More from the Historical Novel Society
When I grow up and am a published author, I want to be on a Panel like “How Much Sex is Too Much?”
While attending the HNS’s second biennial conference in
So, “How Much Sex is too Much?” In real life, there may be no such thing. At least in the fantasy of most healthy, consenting adults. Upon discovering the joys of sex, my protagonist Eloise Dahlquin wonders how anyone has the discipline to get out of bed at all. For the lucky few, only thirst and starvation (and evacuation) pull them from their union. Most of us relent to rise and resume work and chores enabling us at days end to return to our (fill in your own blank_____, ‘cozy’, ‘ravishing’, ‘insatiable’, ‘throbbing’) partners. Those of us with children have a built-in coitus interuptus program running; an endless infomercial on the virtues of birth control.
But in writing, the craft of storytelling, is it possible to have too much sex? If it is poorly written and clichéd, then absolutely. If it is gratuitous…save it for the ‘believe it or not’ mailbag. Blending great sex with riveting (yes, I like that word) page turning plot twists; exploring character development and emotions through the five senses, building tension, luring readers behind closed doors is a climax not easily achieved by all writers and shared by readers. Was it good for you?
Unlike the ‘real thing’ we authors do not want readers to light a cigarette or worse yet roll over and start snoring. What next, what next, what next? Romance writers follow a set formula, with building sexual contact as major plot points: The first kiss, heightened contact, interrupted sex, etc. until finally consummating the act itself. In most fiction, relationships, love and romance propel part of if not the entire plotline. How will this be resolved? What will be the repercussions? Who will suffer, who will gain?
Building sexual tension--written foreplay—is done in various, stimulating and evocative ways. For fine examples please check out the above mentioned authors’ work (I’m mopping my brow just remembering). Just because I fantasize about castle sex or cathedral sex, doesn’t mean readers don’t want and deserve a darn fine tale (pun intended), intrigue, mystery, suspense and deep, complex characters “seeking the cheese” (see earlier blog). What motivates characters? How do they relate to others? Striving for sex, or seeking to avoid it keep readers turning pages, waiting.
I love writing love making scenes. I like what it reveals about my characters. I want them to have some fun. Everything can’t be plague and pestilence, unless of course, it is violent sex as a power play. I doubt any of us like writing that stuff…but our heroes must overcome adversity. Few things rival sexual abuse for the sake of fiction writing. But I’m not discussing world changing, literary fiction. I’m keeping it light here.
So, how much is too much? The panel reached no definitive answer, because each book and each scene must be evaluated on its own heart pounding merits. But the audience certainly did not get enough, we were anxiously hoping for more oral sex--the literary kind.
And again, if you are not familiar with the authors, I provided their websites above.
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander series, Scots Highlanders and time travel
Jade Lee, Tigress series, exotic romance
C. C. Humphreys, Jack Absolute, 007 of the 1770’s
Lisa Jensen, Witch From the Sea, pirates and coming of age on the high seas
I’m keeping booksellers busy! And my librarians, bless them.