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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The right time for S-E-X

Today I stayed home from work to rest and try to get well. I seem to feel a bit better every day. Not being at work helps, just in terms of stress relief. But I probably should have slept more.

In the meantime, my writer insecurity has welled up about my WIP. I always feel like whatever I'm working on SUCKS and that it sucks more than anything I've ever written. Felt that way with every single book I've ever written except Ride the Fire, which was more my story than any book I've written and so was deeply personal. (I had other issues writing it.)

Here's the core of my concern:

It's the age-old dilemma for romance novelists: When should the hero and heroine finally get past the obstacles that separate them and get it on? A lot of readers seem to want it to happen as soon as possible in the story. They want sex from a close to the front cover to the very end of the book, if possible. And authors, eager to oblige and romance reader ourselves, often search for ways to make the Big Bang happen early in the story.

But I find myself once again — is it like this in all of my books? — FAR into the story and Marc and Sophie haven't done the wild thing. (OK, so they did it in the prologue, but that was when they were teenagers, some 12 years ago.) I think the only book in which my hero and heroine got it on fairly quickly was Extreme Exposure with Reece and Kara. And the sex fiend in me liked that. Tess and Julian, on the other hand, didn't do it until after page 200 for what I thought were good reasons. With the historicals, my character have tended to have sex about 2/3 of the way through the story. In Ride the Fire, it was probably later than that, but they did everything BUT have sex by that point.

I'm on P. 250 (?) of Unlawful Contact and I'm only now about to lead up to the Big Sex Scene. And here's why: The rule I have for my stories is that the hero and heroine have to reach a point of caring and mutual trust and respect before they have sex. The issues between them don't have to be resolved and they don't know they're in love, but they have to at least trust the other person and realize that they care about them.

Sophie and Marc obivously have some serious blocks to that. Marc holds Sophie at gunpoint and uses her as a human shield to break out of prison — not very heroic and not very nice, from her point of view. (She later learns why.) At first, she believes he's a dangerous criminal, no matter how she might have felt about him in high school. For her to be overwhelmed by lust and ignore what he's done isn't really credible.

OK, so here's the question: What has to happen for for the sex to "feel right"? Is it possible for an author to hook her characters up too soon?

I personally find it frustrating if there's not a fair amount of good sex in a book. But I can't put Marc and Sophie together before Sophie truly wants to be with him beyond just the physical impulse. Does that make sense?

What do you all think about the timing of sex in romance novels?

5 comments:

Aimee said...

Like I said before, you need a day OFF. No writing, no work, no errands. Period. Call Sean *EG*

Chic, I know you stress about your WIP's, every time, but as a reader of the WIP I can say, stop worrying. It ROCKS and I squirm around till the next chapter shows up.

I love sex in a story. Lots of it. HOT smokin' sex. BUT.
1. There has to be emotional attachment. (unless we are talking a Lora Leigh then it's hormonal LOL)
2. There has to be excellent tension building up to "the big bang" as you called it

You know their souls, they are creatures of your creation. I have never read a book of yours where I felt cheated because the sex didn't happen until late. I actually almost prefer the tension you write, where their bodies are on fire and screaming for each other because the moment was RIGHT.

You do it right luv, stop worrying.

I love ya! MWAH!

Rosie said...

Oh yeah, staying home helps both mentally and physically.

I like my books hot and spicy, but also agree with Aims. The characters have to have a connection. That could mean that the big sex scene can happen anywhere, as long as the reader can tell there's a relationship either about to happen or is happening. They're your creations, so I say just go with it. If by pg. 250 it's still not right, then that's your decision. I have complete confidence in you, chica. You haven't let me down yet!!

Hope you feel better soon. The weekend is coming up!!!

Hugs!!!

Bo said...

Absolutely,an author can write the first sex scene too early on,but you have NEVER done this to us!!! I think you hit it perfectly when you say they don't have to be in love,but there MUST be trust and caring.That said,I am sure I have read books that have 'early' sex in them,I betcha there are even a few on my keeper shelves that are like that,and they worked for me still,for whatever reason.Emma Holly & Angela Knight come to mind,and I don't even read their really erotic stuff.But I'll tell you this-I've read a book that had lots of ultra-hot sex a few chapters in,and while I finished it for that,*G*,I didn't keep it b/c I never saw them connect.It was hot,it was funny and had lots of good fight action and stuff,but I never felt them click,and that,to me,is what counts.It's an almost audible thing,when you are reading an incredible book,and you hear that click in your mind.It might happen on page 27 or on page 227,but I know that you hear that click for ALL your books,and while it might happen at a different page than you intended,it has NEVER been too soon or too late than I,and MANY others,I am SURE *G* wanted.You have the gift of TRUE storytelling,something that,when we finish that last page,it was not simply a "good book" or a "great read",but a journey,a story of two people who became so real you can still see you very favorite scenes playing in your head,whether its minutes,months,or years later.I still see Jamie & Brighid at Tara,I still see Cassie with her hands in a tobacco field,and you better believe I still see Iain doing EVERYTHING! LOL !

I hope you are feeling better-work can sod off.Have faith in yourself and remember this-You have a gift,and it's not in you to write badly.

I have to hurry off to the office right now, but I wanted to pop in very quickly and say that you almost made me cry! Your words were very reassuring.

Aimee, you know more than anyone how I freak out because you've been through it twice now. (Lucky you! LOL!) So I'll do my best to stop worrying.

Rosie, thanks for your confidence and TGIF!!! Emphasis on the "F." Maybe more than one "F" -- TGI-effing-F.

Bo, you and your visions of Iain made me laugh. I still see all of them, too. Naked. ;-) And I'm so glad you hear that click.

I've just been away from the story for too long now (sick last weekend, all week), so I get nervous. And I'm nervous about having sex so late in the story, but it has to feel right. So that's how it is, I guess.

Gotta run! Will check back during the day as work permits. ((HUGS))

Debbie H said...

Pamela, I am so glad you took the day off. I agree with Amiee, you need a really long vacation from everything except you hearts desires. Maybe I can get my personal massage therapist up there this summer, my treat!! Stress can really tear up an immune system, take care.

As far as sex in the story, I agree with everyone. I love the really hot, tingling sex and lots of it. It is your baby and you know the hero and heroine better than anyone else. Let them "get it on" when the time is right. I would follow you wherever you go with any of your books. If they have lots of sexual tension and don't do the "wild thing" until the last few pages, so be it. I would love it!!

Try to not stress so much, put your feet up, listen to some really good music and do NOTHING for a few hours. Sleep is good!

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