Should Sex Be in Your Novel? If you write romance or erotica, then, of course, the answer is yes. For children books, it’s a definite no and questionable in Y.A. and religious books. But what about the other genres like historical fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, fantasy, science fiction, and even memoir? The fact is that no truer words were spoken than “sex sells.” A look at the longest running best sellers is proof. Fifty Shades of Gray didn’t make the list for the terrific writing, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, while a great thriller, the readers talked about the violent rape and victim’s revenge that sent them in droves to buy the book.
Column by Susan Klaus, author of fantasy and thrillers. Her thriller,
Secretariat Reborn, published by Oceanview was released in Oct, 2013.
The sequel, Shark Fin Soup, comes out in August, 2014. Most of her
stories concern animals or the environment and wildlife. Klaus is also
the host and co-producer of the web radio show, The Authors Connection,
with 18 million listeners in 148 countries and is the president and founder
of the Sarasota Authors Connection club with 230 members. She has an
extensive career with animals, owning pet and groom shops, working for
a veterinarian, and for the last 13 years, she has bred and raced
Thoroughbred horses. Find her on Twitter.
Sex is also part of the human condition, as natural as breathing, eating, and sleeping. For an author to exclude it entirely from his novel is not only cheating himself but also the reader. A healthy protagonist who doesn’t at least consider it comes off as unrealistic, a comic strip hero. So if the opportunity arises, sex should be in a novel even if it’s a subtle glance and insinuation, a tender kiss and romance, a steamy encounter, or as bad as a brutal assault. Sex gives the characters credibility, an opportunity to show their confidence or insecurity, their passion, jealous, joy, disappointment, or twisted thoughts. In the end, they betray their diverse humanity. The story then becomes equally character and plot driven, making it believable and interesting.
I’m sure some authors, agents and publishers will disagree with me about having sex in a novel but this is what I have learned from querying my readers. They want their emotional strings pulled, and sex can be the driving vehicle. It portrays the selfish, vindictive partner we love to hate, the rejected, down trodden lover, the wanting, having, or heartbreak of a relationship, or the euphoria of two soul-mates finally connecting. Think The Thorn Birds, the priest finally giving in to the girl on the beach. Every woman with a pulse climaxed after wading through that long story.
Another thing, readers can imagine a family’s sorrow with a murder victim, but few have actually experienced this dreaded dilemma. But most of us can relate to sex, the love and loss. A subplot with sexual tension brings life to the story and gives characters their character. Of course, the decision of how tame or graphic the scene can sometimes fall to the publisher.
No, I’m not a romance author but write in two different genres, fantasy/sci-fi and thriller/suspense and would never rule out sex in my stories. There might be pros and cons on this subject, but it’s something to consider when writing your next novel.
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