Hello everyone out there! 🙂
I have written a series of books, the Dreams Series, for those of you just tuning in, about a young woman who falls in love with a four thousand year old vampire. (you can get yours here: http://amzn.to/2hl6Dtk )
In the first book of the series, where I introduce the characters, they start an adult relationship. Meaning, they have sex. Yes, I’m quite sure adults do this. I know there is some doubt out there amongst the populace, but it’s true. I know because babies are sometimes the result. That said, I wanted my characters to explore their relationship from a healthy adult perspective. I have already spent a post talking about the potential mistake I made in labeling it EROTICA, and how that seems to indicate BDSM, which it isn’t. No one gets tied up and spanked. I can’t figure out if that is good or bad, in terms of seeking a readership. Seriously.
Tonight, I want to talk about how to write an acceptable mainstream sex scene, that enhances a storyline without making the reader confront graphic intimate adult sex. My rational brain started this by saying, “Hey, you’re just starting out, and you are having trouble marketing your story because of the label and the subject matter, so let’s do something more mainstream, that will help showcase what you can do, and then maybe readers will circle back and give Dreams a shot.” Fuck my rational brain. Seriously. I mean it has a point, but still, ya know?
Anyway, rational brain says, “Let’s do some research!” So, watching Fallon one night, I saw a guest who was promoting a movie that was made from one of last years best sellers. Out of solidarity for my fellow writer, I will not name the book, you’ll see why in a minute. Anyway, Fallon says, “This book has a lot of sex in it!” and rational brain yells,”YES! Buy that damned book and let’s see what is ACCEPTABLE for mainstream America. Then we will know how to proceed with our brilliant plan!”
The book is flawlessly written. The technique of storytelling is mesmerizing. Still, three chapters in I wanted to carve my eyes out with a rusty spoon. The characters have zero endearing traits, and are, frankly, horrible deluded people who engender disgust in my soul. I don’t care about them. I DON’T CARE AT ALL.
“BUT,” my rational brain says, “We are here for research, press on, dammit!” Right. After six chapters, and wanting to never read again, I pulled up the search function in my Kindle app and looked for the word “cock” I found out they all are, and no one, repeat, NO ONE is having any damned sex. Instead, we are treated to morning after scenes, where everyone is awkward and filled with regrets for the alcoholic black out flashbacks of the night before.
The message I got from this book is that, yes, adults have sex, but only when they feel like shit about it afterward.
WTF? This is ACCEPTABLE? This is a best seller? I can’t…I just can’t even get my head around that.
I get that, maybe, in terms of mainstream readership I went too far in Dreams. I accept that, but this is the exact polar opposite in my opinion because the take away here for me is that not only is it a problem to be healthy adults, we feel best when we feel bad about it. Again, WTF?
“Back to the drawing board,” rational brain yells, and we try again, coming at it from another angle. This time I invested in a series of books by a wildly popular author that is all about the sex. In terms of the way the scenes are written, they are on par with mine, filled with graphic details and descriptive titillating adjectives. “OK, now we’re getting somewhere,” rational brain says, and we keep reading, only to stumble again, on what I call THE FORMULA.
She’s a virgin, he’s a huge rich brilliant alpha male and he wants to feed her, and deflower her, and piss all around her so that no one can touch her ever again, because she is his. (OK, side note, I have some of that in my story. Eli Solomon is possessive, but he is a preternatural creature, and not an average Joe laying pipe, so to speak. Sure, he’s got money, cause he is four thousand years old, and would be a total waste to not have put something back in all that time, but honestly, how many women who read these things are virgins? And if we are being honest, how many of us fantasize about being virgins again? Ok maybe I’ll give you that it could have been a better experience if the guy knew what he was doing, but HELLO, where did he get all that knowledge and experience if he wasn’t sleeping with women who were not virgins? I could go on for days, but that is not the point here.)
The point here is this…mainstream says, sex is something be ashamed of, and the niche says that you don’t have anything to be ashamed of because you have never had sex. Enter rational brain, stage right.
“People read these things to escape. They want the fantasy, and not the reality. They want boy meets girl, and he will be the only man who ever touches them and they have hot steamy sex for days and the story ends. It’s a fantasy! Don’t you get it?”
No, I really don’t. There must be some middle ground between either not acknowledging it all, feeling like shit because you do it, and only having an identity because you are deflowered by an expert who osmosed his skill and knowledge from the thin fucking air!
My new characters, human characters, who were right on the edge of getting busy, stopped and looked at me, confused by what I was thinking. We all sat down in at a kitchen table in my imaginary Kansas and had a talk.
“So, we’re going to make love now?” my female lead asked.
“I don’t know,”I say shaking my head. “I’ve written a witty and charming background for you two, but now, I can’t figure how to keep you viable as real people and let you do what real people do.” The male looked at me with his eyebrow up.
“Well, you have explored my past quite thoroughly. Everyone knows I’ve been around.” She rolls her eyes at him, and looks back at me.
“And I’m thirty-eight years old, so I have some experience as well. And we both know you have done this before.” I roll my eyes at her.
“Yes, I have. But the idea here was to write something that was acceptable, and that notion alone was hard to incorporate into our story. Now, I have no idea how to do this.” Male lead clears his throat and smirks.
“I could show you.”
“Not helping!” I shout at him, and run my hand through my hair in frustration.
I know how I want to tell that story. It’s filled with adjectives and good times that no one feels like shit about. But I love these new characters. Fuck, I was crying when I wrote some of the story, and I don’t want to put them in a place where no one will ever see them, and breathe the life into them that they deserve. But, I can’t be something I am not. I don’t even really want to, and that is probably the heart of the problem. Writing is an act of love for me. Why on God’s green earth would I ever fake it?
And the answer is, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t in all the ways that sentence comes up. It’s either there, or it’s not.
As far as sex in the mainstream, as best I can tell, is there is no mainstream way to write about sex in a healthy positive adult context. And that makes me sad. Not only for my beloved characters, but for us, as well. Sex is a part of who we are, and it has meaning, and depth and is a natural experience and expression of who we are.
My characters are still in Kansas, waiting on me to grow a pair and do what I do, consequences be damned. I have abandoned them, temporarily, to start Dreams Book 4, but I will get them out of that kitchen and I will take care of them, and cherish them as they deserve. As soon as I embrace who I am, and the kind of stories I want to tell.
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