Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Fictional Fulfillment More Enticing the Real Thing?

“Writing can be hot without being explicit.” C. Margery Kempe

The article, “Daisy Goodwin: This is better than real sex” from the TimesOnLine was just too good to pass up, especially after Monday’s post by guest blogger C. Margery Kempe on writing sex scenes.

Here are some excerpts from the article, but if you have time, I recommend reading it for a few more good laughs.

"A survey confirms my belief that most women of a certain age are better off turning to their library card for erotic fulfilment.

According to a survey of women between the ages of 45 and 60 by the maker of Astral moisturiser, a good two-thirds of us like books “with plenty of sex scenes” because we find them “titillating”. And a raunchy 10% actively seek out books with sexual content.

There is only one explanation for this and I am afraid it has something to do with middle-aged men. Given the choice between a real encounter with a mate with significant nostril hair and a fictional romp with a man with all his own teeth who never gets a twinge down his left leg, is it really any wonder that ladies of a certain age would rather get to the end of the chapter than burrow under the duvet?

I would much rather read about a threesome in a museum courtesy of The Sexual Life of Catherine M, the bestselling erotic memoir of a French intellectual, than actually have a threesome in a museum (suppose the sprinkler system went off?).

We are talking about a generation of women whose sexual fantasies almost certainly include Colin Firth emerging damply from the lake at Pemberley — with nothing more explicit than a brooding stare. Suggestion is definitely all.

In the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that when I gave the first draft of the novel I am writing to my editor, she said she was worried that some of the sex scenes were perhaps “a bit too graphic”. As I am a woman who can’t type “throbbing member” or “glistening manhood” without blushing crimson, I can assure you that my purple passages were the palest mauve.

There were many headlines last week suggesting that since scientists are close to being able to manufacture sperm, men are no longer necessary; I would suggest that for novel-reading women of a certain age this has long been the case."

The Independent, ie also ran a similar article, “Middle-aged women want to read about sex,” listing the top 10 books women would take to a desert island. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding was number 1 and Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, was number 10. The one that really surprised me though was, The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. Though I enjoyed the book, it’s not one I’d think falls into the “better than real sex” category. I haven’t read Harry Potter, but since they are written for kids, I wouldn’t think they fall into this category either. I guess this proves middle aged women do think about topics other than sex.

What book would you take to a desert island? Readers, do you actively seek out books with plenty of sex scenes? Writers, after reading these articles, are you thinking about adding more spice to your writing?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: C. Margery Kempe, Daisy Goodwin, Bridget Jones’s Diary , Memoirs of a Geisha, Life of Pi, Fielding, Golden, Martel,


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Interesting topic, Jane.

I guess it depends on your mate whether fictional is better than reality! :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Helen Ginger said...

Hmm. I don't seek them out. Although I edit for quite a few Romance authors, I don't often buy Romance.

Straight From Hel

Patricia Stoltey said...

Fun article and post, Jane. I've been following the blog of a romance writer who writes steamy stuff, and I'm more and more tempted to see just exactly what it is that's sells so many of her books. Might change my reading (and writing) habits...

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Hold on, now. To try to avoid being off topic: You’re a Harry Potter virgin?? Is this possible? I thought every person born since 1776 had read at least ONE HP book. Very interesting. Now, I'm wondering...why? Can you share? Sorta of a confessions of type post maybe.(Grin)

Okay, to the subject at hand. Uh. First of all, I LOVE, Astral Moisturizer. Makes my skin so...oh, yeah. Sorry.

I would skip the book on deserted Island and take my wife.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Nancy J. Parra said...

This was a fun and funny post. Thanks for the laugh and smile in my day!


John A. Allen said...

Okay - I've got to admit, I've read the posts and followed along without really commenting. But from time to time, I'll sneak a peak at my wife's romance novels to see what all the fuss is about.

And, in one of the novels I'm writing now, there is a sex scene. Well, there are a few, but in different degrees. But one of them is very intimate.

The trickiest part of it, though, for me has been just how explicit to make it.

I should probably also mention that the scene is between a human and an angel. Sorta. Kind of a not-quite fallen angel. Okay, I won't go into the rules and syntax of angel mythology, but the scene is probably going to be the last that I write. Rather, to be honest, it will be the last scene added. I've already written it, and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten.

John Allen

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Good point, Elizabeth.

Helen, when you edit Romanace novels, how often do you come across the bad sex in fiction scenerio?

I'm tempted to do the same thing, Patricia.

Galen, do you suppose I'm the last person alive that hasn't read a single Harry Potter? I've heard they're excellent and they have been highly recommended by my adult daughter, but I guess I am just not into wizards and such. But I may read them one of these days. I hope you showed your wife the comment you wrote about the desert island - that was sweet.

Nancy, I'm glad I made you smile. That's exactly the same effect the article had on me.

An angel, sorta? Okay, John, you already have me looking forward to reading that book. Be sure to let me know when it's available!

Chester Campbell said...

Yes, well reader of my new Sid Chance mystery said she was disappointed there was no romance between Sid and his part-time associate, Jaz LeMieux. Not sure about the age of the disappointee. I'll have to give this more thought.

On Galen's comment about Harry Potter, I, too, have never read one, though I saw one of the movies. I do, at long last, have The Da Vinci Code in my TBR pile.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Chester, I am happy to find out I am not the only one who hasn't read Harry Potter! Although I have read and enjoyed the Da Vinci Code.

Alexis Grant said...

Yes, I think about adding more spice to my writing!

Apparently this is one of the reasons why those vampire books... oh gosh, this is horrible, I can't even remember the name of them... by Stephanie, best sellers (obviously I haven't read them)... anyways, apparently part of the reason they're so popular is because everyone wants to date the main character. It's a bit different than sex, but still! We want love :)

Helen Ginger said...

Jane, I think the sex scenes in Romance novels have to be realistic, yet fantasy. No reader wants a clinical approach, but it can go over the top with cliches like "love mound" and "throbbing member." Drop the cliches and get to the romance. Avoid porn and go with love. On the other hand, there are enough readers out there with different tastes that all kinds of "romance," from light to pornographic, sell.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Actually, I don't like books with descriptive sex scenes. And at age 43, my husband is still much better than fiction!

L. Diane Wolfe

Anonymous said...

Sometimes reality is so strange not even Hollywood can craft such an unbelievable story. Yet, its these very same stories than can be slanted while changing the names of the innocent to make for one terrific and terrifying fictional story. When in doubt, mix real life with fiction and see what you come up with.

Stephen Tremp

Morgan Mandel said...

If it fits in a book, I read it, but I don't go looking for erotica. I prefer romantic suspense with the emphasis on the suspense. When I read romances, I usually like the light, funny ones.

Morgan Mandel

Marvin D Wilson said...

Fun topic and post. I'm with the "love" vs. vivid porn descriptions for sex/romance scenes. If a lovemaking scene fits the story, I'm fine with it, just don't like them thrown in for sensationalism. As for the desert island, I'd rather have my woman with me that ANY book. lol

The Old Silly

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world