Monday, April 4, 2011

The age-old question: How much sex is enough?

 I have been in a lot of group discussions with lesbian fiction readers using the new feature on Facebook. I’ve found them to be very well read and willing to share their collective knowledge. I ask them questions and they answer rather quickly. Most of them have read much more lesbian fiction than I have. They are quick to tout good reads and writers they like. I’ve learned a lot. I have a list now of books I have to read.
I also ask them things about what they like and don’t like in a novel. They certainly know what they want and will tell you. I asked the question, “How do you like your sex scenes, fade to black or very descriptive?” What I discovered in their answers brought back something I read in A History of Sexual Customs. Don’t ask me why I have that book; I truly don’t remember where I picked it up.
“Mating in the animal world is preceded by a love-game,” the book says. The male of the species does whatever is necessary to gain the females attention. He dances, or sings, even beats up competitors, all to gain her good graces.  Who are lesbians trying to impress? Women. Lesbians get and understand the dance they have to do to win another woman.  The women I talked to appreciated a good dance.
They all agreed, with one exception being the heavy-duty erotica writer in our midst, that it was the build up to the sex that really got them going. The tension, the dance, the whole mating ritual thing had to be timed out perfectly. In affect, I as the writer have to make sure the dance doesn’t drag out too long or go by too quickly.
They wanted the sexual encounters to grow out of natural situations, not manufactured ones. Spontaneous lust was always good, as it should be. That one made me grin. A few very shy women said they liked the sex to be hot, but don’t describe all the parts in flowery words, in fact leave some of the parts to their imaginations. In the middle of this discussion the erotica writer was pelting us with descriptive words.  I could almost see the blushing.
A fade to black was okay, but it had to be done right. I never really figured out what right way they meant. I’ll keep working on that. Most of them said the foreplay and the kissing was more important than the actual sexual acts being described. But then they started going off on sex scenes they liked and I could tell right away, black outs weren’t their favorites. I even got a vote for a shower scene I wrote, and I get a bit hot under the collar when I read that one, so I know they want sex and it seems the more the merrier, if it happens naturally. Evidently, it should happen naturally quite a few times in a novel.
So, here’s what my study has come up with so far. No matter what they say, you better put some sex in the book. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot of sex, or even very erotic, but the sex you put in there better be hot and worth the wait. Oh, and sex in public places seems to be a fantasy I have not explored personally or as a writer, but with their comments on the subject, I’m going to. <grin>


  1. Vicki,

    I agree the dance between when to have sex and how soon is a delicate one. To soon and we might lose the reader and not soon enough and they might put the book down. Then, there are those that don't want any sex, the fade to black readers. Personally, I like sex in my books. But, that is just me.

    I once had a straight friend say, "Wow, I learned something new in your book". Imagine my surprise when she said that. So, I guess even we can teach st8 girls something.


  2. It definitely is an age-old question. Bottom line and to keep it quick and simple, in lesbian fiction, regardless what the readers tell you, sex is what they want. It sells.

    For me, since I write what I like to read, a reader can be assured there will be no sex scenes in my books. You might find some kissing (might...sometimes not even that) and in my new upcoming novel, THE SECRET OF LIGHTHOUSE POINTE, things get a little steamier, but the sex will always....always fade to black. Bedroom door closed.

    I don't write to the markets. I really don't enjoy reading sex scenes or erotica and don't write them. I aim to tell one heckuva story, with interesting plots and characters without sex mucking up the plot line too much. I think I have readers that still enjoy that. LOL.