Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's Valentine's Day, So Let's Talk About Sex

When I was evaluating epublishers, I almost didn't submit to Liquid Silver Books (my first choice for various reasons) because I didn't think BONDS OF DARKNESS was sexy enough. No threesomes, no M/M, no toys, no anal. Just two people caught up in a paranormal conflict, falling in love and expressing that love physically, and not very often at that. I felt that more sex would've ruined the suspenseful rhythm. ("Hey, it's a life-and-death situation, let's stop for a shag!")

Mrs. Giggles and Emily Veinglory discuss the eroticism of erotic romance, and reach the same conclusion as I have. A lot of erotic romance just isn't sexy. Part of the problem lies in predictability.

Endless descriptions of tab A in slot B, no matter how an author varies the tabs and the slots, are not erotic. It's mechanical. (If you want to write about mechanical sex, actually feature an AI character. This is speculative romance!)

Miz Veinglory plaintively asks, "Where are the books full of furries, pegging, forced feminisation or all those other unexploited wonders of human sexuality?" Since I'm not even sure what pegging is, I'm instantly intrigued. We're writing SPECULATIVE FICTION here, folks. Our readers want us to look into potential futures and potential alternatives to the now. They want us to deliver the oh-wow factor, the awe, the wonder. They want us to go poking around in the dark corners. Otherwise they'd go read historical or contemporary romance! Writing another round of anal sex or a POUS (penis of unusual size, as one of my clever reviewers has dubbed it) isn't living up to your responsibility as a speculative fiction author. And with the competition for the erotic romance reader's dollar…

Mrs. Giggles (who also tires of tabs and slots) gives another insight. "I want descriptions. I want sensations. Thoughts. Emotions. I've come across sex scenes where the actual act is alluded to but the heroine's emotions and thoughts during the act are so explicitly detailed that I find such a scene too erotic for words."

You as the author may be caught up in the writing-the-sex act. But boiled down, whether you are writing about the heroine having sex or kicking ass or solving a riddle, you are always WRITING ABOUT CHARACTER. Everyone knows what it's like to have sex. (Even people who haven't had sex have a set of concrete expectations.) Readers want to know how it is for the heroine or hero or even villain to have sex.

Magical Musings hosted agent Lucienne Diver recently, and she spoke about what makes a story go from "almost, but" to sold.

"Your viewpoint character is the lens though which the reader sees the world. A lens can warp images, color them, magnify or diminish them. Voice should do the same. Descriptions will be filtered through a character’s unique perceptions and way of expressing him or herself."

Every woman feels a kiss in her own unique way. Every man experiences an orgasm in his own unique way. Every sex act is different, for an infinite number of reasons. There's just no excuse to have your characters make love like somebody else's characters. Make it a point of authorial honor, and deliver the reader a surprising, even shocking, new take on sensuality through the filter of your characters' experiences.

So there. I've had my rant. What do you think?

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