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Monday, March 23, 2009

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The Dames Talk About Sex...

I think is fascinating because I've had a long standing squabble with a good friend over the merits of sex in literature and, in particular, the erotica genre. She's strongly for it. I... don't see the point. But, ask anyone, I've always been a bit dense with relationships.

Here's my question: Is sex necessary for a healthy or happy adult relationship? Does a romantic relationship need to culminate in sex for you to be satisfied with the book? Can you picture a romance book (not written by Jane Austen) that would appeal to the romance and erotica fans that didn't have sex?

My thoughts: I think anyone in a long-distance relationship will tell you that, no, sex has nothing to do with a happy and healthy adult relationship. It's great when you can get it, but not the be-all and end-all of a relationship. Possibly because of earlier bias I think a book can be romantic without ever showing a sex scene. Usually a good relationship leaves open the option of sex after the end of the book, or suggests that something has happened off screen, but the sex doesn't need to be part of the book.

In some cases a badly placed sex scene can ruin a book. I've seen it happen. My advice to authors who do want the sex scene in there.... wait until it actually fits in the plot line. Nothing has me scratching me head more than the chick who spent Chapter 1 ranting about how men are evil jumping the bones of some random guy she just met in Chapter 2, and then going into Chapter 3 like Chapter 2 never happened. What happened????

Last, I don't think you need to use a On Screen sex scene to have something erotic and steamy. I'm pretty sure the best writers of the genre could do an entire book without mentioning a single body part and still have some hot writing on their hands. I haven't seen this (I might mention the only books I generally see in the romance genre are the ones that have my friends dying of laughter because it's That Bad), and I'm fairly certain I haven't the talent to write this type of work, but I would love for someone to write something like this. I think it would be an interesting challenge.


  1. I don't think romantic and sexual are synonymous, although some people tend to use them interchangeably. One of the most romantic things I've ever seen was a little old couple strolling down the aisles holding hands. You could see their love for each other written all over them, but there was nothing sexual about it. In real life sex can be a healthy part of a loving relationship, but I don't think it's the main emphasis in a healthy relationship.

    Personally, I don't want to know those sorts of intimate details about the characters. I don't want to know them about real people, I don't want to know them about pretend people. I like reading things that elevate and are uplifting. A good "sweet" romance can do that, but I also don't see the point in erotica. From what I've heard about it, porn and erotica are two different things, but I don't see the difference as they're both basically the same thing, just to maybe a different intensity or amount.

    I think romance can be written without being erotic, and be written well.

  2. I agree with Dani. Romance and sex are not synonyms. What do I like in books - sexual tension. That's the best part of sex, anyway, in my opinion. If there needs to be a culmination of an actual sex scene, I'd rather have it begun and then have the curtain pulled at the right moment. That's tricky.

    I can see a romance book without sex appealing to that fan base. I might write one day, in fact. *taps chin and ponders*

  3. *runs for cover at the smush invasion*

    Definitely in the its not really needed camp. I can deal with it on a very subtle, sweet basis. Otherwise I'll skim read until I reach safe ground.

    I don't mind if its a sweet relationship, but no details.

  4. I don't think sex is absolutely necessary for romance novels (thanks for the mention by the way :)). But romance and erotica are two different genres. The submission guidelines for most erotica publishers say that you must have X many graphic sex scenes per X many words.

    As far as sex not being necessary for a full, happy relationship? The happy part I can believe, but for a full and complete romantic relationship, all aspects must be shared - from talking to sex to just spending time together. To cut out one part of the relationship (unless it's necessary like a spouse in the military) is the same as cutting off a limb or something. It works but it's not whole and it always feels like something is missing.

    Just personal opinion though I know a lot of people don't agree with me.

  5. Captain Hook- you're young yet. I think at 90 people tend to slow down, even if their partner is in country. But, for the younger set, yes I think people would notice sex missing if they were in close proximity.