Should I Have Faded to Black?

My mother read the sexy chapters in my book.  She is less than happy.

I s'pose I could end this particular blog right there; I mean, it's no big shock that a mother would have trouble with her daughter writing such a thing, right?  But what really bothers me about it is that those few chapters seem to have skewed her overall view of the story.  The message that I hoped to convey has been lost amidst her shock and horror at the admittedly graphic depictions.

But it isn't only my mother's reactions that have me bothered. Most readers don't seem to mind those particular chapters one little bit, far from it, and yet I've become concerned that what they'll remember most when it's all said and done is the sex rather than the themes from the book that were my driving force to write it in the first place.

And so I have to ask: was I wrong to include such descriptive scenes?  Should I have faded to black?  Did I sabotage my own message by distracting readers with sex?

To be fair, the overriding theme of  "Three Daves" is sex.  But not necessarily the carnal act of it, more like when to have it, when not to have it, who to have it with, who not to have it with, and what are the emotional repercussion of having it?  Those are the kinds of things I hope readers will think about.  But I guess if I'm being honest with myself, I didn't need to inform the readers of whether or not Jen swallowed to tell those parts of the story. So why did I do it? 

Because another goal of mine was to keep "Three Daves" feeling real.  And in reality, sexual intimacy doesn't fade to black.  Neither does eating a meal, you may argue, nor attending an economics class, and I certainly didn't bore my readers with those details. But the story isn't about fine cuisine or university studies.  It's about sex, and so I need the reader to feel it, to understand the emotions and thoughts that pass through the characters when they are having it.  I need them to see it as more than just a kiss or a caress.  I want the experience engraved on their consciousness so they realize that it isn't something easily forgotten when the lights flick back on.  It's real.

This story is also about relationships.  And sexual intimacy leaves marks on a relationship, sometimes good, sometimes bad.  I want readers to know what the characters said to each other just before, during, and right after. I want them to see which guy kisses her forehead and which one pulls on his boxers and promptly falls asleep.  I couldn't depict the whole relationships without depicting those intimate moments that show the very different dynamic between Jen and each of the three Daves.     

So that's why I did it, and now you can feel good about yourselves for enjoying those particular scenes so much. ;) 

I'm just sayin' 


Anonymous said…
Right on, Nicki! The way you approach sex in the book is not in the sleezy (and cheesy), gratuitous way that romance novels often do. There's no Fabio on the cover for a reason--your characters and their experiences are very real and relatable, and I think you describe their sexual interactions in a similar manner. It's integral to the plot, and really rather informative, yet still encompassing the genuine emotion the characters may be feeling (or, in at least one instance, may not). I will also find it regrettable if your readers allow that to dominate their impressions of the book too much, as it's really only a small component of the overall tale--a significant one, but not overarching. I can at least say that the themes you express above are certainly what I took away from it and what I respected most.
Jen said…
Again, I'm going to add my support to the above. A good, well-placed, meaningful love scene is gold. You can't pretend sex isn't an awesome part of life, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I'm proud of you for not fading to black.

80sMom said…
I think part of writing is putting yourself out there in ways that may cause you problems, either directly or indirectly. In working on my own writing, I always think 'what will so-and-so think when they read this?' Then, I shake it off, fast. I was working on an essay last week where I had this exact problem, and decided: what will be, WILL BE.

Its important, though, to proceed and not worry about the fallout. What would art be if everyone were always 'safe'?
80sMom said…
By the way, Since you now have a blog, I have put you on my blog list :-) Consider adding me if you get your own list going!
Nicki Elson said…
Thanks for having my back, ladies. It's a good thing I don't think things through ahead of time---like people's reactions---or else I'd probably never write a thing.

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