives do. But because of the deal they made with each other to get out of the marriage, they can't.
Robert is not handling it too well because Fiona is a beautiful woman and she keeps getting more beautiful every day. Other men find her exceedingly attractive and Robert's jealousy is out of control. He throws himself at her on numerous occasions, and then backs off. Which leaves Fiona a little like "Hey, are we or aren't we." I mean they ARE married.

And then one night he does. He throws himself at her and they stick. Literally. Okay maybe that was too literal, but you get the idea. They have sex.

But here is where I think the line becomes blurred. I never show the sex. I slammed that door so fast it would make your hair stand back. Here is the actual sex scene from the book, and I want you to tell me if you think it's sex or not.

“Fiona, I love you with every essence of my being. I’ve been like a lunatic today thinking you found your happiness with someone else. Please, forgive me. I swear to you I will never doubt you again.” He kissed the tears that streamed down her face. “Oh my darling,” he whispered, before he kissed her again and brought them both to the bed.

Chapter Thirty

Fiona woke to the sound of snoring. Laying in the darkness with her husband’s arms wrapped around her naked body, Fiona smiled. Robert loved her. Her mind whirled at the thought of it. She would never get over hearing the words – I love you.

Okay, let's put aside the fact it's schmaltzy as hell. I told you last week, my friend thinks I'm old-fashioned. But if you read UP to the part where he throws her on the bed, I dare say you would swoon. Well, I swoon, but maybe it's just me.

And if you notice, I even threw in a Chapter break as well. Does that make me a prude? God, I hope not.

Truthfully, here's my logic. Someday the Monster is going to read this book, and I fear it will be sooner rather than later. If I HAD written sex I really didn't want to hear a bunch of giggling 10 year olds in another part of the house. Ewwwwww Your mother wrote THAT! Ewwwww. You know how they are when they see the word penis. Or breast. And I have absolutely no desire to explain what the word burgeoning means.

So my question to you, gentle readers is -- Do you think that's sex? Yes or no would be helpful in the comments.

(Semantics aside, I believe it's not. However, this is actually bothering me.)


Summer Frey said...

Yes, I would say it's sex. :) But it's perfectly innocent, vanilla, mother-approved sex. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your reasons for not writing the sex made me laugh! And I think it's implied sex. I'm good with it!

Matthew MacNish said...

I think it's fairly obvious sex occurred, but there's nothing wrong with it being off screen. It's not erotica.

Justine Dell said...

Well, I write romance, so I'm ALL about the sex. People have sex in romances. That's what they do. It is what strengthens their relationships, makes them grow, makes them fall in love, what-have-you. However, that doesn't mean that you have to have play-by-play of it. There are plenty of books out there that are "sweet romances" that have a closed door policy on sex. No biggie. And then there's full out erotica and everything in between. So a prude, milady, you are not. ;-)

And I think your scene does just that. However, I hope that the heroine makes some mention of said sex (seeing as how it was her first time ... ever). And even if hadn't been her first time, it was her first time with him, which tends to leave a heady impression with women. They normally have to lots going through mind right after that.


Les Edgerton said...

Bed sex? Wow! Wish I'd thought of that. Now, I have 101 ways to have sex! Seriously, I'm with you on sex scenes, Anne. I hate writing them and I usually skip over them when reading them in most novels.

Like you, I was forced to write one as the plot demanded it. As I hate to write them, largely because they're all pretty much the same, I wracked my skull trying to think how i could do an original one. Most times, writers trying to write original sex scenes seem to just ratchet up the physical action--louder screams of passion, deeper scratches on the back, higher arching of backs... all that garbage. What I came up with, I was very proud as I came up with what I feel is one of the best scenes I've ever written. I went the opposite tack. Instead of ratcheting up the action, I dialed it back. Instead of louder screams, I put my guy and lady into a position where they're above an apartment where the bad guys were and where they had to be deathly quiet or be discovered and killed. They couldn't even walk across the floor in stockinged feet or be discovered. So, the first time they had sex... they had to be deathly quiet. It worked and worked extremely well. It just heightened the whole scene for them to perform in utter silence. It created a tension that was excruciating.

