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Just How Important Is Sex?

October 4, 2010
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I recently thought about our initial release, The Keeper, and it’s appeal to readers. It’s 35,000 words long with only one true sex scene, and that sex scene contains no penetration. I still feel the book is beautiful and sensual, and adding any additional sex scenes would have ruined the pace and feel of the narrative. It was supposed to be frustrating until the moment Judas and Hadi finally make love, and I feel that’s exactly how it played out.

In Rachmaninoff, our next release, sex begins fairly early on in the story due to the hypersexual nature of Aric. He’s young, promiscuous, and determined to sleep with his tutor at any cost. The cost is great, though, and Nikola makes Aric work for every inch of intimacy that’s given. There are several sex scenes in it, and each one was placed in the narrative to further the development of Aric and Nikola’s relationship.

The same can be said for Catalyst‘s sex scenes. There are quite a lot of them, and that’s because Kasper and Logan’s relationship and lives are rooted in sex. Which is the problem they face throughout the story, the sex and the addictions they both have.

When I write a sex scene, it isn’t merely to amp up the heat level of a book. My re-release of Morningstar could have had more graphic sex added to bump up the heat level from a 2 to a 3 or 4, but why would I do that? The sex should serve a purpose, either for advancing the plot or advancing a relationship, and just tossing sex scenes in can truly ruin a perfectly wonderful story. I think far too many of the M/M books I read have unnecessary sex that I merely skim over. It’s as if the authors (or publishers) have a checklist for number and placement of sex scenes. It winds up feeling formulaic and sterile, which isn’t much fun to read.

Don’t get me wrong, I think sex in erotic fiction is important, and I look for it in the stories submitted to Storm Moon Press. Sex is a defining factor, in fact, in erotic fiction, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. It should, though, show progress in the storytelling. It should be woven into the fabric of the story, not just thrown in there to make it ‘hotter’. If I can delete a whole sex scene and the story not suffer from it, then the sex scene either needs to come out or be rewritten. Sex for sex’s sake does not compelling fiction make.

Then there is the problem of sex scenes being too rote. In M/M fiction, it seems to be standard practice that a sex scene goes as follows: kissing, nipple playing, a bit of sucking cock, one finger, two finger, three finger, penetration, simultaneous orgasm. It’s ridiculous and nothing like real sex. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be fantasy, but fantasy should also have a small grounding in reality. Writing the same things over and over not only bores the piss out of a reader, but it bores me as the writer. I want to write sex that I find arousing and interesting and dynamic. I don’t want to write the same thing over and over any more than I want to have the same sex over and over.

I have grown bored at times with a sex scene, not felt it as I was writing it, and those scenes have suffered. They tend to require a rewrite because the editor reading it mentions their eyes glazing over with boredom. I’ve learned that, if I don’t find the sex compelling as I’m writing it, my reader won’t enjoy it either, and then what was the point? The key to a successful erotic fiction career, in my opinion, is a varied sex life on the page. Yes, some books will call for the traditional, the sweet and tender lovemaking, and if I as the writer have done my job, then those scenes will be just as compelling and sensual as a sex scene with whips and chains. 😉

Another way I fight sex boredom on the page is to write not just M/M erotic fiction. I write anything. Heterosexual, gay, lesbian, poly, and every combination that can be made thereof. For me, it’s the story that matters. The story and my characters, and I find any sort of love and relationship (including the sex) arousing and interesting. Currently, we have several projects in the works for 2011 that include M/M, M/M/M/F, and F/F storylines, and even a non-erotic story. I’m a storyteller, and I’ll tell any story that fills my head.

Though I do have a favorite type of sex to write. The intensely emotional sex, the type of sex that steals one’s breath and makes their heart tremble is what appeals to me. I like reading it, and I love writing it. It’s usually a big payoff moment for characters, a life-changing thing that I sink into and revel in.

So, yeah, sex is important, a cornerstone in erotic fiction, but it needs to be necessary to the story for it work. It needs to be woven into the fabric of the tale, and it needs to be original and emotional. It’s also not smut or porn, and I resent those who call it that, just so you know. Saying what I write is pornography just pisses me off, and saying it’s smut belittles the story I’m trying to tell. It just makes me think those who voice such an opinion of erotic fiction are literary snobs, and if you want to wear that badge proudly, more power to you. Just don’t think I’ll offer you my respect or agree with your opinion. I write fiction first and foremost, and just because it includes sex does not make it less.

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