I usually read a lot. Several books a week along with writing but at the moment I’m working on three different projects at three different stages of the process (editing, revising and writing) so I’m so busy I’m not able to spend as much time as I like reading other people’s books.
Anyway, I’ve picked up two books recently where I’ve just had to put them down. The thing is, one person’s wallbanger is another person’s keeper. I totally believe this is true. There are books I hear folks raving about all the time but when I read them I just wasn’t engaged at all.
Here comes the part where I ramble about sex in books and a great many things I find myself annoyed by…
One thing I notice a lot is how sex is used in a book. Now not everyone writes erotica or erotic romance. Not everyone puts big sex scenes in books and that’s fine too. But one of my biggest peeves is how authors will toss in multiple, totally gratutitious sex scenes in a book. I don’t know why they do it. Perhaps it’s because sex sells and people think that more is better. I don’t know. Sometimes, more IS better. Sometimes that’s what the book calls for. Sometimes not so much.
A sex scene is like any other scene in a book. It should propel the story in some direction. If it’s just filler, it’s useless and it reads that way. Put from my perspective – it’s a wasted opportunity for great character interaction. Sex is rich with opportunity for an author! If you use it, use it wisely. If I skim past a sex scene, it’s not really motivational for the characters. Can I skip past large blocks of other scenes with the same effect? If so, same thing – you’re not utilizing your words.
There are authors who don’t have long detailed sex scenes but who understand the complexity and importance of a sex scene. It’s not the level of graphic words, it’s not page count – it’s content and purpose. Look at Nora when she writes as JD Robb – when Eve and Roarke have sex there’s a reason for it. That’s why the physical chemistry between them resonates with readers so deeply. Roberts understands how to use sex effectively even though she’s not writing 24 page sex scenes. There are authors who do write long, detailed sex scenes who DO know how to use them effectively (several of them blog right here at The Bradford Bunch) Sadly, I see a lot of stuff that mistakes quantity for quality and the use of certain words as shortcuts to try and seem sexy.
I’m not an expert more than anyone else is. I write sex. I like to write sex and so perhaps when I read, I see it differently than other readers do. I’m sure I’m far more nitpicky than some people can be. For instance – I don’t care how gargantuan his penis is, it’s not going into the heroine’s womb. The head of a penis can bump the cervix which can be painful or pleasurable depending on the woman, the time of the month and hell, the day or level of arousal. But the womb is closed, penises do not go into them. Now, there are times when a woman’s uterus contracts – often during orgasm and she feels THAT during intercourse, but that’s not a penis in her uterus.
Also – some things are just plain painful. If an author is going to use backdoor play in her story – can she please avoid scenes without lube or (cringe) double dipping? It’s not safe to have the fingers/toys or a penis go from anus to vagina.
In many scenes a little goes a long way. As in – just because you have him dangling her upside down from the side of a building, singing the national anthem with sparklers in his ears while attempting four movements from the Kama Sutra, doesn’t mean it’s “hot” – no, sometimes it makes me cock my head and wonder just how bendy any one human can be. Most people aren’t double jointed.
And I was just discussing this with someone who will remain nameless earlier today – what is with the gagging scenes during oral? I’ve noticed this as a trend in porn too. Maybe I’m alone in this feeling but it’s not sexy. First of all, have people actually gagged? Because it’s not a pleasant thing. Second of all, while I’m sure a great many people have triggered the gag reflex while giving oral sex, it’s usually not on purpose. Sounding like one is about to vomit doesn’t ring my bell and I tend to wonder about the dude whose bell it does ring. Again, this is just *my* perspective and I could totally be wrong and gagging could be the sexiest thing since Gerard Butler in a leather kilt.
Anyway, I’ve just finished a huge edit/revision so I’m braindead. The best you get from me today is a ramble. What are your pet peeves with sex in books?
BTW – I’ll take the folks who reply and toss the names into random.org and choose a winner for an ARC of Standoff – you have until 2/10 at noon pacific to reply!
