Sex Sells...Or Does It?
Sunday, October 31, 2010
In the process of doing the final edits on my first published novel, a light bulb clicked on from a note the editor made on the manuscript. At one point she noted that I could delete the love scene and not take the reader into the bedroom with the couple. Leave them at the door, she advised.
I do admit that sometimes things are best left to the reader’s imagination and I accept this from the point of view of someone who has always been a voracious reader.
So, having an understanding of what she meant, I reworked that scene and left the goodly gent and his lady to do their thing not-quite-behind-closed-doors, but close enough.
Based on the publisher’s preferred sensuality level, she also noted that the characters were compelling and therefore I could tone down the lovemaking. Another light bulb clicked on for me and stayed while I wrote the follow-up novel to Contraband.
Celeste and Mark, the main characters, are problem children so of course, their story is chockfull of adventure and danger. The two have a high level of awareness of each other and a psychic connection that makes them intensely attuned to each other. That worked so well that I didn’t need to put the two of them in a bedroom together further on in the book. The opening scene does have the two of them in bed together, but they never quite make it back there, and the book doesn’t suffer for lack of sexual tension. I know because the story has been read by a half dozen of my writing pals, none of whom asked about them getting together.
I take that as a good sign.
I think I’ll continue using this formula. Juxtapose fascinating characters, place them in challenging situations and keep them on edge for most of the story. I shan’t forget to involve the reader, who should be so wrapped up in the characters’ skin that seeing them between the sheets becomes secondary to their story.
So, what’s your take? We know sex sells, but is it absolutely necessary to make a story un-put-down-able?