• Needs More Sex

    Posted on April 28, 2012 by in Talking About Writing

    I was walking my dog this afternoon, which on the weekend means I have company.  A friend who has a sweet, funny dog the same size as my papillon walks with my pooch and me.  She is a wonderful person, intelligent and kind.  Strolling together while our dogs sniff their way along the sidewalk is a nice way to pass the time, and our dogs adore each other.  She knows about my writing and is always quick to ask for status reports.  I told her I’m slowly making headway on the new book, but that I had a second book all queued up and ready to send to its editor.  Or I thought I did until I reread it again.

    “It’s in decent shape,” I told her, utterly sincere.  “But I think it needs more sex.”

    The things you say out loud in this business.

    This is something I’m trying to wrap my arms around–the expectations of the M/M audience.  Now I realize the idea of an “M/M audience” is a fallacy.  These readers aren’t some homogenous group sharing a single viewpoint, anymore than general romance readers, sci-fi readers or any other genre’s readers are.  But recently someone left a really lovely review for Redemption on Amazon and made an observation, that while true, hadn’t occurred to me as a writer:

    First and foremost this is not an erotic book IMO, this is a romantic book, the emphasis is on the building relationship between the guys, and there are few sex scenes throughout a very long novel. I personally was not complaining, but note that the readers who want a lot of sex in their books may be dissappointed [sic].

    This reviewer is absolutely right.  While there are, what I would consider, graphic sex scenes in the book, the focus is far more on the emotional relationship between Jason and Dev than it is on their physical relationship.

    This new book is even stingier (at least as it currently reads).  A lot of time is spent on characterization.  There are only two sex scenes and one doesn’t even occur between the two heroes.  Without giving too much away, I would argue this is appropriate given the way the primary relationship comes together (Duh, right?  After all, I wrote it, so I must think it’s at least a little bit appropriate.).  But I can understand how those interested in M/M romance want some bang for their buck (bad pun, I know…).

    So with this next book, I think I need to write an epilogue, giving the readers the payoff they’ll (hopefully!) be expecting.

    I can’t imagine the character will have too much of an issue with that.

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8 Responsesso far.

  1. Robyn Parklane says:

    Oh no, you don’t need more sex in your stories. I am reading Redemption right now and really enjoying it. The problem with the MM books nowadays is there is too much sex. When you have read as many as I have pages of sex is just boring. I mean how much more creative could a writer be in sex scenes. Please continue to focus on building up emotional relationships, characters and plot. Don’t invent sex for the sake of sex. You must have noticed that Redemption is ranked #1 in Amazon gay & lesbian romance which means you are doing fine. So is another lacking in sex gay romance book, Latakia which is just as popular, with 60 positive reviews. Looking forward to your new book.

    • OliviaDCraig says:

      Hi! Thanks for commenting and letting me know you’re enjoying Redemption. I’m really glad to hear that.

      I agree that sex for sex sake is definitely not the way to go. But do you feel as if it’s enough for a m/m romance book to end with a realization/declaration of love, yet no expression of it beyond a kiss?

      Without giving too much away, these character share one encounter that is more R rated than NC-17, but beyond a chaste kiss or two more, that’s it. I just worry that without this epilogue readers are going to feel as if the story is all build-up and no payoff. I’m probably particularly sensitive to it as I’ve seen that some of the feedback for Redemption has mentioned I rushed the ending there. I don’t want to be accused of that twice (at least not in a row!).

      • Robyn Parklane says:

        “if it’s enough for a m/m romance book to end with a realization/declaration of love, yet no expression of it beyond a kiss”..

        Hey on your above question I say yes if that is the way the plot is to make sense. For me, sex at the end of a MM romance seems to cheapen the whole thing. It reminds me that the story is foremost an erotica. When I come across it I just skip it because ending sex does not contribute to a plot. Most important are the convincing emotions and words exchanges. To have ending sex in your story just becaue a reader complains, isn’t that sex for the sake of sex ? It is high time MM romance moves towards more quality stuff instead of being called a porn/erotica..Thanks for letting me express my views. And I look forward to your works.

        • OliviaDCraig says:

          I think you make a good point. That the last scene is what you leave your audience with, so you want it to be true to the characters and their story.

          I guess one of the reasons why I was considering it (beyond worrying about audience expectations) is because I know exactly how that scene would play out. I’ve got it in my head and because of that, it feels like a natural progression, not something I sat down and wrote solely to better the book’s chances of success.

          For what it’s worth, based on your comments and some of the others I’ve read here, I’m rethinking this. Maybe letting the story as written stand on its merits is the way to go. I just want to make sure that readers feel the journey they take with the characters is complete, that it was worth it in the end.

          But, truly, that goes beyond sex or no sex, doesn’t it? :-)

      • Sirius says:

        I am the person who left the review :) . In the interest of full disclosure – I know Parklaine, but she did not lead me to your blog, I have a tendency to seek out more information about the writings of new to me author, whose book I really loved, so I wanted to check out your blog.

