So Sex Sells–So What?

Pick up a current romance book, any romance book.  Chances are it will have at least one sex scene in it, or (maybe two or three).  If it is a long historical with a good plot, I skip over the sex scene (sometimes as much as five pages) and get on with the good stuff: the plot, what’s happening.  If there is no plot, just a series of sex scenes, I lay it aside and never finish it.

Pick a current mystery, fantasy, even science fiction.  Chances are fifty-fifty that it will have the main character having sex in it, probably not five pages, but ya never know.  One fantasy book I read recently had two long sex scenes in it that I skimmed through, flipping the pages quickly, trying to get back to the story.

Why are more and more writers putting more and more sex in their books?  The old writer adage Sex Sells seems to be the current motto.  Since these books are selling, there must be readers who want their books to be filled with sensuous writing.  I would rather have the writer “close the door” and leave the love-making to my imagination.

I want a good story.  I want characters I can like and care about.  I want to laugh, to cry.  I want to be entertained.   I’m bored with page after page of sex scenes, even if the author calls them love scenes.

What about you?  Do you like sex scenes in your books?

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10 Comments

Filed under About books

10 responses to “So Sex Sells–So What?

  1. Mary

    I find that if it fits the story I do like a well written sex scene. I’ve written stuff that had sex and stuff that doesn’t. I don’t write sex just to write it though.

    I think sex in books comes down to individual preference.

  2. Naomi

    I totally agree with you. I don’t even read such things, but once I was reading a nice story, when all of a sudden there it was! I was turning pages, trying to get past it. Frustrated that I had become so interested in a story that had this in it….I felt like I was looking in someone’s bedroom window. I want no part of such reading. I like the “closed door” thought.

  3. I happen to love sex scenes. Really! When they’re done well it brings a whole new level of intimacy and closeness for the hero and heroine. So I know which authors to go to for those really well-written, plot-advancing scenes. I also happen to hate erotica, which might seem ironic. To me there doesn’t seem to be much point in those types of sex scenes. But there is a world of difference between enjoyable sexual intimacy in a novel and erotica.

    I was actually kind of surprised when I read this post. I assumed if someone was reading a romance novel then they knew what was coming and were reading it because they enjoy that sort of thing. Ah hubris! It’s really interesting to me, as an author, to see this well-thought-out argument for a point of view different than mine. And it reminds me of the journal Romantic Times. They have a rating system for how steamy a romance novel is. Maybe it would be nice if that rating system was employed on the cover or in a blurb.

  4. Sue

    Merryfarmer, there used to be romance novels in a category called “sweet” which had no sex scenes in them. Now about the only ones that don’t are the books with a Christian theme. I must admit that 30 years ago I wrote a very sexy novel (that fortunately was never published). When I pulled it out recently to try to work it over, I found that I could no longer be comfortable with my name on such a book.

    I agree that there is a difference between love/sex scenes and erotica. In the second the entire story revolves around sex and from some of the covers I’ve seen in Romantic Times, anything goes!

    Naomi, that’s what I do–just flip past them.

    Mary, an example of being jarred out of the story: A couple of weeks ago I was reading a fantasy book. It was the usual: hidden magic, old evil awakening, half elf not belonging to either world. It was a fairly well written book, but a little drawn out (part one of a three part trilogy). About 2/3 of the way through the book, the main character has sex with the man she loves–at least five pages of vivid description of not just their emotions, but their physical actions. I found it to be inappropriate to the story and totally unnecessary. Made me think the writer just put it in to sell more books.

  5. I’ve just checked over my book Mind Jinks and there’s one sex scene that goes on for fourteen pages, approx 3500 words. However, the scene must be taken in the context of the whole book, a science-fiction burlesque, set in the year 2025. The main character Dan volunteers for Thought Transference, but doesn’t realize his fantasies are being monitored by a team of scientists, technicians, military, a politician and the A.I. The premise is that the T.T. is flawed and causes 10% of the participants to have personality changes. I think I’ve written it in such a way that it certainly wouldn’t titillate the reader, nor horrify them either, but make them consider the utter farcical nature of sex scenes. Of course, after this everything in Dan’s life goes wrong. I think I’ve written it in a humorous style, and think that misunderstandings about sex can be funny. But on the whole I do agree somewhat with you, but a lot depends on the writer, closing the door would make some novels much better reads.

    • Sue

      a lot depends on the writer, closing the door would make some novels much better reads.

      I agree. If the writer throws in a sex scene just to sell the book, it takes away from the story.

  6. Jennifer Bogart

    I won’t read books with sex scenes in them as a matter of policy. I don’t watch other people having sex, and I don’t want to read about it either…even if they are imaginary people.

  7. I agree about sex scenes which seem to “come out of nowhere” and I’m a firm believer in tastefulness, but as stories are about all aspects of life, i expect sex to come up in stories. Sex is a big aspect of many people’s lives, how we deal with it tells a lot about our personality, and it can play a major part in motivations and decision making. For those reasons I expect to come across it in stories. However, sex scenes just to make a book sell are as bad as writing a genre you hate to make a book sell…

    • Sue

      Rachael,
      I expect sex in a romance, but think it’s out of place in other genres. Just my opinion.

      I like the way Romantic Times reviews books. They label them, sweet, mild, sensual, hot, steamy, something like that. That way a reader can seek out the kind of sex they want (or don’t want) to read about.

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