Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sex Vs Plot?

I'm going to go out on a limb here. There's been several discussions over the amount of sex in a book vs plot lines. How much sex is too much? Is a strong plotline the reason you buy the book? Or is it the interaction between the characters?

Yes, I've read thousands of books. I've read everything from The Happy Hooker to Harlequin; Robin Cook thrillers to Steven King. Jude Devereaux, Danielle Steele, Lavryl Spencer, Nora Roberts. Jackie Collins. Books with minimal cuss words and those that contain the 'F' words and other buzz words.

Last year at this time, I started reading the heavily erotic ones from EC and TEB. At first, I was fascinated with the hot, heavy sex and it took me a while to get used to terms I always thought as gutter language. And excerpts with light bondage, hot sex, and a hint of more to come? That book automatically got a 'YES!' response and got added to a growing list of books to buy.

But after a while, I noticed something. The books which were nothing more than pages after pages of sex soon lost their appeal. Yes, it's good that boy meets girl, they immediately fall into bed, but....what happens when they finally burn out? I've been disappointed more than once when after a three-day (or 3 hour!) sex marathon, the couple says 'I love you' and they decide to get married. But what happens afterwards? I wrote a book like that, and am still not happy with it, even though I went ahead and sent it in. I kind of hope it does get rejected, so I can finish it the way I want, plus add in the details I loved, but had to delete because of word count limits. And yes, I know it's fantasy, but I guess I want to tie in a little reality to the story as well.

Remember the old Seinfeld sitcom? The episode where 'yada, yada, yada' became part of pop-culture? Elaine says, "I'd yada yada sex..." Well in some cases, I'm doing the same. I'll read the first couple of hot scenes; keep reading; skim through the next sex scene; pick it up again after they've left the bedroom. I still love the book; I'm just not that interested in the sex details anymore.

But don't change the way you write! Maybe my tastes are changing again. It all depends on personal mood, the subject matter, and the author. I've only tossed out one book; it got caught in the computer crash and I wasn't thrilled after I read it, so I didn't bother re-ordering it. Maybe at a later date, if I get the urge to read it again, I'll go to the site and get it.

Lately I've noticed the ones I've absolutely raved over have strong, detailed plotlines. Sometimes it's taken me a couple of days to read these books, but I've been very satisfied when I'm done, and want to shout it to all my friends to buy this particular book! Others I file away in my pile of disks and think, "Oh, that was pretty good." And I'll stress again; I've only read one book that I've come to the end and thought, "Why was this written?" Nope, not gonna tell you which one. And no, it wasn't by any of my blogmates.

I've taken some flak over the language in my books. They aren't erotic enough to be called erotic, yet they are too colorful for mainstream. I've been up front with people at my signings about the graphic nature and the fact that the 'F' word does appear in both books (prolifically in #1 and 4 times in #2...I think it's only used once in #3!), only to have people put them down, pray over me, and look disappointed. Some have expressed they actively read other genres. I've learned to live with it. I can't please everyone, after all, and I do have people who absolutely love what I write!

And the four I wrote this year will have to remain on the down-low from my parents. The ones I'm working on now I still haven't made up my mind which language to use. Go graphic and submit to EC or even TEB, or tone it down and make it more sensual? Check back later. Maybe they will be a mix again.

So don't yell at me because I'm skimming the sex scenes? I'll probably reread them later and read every word! But for me, right now, the plotline is what is grabbing my attention. Who knows...maybe next month I'll be back to the sex?

Slow Work Year
Yes, the spousal unit was laid off after 2 months of work. Keep us in your prayers; this happens every election year. This year is turning out just like 1992, when we were just starting out. We survived that year; we will survive this one as well. And after the election...let's hope he's right and next year he'll have more work than he can handle! Just hope he stays healthy!

Yay! My VistaPrint stuff arrived! I love my new magnets and hope others do too. And the oversized Did not think they were that large! Thank god I didn't get very many! I think I'll stick with the regular ones. And another pen...this brings me up to 3:) Gave one to my mom a few weeks back. At this rate, I'll be old and gray before I can afford to hand out free pens, lol:) Oh wait a minute...I'm already going gray!


Unknown said...

LMAO Molly! That's exactly what I thought the first time I got oversized postcards. They are HUGE.

You'll find a happy medium for your writing, don't worry about that. You shouldn't write to markets anyway. You are so talented you just need to keep doing what you're doing. Write for you and they will find homes. There is a reader out there for all of us. I swear it!

As for the sex stuff, personally I would be fine writing one or two REALLY filthy scenes in a book as opposed to a scene every chapter. But I've done both, and I'll only do what works for my story. I refuse to force sex where it doesn't belong just to meet an erotica "quota." Can't do it.

Dakota Rebel

Unknown said...

First of all, hugs, about the spousal unit's lay off. My hubby was out of work for about a year a year ago. That was tough and we had to take a second mortgage on our house and now that's making us tight. Eek!

Anyway, onto your main topic, I absolutely agree, even though I write erotic romance. I try to write a good plot and a good, fun, or intriguing story even though it also has sex. I'm getting better (from my editors' pov) about adding more sex, too. Usually - my TEB editor recently told me to add "more sex" to my latest two submissions. My EC editors are always telling me not only to add "more sex" and "earlier sex scenes" but that I have to use the "F", "C", and "P" words.

But they sell really well so a lot of someones must like them that way.

barbara huffert said...

As you say, reading tastes flucuate. Good thing there are so many of us writing so many different things, isn't it?

Bronwyn Green said...

Good luck with the layoff - I hope it doesn't last long.

BTW, I haven't forgotten to send out your prize from the whipped cream contest - I've just been swamped. I promise I'll get it out in the mail this week.

Also - I tagged you for blog tag :) Rules are on my blog.