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.
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.
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.
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.