Sex in Books is Like Serial Killing

Thomas Harris’s book Red Dragon really blew me away when I read it years ago. It was the first book of its type, or at least the first of its type that I read. Since then, hundreds of books about serial killers have been published, each one more grotesque than the last in an effort to excite the interest of a jaded public. Thomas Harris’s Hannibal, written years after the Red Dragon, was so bizarre it was almost ridiculous.

Sex in books in like serial killing in books. In an effort to make what is essentially a reproductive act ever more interesting, authors keep coming up with different positions, different euphemisms, different ways to describe the act and the necessary anatomy. At times, the descriptions are more gruesome than titillating.

Maybe I’m jaded, too, but I find myself skipping over the sex scenes in books. And, since I have a strict rule not to write what I don’t read, each book I write has less sex in it than the last. In fact, in Light Bringer the characters didn’t have sex at all. But what can you expect from aliens? Still, it never occurred to me that I left off any mention of sex until it was pointed out to me. (I also left out the violence. Hmmm. No sex or violence. Is this a clue as to why I can’t find a publisher?)

Last night I had the hero of my work-in-progress, Chip, go out on a date and they ended up at his place. (His mother was finally gone, hallelujah! I was getting a bit bored with her. She really wasn’t nice.) Chip and the girl weren’t in love, though they knew each other; so without the love/romance angle all that was left was sex. And since I couldn’t think of a single thing new to say about it, I closed the door and left them alone.

Maybe when Chip does meet his life mate, I will let them be intimate, make love, copulate, possess each other, sleep together, but until then, poor Chip will need his strength. The world is about to come to an end.

8 Responses to “Sex in Books is Like Serial Killing”

  1. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Oh man, I love writing sex scenes! It is always a challenge to describe physical and emotional contact in tasteful, yet interesting ways. I don’t really see the difference between writing sex or writing violence. It is just the actions of people (and things–tee hee!)

  2. Dr. T Says:

    I find sex writing un-interesting. The mere description of the act does not even capture what goes on in my heart. I am not above the physical aspect, but I find the pictures and depictions to be – as you said – grotuesque and boring. I find the sex act depicted in ways that remind me more of cartoon characters than people.

    I refuse to be depersonalized to the extent that I keep trying to find things more grotesque. I rather would read about interesting things like relationships and adventures.

    Do I like sex? (wink) I’ll never tell.

  3. Dr. T Says:

    One last remark.

    I find the depictions of sex to be more akin to drive-by shootings than the actual wonder and awe of sexual relations. (read relationships)

  4. nomananisland Says:

    I’ve read several books and online novels where the writing of sexual intimacy actually becomes emotional and intimate, saying something about characters’ relationships, and affecting their emotional lives, and the plot. It can be done well, the sad truth is that most people probably include it only for titillation. But it can be done.

    I’ve never needed it in a story, but if I did, it would be there. To decide to never write something is to say it’s not worthy writing about, and that means ignoring part of human experience. Violence, sex, conversations, tying shoelaces, eating, sleeping, walking, living, any and all of it is open to a writer. A good writer makes it worthwhile.

    But if it isn’t needed for the story, leave it out, I guess.

  5. Bertram Says:

    I didn’t decide never to write about sex. It’s just that if the two aren’t emotionally involved, it’s hard for me to write because all that’s left is body parts. I’m sure when he meets his mate they will have sex. And I might even write it. Who knows? Not me. I’m just going along for the ride.

  6. nomananisland Says:

    Oh, I didn’t mean you. I meant in general. There are some people who believe sex doesn’t have any relevance to stories, and considering the deep impact our sexuality can have on our personalities, I say it can be extremely relevant.

  7. Dr. T Says:

    I prefer a good story line. I agree that it boils down to body parts. At which point, it becomes an anatomy lesson and not a writing about intimacy. Well done, the both of you.

  8. Suzanne Francis Says:

    the sad truth is that most people probably include it only for titillation

    What’s wrong with titillation?


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