My litmus test in writing humor or in writing sex is that I have to laugh out loud at numerable rereadings of the funny scenes, and I have to get physically turned on rereading sex scenes. I did just that, so I knew it was spot on. Then, when I sold the book (THE PERFECT CRIME) in auction to Random House, the editor wanted to cut that scene. Eventually, the book was withdrawn and recently published with StoneGate Ink and I was able to keep that scene in.

I just have to say I completely am with you on having to write sex scenes!

Super post!

Bossy Betty said...

Yes I do and I can't tell you how fast my brain filled in all the details that you, in good taste, left out. Oh my. Now I want a cigarette and a snack.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Sure, it's sex. You've just left it all to the imagination, which some people like. I do like the ending line... "and brought them both to the bed."

Em-Musing said...

No, I don't think you wrote about sex...there are no details. And I like to think they made love vs having sex.

Linda G. said...

It's offstage sex. Nothing wrong with that. Not all readers enjoy reading the lurid details. ;)

(Sure, I do. But, you know, different strokes for different folk. Er, so to speak.)

Shelley Sly said...

Anne, I totally think this works. As readers, we know what they did, but it's not graphic. I think you wrote the "before" scene and the "after" scene with just the right emotions that we're able to use our imaginations for the rest. Good job!

Rula Sinara said...

I'd call it closed door sex, which is perfectly fine. I read a broad range and, like you said, the story/build up surrounding the scene is important. Sounds like you have a swoon worthy situation with your characters ;)

Angie Paxton said...

I'd say it's perfect regence romance sex. Well done!

Anne Gallagher said...

Summer -- I like that term, vanilla sex. Mother approved is good too.

Alex -- I knew you would approve, of my reasons and the scene. lol

Matthew -- I would not even have the faintest clue how to write erotica! Maybe I am a prude?

Justine -- Oh yes, after he leaves her in the morning, she waxes poetic on her "feelings" and such. Even brought a little tear to my eye. She's so in love with him she's pathetic. lol

Les -- I love that story about quiet sex. Maybe I could branch out in my women's fiction one day. And after reading your JUST IN TIME, I wouldn't think you had a problem writing ANYTHING! Surprise Surprise.

Betty -- Cigarette and a snack. You are too funny!

Yvonne -- Thanks. I kind of like that line myself.

Em -- Yes, that's true. They did make love. Lots of it. Oops, my imagination has run away with me again.

Linda -- I hear you. Know exactly what you mean.

Shelley -- Hey, good to see you out and about. I'm glad you liked the little bit I posted.

Rula -- Swoon worthy is right. The stuff leading up to that is just so... I can't even describe it, sooooo emotional.

Angie -- Thanks so much.

Melody said...

Well, I think the technical term would be 'implied sex.' So is it? Is it not? I don't know. I don't think it counts as a sex scene, as it were. And they're married! It's okay! And, for what it's worth, I am one of those people who does not want to read a full-on sex scene, so I think this is perfect. They're married. It's not graphic. I'm good. :)

Len Lambert said...

There aren't any details in there. It is implied. I think it's great! :)

Linda Cassidy Lewis said...

Well, that's how I write it, so it's perfect! :-)

Seriously, unless you write in a genre where full details are expected, I think it's better to involve the reader by letting them use their imagination.

Emma Lauren said...

Anne, you've got nothing to worry about. I think it's great. Yes, it's sex in that it's implied but no, it's not sex because you don't see it. It's that lovely thin line. If it makes you feel any better, that's how sex worms its way into my novels, too. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I think you handled it beautifully. It isn't necessary to create an explicit blow-by-blow account of a sexual encounter or an act of violence, either, for the reader to fill in the blanks and get a clear picture of what happened. And kudos for choosing not to write anything to offend or embarrass your daughter.

BragonDorn said...

Hypocrite! Liar!

Just kidding :P I would say that it is perfect the way it is. Whether its considered sex or not is beyond me.

Anne Gallagher said...

Melody -- Yeah, they are married, so I kind of don't feel as bad as I usually do.

