No, no, get your brain out of the gutter! I’m talking about literature here. Sheesh.
What brought this boggle to mind is when I blew off the afternoon to watch TV with The Daughter Spawn. Sex in the City – the movie – was playing. I’m a latecomer to the series and admit to a guilty pleasure of loving this show. When the entire world was watching it, I had my nose stuck in Discovery Channel and The Food Channel [ironic since I consider kitchens as the devil’s playground]. By the time I caught on to the series, it was playing fifteen times a day on regular TV. I couldn’t figure out why the show always ended five-ten minutes before the end of the half hour.
Then I saw the movie.
Ohhhh…that extra footage was sex. Graphic member-throbbing, titillating, holy hot tamale in-yer-face sex.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the producers [hello, you little naughty girl, Sarah Jessica Parker] felt this was necessary. I’d been watching the watered-down version for months and thought they got their point across just fine. I found the full front-on whoopie-doo sex a turnoff.
It may be that I have a slipped gene somewhere – must ask Mom about that – but graphic scenes are shocking to me, which I guess is the point? But it reminds me of the seventies when the directors decided they wanted to push the envelope of propriety, and voila! gratuitous sex was born. So what would have normally been a fairly tame movie for a general audience was suddenly shot up a thousand blood pressure points all because we had to see some starlet’s areolas. I always wondered why. Did the writers feel their story sucked so much that they needed to add an attention getter so people would watch the movie?
I can see it now; “Yeah, Joe, the movie bites the big one, but, hey, if we toss in Suzy Buxom’s silicone hot-buttered lungs, we’ll probably make a little profit.” Crikey, what happened to possessing a little class?
And this is how I feel about detailed, beginning-to-end sex scenes in literature. Unless you’re writing erotica or romance, less is better. Sex scenes have to make sense. To me – and this is my soap box – gratuitous sex is a cop out and just plain lazy writing. Oh, my storyline is thin, but if I toss in some silk sheets bop time, it’ll attract attention. Indeed.
The problem with this is that most sex scenes are like slurping root beer out of a bottle at a five-star restaurant. The act is out of place with the setting. If your main characters are in a relationship, it’s a given that at some point they’ll go carnal, and writing about it may be a natural progression to the story. I’m good with that – got one of those scenes in my own novel. But does the scene require the actual groaning, smiling, biting, humping, feeling, and screaming? I’d rather have that left up to my imagination, thankyouverymuch.
I’m not exactly June Cleaver; far south of it, in fact. But it’s my personal opinion that writing graphic sex doesn’t enhance the sophistication of your story because most of them are poorly written and/or cliche. If you truly believe the graphic parts lend intrinsic value to your writing/story, try taking it out. I’m betting that in most cases, the reader won’t miss the gymnastics. Writers can easily do the lead-up and then cut to the post-mambo scene, allowing the reader make up their own mind as to what they did in between.
When in doubt; don’t. [jumping off soap box]