Monday, May 15, 2006

Smart Bitches Day

It's funny how sometimes, when you know you want to write about something and as you start, something else intrudes, something a bit different and you think Oh I should write that too, and then another idea pops in, and another and pretty soon it's like you are at the front of the bus trying to pay your fare, but all your coins are falling out of your hands on the floor and rolling up the gangway. It's distracting, annoying and you know you're not going to get every coin back into your purse. That's how this weeks Smart Bitches Day post has been.

I'm going to talk about sex expectations. When a person reads a romance novel, what are the sex-expectations (sexpectations?) that the reader has, and does that hold a big part of the enjoyment of the story? I've been reading a lot of review sites and a common complaint is that a story harks back to the 70's where there's no sex, and a stink of pre-feminism. (Enter idea number one on the changes of our heroes from pre-feminism to modern day) The characters don't feel real and natural because the sex part isn't realistic, as in they actually do wait until after marriage (And I am fully aware this happens in modern day - I have a virgin Sister-in-law who's going to wait another 18 months for their honeymoon night - bleecht). In the few aged and nicotine stained Harlequins I got my hands on in the middle 80's, they seemed to meet, fallinlove and get engaged and married in a matter of weeks. Didn't they learn anything from Romeo and Juliet? But today, there's sex before page 50. That was always a mark of a weaker novel for me, if the Hero/ine are coupling before page 100 then I figure the writer is trying to dazzle us so we don't notice the weak plot. You've got over 400 pages to entice and lure me about in the “Are they or aren't they?” -We always know they are, but I like to be tormented by it -but when you give over before page 50, it's not good. (Enter idea number two where I look at the structure of a romance novel and find out if Pride and Prejudice ticks all the boxes or not (Then I can say har har to Beth) Is there a winning formula? And are modern romance novels more Romanitca – a blend of romance and erotica.) I feel very suspicious with sex too soon in a novel.

See, now I've lost my track of thought...where am I going with this again? Sexpectations – right. So I read a Johanna Lindsey (I forget which one but I'll find it...)where the sex scene came almost halfway along in the story, well placed I feel, but it lasted for ten sentences. Over two paragraphs. That was it. I thought, Hell I would've done better than that, these poor folks have waited for nearly 200 pages to have a shag and you give them the equivalent of a quickie in a broom closet. The first time has to be special (haven't too many women had disappointing first times) and wonderful, and should last a little bit longer than ten sentences; I think two full pages at least is required or why bother. Then again I don't a want a whole chapter of how hard he is anh soft she is and all the smelling and sighing and clutching at sheets yadda yadda - there's got be a balance. On the other side, I've read some more modern stories, the Sherrilyn Kenyons, and I'm in my chair legs tight under me, my hand clamped over my eyes and I'm peeping at the text because it's so...so...naughty! It's a dirty book, and it's great. I sit there thinking Oh my god, I'm reading a dirty book, in the daytime, where everyone can see and no one knows. heeheehee

No I take that back, it's not a dirty book. I have moments of hyper-prudishness that I have no idea where it comes from, but the sex scenes are so well done that I think Damn I should try that. and then blush. (Enter topic number three where I discuss the problems with using romance novels as a “how to perform in bed” instructional – you aren't the heroine, your partner isn't the hero and you'll ruin all your good fantasies this way. Never pretend your partner is George Clooney, or you'll just realise that George does it just like the person you're always with.)


So when it comes down to sexpectations of a story, and in romance there is always going to be sex in the story, well there are some that are sexless, but they aren't worth reading – not to me anyways, how much is enough? There can be way too much sex in a book, if it takes away from the plot – because yes I'm wanting a story full and complete with plotlines intact and a few subplots and all the lines nice and tidied up at the end and if I just wanted to read sex scenes I'd go buy some smut instead (no I wouldn't, I'm too chicken). I don't think in times of “great peril” a coupling is really logical – but then everyone deals with stress in their own ways. Also I've read stories where I shouted, Please just have the sex already and be done with it! Too much suspense is painful, and who wants to make their readers to feel pain?


I've lost my train of thought again...what am I on about? Yeah, sex: too much, not enough or just right, which do you prefer, what makes the romance novel work for you. I know it's a hard question because every story is different and the characters may not be as wanton as others but there is a formula, there is a right and wrong amount – we all feel it as we're reading. So please tell me where on the scale you fall. I myself, prefer to have a good and proper sex scene – where they are happy, comfortable and into each other full of the lusty neediness as opposed to it being make-up sex (make-up sex should never be the first sex in my opinion – it sets a bad standard for the future) about halfway or just before halfway, but certainly before the big bad where all hell breaks loose and everyone's plotlines are a mess, and then two more before the happy ending. That's a nice balance for me. So C'mon...what's yours?

