A Little Naughty Goes a Long Way

Enjoy today’s guest post by Mysti Parker. 

 

My Philosophy on Sex Scenes in Fiction

 “…love scenes that were described with creatively written clean taste that left you with all kinds of erotic visions to imagine.”

“…way too much explicit sex in this book.”

Above are two conflicting statements from two different readers concerning the love scenes in my first book, A Ranger’s Tale. As with every aspect of fiction, love scenes are subjective for both author and reader. Opinions and preferences vary widely. From no mention of physical affection to no holds barred, writers and readers reside all along the spectrum.  

Readers are generous with their opinions of sex in literature. Yet, I haven’t heard much from the author’s side of things. So, let’s explore this topic with a question I was once asked: 

How can you, as a Christian woman, justify writing graphic love scenes?  

I have it on good authority, being a mother of three, that Christian people have sex. They have sex both in wedlock and outside of wedlock. Sometimes they have good and healthy sexual relationships. Sometimes they don’t. Sex (whether it’s good, bad or non-existent) is an important aspect in an adult’s life, whether they’re Christian or not. And I see no reason to gloss over it.  

Most Christians will agree that God ordained sex as a beautiful thing in the Bible. And many of them will argue that it’s meant to be left a private and holy thing between man and wife, and therefore should not be mentioned in books. Quite honestly, an all-out omission of sex in adult literature seems as forced as the archaic traditions of chastity belts.  

Even the Bible doesn’t shy away from vivid descriptions of sex, and one of the most famous books of the Bible was written by a king who didn’t stick with one woman for life. A few years ago, during a study of sex and all the symbolic, though quite erotic, references from Song of Songs, I had to wonder which of Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines he was writing about. His story wasn’t exactly the best example of a monogamous relationship. 

Elsewhere in the Bible are depictions of sex in both lovely and manipulative situations. And I’m left with the impression that although God did mean sex to be a special, beautiful thing, we as humans often screw that up (forgive the pun). The compilers of the holy text left both the good and bad encounters intact. Look up the story of Lot and his daughters if you’re not convinced.  

So, why not include sex in fiction? If we’re diving deep into the psyche of adult characters, into their deepest desires and inner conflicts, why not include their sexual relationships? 

I do have my personal limits. I don’t write a story solely to titillate a reader, rushing through the plot to get to the sex. Instead, it’s part of how they interact. Sometimes it’s joyous and wonderful, sometimes it’s not very pretty—just like real life. My heroes and heroines are flawed, passionate about many things, and face consequences when they make bad decisions. Even though they might not be human, you’ll find their struggles both in and out of the bedroom to be very real, though I try to write their intimate scenes with only as much detail as needed to get the idea across.  

My series is written for adults who understand sex and the joys and consequences it can bring. They are complex stories with heavy themes, and if you’re not seeing past the lovemaking, you’re missing the boat. The Hunger Games, for instance, isn’t just a story about kids killing each other for a sick TV show, but if you only look on the surface, that’s what you’ll see. There are real messages in there of unconditional love, sacrifice, and standing up for what’s right. I hope readers walk away with similar messages when they close one of my books. 

Your personal preference as a reader or writer may vary greatly from mine. But, however you like your romance, or don’t, I hope that at least this author’s philosophy has been enlightening. And, if and when you read your next romance novel, I hope you’ll walk away with something more than the need for a cold shower.

Serenya’s Song
Tallenmere Book Two
by Mysti Parker
Blurb:
In the fantasy world of Tallenmere, no one ever said love was easy…

Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she’s no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured small-town gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she’s ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.

Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe.

When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property at the edge of town, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in Summerwind may die.

Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they’ve always dreamed of.

Buy Links:

 A Ranger’s Tale: Melange Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

  Serenya’s Song: MelangeBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Author Bio:
Mysti Parker is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Talewas published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and is the first in a fantasy romance series. Mysti reviews speculative fiction for SQ Magazine and is the proud writer of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award.

 

Click the link for a chance to win a copy of Serenya’s Song

 

Connect with Mysti:

Email: mystiparker@yahoo.com

 

 Unwritten    Twitter: @MystiParker     Facebook Page     Goodreads

 

 

 

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28 Responses to A Little Naughty Goes a Long Way

  1. Mysti Parker says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me, SJ!

  2. sjclarke says:

    My pleasure, Mysti! Great post. It’s a fine balance, and you can’t please everyone. Writers need to focus on the story and whatever happens to move it forward, happens! Thanks for guest hosting!

  3. nurseartist says:

    This has been a topic that has been a problem for me for a long time. I know that most Christians have sex. It is a natural God-given bodily function with a purpose. So why do I have problems writing it? Because I want to write stories that my grandchildren can read. I don’t have a problem with reading tastefully handled sex scenes in other’s stories, just in writing them myself.

    Mysti is a very talented writer. I met her online at Writer’s Village University, and recognized her talent immediately. I am very proud of her accomplishments and excited for her progress as a writer. Keep up the good work, Mysti!

