Tasteful vs. Smut-peddling

“Hi Jim,

I’m in the middle of writing a fantasy novel. In my book, two of my main characters fall in love. I noticed in Magnifica that your main characters wind up having sex. I don’t want my story turning into sex-novel, which it looks like it’s starting to. When you wrote yours, how did you limit yourself? What made you stop when you did?

Thanks,
Lisa”

No matter what, no matter where or who you are… it ALL comes down to sex.

I was afraid that this would come up at some point… okay… Personally, I try to avoid the subject in my writing as much as possible for that very reason. However, when I wrote Magnifica, I went about trying to make a fantasy novel as realistic as possible. While there are limits to how ‘real’ a novel with Elves and Dwarves can be, expecting that two college kids who love each other, have been together for months, and are alone together before a big event that could change both of their lives, are NOT going to have sex is just not realistic at all. At least not in my opinion, being a college grad myself.

Honestly I went the minimalist route:
*Spoiler Alert*
Without another word, Lia’na bent her shoulders back so she could lean in and kiss him. Toby ran his hands up under his borrowed shirt caressed her back. Their bodies still felt incredibly warm from the night before as they lay together, but Toby’s fingers still managed to give Lia’na chills from the sensation.
Lia’na began to kiss Toby’s neck as his fingernails traced up her back. His right hand continued over her shoulder and down her chest. His hand then gently caressed her breast, which was firm but very smooth. His touch caused her to breathe more heavily than before.
Lia’na responded by moving away from his neck and kissing him firmly on the lips. Toby gathered what little composure he had left and gently pushed Lia’na back so he could look into her eyes, “Are you sure about this?”
A gentle whisper was the only response he received, “Te arshana ni.”

Honestly, I don’t have an answer for you as to what is defined as going too far and what isn’t. However, I do pride myself on trying to help anyone who comes to me asking, so I’ll say this; If you’re concerned that your book is going in that direction, then it probably is and it’s time to go back a re-read what you’ve written so far. Personally, it depends on how many scenes we’re talking about vs. how long your story is. In my books, I’ve never gone more than 2 of these types of scenes in one book.
In terms of description, that’s really up to you. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a little fan service in the story, but a play by play may be pushing it a little.
That said, this is all subjective. There’s really nothing wrong with writing sex novels, from what I understand they have a pretty massive following… it’s not my taste, but there is a huge audience out there for it.
So honestly, my best advice would be to re-read your book, you are the best judge of your own content when it comes to something like this. If it looks like it’s turning into smut, it probably is. If you read it and you’re still not sure, have someone else read it just to be on the safe side.

I hope this helps… time for a cold shower.

Readers, what do you think? At what point does a novel become a sex novel? At what point does a book go from just your every day story to smut?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Self Publishing, good or bad?

“Good day,

I have already finished a novel and decided to post my second novel on a blog and give people something to read while I decide on publishing.
My question for you is do I self publish my book or try and find a literary agent. I have sent my work out to a few but I am slightly impatient and want to know if they like it or not. I know it will take time but I wanted to get your thoughts on self publishing.
Mignon.”
The publishing aspect of writing seems to be a recurrent theme for me. Well the easy answer would be to refer you to my post: Getting Published, the Basics…
Fortunately for you, I’m a notorious work-a-holic when it comes to writing (just ask my wife). Well in my previous post about getting published I went over the pros and cons. Though it sounds like you’ve already tried taking steps towards traditional publishing. You say you’ve sent your work out to them, I sincerely hope by that you mean that you sent out a literary query. If not, I suggest you start writing one.
For help writing literary queries, I’d suggest this link. They have some wonderful examples of successful queries.
If I seem blunt, It’s just because I’m saying this for your own good… LEARN TO BE MORE PATIENT! Getting published is an exacting task and it takes a long time and a lot of work not matter which route you take. Literary agents literally get bombarded with queries, and they can take 4-8 months to respond. If you email them queries, they may not respond at all. Also, just because they don’t like your work, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not publish-worthy, it simply means that it’s not the type of thing they’re looking for, so be sure to research whom you’re sending them to.
Honestly if you’re hoping that self publishing is a quicker and easier path, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Self publishing is a great way to get yourself out there if you have the time, money, and know-how to navigate the waters. The problem is that you are responsible for EVERYTHING, and when I say everything, I mean it.
You can’t simply type something up, publish it, and then sit back and watch the $$ and praise come rolling in. It doesn’t work that way. A few big things you need to remember…
1. You have to come up with a cover. I don’t care if it’s digital or hard copy, in my experience, without an attractive cover, a book rarely does well in this market. The absence of a cover or a poorly done one is indicative of a lack of pride in your workmanship, something someone who is shopping around for a new book to read will pick up on. Remember, people are looking for something to immerse themselves in. Time is money and people these days are pick on how it’s used. A good cover done by a professional artist can run from $200-500. The latter if you don’t have a working relationship with your artist.
2. Copyrighting… Now I’m not just talking about a copyright or an ISBN#. EVERYTHING is copyrighted right down to the type of font you use. Using images in your book? Make sure you have the rights to them. Fonts? Buy a copyright or make sure they’re public domain. Also, make sure NOTHING in your book is copyrighted elsewhere, including song lyrics, direct quotes, etc. Even things that are considered public domain may have their versions copyrighted, so be careful.
3. Editing. There is nothing more damaging to a writer’s reputation than a book that’s chock-full of errors (grammar, spelling, and plot holes). You’ll want to have someone do your editing for you… and your mom or a close friend who doesn’t want to offend you isn’t the right person for the job… and professional editors charge by the word they’re never cheap, especially for lengthy novels.
4. Advertising. You are responsible for your own advertising. This is insanely difficult because everyone is trying to advertise theirs as well. Personally, I do mine by blogging, and social media. Twitter, Facebook, etc. There are also several pay services, but given how little authors usually get for their books, I recommend against it.
So hopefully I haven’t scared you off of self publishing, it’s a fine way to get your work out there to people. Just be warned, you’re trading wait time for footwork. There are obvious advantages to self publishing, including have complete creative control over your work, just remember, it is by no means easier than the traditional route if you factor in the amount of effort you need to put in.
Be mindful of which route you take and research everything BEFORE agreeing to anything or you could wind up signing your hard work away.
Readers, what are your thoughts on self publishing?

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim