Monday, November 05, 2007

Without a Net

(We went for a long drive on Saturday through Exmoor Forest. This is just a pretty picture from it. Don't say I never gave you anything.)

Wow. This feels so odd to write, and I'm not even sure I should because something could very well change...

But I'm not sure there will be a sex scene in Unholy Ghosts.

I've had a couple of kisses happen already, and I have one big makeout scene planned for later that I'm very excited about. But I'm not sure any relationships will actually be consummated in this book.

Here's my problem. I like writing sex scenes. I have fun writing them. I like writing sexy books.

So, because I know there will be sex at some point in the series (assuming it becomes a series pleasepleaseplease) I hesitate to put no sex in the first book, because I don't want to mislead people.

Don't get me wrong. The books will never become a pure sex-fest. But I have a very inricate relationship set-up happening, and I fully expect a lot more actual sex as it continues.

At the same time, I'm not going to put any old sex scene in this book if it isn't going to flow organically, just a scene stuck in there so it's there.

I'm only just about to hit 35k words, so there's plenty of time. I'll see what happens. But it feels very odd.

What do you think? If there's no sex in Book 1, do you get irritated if sex starts appearing in later books? Or are you glad, if the relationships grow to that point?

Also, my terrible dry skin problem from last year has returned with a vengeance. My cheeks and over my eyebrows are all pink and scratchy. Ech!

Also, editing The Demon Inside. The first few chapters are SUCK. Seriously. I hate them.

Unholy Ghosts

New Words: 3,275
Total wordcount: 34,397
The Good: A hot kiss from an Asian drug lord
The Bad: Evil accomplice shows up
The rampant drug use: Giving beer to a thirteen-year-old boy
Location: Street at dawn, Chess’s apartment
Downspeech:“Ain’t suppose you got some eats? Only my belly getting tight. Can’t remember last food I put in.”
I Hate My Work: Blah blah blah planting clues in conversations. BORING! Why do you write boring shit like this?


Angie said...

I'm kind of laughing here because that happened to me. :) I was posting a story online a chapter at a time, as I wrote, and I got to the end of the story and there was no sex and I couldn't just stick any in. :P Neither one of the guys was the sort to just fall into bed with someone casually, and after 33K words they'd only actually known each other like a day and a half. [headdesk] So I made lots of promises for a sequel and ended it.

So far I've written two other short stories set in the same universe, both of which had sex, but neither of which had to do with the primary two guys from the first story. Still owe the readers that one.

I think the main problem here will be with marketing, though. (Getting back to your story.) Will your publisher take a Book One with no sex at all and a Book Two with lots of boinking? Or at least, as much as the story needs? And yeah, there's the issue with reader expectations -- people who like "sweet" romances and like the first book for that, then get to the dirty bits in the second book and get annoyed. Or people who like dirty bits and read the first book and are unsatisfied and never read the second. :/

I don't know. I prefer to both read and write only what sex the story requires. Sex is like anything else in a story -- if it doesn't pull its weight then it should be cut. Sex scenes that feel like they were stuck in with duct tape just because the writer thought there should be sex in the story annoy me. At best I skim through them and start reading again when the real story picks up once more. So I'd read this series and be perfectly happy, and I imagine a lot of other people would too. The question is whether your publisher would go for it. I don't know. It'll be interesting to see how this works out.


BernardL said...

The story tops the list in reading a book for me. Romance in a novel enhances the plot immensely, but doesn't have to evolve quickly into graphic eroticism to hold my interest. The growing relationship may draw readers to a second book. The problem being, you'll have to get it past the professionals in publishing who no longer seem interested in developing story lines. You'll probably have to bludgeon their interest with something else if you're foregoing the sex for now. :)

bunnygirl said...

As long as you don't plan to market it as erotica, a lack of sex scenes shouldn't be a big problem. A good writer should be able to turn up the heat without anyone getting naked.

I've killed all the sex scenes I've written for my spec fiction because on second pass, they just didn't work. They distracted from, rather than enhanced the story, so... no sex scenes. That doesn't mean future stories won't have them, just that sex isn't always a good fit, any more than any other plot element.

Let the characters tell you if they need to have a romp between the sheets, or anywhere else. They'll know. Trust them.

Vicki said...

It wouldn't bother me if it was going to be in the next book.

Some books sex is right and some its not. If it would feel to you that it was just plopped in somewhere than the reader will feel the same way.

However, if the story continues and the reader gets the sense of what's coming they'll be ready for it in book 2

writtenwyrdd said...

I think you are right that you need a sex scene in book one...or something close, leaving the expectation of them.

If you do not have a sex scene at all in #1, I think you still need to give the readers a clear expectation of it in some other gimme, such as graphic sexual descriptions of some sort. Not to do so would be a bit surprizing a la Laurell K. Hamilton a few books back in her Anita Blake series.

Bernita said...

I'm in the same boat.
It's going to take a while to get my pair in bed. There are issues and she's gun-shy.
I think you'll need some heavy breathing at least though.

Robyn said...

If you do not have a sex scene at all in #1, I think you still need to give the readers a clear expectation of it...

What Written said.

pacatrue said...