    • Mysti says:

      Thanks so much for commenting, Dixie! Not everyone is comfortable writing love scenes, especially if youre writing for all ages. I tell people to write within their comfort level. If you try to force i timate scenes, it shows. On a side note, I hope to get some children’s stories out someday. I have a dream of being prolific. 🙂

  4. Jack Eason says:

    As writers Mysti, we add in the ‘sex scene’ if we feel it is necessary as part of the storyline. Some prudish individuals will throw their hands up in horror, while most will accept it in the manor intended. Just think back to my goblin anthology where the hero Glob is seduced as part of a nefarious plan on the part of one particular young female goblin. 🙂

  5. Leona Pence says:

    I have trouble writing sex scenes for the same reason Dixie mentioned,-,my eleven grandchildren. But, by the time I finishing revising, they’ll all be married with kids of their own. I agree that sex, tastefully done, is a natural part of a romance novel. I wrote a night of passion in one long sentence. I’m going to work a bit on that one. lol

    Mysti, the topics on your tour stops have been thought provoking, well expressed, and a big help to me. I look forward to each one.

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Leona, you can always expand on the hanky-panky parts if needed 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting so faithfully, and I’m really glad you’ve found the post helpful and not just my usual rambling! ~Mysti

  6. Jenny Twist says:

    I, personally, find explicit sex scenes embarrassing and I skip them, but I will fight for the right of authors to write on any subject.
    What I have found, however, is that explicit sex scenes all too often go hand-in-hand with appallingly bad writing. It is as if bad writers turn to sex as a means of getting people to read them. (Not you, Mysti).
    I think, as an individual, I do feel sex is private in the same way as visiting the bathroom is private. I know everybody does it. I don’t want to read about it. It spoils a good story for me. I skip through the sex scene and wonder what else I might be missing.
    For me, incidentally, it is nothing to do with religion and probably everything to do with my upbringing. “Nice girls don’t do it.”

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Jenny, we’ve had a few discussions on the topic of explicit sex = horrid writing. Sometimes that IS true. And even though you’re not a fan of the sex, you are one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. Thank you so much for being a writers’ advocate. You truly are an inspiration! ~Mysti

  7. sjclarke says:

    What a facinating discussion. I write at least one, sometimes two full out sex scenes. The rest of them get started with on-page chemistry and are finished off-the-page. One of these encounters is almost always quite detailed.

    My sex scenes happen for a reason. I understand some readers will skim, but I cringe when I hear some skip reading these scenes alltogether. There is usually a character trait reveal or discovery that occurs. In Mind Over Matter, the last paragraph contained a vital clue to the overall mystery in the story. Anyone who skipped it would have wondered about it when it came up later. I considered moving such clues to another part of the book but decided I wasn’t going to rework my plot to suit those readers who chose to skip that scene.

    I think it’s the reader’s loss, but if the scene truly makes the reader uncomfortable, then the entire experience of the story is tainted. In the end, I want the reader to enjoy the book, and if it means skimming or outright skipping the scene, and they aren’t doing it out of boredom or bad writing, that’s okay by me.

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Good points, S J! I’ve read too many romances that sort of switch gears from story to sounding like a sex manual. I like the love scenes to be knitted in with the story, so we’re still right along with the character. And yes, whatever a reader might skip, as long as they like the rest of the story, it’s ok by me too! ~Mysti

  8. Lindsey says:

    What? People have sex?! I’m shocked! 😉 Great post, Mysti. You can’t please everyone all the time, but the sex scenes in your books propel the plot and are artfully done. I’ve never written a sex scene, but I think it would be pretty difficult.

    • Mysti Parker says:

      They sure do, Lindsey! And sex makes babies. It does, really. No stork involved. Unless they’re making stork babies…but I digress. Thanks so much for a lovely compliment and for being a superb groupie and critique partner! ~Mysti

  9. judy says:

    a very down-to-earth presentation, Mysti. Not unlike language, where certain words are given a bad rap, sex scenes the fit a story and its characters like a glove, definitely belong. A judicious use of details will enhance the experience for a reader.
    I agree, too, with seeing the whole story’s intent and not focus on one scene, no matter what that scene might be.

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Thank you, Judy! It has long boggled me as to why violence, murder, and bloodshed aren’t given as bad a rap as sex scenes in a book. Sex seems so much more fun than murder, yet I’ve never attempted the latter, so hmm… 🙂 Mysti

  10. Hear, hear, Mysti! I’m right there with you. Sex is part of characterization and plot. How a person behaves during sex tells a lot about them. Besides, it is the essential glue that binds two people together. It’s funny how everyone tells you to show and not tell, except when it comes to sex. Suddenly, it’s just the door closing and we are told later whether they did it or not.

