- Humor: Funny Sex
- Less; More
- Where Things Go Wrong
- Where Things Go Wrong(er)
- Reader Feedback: On Writing Sex Scenes
- Falling in Love
- Good Bad Sex
- More Good Bad Sex
- Reader Responses to Sex Scenes
- fools and angels treading: sensitive subjects in fiction
- G or PG or Nothing: Unhappy Readers
- Stream of (Sexual) Consciousness
Susan left a comment on the so-called wall in the sidebar. I really like that wall, because people who otherwise don’t comment seem comfortable leaving notes there. Susan is one such person. She left a comment this evening that I feel I have to respond to, at least briefly, so I’m pulling it up here:
I just finished reading “Into the Wilderness” and was spellbound. Very adventurous as well as historically interesting. I have one comment, however, that I must pass along. Is it necessary to have such graphic sex scenes dotted throughout the book? I found them very distasteful and unnecessary. I found myself skipping pages to get past those parts and disappointed that such a great work must lower itself to vulgarity. Having said that, I did order the next four books from Barnes and Noble and looking forward to continuing the saga.
So, first things first: it is always a wonderful thing to hear that a new reader has found enough to like about one book to read the rest. To Susan and all of you who don’t leave notes, my sincere thanks. Publishing is getting tougher all the time, but the readers make it worth the uphill climb.
Susan raised some concerns on the topic of sex scenes. This is one of those issues that seem to come around in a cyclical fashion. The question gets raised, discussed, and fades away for six months or a year.
To be clear: I am not offended by Susan’s take on this question. That she liked the story enough to continue despite her discomfort with sex scenes is a compliment. But she does ask a question: are sex scenes really necessary? I can only answer that from my own perspective as a reader and writer, so here goes:
When I started out telling Elizabeth’s story, I had an idea of what I wanted to explore. What it was like for her to move from such an ordered and restrictive society as Oakmere to the upper New York state wilderness; how her understanding of herself and human nature would evolve. She thought of herself as a finished piece of work, settled into a very specific identity: a woman whose whole world revolved around philosophical issues having to do with education, specifically the education of young women.
Elizabeth’s story opens up soon after she arrives in Paradise, and it was important to me to consider all aspects of it. That included her discovery of herself as a sexual being.
So I wrote those scenes in the certainty that — if I did my work well — they would contribute to the readers’ understanding of the characters, and move the plot forward at the same time. I personally believe that it’s possible to write sex scenes are not vulgar — at least, as I define that term. Whether or not I achieve that goal — that’s something every reader will decide for him or herself.