Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

To do it or not

Writers have a lot of things they wrestle with in terms of what to include in a book. My most recent such was deciding how long to have a conversation go on with the family of witches-- and then is there a way to get around repeatedly saying Grandma Hemstreet to make sure her dialogue is not confused with Grandma Cordova? Conversations are a big deal in terms of taking stories forward, staying true to point of view, and avoiding confusion.

A big issue in love stories is will the couple do it? In my books, there will be a certain point at which they are mature adults and committed to each other. They know this is more than a casual encounter. The energy between them is high. They will do it, and they won't wait for a wedding ring-- although there might be one. Some writers don't describe those happenings and others do. It's a choice.

Whether there will be a kiss, or considerably more, has been handled different ways with varying levels of heat-- or not. At the same time Jane Austen was writing her romance novels without a hint of desire, there were erotica authors also putting out their stories-- if a bit more secretively. There have always been those who want to read it and those who do not. Fortunately the writing world is big enough for both to find stories to suit them.

This is on my mind right now because of a discussion thread that arose in a book group to which I belong. The readers expressed their view of how books handle the sensual end of a relationship. Some were very adamant against anything other than holding hands. Others were open to more but it had to be without what they called smut or it being graphic. Which made me wonder what those words meant to them. Here's what I wrote with some editing and paragraphs breaks as that is a place you can't put in such breaks.
So that leads to another question. What is smut? Is it smut to say he came into her? How about using the word penis? I read that word turns some readers off because it is so biological. Graphic is another confusing term-- if someone says breast or nipple, those are pretty graphic.
For my own writing, I avoid using euphemisms that got ridiculed so badly by comedians. You know the ones that found all kinds of ways to get around using actual biological terms. I read a paragraph of that prose to my husband once and we were both laughing so hard I had a hard time getting through it. It was the way a lot of romance authors used to write, but frankly I don't see that in writers today so much-- partly because laughter doesn't set the right mood.
For research purposes, I read an urban fantasy recently, and the couple went on for pages with 'doing it'. I can't tell you though what words were used as I just skimmed ahead. It might have been graphic; but to me it was boring. There are only so many ways to say they did it before it is repetitive. If it does not carry the plot forward, I am not interested in it-- and well written sensual scenes can very much carry a plot forward with the emotions that go with the physical as someone who has been too tight and finally lets go.
I make sure my blurbs warn readers, there will be spice, as nobody wants a reader to feel blindsided. Reading or writing, I also don't want abuse. Romances used to have that and to me, if I come across it and accidentally bought that book, it's heading for the garbage most especially if it's the hero. I want it consensual between adults, healthy, fun (yes it can be), and good for the couple. The world is not always that way, but romance isn't about what all is out there in the world. It's why there's always a HEA. We need some place like that.
I don't know of any romance authors who don't want readers protected from what goes against their personal ethics. That's why a rating system is so important. I put one using  #1-#5 with #5 hottest (but not erotica, which is something quite different) on my blog that defines what my numbers mean. When putting it into a blurb, #1 should mean #1 for those who don't want even a suggestion that more lies ahead. I remember how irate some viewers were when they did a movie version of Pride and Prejudice where the couple kiss in the end-- after being married. It didn't stay true to the #1 in the minds of those viewers or for that matter of how Jane Austen wrote.
I guess it would be easier to not include it at all, but you write the story that comes to you, and I find writing a bedroom (which might not be in a bedroom) scene part of my need to describe a full, healthy relationship for my characters.


joared said...

Can see lots to consider in terms of various issues.

Just watched Nightline on ABC -- a segment in Vegas where the male models were featured. Reporter also said Romance Novels are 22% of adult book sales. I had no idea they had so many sales.

Rain said...

I saw that also on someone's facebook share. The thing with the numbers of romances sold is there are so many different subgenres that all call themselves romances. The real guarantee it's a romance is a happy ending. Otherwise, all sorts of things go.