Len -- Implied is a good word. Thanks.

Linda -- You know, there're so many who say you should, then there are so many who say, you shouldn't. It's hard to know, so I just go with my gut. I like to think it's sexy and sweet at the same time.

Emma -- It is a thin line that I've been walking for awhile. I don't read it so why should I write it. Right?

Susan -- You know that's one of he reasons I decided to write in this genre, so I wouldn't have to worry about what the Monster thought.

BragonDorn -- LOL. That's funny. I wondered how long it would take for someone to call me out.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That's as much sex as there is in Monarch, and people say that is sex, so I don't know. It's all so subjective. I think this is tasteful. :)

Donna Hole said...

I read smutt, so to me it isn't sex. They have a sappy moment and the door closes on the reader.

However, if this is as much sex as you feel the book needs, or that you are willing to write, then it is enough. Keeping in mind your target audience is a good thing to consider Anne.

It is a definitely a sweet scene :)


Sarah Pearson said...

It's sex in as much as we 'know' what they did between chapters. Seems to me that's all that's needed for this particular story.

Anne Gallagher said...

Michelle -- I think that's the operative word here -- tasteful. The whole issue of sex is very subjective.

Donna -- Target audience plays a big role. Little old ladies, housewives of a certain bent, and their daughters, because what daughter didn't pick up book her mother was reading?

Sarah -- Yes, what was needed for this particular story.

Susan Fields said...

It is sex (I mean, it's clear sex happened), but it's sex between a married couple - nothing wrong with that.

Liza said...

If written well, the lead up and the suspense can be more err, engaging, then the "act" itself. :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

So what DOES the word burgeoning mean? :)

I think you absolutely have to be true to your story and write it the way it needs to be written (and to your sensibilities as a writer). Is that sex? Well, yes. But you didn't show it. Which is also fine. :) #noworries

Anne Gallagher said...

Susan -- See, that was part of the problem I had in writing the story right from the beginning -- They're married, and married people do have sex. Mostly.

Liza -- "engaging" great words. Thanks.

Susan -- "burgeoning" to begin to grow, as in plants, a bud, a shoot for a flower. HA!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Most definitely! Sex scenes can often be left to the reader's imagination; let them think what went on in that bed, on that kitchen table, you get my gist!! Writing sex scenes is something I'm pretty shoddy at so I generally leave it to the reader to decide.

CJ x

Sarah Ahiers said...

first off, i literally LMAO at this:

And I have absolutely no desire to explain what the word burgeoning means

Now, i love me a sexy sex scene, but that's me. I would consider this a sex scene, but it's all behind closed doors. I have the same sort of sex scene in my YA book.

Anne Gallagher said...

Crystal -- That's what I like about slamming that door. It's left up to the reader. We don't have to become voyeurs.

Sarah -- LOL. Truthfully, I don't mind reading them if they're very tasteful, but I've read so many "romances" that are just porn, that I'm turned off now instead of being turned on. I think the implication of the sex, is just as sexy as the actual doing of the sex.

Roxy said...

I did a double-take at the title of your post and had to stop by. How could I not? I think the scene was absolutely fine. Implication without graphic content. I think emotion and passion can be shone with very little description. It's better that way.

Diane Fordham said...

I think you did fine. I agree with what Matthew said. This is romance where the reader fills in the blanks as opposed to erotica where all the blanks are filled in. :-)

DL Hammons said...

It's obvious that sex was had, but I wouldn't feel it necessary to warn anybody that the book contained sex. I wouldn't worry about it. :)

February Grace said...

I would use the word 'classy' applies here. The point is made without being spelled out act by act.

And I think that readers of your previous work would be shocked if you suddenly did the full-out description- but that this is appropriate to the story, and perfectly romantic.

I am a 40 year old woman who has been married twice and I STILL turned bright red at some of the stuff I read in the 'historical romance' section at the book store awhile back. Randomly opening to pages and just reading. It was absolutely embarrassing and worse, it was bad writing.

So I say, 'old-fashioned' is refreshing, and I will pay to read it.