Is it in yet?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lately I’ve been more ‘dissatisfied’ than ‘satisfied’ with the love scenes I’ve been reading in romances. Quite frustrating because I love a good, hot, detailed one. Yet for the second time in as many (romance) books, I found myself skimming the lovemaking. Could it be that there were too many of them? gasp! (given the (lack of) depth of the plot?)

But I also felt there was nothing really *at stake* in most of those scenes. Of course you can have a scene that just shows the characters simply enjoying themselves and being with each other. (Just like real live couples don’t always ‘make love’. When they get bizzzay, it could just be ‘sex’ or good old fashioned f***king each other’s brains out. But even then a writer should have more going on in the scene, because real people have intercourse for a myriad of reasons—love, enjoyment, lust, anger, to give/get or take comfort/enjoyment, or reassurance, etc) They can run through the whole gamut, starting off one way and ending with another-- i.e., resentment is pacified, turns to an expression of love/forgiveness, then ends with fear of being hurt again (a note of vulnerability).

Plain old enjoyment with a few internal musings about 'how good this feels' and 'how hot s/he is' with a dollop of ‘I’ve never having felt this way before’ will not suffice for every single sex/love scene. At least not for me. I want more. I want characterization. I want risk. I want growth. I want pain. And joy. And trust given, or betrayed. I want weaknesses revealed, or strengths found. Something. Has. To. Change.

A thread just started on AAR on this subject by way of discussing Mary Balogh’s book Slightly Dangerous and her writing in general.

And Sara Donati, did an excellent series of posts on writing sex/love scenes here, also. She uses examples from her own books, Jennifer Cruise's Welcome to Temptation and Judith Ivory's Untie My Heart (quite a diverse selection) to illustrate her points.

To be honest this never really bothered me before, I wonder if it’s because *hot* is so popular now, and the selection so broad, that a certain repetitiousness of seen this, read this (done this, gg) before, makes one a little bit unexcited about reading more of the same, unless there’s something unique offered--and no that’s not ‘unique’ in terms of more details, bodies or kinks, but all the ‘mores’ I listed above. I’ll be taking myself to task in this as well in my own writing. I’m not even halfway where I want to be.
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ma said...

Read Laura Kinsale! Though actually it's not so much that the sex scenes are hot (though they can be), but that they are so emotionally charged -- which incidentally does more for me anyway.

As a reader, I don't really want to read a plain old enjoyment, she's so hot sex scene. Sure, the first one might have been fun, but there's just not that much to it, as you've already said. And there's not much in the way of storytelling to such a scene. When I'm reading a sex scene and thinking, let's get on with the story, something's not working!

Jaye said...

Jorie you said it in a nut shell, if I'm not caught up the love scene and thinking 'okay, let's get on with the story', then something is not working in the story-telling (for this reader.) I should be hanging onto each word, phrase, description and action, feel the excitement and the sense of vulnerablity, or freedom or whatever. Emotion. Emotion. Emotion. Notice I didn't say 'love', it doesn't have to be that *specific* emotion. Even if the plot isn't pushed forward, something about character should be revealed or changed.

I have 3 of Kinsale's books in my TBR pile. I'm looking forward to reading them one day.

Sela Carsen said...

Thanks tons for the Sara Donati links. I read through the whole series and got a lot out of it.

Silma said...

Thanks for the link to "writing sex scenes." It was very interesting. *bg* As for the sex scenes in romance novels, I don't care if they're warm or hot as long as they work within the story. I don't like forced sex scenes between the H/h. It's meant to happen, fine. If it doesn't, and all they do is kiss, that's cool too. I'm more interested in the plot anyway. Sex scenes don't always advance the story.

Jaye said...

Sela and Silma (why does that remind me of the time David Letterman hosted the Ocars: "Uma, Oprah." gg) you're welcome for the Sara Donati link. I read the (series of) articles months ago, and found them to be one of the most enlightening on the subject.

sara said...

I'm glad to know my series of posts on writing sex scenes were useful to you. I second Jorie's recommendation of Laura Kinsale for well done sex scenes -- Flowers from the Storm especially.

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