Topping

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I was just taking a little break with the writing, revising, and came across an old post over on the Romance Junkie's blog.

The same ole topic on how many books out there seem to have too much sex and too little plot. One comment caught me short, though

"Well, when you imagine the plight of writer, one thing that must come to mind is ‘well, how do I top my last book?’ And, as you suggest, it must be in the appropriate interweaving of the erotic with the plot."


The part that caught my attention, I've bolded, but I've kept the whole thing in context to be fair.

At first I was puzzled, do writers really think this, in terms of writing lovescenes? Honestly, I don't. Sure I want to write bigger stories, more intricate plots, more depth to my characters, more veracity of emotions. Write more tightly hone sensences and make better wordchoices. But topping a previous sexscene? Not much. It needs to be organic and pertinent, that's all.

I try to be aware of repeating myself, but even then-- different characters, unique emotions/personalities, different set of conflicts, etc., ::shrug:: You could conceivable write the same missionary position on the floor in front of the fire for five different stories and have five very different love/sex scenes without pulling out the butt plugs and whip-cream or what have you.

Some writers/readers definitely prefer upping the sexual stakes--which is probably how we've gone from the chased bedroom door closed fade out love scene, to some very kinky stuff happening in the more edgier erotic romances-- but I can't help thinking that's also why you see more and more readers commenting that they're skipping/skimming those scenes that used to be a big part of the romance reading experience and enjoyment.

I can enjoy the kinky stuff just fine, but not if it feels gratuitous, mechanical, or forced.
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6 comments:

GENREALITY said...

I write highly erotic stories, and that question, as it pertains to a sex scene has never entered my mind.

Like you, I think how do I top my last book, but I'm thinking bigger better stoires, new stories, intricate original characters...I'm not thinking about the sex.

But i there's one thing I've learned in the past years, it's that we don't all approach our writing i n the same way.

vanessa jaye said...

"it's that we don't all approach our writing i n the same way."

Ain't that the truth! And the only right way is the way that works for *you*.

Topping previous sex scenes are necessarily wrong, there's a demand for it, for sure. But it can't be the only reason for the scene.

Dee Tenorio said...

The only thing I think about when it comes to comparing love scenes is to not repeat things exactly the same way. I mean, some things either require repeating...hehe...or they're just worth repeating, but not in the same way as a previous book. I worry a LOT about repetition.

Topping the last book? Not so much. More like, would love for people to love this one too. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope this one (insert latest title) was the one the whole world fell in love with, but I'm pretty sure that falls more in line with becoming well-known more than topping. But I could be wrong, lol.

vanessa jaye said...

"love scenes is to not repeat things exactly the same way."

"I worry a LOT about repetition."


Exactly & Ditto. :-P

Lynn Viehl said...

The topping thing sounds really weird to me, but I don't think about earlier books when I outline new ones. If I do, it's only series continuity stuff, as in "Okay, who did I kill off, who's still around, who's pissed off at who, who has amnesia . . ." :)

I might be wrong, but seems to me an attitude like this comes from sex scenes being added artificially rather than letting them evolve from the characterizations and the relationships in the story. Not every character is going to have sex the same way in every story (unless you're writing cookie cutter books) so why wouldn't you write them differently each time? Why do the scenes in your next book have to be viewed as "better" (I'm assuming that means more graphic or more numerous?) than your last book? Why not just write what you think would happen between these two particular folks and not worry about them looking hotter than the last folks you tossed in the sack?

As far as development goes, sometimes the sex scenes in romance novels strongly remind me of scenes in adult movies. It's like there's a procedure or something: first they kiss, then they get touchy-feely, then they do this, and then they do that, and then there's a money shot, and then camera fades out. Always in the exact same order.

I think romance writers should mix it up once in awhile. You know, have sex first, kiss later, maybe run naked into the kitchen and grab a bag of M&Ms, play hide the green ones on the dining room table, that kind of thing.

vanessa jaye said...

"You know, have sex first, kiss later, maybe run naked into the kitchen and grab a bag of M&Ms, play hide the green ones on the dining room table,"

Hey! Have you been peeping thru my windows?

heh.

Point taken, though.

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