Friday, April 1, 2011

How much is too much?

As a writer of erotic romance, sometimes it's easy to cross the line and go over the top. If you're not careful, that sex scene you spent days, weeks, months crafting may end up going places you didn't want to go. With each scene in a book - and with sex scenes definitely - you're building a certain tone. While you're in the thick of things, it can be hard to see how each individual scene fits into the whole and when you've crossed the line. Everyone has a different threshold of what's sexy and what's not.

I read a book today that I really enjoyed. What I didn't enjoy? Well, there were a couple things. Number one, the hero got involved in some adult movies. Okay, for some people they'd shut the book right there. Not me, because the reasons were well-motivated (to me anyway) and I wanted to see where the author went with it. The problem became not the scenes shot for the adult movie, but that the intimate action between the h/h almost seemed to me to get less attention. There was plenty mentioned, but it was glossed over.

That said, I don't need every nuance described in a sex scene. Despite the usual heat level of my own writing, I can be quite happy with only a partially open bedroom door, depending on how it's handled. The problem was with this book is that I think certain situations set up reader expectation of how explicit the book will be. Mention someone choosing to be in adult movies? Well, I think that's going to be a pretty darn hot book. And while this was fairly well written, my expectations were not met.

But the opposite can be true too. Occasionally my wise CP Taryn has clued me in to the fact that I've gotten lost in the forest o'sex and my characters are getting short shrift. As well as I know them, sometimes I forget to show them getting to know each other and that's critical. A sexual journey isn't enough. Some might say it can be, but I think that can be difficult to pull off.

What about you? Do you have a certain "sweet spot" for the amount/explicitness of sex scenes you read or write?


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