Is sex sexy? Is violence ugly? Can birds fly? Yes to all three of those questions.
I’ve read books where sex and violence were thrown in for shock value, and nothing more. They really didn’t progress the story at all. I’ve also read books where these same elements were pertinent to the story. Of course, there are books that contain neither one of these things and they can be entertaining.
In my humble opinion, leaving the sexy scenes to the reader’s imagination is much sexier than laying things out in minute detail. I also believe that the anticipation of what’s to come can be very titillating. Does anyone remember that photo of Marilyn Monroe where the air is blowing up her skirt? It was sexy and titillating, but it wasn’t graphic other than showing a lot of leg.
Think about it. John Doe patted Jane Smith on the behind and followed her through a door, pulling it closed behind him. Do you want someone to tell you exactly what happened behind that door? Or would you rather dream up your own scenario? Hmm. All kinds of possibilities there.
I have a friend whose desire, several years ago, was to write contemporary romances. She wrote a book in that genre and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher was interested, but only if she’d add sexual and sensuous scenes. So this friend, knowing what was wanted and what she was capable of, sat down in front of her computer and started adding sex scenes. It turned out there was a problem. She suddenly realized that as her fingers flew over the keys while she wrote this graphic scene, she couldn’t bring herself to look at the computer screen. She looked up, to the right and left, and out the window – anywhere except at the screen. She’d been asked to write something she wasn’t comfortable with, and it embarrassed her. Still wanting to write romances, she changed from Contemporary to Regency romances, where she didn’t have to include anything she didn’t want to.
She told the story so well, but when I laughed and pictured it in my mind, the woman sitting in front of the computer unexpectedly turned out to be me. I write mysteries and the stories I write don’t involve romps in the hay or lurid sexual encounters. They involve – what else? – mysteries. They center around the puzzle, the characters and their growth, and they include some humor. My logo is “a little humor, a little romance, A Little Murder!” It suits my books.
Since mysteries often deal with murder, this leads me to the violence in so many books. If the reader enjoys reading about someone being chopped into little pieces, with all the parts described in detail, and then those pieces are being buried around the county, okay. Reader’s choice. For me, I see enough violence in the newspapers, on the news, television shows, and in magazines. I’ve mentioned before that it seems like there’s enough drama and violence in real life. Why would I want to read about more?
I won’t knock any author who writes graphic material, because there’s a market for it – and some of it is extremely well-written. I simply prefer something entertaining and mysterious, but that’s just me. I won’t even try to change any minds here.
I will say that a young woman approached me after reading one of my books to tell me how much she enjoyed it, and she told me two additional things. First, she said she never, ever reads anything that doesn’t contain graphic sex. Secondly, she said it was two weeks after she read the book before she realized there wasn’t any sex in it. Draw your own conclusion.
What’s your preference?
Until next time, I wish you a week of no drama and plenty of laughs.
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Do purple cows and elderly spies have a connection? Can Chris and Pamela Cross figure out what it is? You betcha. Check out How Now Purple Cow – A Bogey Man Mystery, now available in both ebook and paperback format.