Unless you are marketing it as erotica, I don't think you need a sex scene just to make things flow. To me that sounds like, "I want to get them married in book 3, so I'm going to write some marriages in book 1 just so people get used to the idea." If the relationship is not to a sexual point yet, I think that's fine, and I think it's fine if it does evolve into a sexual one later.

December/Stacia said...

Reader expectations are what worry me, Angie. Mainly it's just very odd for me to be writing a book without a big sex scene in it--I never have--but I don't want to mislead anyone either and, as you said, create expectations.
I have a feeling it will work itself out, but it does feel wierd...

Lol Bernard, hopefully I'm bludgeoning enough creepy shit over their heads with this one that it won't be an issue! What I'm worried about (aside from the usual) is the idea that I might be setting up a series with no sex in it, which I don't want to do. Of course this is all counting my chickens, which I probably shouldn't be doing.

Oh, I'm sure they will, Bunnygirl. :-) It's just very odd for me, who always has at least one sex scene planned right from the beginning, to think there's none. Kind of like I'm really not writing romance this time, you know? Very far from where I started.

True, Vicki. It all depends on the setup...sigh. Remember when we didn't worry about selling books, we just wrote them? :-)

December/Stacia said...

See, that's exactly what I think, Written, but I didn't word it as well as you have. Yes. If there isn't a fully consummated scene (as we say), I at least want to make sure enough sparks are there, and the expectation is there, so nobody will be dsappointed or pissed when there is sex later. I definitely do NOT want to stray into the territory you mentioned.

Lol yep, Bernita, heavy breathing at least. My big makeout scene should provide plenty of that, and we'll see what else develops...but yes, you're right.

That's what I think too, Robyn!

I do agree, Paca, that we can't anticipate and foreshadow everything. But some readers do get very keyed up about sex. More than that it's a voice issue, for me at least. If I plan for the series to be very sexy and angsty, it should start that way so readers aren't left WTFing in Book 3, you know?
As I said to Bernard, tho, I'm counting chickens and should stop before I jinx myself.

bettie said...

Writtenwyrdd is the preacher, I'm the choir. Everything she said, set to music, with an Amen! at the end.

Though I have no problem with the sexin' in books, I'm one of those people who hated the addition of the sexxin' to the series Writtenwyrdd mentioned because it was not the series I'd signed on for (also, the sexxin' got kinda repetitive and boring, but that's a whole other complaint).

"Will they or won't they?" is the series book's stock-in trade. As long as you don't string me along forever, and you throw the me a few clues as to the language and heat level of the eventual "they will," I'll be a happy camper.

December/Stacia said...

Writtenwyrdd is the preacher, I'm the choir. Everything she said, set to music, with an Amen! at the end.


I was happy when the sexin' originally started in that series, because I'd been waiting for that particular sexin' and was ready for some eroticism in the series. I liked the way it affected all of the relationships in the book. But,, there is such a thing as too much.

Thanks for that, it's what I figure too. Lay the clues thick and it will work anyway.

Wylie Kinson said...

The good news? You're over the 30,000 word curse!!
Wa-hoo :D

Charles Gramlich said...

That skin thing may be with the coming of winter weather. Have you tried humidifiers for the house. I love the name exmoor forest. Sounds Lord of the Ringsy. Good luck on the book.

Anonymous said...

Your ability to maintain a website, blog and discussion about erotic romance without sliding into the licentious or sensationalistic is one of the main reasons I read here.

I imagine you would have no difficulty incorporating sex into a non-erotic story in a way that will maintain its literary integrity and not alienate readers.

Many non-romance and non-erotic stories have elements of sex in them that engage readers and further the plot. Yours will sit nicely beside those.

December/Stacia said...

Very true, Wylie, very true. I have hit a bit of a 35k snag, but I believe I'm about to move past it. I keep thinking it's too early in the book to introduce a few scenes, but really, it's not. So I'm going to get moving on them tonight hopefully!

*sigh* There is, as far as I know, no such thing as a humidifier in the green and pleasant land, Charles. Otherwise I'd have bought one ages ago, because my sinuses suffer in the dry too. You're right, but I can't get one. I bought a couple of new moisturizers this morning though, and after a patch test they don't irritate my ubersensitive skin, so...I'll give them a try and see what happens. :-)

Well, thank you! :-) I do try to keep it tasteful, even when I'm using various c-words in my books. My characters might be doing all sorts of dirty things, but they're not gross about it, lol. Which may be why I'm not hitting those huge paydays yet, sigh.

Angie said...

You know, if it's really bad you can sort of fake up a humidifier effect by keeping a pan of water on your radiator or right next to your hot air vent or whatever it is you have. A pot of water simmering on the stove will help as well, although that's rather local to the kitchen area of course.

They're rather stone-knives-and-bearskins type solutions, but if your skin is falling off in itchy sheets, it might be worth trying. :/


December/Stacia said...

Yeah, Angie, we have these sort of china block that you fill with water and hang on the side of the radiator, but they don't really help much. It's that damn dry radiator heat, see. Curse and blast.

I will try boiling some water, though. And hpefully the new moisturizers will help too. Stupid skin. Luckily it isn't scraping off in sheets quite yet! :-)

Anonymous said...

Writ it the way it needs to be written. Like making love for real -if it's right, it will happen. -V95

December/Stacia said...

Aw, thanks V95. I shall endeavor to try. :-)