Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fifty Shades of Romance

I want to talk about sex.

As a writer, I'm interested to know whether the sexual content of a novel sways the reader either toward, or away from, a particular author or book.

Traditional romance doesn't dictate one or the other, but with genres now stretching and blurring between the lines, there is more freedom for writers to explore their own creativity. Certainly, if you're going to write for Harlequin, then you must follow their set guidelines, which are rigid in plot conformity and word count. They have a huge readership, stretching years and generations, so they stick to this, moving with the times and extending their guidelines as they see the demand for it. Very clever. But it's not everybody's cup of tea. Especially when you've already read fifty of them before. They become a bit monotonous.

I think this is where E L James has struck it lucky. She gave women what they wanted and there was no pretense about it. The sex, or lack thereof, in Shades is appropriate to the story. That's what the story is about. You know what to expect from the get-go. Again, if it's not your cup of tea then it's not your cup of tea. Personally, I've seen more sex written in a Paullina Simons' novel and, for that matter, I wrote more sexual content in my own first novel, Riding The Hurricane, than what appears in Shades. But it's the implication and way it's handled in Shades which has the impact.

My new release, The Silver Lining, has no sex in it. The reader knows that the main characters have sex, for sure, but the actual act is not described on the page. So I'm wondering how my readers, who have already read my other novels, will react. Will they notice it's not there? Will they reach the end of the book and think, "Hey, she didn't write any sex scenes...what a let down"? Maybe if I've done it right, they won't even notice...