Sunday, May 11, 2008

Was It Good for You Too?

Don't let the image scare you, I won't allow this blog to get too graphic. But the Los Angeles Times reported recently that there's a possible trend in literature: kinky sex. I can't say that I've noticed such a trend in the contemporary novels I've been reading. Sex, sure, but nothing too kinky.

While I'm no prude, I don't feel a need to read about gratuitous sex in the books I read. But if a character's development is directly related to sexual experience, then I think it's certainly appropriate.

Sounds obvious, perhaps, but this is something that is not always easy to determine. One thing that the selected readers of my novel commented on was the vivid details of a sex scene. One of my primary characters loses her virginity, and I may have offered a bit more detail than some (though not all) of my readers would have preferred. My argument was that the girl's experience was important to her development and to the story; she was a teenage girl somewhat obsessed with the idea of sex. She would remember every detail. That's all well and good, my readers said, but we can imagine much without seeing everything.

I think they're right, and I've toned down the sex scene to a great degree. It's still quite apparent what's going on, but I leave more to the imagination.

In the LA Times article, however, the amount of erotica that is involved would clearly alienate some readers. Personally, I want to develop an audience. As a first-time novelist, I'm not sure freaking out some readers is worth the bad word-of-mouth it engenders. Finding the balance between developing readers and developing an authentic voice may be one of the most difficult tasks for any writer.

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