Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's Wrong With Sex?

In the majority of my novels and stories, sex happens off the page. When my hero, Jack Daniels, got laid, it was a fade to black and go to commercial moment.

Not that I had any fear or aversion to writing a sex scene. But it was never needed within the story.

I'm a firm believer that every scene, every sentence, every word in a story should be to move it forward. Anything extraneous, including sex, should be cut.

I wrote my first big sex scene (several of them, in fact) in Cherry Bomb. These scenes were integral to the story, revealing both plot and character.

There's a story I tell about one scene in particular, when Jack finally gets laid. Since I was writing from a woman's POV, I wanted to make sure it worked, so I let me wife read it. She came back to me, looking angry.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"This sex scene was four pages long."


"So, you've never gone four pages with me!"

Fiction, hon. It's fiction.

But I learned something important writing Cherry Bomb. I learned I liked writing sex scenes. They were fun, but they also allowed me to show a human, emotional, vulnerable side to my characters.

When I wrote Timecaster, I knew I wanted to have several sex scenes in it. I knew they would be explicit, and would be funny, and would show what type of person the hero was.

Color me surprised when I began getting bad reviews and hate mail for daring to put explicit sex in a sci-fi novel.

WTF? I thought everyone liked sex.

Next, I wrote Flee with Ann Voss Peterson, and that has a whopper of a sex scene in it. Again, it was essential to the story, revealing a very important aspect of the main character.

More bad reviews and hate mail, calling the book porn.

Huh? Five pages out of three hundred have an erotic element to them, and the book is porn?

What amazes me even more than that is the fact that my books have so much violence in them. Apparently I can stab someone fifty times and feed them to the crows while they're still alive (Serial Killers Uncut, which also has a sex scene), and that's okay as long as there are no blowjobs.

Now, I know the US is behind much of the world when it comes to being open about sexuality. But the repression goes so deep that people feel the need to tell me how perverted I am?

No one would be here without sex. It's a natural, essential part of life. Everybody thinks about it. Everybody masturbates. (Do you remember, you married guys, watching your wife-to-be walk down the aisle and thinking how nice it will be that you'll never have to jerk off again? How'd that work out for you?)

So what's the problem here? I thought people liked well-written sex. I thought erotica was a huge seller. I thought sex could make a story more interesting, more compelling, and more fun.

Am I missing something?

Do you like sex in fiction? Why or why not?