When it comes to writing sex scenes involving your characters, how far do you dare to go? Bearing in mind that a written work containing anything that might be considered vaguely pornographic, is seriously frowned upon by all reputable publishers, especially those domiciled in the US? Even that book cover you want may not be acceptable! Read on to find out how I deal with this dilemma.
In one of my novellas – Cataclysm, I alluded to the way the hero Gilbert Briggs and the beautiful transexual he fell in love with, Arianna, made love by simply saying just that sans any detail. It doesn’t take much imagination on the part of the more intelligent among you to realise how they went about it. But precisely because of the transexual element, no lurid details were employed. I agonised over it for several weeks, and I freely admit that I was seriously tempted to spice it up at the time of writing.
The Guardian demanded that I go a stage further. In this particular instance I dealt with the love affair between my principal characters, Lynne Crawford and Adler Stevens. The other characters, some of whom have already been involved in an orgy in the story, are a lesbian Bayla and a bi-sexual Karin, plus two of the five other males – Anatole, Moshe, Philippe, Brett and Cliff, all of them perfectly normal individuals but for one thing – their sexual proclivities.
Thinking about it, who or what is considered normal these days, especially when it comes to the often thorny subject of sex? It’s weird how some people become totally prudish when confronted with the subject in a novel or novella, yet see nothing wrong in engaging in what after all is a perfectly natural act between two consenting people, no matter their gender preference or indeed their preferred way of making love. A clear case of double standards if ever I saw one…
Getting back to the problem I had with Lynne and Adler; so far I had involved them in just two scenes together that can either be described as erotic or voyeuristic, depending on your point of view. It was childsplay compared to what came next – their first no holds barred love scene. Well, that’s not strictly true. I had written the original seriously filthy version several weeks earlier. I returned to it from time to time to tone it down. First of all by gradually downgrading it from extremely to moderately pornographic, through to highly suggestive. At long last it became merely suggestive, the state it would remain in until I took another look at it at a later date. Hopefully it would end up being a suggestive erotic love scene, not as easy to achieve as some of you may think, believe me.
Remember this – while one person might consider a love scene like the one I’m talking about to be erotic. To those of the prudish persuasion, it will always be nothing but unadulterated pornographic filth. The funny thing is that I bet the latter will re-read the particular passage several times on their own, while uttering the imortal words – “utterly disgusting!” to alleviate their hypocritical moral outlook.
Face it folks, as writers we just can’t win. Either we’re damned if we do or damned if we don’t. In the end all you can do is leave it up to your readers to decide, always providing of course that it gets past your publisher first.
Oh by the way – the red highlighted words are book links, not just a spot of colour for effect in a sea of black type!!!
More later if you are good.