I previously mentioned that my July Reading List was a bit racy and it has lived up to my expectations. However, reading three of the books at once (Lady Chatterley, Visions and Spoil of War) I have discovered something that, to me, makes the difference between a good ‘sex book’ and an average one.
Well, a few somethings actually – words. Words like:
There. They aren’t so hard to write. Even I can manage it – even Liberty could type them and she’s probably already sniggering at this post because of them (and because she is actually only about 12 years old…)
So why, WHY? do people writing porn struggle with them? It’s like they are afraid of admitting that their characters are either human or naked.
Lady Chatterley was penned in 1928 and Lawrence was quite capable of using them – ‘The activity, the orgasm was his, all his…’ and ‘the stirring restlessness of his penis…’ are but two examples – If 1920′s porn can say ‘penis’ then why can’t so many of its modern day counterparts? For example in Spoil Of War (pub. 2011), Sullivan writes – ‘Reaching between them, she circled his flesh in her long, cool fingers, and began to guide him.’ – I read this and immediately thought ‘which bit?’ This is not what you want your reader to be thinking in the middle of a sexy scene. You want them to be at least vaguely absorbed by the action if not totally swept away in the moment, not thinking for the briefest of moments that the girl has grabbed the guy’s stomach fat and is pushing it around. If the word ‘flesh’ had been replaced with ‘penis’ or ‘erection’ then there would have been no confusion dragging me out of the scene. That line would have been fine even if earlier in the scene the guy’s erection had been mentioned directly so I was aware of it rather than just vaguely implying it resulting in my moment of amusement.
Not all modern ‘romance’ novels are rubbish, clearly. I have not read 50 Shades despite the enormous hype, however I’m not really bothered because people who I know have read it have warned me away saying it’s ‘too fast paced throughout to be realistic and feels empty and baseless’ and that the writing itself is a bit lazy and shabby. They know that selection of things will annoy me enough to tell me not to waste my energy. However I have read the first two novels in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changleing series and I love them for a multitude of reasons. They are bold and brave and racy but at the same time they have strong story lines throughout – murder, deception, politics the lot. Instead of feeling like a series of sexual encounters tenuously linked by a soul-less storyline like many other novels in the genre (Spoil of War lies dangerously close to this accusation) it feels like a book where the sex scenes are an integral part of it all. It’s not just empty sex either as so often happens – where the characters come together just for the sake of it (no pun intended) – but more often than not the relationships develop and characters change as a direct result of the racy scenes. It’s still exciting and whatever else but somehow better for having a strong story base underneath.
There are of course a multitude of terrible ‘adult fiction’ books out there. Stories and books that talk of floating over rainbows and stars instead of orgasms and have too many uses of ‘ enormous shaft’ – they are awful. And hilarious. But not sexy. They are full of sentences like: ‘Her loose fitting half shirt ripped low in the front, fell lower, exposing one of the perfect mounds of her medium sized firm breast.’ (from an online fiction I shall allow to remain unidentified) which, quite frankly, sounds like cooking instructions (‘medium sized, firm’). And generally don’t have any substance and aren’t in my mind, worth the effort it takes to read them.
After all this rant I must confess to never having written any sex scenes myself. I have done a few where I build up to it and then firmly close the bedroom door but none where anyone actually does anything for the simple reason that the mere thought of it made me giggle embarrassedly. If and when I do (which I think may be soon after reading all this smut!) I like to think I will listen to my own advice and not write rainbow sex. I shall maybe get brave and post it up here for you all to laugh at/slate. Maybe.