And apologies for the scatteryness of this post - but have you seen these - go and amuse yourselves.

12 comments:

chryscat said...

Ahhhhh...sexpectations. Lovely word.
When I read a traditional romance novel, I expect sex. Around page 64 to be quite honest. Page 100 is too long for me. Or at least give me a little foreplay. Okay, a lot.
Do NOT wait to long because I get bored easily. And for Heaven's sake! Do not give me vanilla--missionary position--sex. Pffttt
As far as Torrid, if the sex fits the story, it can be anywhere from page ten on. I don't care. As long as it fits. Hell, it may open with sex. Once again, all on the story.
Just do NOT make it boring. Oh, and don't use it to solve something. Because sex is fun...but it's not the answer to everything. Just a few things. LMAO
Grins*

Suisan said...

I don't really care WHERE the sex is in the novel, as long as it's some part of the way in--maybe 100 pages?

I want the buildup, the conversations, the sexual tension, before the act itself. And then, when they get it on, they can get it on and I'm not squirming over the rushed ickyness of it all.

Too fast and I get grossed out.

Fastest sex ever in a book? Just read one this weekend where on page one she's waking up from having already had sex with the hero. Sex was on, like, page number negative 14?

Beth said...

Yeah, I totally want the nookie. But to me, the best sexual tension - as a reader, which means it's an intellecual tension - is based around "Dude, how are they EVER gonna have sex?!" Not in a logistical way - I mean a sexual tension based merely on finding a location for the act is pathetic - but I mean in the sense of romantic obstacles. Like, she's a nun. Or he despises her since she killed his brother. Or something. Ya know? And the obstacle builds up and it's always there and you think "How on earth will THESE two ever get past it and get it on???" That's what I really dig.

But also in more basic terms: two nookie scenes minimum, preferably 3. And I'd really like the nookie scene to be there for a reason, too, not just an obligatory thing.

Lyvvie said...

I don't feel so prudish anymore..thanks! *sniff* *tear*

tornwordo said...

Wow, I don't think I've ever read a romance novel. The sexiest things I've read are probably the vampire chronicles but that wasn't real sex.

Mostly though, I so totally know what you mean about writing about one thing and then wanting to write about three other things while you're on the topic.

Glad I'm not alone.

Lyvvie said...

Oh Tornwordo - you should have a look at some of the romance genre aimed at Homosexuals!! not That I have, but in Romance, there's definately something for everyone.

After reading about your bendiness, you're my Gay Hero Icon.

Maja said...

Well, I haven't read too many romance novels (and they were mostly harlequin and mills and boons) and I have to admit that with a lot of them I just skipped to the sex bits if the story wasn't interesting, but I think I would like one with not too much suspense, but enough to make it totally romantic when it does happen and meaningful sex would be nicer than other sex.

I'm on break and I haven't had sex for 2 days now, which totally ANNOYS ME! Apparently Geezer would rather hang out with nerds on xbox live than me, so I'll be fucked if I'm initiating SHIT! I know I'm shooting myself in the foot because I think I'm the only one who misses sex anyway (Geezer would be satisfied with it once a month and I'm not going to say what I think about that because it's only one word starting with C) but hey, maybe, just maybe he will miss it when we go back to work for two weeks.

Maja said...

Sorry. Angry rant comment. Entirely unnecessary! I do love you though!

Lyvvie said...

That's good because I had tea come out my nose when you said ...so I'll be fucked if I'm initiating SHIT!"

because consdering the context it was a funny to express your feelings. You are free to vent anytime.

I suggest you wrap a towel around your bottom like Sumo wrestler, walk in the room like a Sumo wrestler (you know, wide legged and smacking your thighs a lot), give a war cry and jump on the bastard. We'll all call him Lumpy if you do.

Maja said...

He has actually worn a towel like that before.. and I have photographic evidence of it.. I might send it to you if I can find it right now!

But seriously.. I'm so annoyed with him, I'd rather not have sex with him.

Lyvvie said...

If I were there, I'd take you to the pub, get us both trashed and then we can talk shit all night.

*BigHug*

Riss said...

I like trashy romance novels. They get a bad rap though, some of them are like 400 pages long and have less than 10 pages of sex. I skip over those scenes anyway. Too tame. That's what Penthouse Forum is for.