    I might have pushed it a bit too far though, since I showed Biblical characters having sex. But I’ll take my bad reviews knowing that I’ve allowed the reader to truly relive and feel inside the skin of my characters, a consummated emotional experience.

    Good post, Mysti. And Sandra, so agree with you. If they skip the sex scene, they miss out on the plot and the characterization.

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Hey Rachelle, I’m so glad you commented, and I’m proud of you for being bold enough to tackle that story. As I said in the post, Biblical people had sex. It’s right there on the pages of the sacred text. I really believe that as our societies have progressed, certain populations have taken sex as a natural thing and made it into something shameful (either by suppressing or perverting it). And that in itself is a shame, because I don’t think God made it to be that way at all. ~Mysti

      • Hi Mysti, you’re right. I don’t even think the ancient Hebrews were that hung up about sex. It’s the layers of church history through the middle ages that made us Puritans, culminating in the Victorian era. Did it ever strike you as funny that Solomon called his sister his spouse?

  11. I liked this post since it does address something plaguing my mind as well. I personally don’t mind sex in novels unless it’s clearly there for the shock value – case in which I realize I picked up erotica and put it down O:)

    • Mysti Parker says:

      LOL. And erotica has a huge audience too. That’s what I like about the romance genre, though. There is so much variety, that anyone of any age can find something within the genre that fits their taste. Thanks for commenting, Stef!

  12. Hi, Mysti,

    Having just finished A Ranger’s Tale today (er — yesterday, since it’s 3:21 am where I am — I have to say that I enjoyed the love scenes. That’s how I like to refer to them, when the characters are in love, expressing love, making love… But I have also hesitated in whether to include sex / love making / intercourse. I think it depends on the tone of the book, the genre, the demographic you’re aiming at, and the level to which you want to draw in your reader. I enjoy reading sex scenes and love scenes, because hey — why not? Biologically, women are geared to enjoy emotional connections, and when a book enables a woman to feel that connection, she’s going to feel happier. Yes, it’s a turn-on, and sometimes I need that. And sometimes I need chaste literature.

    I agree with some of the above comments that adding sex to fill in plot holes is terrible. I read one such work this year, and it was just plain awful. The original plot was taken over by the writer’s need to titillate with acts that were overly graphic and did not suit the characters (in my humble opinion as an English teacher). I didn’t even want to finish it, but I skimmed to the end just to see how things turned out. That’s definitely not how I want to enjoy a book. And yet, when I was an adolescent and learning about the whole love thing, I used to skip right to the love scenes in my mother’s romance novels. Reading a woman’s — or a man’s — interpretation of respectful, effective love-making was informative and helped me understand my own needs when I later entered my relationship with my husband.

    When it comes to my own writing, I’m constantly on the fence regarding whether to include intercourse, and if so, to what extreme… Admittedly, I tend to dive right in. That’s part of the reason why I use a pen name, just as a precaution in order to separate my teaching from my writing. Healthy adults tend to enjoy healthy sex lives, and I fully believe in being able to talk openly and honestly about sex. However, I do want to write books that I wouldn’t be embarrassed for others to read. I think, as I write more, I am finding that the stories are guiding themselves into being as much as I am writing them — if the sex wants to be there, if the characters need that vulnerability and trust to develop, if they need to please each other and make that connection to consummate their relationship, then yes, the reader should be in on some of it. Samantha Jones said it in Sex and the City: “Who we are in bed is who we are in life!” BUT…again, it depends on the characters, the genre, the setting, all of that. Take Nora Roberts, for example. Sometimes her sex scenes are incredibly detailed, and sometimes they are beautifully written with metaphors. I’m not sure which I like better, but both work.

    Anyway…I’ve gone on long enough. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting debate!

    Cheers,
    Tori

    • Mysti Parker says:

      Tori, I always love to read your well-written replies. You’re exactly right in that the appearance of love scenes needs to match the general flow and mood of the book. If it feels out of place while writing it, then it probably shouldn’t be included.

      You said: “Having just finished A Ranger’s Tale today ,,,I have to say that I enjoyed the love scenes. That’s how I like to refer to them, when the characters are in love, expressing love, making love…”

      I enjoyed that aspect too, but I think you’ll find a different tone in Serenya’s Song. The intimate scenes between Sebastian and Serenya aren’t always pretty, but I felt that’s what was needed to express his manipulation and control. Like I said above, sex isn’t always pretty, but I wanted to express it realistically, whatever the case.

  13. sjclarke says:

    Mysti, your post certainly sparked a lively conversation. I think what most people are saying is depict sex to the degree that fits the genre if it works to advance the story. It doesn’t even have to be “good sex” if that’s what the plot calls for, as long as it’s consensual and has purpose.

    Thanks so much for being on my blog, Mysti!

  14. Bryan Baker says:

    What she said!

    I was her inspiration…just so you know 😉

    At least that’s what she told me!!!

  15. sjclarke says:

    Welcome Bryan. We love it when family stops by to support our amazing authors!

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