R.C. Murphy spends her nights writing urban fantasy novels and a slew of short stories for her blog, The Path of a Struggling Writer. By day she is a not so mild-mannered housewife, wrangling vampires, demons, and various other nasty creatures. R.C. has joined forces with fellow writers, artists, and actors to form the Zombie Survival Crew where she reviews movies, TV shows, as well as penning articles on important survival skills. Her articles on survival in the zombie apocalypse are featured in the ZSC anthology Undead is Not an Option. Readers can find visit her at her web site, her Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter.

Let’s Talk About Sex

Lately there’s been a rash of authors throwing up their hands and staring in wonder as their fans tear into them about their newest books. Not because the writing is shoddy or lacking in any substantial way. Oh no. It’d be understandable if authors were being called onto the carpet for releasing a half-thought-out book. Instead, they’re being shamed for not turning their novels into literary porn. (If you just imagined two novels humping, you’re my new best friend.)

Yes, sex in books is often something wonderful, thrilling, and gives the reader’s day a little extra oomph when they’re done reading. However, sex cannot and will never be the entire plot of a book. A sex scene is one moment in the lives of these people/creatures the author created. If a book was nothing but sex, then readers assume the character has no job, no responsibilities beyond a good shag. That’s not how life works, and even in the most fantastical, sex-driven books, it isn’t how a character would live their life.

I’m one of those weirdos who thinks a character (and heck, even the guy at the end of the bar who’s been sending me drinks all night) has to earn the right to have sex. Sex is never a guarantee. There’s nothing thrilling about opening a romance novel and knowing when, where, and how hard a couple are going to go at it. Romance novels are stories of how these two people build a relationship. How they learn to trust each other enough to be nude and vulnerable in front of a virtual stranger. There’s no magic wand you wave in real life that’ll tell you if the cute chick checking you out at the party is sane enough to sleep with, because at some point she may snap and you’re missing important parts of your body. You. Never. Know.

Also, it is hard to write sex, guys. Okay, rephrase that . . . it is hard to write good, inventive sex scenes that aren’t a rehash of everything else already committed to paper. Think of it like a dance, not everything is going to be Thriller. Sometimes you end up with a limping, off-beat tango and your partner has broken your big toe from stepping on it repeatedly. It is like trying to reinvent the wheel. Sex has been around, literally, forever. It is why we’re all here. Finding new, exciting ways to describe something we all will do at some point in our lives sucks. And not in a good way. Authors are banking on their talent to keep the reader from stopping mid-fictional-hump and saying, “That’s not how it works.” I’m not immune to this. Every time I think I have something cool to offer, my editor shakes her head and I realize she’s right. There are physical limitations to what a normal person can do. Remembering those in an effort to write the New Best Sex Thing Ever is a trial.

Not every sex scene works in the context of the story plot, either. An author may come up with the Hamlet of sex scenes, but if it stalls the flow of the plot, it’ll have to go. Maybe the scene will move to later in the book. Maybe it’ll be dumped in a “For Later Use” file and put into another story. Just depends on where the characters are mentally, physically, and if the flow of the story calls for a little time out. Unlike real life, sex for the sake of having sex doesn’t often fit into a story.

The next time you feel like grabbing a pitchfork and torch over an author’s lack of sex scenes in a book, stop and think what you’d do in their shoes. We try our best to titillate readers while telling a good story, but sometimes we can’t make Fetch happen. And we shouldn’t. When you force something on a story, it falls apart. I’d much rather read a sexless romance story than a forced sex scene. Focus on good writing, not cheap thrills. There’s an entire internet full of porn for that.

*********

Thank you R.C. for coming to PonyTails today! I am doing a giveaway of 1 ebook of Enslaved. This is open to everyone. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced around September 24, 2013. Please fill out the form below.

About Enslaved:

The gods are flawed . . . and they make awful parents.

Deryck knows first-hand the cruelty of the gods. Three thousand years after his birth, he is still trapped, forced to service humans as an Incubus—unable to choose whom he sleeps with, and living a life completely devoid of love. There is no out for him. No hope. Or so he thought.

Shayla McIntire spent five years getting her life back on track after the accident claiming her husband’s life. She is content to a nice, boring, subdued life free of the abuse she suffered before. Her friends are worried. They want her to find the man of her dreams and move on.

Little do they know, the Powers That Be have decided the man of Shayla’s dreams for her. There’s just one hitch, he’s enslaved to the gods and it will take power she doesn’t know she has to free him. Deryck isn’t the only one hoping Shayla will free him, though.

Enslaved is available from Amazon and from Barnes and Noble.

Advertisements