February 8th, 2008 at 7:46 pm · Link
LOL, you’re too funny. Double dipping is a SERIOUS no-no. The gagging thing doesn’t bother me much, though I don’t hear the sound of vomiting when I read it…
And hi! I’m just popping by as I’m actually WRITING and am taking a quick break. 🙂
February 8th, 2008 at 7:53 pm · Link
I admit, I write erotic romance and I have to agree with everything you wrote. Sex for sex sake though commercial doesn’t make a story. And, btw, ewww… I totally agree with the nastiness and unsanitary double dipping thing… LOL
I sure as heck wouldn’t want someone going in both entrances and back again and never mind going in dry… Can you say, “ouch”…
February 8th, 2008 at 9:58 pm · Link
What annoys me is when I am reading a book and it is obvious the author is not comfortable writing sex scenes but inserts one every few pages. If someone is not comfortable writing sex then please do not add a scene with the woman on her hands and knees with his balls hitting her ass. I had much rather read a sex scene without detailed step by step instructions as to what is happening. I can use my imagination to figure out what is going on.
February 9th, 2008 at 6:55 am · Link
LOL great post. I agree with a lot of what you say.
Sex scenes like anything else need to move the story along.
When I am going “ewwwwww” at a sex scene because of double dipping or “ouch” because of no lube then you’ve mostly lost me from the scene.
I’m also pulled out of a contemporary when there is no talk or no use of condoms.
I also am not fond of penises that do tricks.
February 9th, 2008 at 1:22 pm · Link
I’m with you on the double dipping. It’s definitely not hygienic. I’m not a fan of torture as a means to sexual gratification.
February 9th, 2008 at 3:16 pm · Link
Very reasonable posts – I found it equal parts funny, and ewww. I don’t know that I’ve ever read “double dipping” scenes – and I’m quite happy about that. I feel that authors should be responsible in writing their sex scenes as well. If only all authors would follow these very reasonable “guidelines.”
February 9th, 2008 at 4:40 pm · Link
I definately feel that GOOD sex scenes are needed in a story in the right parts…not just there as fillers. I have come across some books lately that have sex as fillers and the sex parts werent even that good 😥 I do like it , like author Lora Leigh have sex scenes with anal sex in it-its good and it has definate HOT value….basically sex scenes need to be HOT not blah 😛
February 9th, 2008 at 5:55 pm · Link
I love good sex scenes in books but there is such a thing as too much. I totally agree, if there is no point to it and it happens every 3 pages that just gets boring and repetitious.
I have not read any books so far with double dipping, (yuck!!) thank goodness.
My other occasional personal pet peeve is certain words used in the scenes (love channel).
Someone else mentioned condoms in contemp books. I like when the hero remembers to put a condom on, thinking of protecting his partner. To me it amplifies his honor and sense of responsibility. Sometimes he does not get it on, but it is mentioned and talked about before it is not used. Just a personal preference.
February 9th, 2008 at 6:39 pm · Link
i agree the no lube thing would be pretty painful and gagging in reading or real life either is enough to make me squeamish
February 9th, 2008 at 7:00 pm · Link
not many i dont like but maybe when the sex is too short
February 9th, 2008 at 7:36 pm · Link
One of the words that I just ran across lately, was “muff”, and he used it alot and it bugged me a lot. Love a story with great foreplay that amps up the sexual tension, with a story that takes us out of the bedroom with a plot that makes sense. Not much into copious liquids either, that is kind of a yuck factor for me
February 9th, 2008 at 7:59 pm · Link
To each their own. I have read a few things that i thought were a little off putting and not a turn on.
February 9th, 2008 at 8:29 pm · Link
I agree with the no lube and the double dipping is just gross lol, Oh there was this book that had a sex scene when the main guy was in were form and she was human that to me is just eww lol,
February 10th, 2008 at 8:05 am · Link
Great post, Lauren! Off to blog about your blog. LOL.
February 15th, 2008 at 3:22 pm · Link
My pet peeves about sex scenes in books is when they are just used for a story filler. I notice that if the author thinks that the story is getting dull, they throw out an unexpected sex scene. Why? I have no clue, it usually doesn’t even help the story. Another one is where the author takes the scene from really erotic to really gross with things that no sane person would even do during sex. Somethings should are better left alone.