>Too Much Of A Good Thing?


In the last year, the RWR (Romance Writers Report) has published letters to the editor with complaints of romance books having too much sex and foul language. Critics have said they don’t want to see beyond the bedroom door, and they consider authors who use foul language as being challenged individuals when it comes to finding words that better convey emotions.


For those individuals who prefer a more sedate book, please note that the market drives the demand for certain types of books. To make a living one MUST make accommodations based on what’s driving sales. Instead of sniping at fellow authors, sit thee down and write the good book as my friend Claire says. The same to protesters of foul language.

Writing romance isn’t something we can do in a vacuum. We need to either incorporate our reality into a book, or at least present an accurate picture of the past. We need to write what readers believe is realistic, and there are many romance readers who believe that sex, foul language and/or both is a vital component of a romance. With all that in mind, I do think some of the protesters have a valid point. There can be too much sex and too much foul language. Now before you tackle me on that, please note that I write erotic romance. I write carnal sex scenes in my romance works. I also use “foul” language. But here’s what some writers and readers don’t understand. Too much of something is a bad thing.

Repetitive Versus Not Too Much

When writing sex, the writer needs to understand that it’s the sexual tension the reader wants. They want build up or at the very least a really good reason for the culmination of sex. Readers on the other hand need to understand that what they see as “too much sex in romance” is really a sign of poorly developed sexual tension and/or characterization. So instead of ranting about there’s too much sex in romance, start ranting about the lack of characterization or sexual tension. There is a big difference. In this humble writer’s opinion, it’s not that there’s too much sex in romance, it’s that the sex in a lot of romance is simply underdeveloped sexual tension and/or character development.

I applaud sex and foul language in romance when used appropriately and not repeatedly. And I believe that’s the biggest part of the problem. I think it’s the repetitiveness in so many romances that irritates readers. They just don’t realize it. The issue of foul language can be viewed the same way. For a character or scene the use of “foul” language can be quite appropriate, but too much makes for repetition and the words lose their impact. There’s nothing more powerful than the F-word used at a point in the story where that’s the only word that will do. But using it every other line reduces the word’s impact. The same goes for using words like clit, clitoris, penis, etc. These throw me out of the read. (I’m continuously asking myself if the majority of women really use those words when they’re making love to their significant others? Maybe some do, but I’m willing to bet a lot of women don’t. In fact, they’re more apt to be a little more base. *grin*) For me those words don’t ring true. They don’t sound realistic in the context they’re placed..

And that’s what this post is really about. Realism. Is the sex realistic, appropriate and written into the story at the right point in time for the characters drawn on the page? Is the language used appropriate for the specific moment in the story? Has the writer avoided the issue of repetitiveness with both the sex and the foul words. Sex and foul language are integral to many good books. But when it’s overdone, it’s like overcooked beef — it’s dry and far from tasty.

>The Age of Sex

>This is the second time I’ve opted out of my halfway finished “other” post and started a new topic. I doubt I’ll be around until the weekend to respond to comments, but I’ll definitely be interested in those that are posted. This might not come across as well-thought out, but work with me here. I did try to be logical about it. *grin*

Sex, Sex, Sex

As a writer of erotic romance, part of my work revolves around writing sex. So that sort of brings me to my topic for the day. Premartial sex among middle schoolers. Recently in the news, a Portland, Maine school board voted 7 to 2 to allow contraceptives be given to middle schoolers without parental consent. Personally, I’m for handing out contraceptives, although I wish they’d promoted the use of condoms because it’s a way to prevent STDs. While I don’t condone sex in the realm of middle school or high school, I don’t bury my head in the sand to reality. Kids will find a way to have sex, and I personally don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for the health and welfare of kids with unwanted pregnancies or the care of their offspring. Don’t even get me started on parents who can’t teach their kids that sex should only happen when you’re mature enough to know what the responsibilities of the act entails.

Parenting – What a Concept

Now that the mini-left-wing rant is over, I’d like to address it from the point of view of an erotic romance writer with two daughters

  • Kids should know what sex entails from the age of nine in simple, plain language
  • Kids should know that abstinence is the best policy at least until old enough to understand that with the act comes great responsibility
  • Kids should be watched like a hawk. Letting a middle schooler (10-13) roam the mall on a Saturday is sheer stupidity, dangerous and irresponsible on the part of a parent. Letting them go places without knowing where they are or who they’re with is ridiculous.
  • Kids don’t need to be dressed up as Britney Spears wannabes or Bratz dolls – kids dressed up like little adults tend to take on the mannerisms of adults. Too many parents treat their kids like dress up dolls. Why not just let kids be kids.
  • Kids shouldn’t read erotic romance

Scrrreeeeeechh!! Yep, you read that right. Kids shouldn’t read erotic romance. My books, for all their “lush and romantic” love scenes, aren’t meant for kids under 18. Let’s face it, few kids under the age of 18 are mature enough to figure out that romance books aren’t always the same thing in real life. Then there’s the “stunt performed under controlled conditions” factor. You know what I mean…the stunt (sexual act) comes out of my mind, onto the page and it’s for readers who understand my work is fiction, not for experimentation.

I have a 17-year-old, and I’m glad she doesn’t like to read romance, because it means she won’t touch my books. But then I’ve also told her that she can’t have sex until she’s 35, and if she has sex before then without being married, she’s on her own if she gets pregnant. This has been made QUITE clear to her. The really ironic thing is that this same daughter has never been kissed and she’s mortified by it. She thinks there’s something really wrong with her because no boy has kissed her yet. Makes me worried that she might get herself into a spot of trouble in the future. I can only pray that she’ll meet a nice young man who’ll be good to her.

Personally, I think our society “sets our kids up for failure” when it comes to having sex. They’re predisposed toward it because a large segment of the American population thinks sex should be kept under cover and behind closed doors. It’s not something one is supposed to talk about. I don’t know about anyone else, but the first thing I went for as a kid (and still do as an adult) is the forbidden fruit. My mother had a book called Caravan that I wanted to read. She said no, it was inappropriate for me. So what did I do??? I waited until she was out of the house, and I stood at the damn bookcase to read the book. It had ONE sex scene in it, that by today’s standards bordered on SWEET.

So that’s it for today’s topic…this might be muddled, but then that makes it a good post because everyone will have something to post dissent or approval on. What do you think?

Should middle schoolers be given contraceptives without parent permission? Should kids under 18 be allowed to read erotic romance/erotica?

Until next time.