Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How much sex is too much?

I have to start by making a huge confession. I had read virtually no erotic romance before I submitted my first story! I know, I know. I should have done lots of research, finding out the requirements of various publishers - but I didn't. I was told EC was the biggest and best so I just sent it to them. I'd never read an Ellora's Cave book. Shocking - yes?
In the dim and distant past, when I'd considered writing for Mills and Boon, I DID buy a load of their books and read them and decided I couldn't write to the formula they required. So I suppose, not reading erotic books before I wrote one of my own was a throw back to that. I might have been put off if I'd emersed myself in a pile of them.
A consequence of my lack of research has been a lack of knowledge about how much sex a book needs to make it work. I've never put sex in just to keep up the heat level - I always make sure the situation fits but I've had a few comments saying there was too much sex in my stories - not all of them - just some of them. The comment also that the sex got in the way of the plot. UH? That sort of upset me because the one thing my books have - is PLOT. The sex is never gratutious and after all these are not straight romances but EROTIC romances. Explicit sex is the essence of the story. Isn't it?
Well - maybe not. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should be putting less sex in? Anyone care to comment?


Heather Howard said...

What a funny coincidence that I should click on your blog today of all days (funny to me, probably not to you). I'm about to be pubbed with EC and my story's kind of like yours...except my first and only erotic romance that I read before deciding I could write erotic romance as a career move was Susie's Choice. Which I really, REALLY liked. Like, stayed up until about two in the morning to finish it, which I rarely do with any book. ;) The thing that stuck with me for Susie's Choice was not the sex, however, but the characters. There was a lot of sex in that book and it was all scorching, but I remember thinking towards the end, "Yes yes, very hot, BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT??" I don't think it's really a complaint or something you should "fix" per se, but your characters are excellent. They're the soul of your books. I was extremely invested in what happened to them by the end, and I really wanted to see how they resolved their troubles. So I suppose, in a way, it could be said that the sex got in the way of the plot, but only in that the book was really good, and by a certain point in a good book I know how desperately hot the sex is but would rather not be kept in agony over the fate of these characters that I genuinely care about.

Just my opinion, though. I'm also the sort of person who surgically opens her Christmas presents with razor blades and then carefully rewraps them because she can't stand the suspense, and that might have something to do with it. Love your work!


Flick said...

Thank you, Heather! So I inspired you, eh? Well it was critiquing an erotic romance writer - Amanda Young - On Critique Circle - that made me think I might like to try writing something like that!! How funny.
I'm glad you think my characters are strong. That's what I aim for. I have since read quite a few stories where the characters have been too weak to hold the plot, IMHO. You might be interested to know that Ellora's Cave rejected the first version of Susie's Choice - then I changed editor and she loved the slightly amended version. Phew!!
Good luck with your new release - let me know when it comes out!!