Sex In Stories? What’s All The Fuss?

I read a tweet the other day from an author posting a comment he’d received regarding one of his novels. The comment went something like this: “Great story, but way too much sex.” In all honesty, I’ve not read the book in question. But the issue of sex in literature has long been a thorn to some, a crime to others, and a selling point to many.
Lady Chat
D.H. Lawrence faced all sorts of legal issues concerning his novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover upon its original release back in 1928. That book–and much of his other works–was banned in England and the United States for decades. The Free World at its finest. I understand some people prefer “clean” stories. There are many classics that carry a solid G rating that have been favorites for hundreds of years.
Pin up girl
Today, with the advent of self-publishing, writers of erotica have found an audience–some with great success. I don’t write erotica, nor do I read it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it. There is sex in my novel. Sexuality is a human trait–indeed a trait of most living creatures. There is the romantic element, which gives rise to the romance novel. For those who want their sex without love, there’s lust. Lust is a strong emotion that everybody experiences at some point in life–though some would deny they’ve ever been guilty of that sort of sin.

Then we come to sex for curiosity’s sake. A girl kisses another girl just to see what it’s like. A guy cheats on his wife of twenty years just to satisfy an urge to know what it would feel like to be with somebody else. Sex and sexuality is part of being human. It’s part of being alive. It’s real life. It’s what gives breath to the fictional characters authors create. To deny it is to deny our humanity.
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Now that doesn’t mean you have to read about it in some novel that makes you uncomfortable. That’s why we still love the classics.

So if you’re not into sex in your story, pick up a copy of Little Women, Moby Dick, or A Farewell to Arms. A great book is always a great book.

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14 thoughts on “Sex In Stories? What’s All The Fuss?

  1. paulznewpostbox

    You are so right when say that sex is a human trait. It is in fact one of the prime driving forces of life itself, not only for us as individuals, but as a species.

    Therefore for writers who place their characters in a ‘real life’ scenario it seems odd to leave out this most human aspect of life.

    However, according to the type of readership the story beckons, (be it Novel, Book or Flash Fiction), the author must determine how they portray such scenes and how graphically they are described.

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  2. John W. Howell

    Good post, Beem. I totally agree with your point. Sex is natural and if two people in a story are attracted to each other it is a natural result. I have to say I’m not fond of the overly graphic sexual descriptions, but sex scenes capturing the underlying emotions belong in the story..

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  3. Helen Treharne

    I am somewhere in the middle on this. Sex is completely natural and I have no issues per se. That said, like any action /device it needs to move the characters or story in some way. Then it can be as graphic as needed in my opinion. writers need to also ensure, and I am wearing my reader’s hat here, is that it is also appropriate to the genre of the book and the audience marketing is directed at. There is nothing worse than thinking you are getting one type of book and then you get page after page of hard core bondage. It’s a careful line we tread as writers of portraying something real and engaging and something that is unnecessary to the story. Scene after scene of sex in a non-erotica work can slow down the pace if overused, just as pages of narrative can. If you get it right I have no issues with explicit material – be that sex, profanity or gore.

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