"Scene from a Writers Group"
I got involved in an interesting discussion with some other writers the other day -- WAIT! Don't go away. This discussion involved SEX! I thought that would peak your interest -- about SEX in books. I had struggled through a book recently that featured fairly explicit SEX and had wondered out-loud what made that book "literature" and not just plain porn. (Names changed to protect me.)
"Because the sex was integral to the story," said Writer Aromance. "It wasn't just thrown in to titillate. It revealed the characters."
"Yes, it revealed they liked sex," Writer Begenre said. "But doesn't everyone? Sex scenes are put in books to increase sales. And give lonely writers a thrill."
"Are there any more cookies?" asked Writer Cookbookins. "I only got one."
"I don't read books with explicit sex," Writer Divine said. "In fact, I'm quite happy to read about a sweet kiss and then a sunset."
"Today's readers want more than that," Aromance said. "They want to feel the characters' passion. They want to experience the hot, steamy moments, the indescribable sensations." Aromance panted, head rolling slightly, eyelids fluttering. "They want details. Oh yes! YES!!!"
The rest of the group moved their chairs away from Aromance.
"Isn't reading a sex scene the same as renting a porn movie?" Begenre said. "Just because they're not watching a sexual encounter with their eyes and instead 'watching' it in their minds, doesn't mean that it's not for the same purpose."
"Well, I don't read romances for that!" Aromance said, scooting over to join them again. "I want to read about true love, and sex just happens to be part of it. We need to turn the air-conditioning on."
"There were enough cookies for two apiece," Cookbookins said, looking around. "Someone had to have three."
"True love is more than just sex," Divine said. "It's a marriage of spirits, of souls reaching out to each other."
"Those souls come with various pieces of plumbing attached," Begenre said. "I think fading off into a sunset leaves the reader hanging."
"Some things are better left to the imagination," Divine said with a sniff. "It totally kills the romance when a writer starts describing ... er ... how the pipes fit into the joints."
"We're going to run that plumbing metaphor into the ground," Begenre said.
"I blame TV," Writer Eongo said. "People have become accustomed to seeing everything right before them. They don't exercise their minds. So they can't even imagine people having sex!"
"You know, I brought those cookies to share," Cookbookins said. "I think it's a shame that someone is so greedy that he or she deprived another writer of their cookie."
"Eongo has a point," Divine said. "What's wrong with letting the reader know that the characters have had sex, but not showing the sex? When two characters make love, that's one thing, but when we invite the reader along, that's an orgy."
"Not really an orgy," Begenre said. "Or least I don't think that's one. It's been a long time since my college days." The others looked at Begenre. "I heard about them back then," Begenre hastily added. "But I think a good case could be made for it being voyeurism."
"I love ocean ones," Farawa said dreamily.
The other writers regarded the elderly writer carefully.
"Not voyages, dear," Begenre told Farawa. "Voyeurism."
Farawa frowned. "I don't think I'm familiar with that. I do like to travel, though, so perhaps I'm a voyeur, too."
Divine's face turned red. Eongo choked back a laugh.
Begenre patted Farawa's hand. "I'll explain later, dear."
"I guess readers' tastes are just varied," Divine said. "Some people like to read inspirational, morally uplifting books while others prefer filth and gutter-life."
A long pause ensued.
"Hmm, I hate to agree," Aromance said. "But she's basically right. Readers' tastes vary. Some people like stuffy, boring, moralistic, and simple books while others like to read about a complicated, adult, intelligent world view that reflects contemporary life."
A longer pause.
Divine smiled too brightly. "Perhaps we should discuss this afterwards, dear."
"Oh, let's, sweetie," Aromance said, smiling just as brightly.
"I brought cookies because I thought that would be easier to divide," Cookbookins said. "When I brought pie last time, someone took nearly half of it."
"To return to the original question, I think intent has a lot to do with it," Begenre said. "If a writer is writing the sex scene and the whole point is to simply give the reader a sexual thrill, then maybe it strays into the ... let's not say porn, but the titillation arena. But if the scene is for character development and illumination, it's firmly in the literature arena."
The clock chimed nine, and that was all the time we had. They filed out, leaving Farawa and me. She gathered up her large purse and her notebooks. I smiled at her and asked, "How was that third cookie?"
She winked at me. "Delicious."
(Copyright 2017 Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.)