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

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7 thoughts on “Tasteful vs. Smut-peddling

  1. egrac3l says:

    I think there needs to be a balance between those kinds of scenes and the actual plot. Moreover, these scenes need to have something to do with the plot.

    I come from a fanfiction background, and fanfiction has a reputation for being badly written stories about the writer’s favourite characters fucking each other like there’s no tomorrow (thanks, Fifty Shades of Grey), and to some extent there is some truth behind that. But stories don’t have to be what we call in the fanfiction world PWPs (porn without plot). Some of the smuttiest and descriptive scenes I’ve ever read have been less than a thousand words in a story which has a strong plot.

    Furthermore, there are some cases where such scenes can move the plot along – and even be vital to the plot. If you need one character in a relationship to discover a scar or tattoo on the other, then this is one of the best ways (in my opinion) to make that happen.

    I wouldn’t read something that is just sex without plot. For me, there definitely needs to be more plot than smut, but – as you have said – there is an audience for those who don’t agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • StCyril says:

      ” come from a fanfiction background, and fanfiction has a reputation for being badly written stories about the writer’s favourite characters fucking each other like there’s no tomorrow”

      This made me laugh, thanks!

      I absolutely agree. In my book *SPOILER ALERT* the sex fits into the story and contributes to a character’s downfall amongst her people.

      Like

  2. My books tend to have a mild sex scene, because that’s what people do. It doesn’t feel “honest” to me (based on my characters and circumstances) to pretend it doesn’t happen. When deciding the level of explicit detail, I ask myself does it deepen the understanding of the characters or serve the plot? If the answer is no, then the details seem gratuitous to me (same with graphic violence).

    For example, I have one post-apocalyptic book where there is a lot of “off stage” sexual coercion and abuse. To balance that, I have one healthy, loving, sexual relationship that I show with quite a bit of detail. I believe it offers insight into both characters, serves the plot, and balances out all the cruelty. Happy Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joseph Nebus says:

    Might I ask: at what point does a book become nothing but a bunch of cooking scenes?

    Like

  4. regilson1 says:

    Keepin it classy, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

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