        I have seen this entry couple days ago, but was actually hesitant to say it. I decided to say it anyway. It is long, so be patient with me – I can raamble a lot. I am actually surprised and kind of sad that you may be thinking of adding more sex to your novel based on what seems the reaction to my review. I *was not* complaining about lack of sex, at all. I love the books where the characters have great chemistry, where there is an interesting story and sex to me as icing on the cake. I will enjoy it if it adds to the story, I dont really care if all sex fades to black, etc. But I am writing my reviews for the readers and since I know that there are plenty of readers who want to see sex, I warned them that they wont see it. The thing is though, IMO I think you should (thats not a directive obviously, as if I had a power to issue them lol, but a suggestion) add as much or as little sex to the story as the story so demands and ignore what readers want. There are a lot of readers who want to see all sex and very little plot, would you ignore your plot and characters in the next story? (Please dont :) )). There are many readers who want to see all of it – great characters, plot and sex which advances the story, or what could be a payoff as you said. But I have seen the readers who usually prefer a lot of sex being swept away by the great story and liking it. I just think that if you start writing to readers’ demands – your story will suffer from it. I think I should write how you feel and the audience will find you. I am personally more than fine with little sex in the story, but I had been enjoying many stories where sex was an organic part of developing relationship. It is all depends on the writing for me. I think good writing can even pull the reader out of the comfort zone a little (unless of course it is some sort of triggering issue for them, forever to avoid).

        Anyway, it is just one reader’s opinion and please feel free to ignore me. Oh and thank you for the book one more time.

        • OliviaDCraig says:

          Hi! Welcome. I’m really glad you stopped by to comment.

          Just so you’re aware, I used your review as an example, but I was actually entertaining this idea more because of some of the feedback I’ve gotten on Good Reads.

          People have, by and large, liked the book. But those who have been less enthusiastic seem (with a few exceptions) to take issue with the story being slow or flat or lacking spark. Now I realize that doesn’t necessarily equate to sex. And to be honest, I’m happy with Redemption’s amount of bedroom scenes. I don’t regret anything there.

          But it got me thinking about expectations overall. I think, for some people, when they see Slavefic, they think it’s going to be dark and tension-filled, and that makes sense in a classic kind of setting. But I knew when I set out to write Redemption that I was writing, first and foremost, a love story. And I didn’t want readers to hate Dev. I wanted him flawed, but not a jerk and certainly not abusive. So I went softer than maybe some people might have liked, and focused on the ways Jason and he made each other happier and better men. But again, I’m content with the decision.

          With expectations on the brain, I began looking at my next book, and that’s where the worry set in about the amount of sex. I don’t want to ruin anything, but the story is a conscious spin on a classic fairy tale, and it starts out when both the leads are kids. So the readers have to stick with them until the characters grow up, meet each other and fall in love. Falling in love, for me, is the culmination. And as it stands right now, that’s when the story fades to black. I just want to make certain readers don’t think, “I read through 55,000 words for that? Where’s the payoff?”

          Now, maybe what I should be more worried about is emotional, not physical payoff. And, to be honest, based on some of the discussions I’ve had here, that’s kind of where my head is these days. But as I’d said to another poster, the physical epilogue wasn’t as worrisome to me as it might have been, because I know exactly how it would happen with these guys. I have it in my head already, so it seemed like something that would be easy to write and something that would be a natural progression. I think the better question, maybe, is whether it’s necessary.

          Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share your thoughts! I really appreciate it.

  2. kc says:

    Totally agree. Actually, before purchasing your book, I remembered reading that post and buying your book because of it!
    And I loved it! For me, a story is more meaningful when the characters are well developed, there is a sense of purpose to the story. Sex scenes are icing on the cake, but a story with nothing but sex scenes…is not a story…it’s porn. Plus, a nice interesting plot twist with cool futuristic society does not hurt.

    Though Olivia, can I ask you a very invasive (and possibly rude) question? I’m just curious and don’t mean to be rude but what is it about gay sex that turns women on? Why write a m/m romance when you can write a regular romance and imagine that you are the women who is sweep off her feet by a hunky, rich billionaire?

    I always thought that the main reason why men enjoy Lesbian porn is because of the dominance issues, that somehow seeing two helpless women humping each other to death excites their animal need to control…. Almost like bondage where your arousal is linked to somebody else’s helpless pain?

    But women…I don’t get it..Don’t you get grossed out? Plus, our society has stigmatized homosexuality but glorified lesbian sex…

    As a gay man, I love it! But it’s not really your forte, butt sex that is…
    So what give? Why the M/M romance?

    Am I being politically incorrect?

    • OliviaDCraig says:

      I just replied to the poster above you–I’m rethinking my decision on whether to add an epilogue. No one has come on here to say, “Yes! That’s the way to go!” and I’ve had three people take your POV. So maybe I’ll let the story stand as it was originally intended to stand.

      Just so you know–you haven’t offended me at all with your question. :-) In fact, I think you may have given me my next blog post (I’m never sure what to write here–I just don’t think my life is all that interesting unless you’re me.) The short answer is I like men, and two men are better than one. But there’s more to it than that. I’ll write more about it this weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

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