***Warning! This post probably skirts that NSFW line. You know I endeavor to keep it clean even when talking dirty here on the blog (I am a lady, after all ), but you might not want over-the-shoulder peepers here.***
So here’s what I was doing today. Which is actually Thursday, but I’ll be posting this Monday, as I’ve already committed to answering questions on Friday.
Or rather, here’s what I was NOT doing.
I certainly was NOT Googling myself to hunt for new reviews and mentions of Personal Demons online. But, in the course of not doing that, I did happen to find a small discussion of a book which may or may not have been mine, which discussed a sex scene I may or may not have written in that book. But I probably didn’t. This post has nothing to do with that.
And as long as I’m disclaimer-ing, here’s a real one: as always, readers have a right to whatever opinion they have. This is NOT an argument with a reader in any way shape or form. It’s just an interesting thought that those comments about the sex scene which may or may not have been the one I wrote in Personal Demons inspired. It’s not a rebuttal or anything of that sort; it’s not really about the comment, but about how I write scenes, and the comment made me think. That’s all.
So what was said was, that although the male half of this couple in this unnamed book may have performed an act of oral gratification on the female half of the couple, the idea of her reciprocating was not apparently even thought of.
And I found this so interesting, because it really strikes at the heart, I think, of where that scene went and was intended to go, and what the difference is, for me, between scenes in books like that and scenes in my erotic romances.
Of course I thought of having the act reciprocated–or, um, I would have, if it had been my scene and my book we’re discussing. But I decided not to. Because I felt (or I would have blah blah blah) that carrying the scene into that would have taken it too far. Would have extended the scene too much, would have felt a little paint-by-numbers for me.
It seems to me there’s a line that can be crossed, where a scene stretches too far and becomes sex for its own sake rather than sex to deepen or illustrate or consummate a relationship. And to put it bluntly, often blow jobs are that line.
It’s not my female characters won’t give head. They do, all the time. ***SPOILER! SPOILER! Highlight to read mild spoiler!*** .In fact, in the second book–although it’s not described, for one reason because if I went into detail every time Greyson and Megan have sex in that book it would be practically nothing else, they’re like bunnies, those two; for the other I’ll explain below–it is very clearly and definitely implied that such an event occurs. When Megan walks up to Greyson, fondles him, then opens his zipper and sinks to her knees on the floor in front of him I think it’s pretty clear not only what she’s about to do, but that she enjoys doing it and really wants to do it. And, as I say below, I really wanted to show her as the sexual aggressor, her as the one who is in control, which is especially important when you have an Alpha-type like Greyson. I didn’t want Megan to be always the passive recipient of sexual advances, which is one reason why I really like that scene. (The other is I just think it’s a really cute, sexy little scene. You’ll see.)***END SPOILER*** I mean, these are modern women. There’s no “I’m not putting that thing in my mouth, are you kidding? Eeew!” here.
But. First of all, blow jobs are difficult to describe. Well, okay, no, they’re not. But unless you’re in the male’s POV, they’re difficult to describe for any length of time without just starting to inch over the line between hot sex scene and graphic sex scene. They’re a great way to illustrate the power the heroine has over the hero, but again, I felt I’d already demonstrated that amply.
I’ve written countless blow job scenes. Almost every one of them was initiated by the woman, and was (I think) a hot scene. But in this book, in this scene, I thought it would be too much. I didn’t think it would actually show the reader anything about the characters and how they interact, to be honest. So we find out his hands are gentle in her hair or something? We already know that; he’s been gentle the whole time, why would he be different here? A sex scene shouldn’t be just about the sex. It should be about the relationship. In a relationship there’s really no need to do everything every time, because you know there’s time for that later. So why make sure you’ve fit everything into one scene?
Then there’s the pacing issue, and the paint-by-numbers one. Sex scenes can start to feel a little Tab-A-into-Slot-B if you’re going by a very particular set series of events. They kiss. Her clothes come off. His clothes come off. He goes down on her. She goes down on him. Etc. etc. etc. It starts to feel like little kids taking turns, which doesn’t appeal to me. I like to mix it up. Heh heh.
And really, doesn’t a blow job mean more when she initiates it on her own, not because she feels like she has to reciprocate? And vice versa? I like how having her initiate, out of the blue, shows the female as the sexual aggressor. I like how it shows she has confidence in the relationship, or confidence in her ability to please and be pleased in return, or whatever else I’m having it show. I want it to show something; I don’t want it to get lost in a “Well, he did it to her, so…” scenario.
We also have the “I have to HAVE you” element. I know men love blow jobs. DUH. But isn’t it really, really hot to think he’s so desperate to actually have sex that the thought of encouraging oral pleasures just isn’t there? Let’s be honest. This is a fantasy. It may be a very realistic fantasy, sure. But the hero in a romance, or the love interest in a non-romance, is not going to grab the heroine’s head and force it below his waist (well, okay, he might, because that can be hot as shit. I wrote a scene where the hero orders the heroine to her knees–in a low, sexy whisper, no less–and I thought that was pretty damn hot, and still do. But that’s a different type of scene, and the overall feeling and mood of a sex scene is important and shouldn’t be messed around with unless it’s for a specific purpose.) We’re not talking about that type of scene. We’re talking about the type of scene where the hero is essentially begging the heroine to let him into her pants, and a man in that position is, IMO, likely to want to move on to the main event.
Of course, it could be argued that if he was that desperate, why would he go down on her? Well, because I said so, that’s why. No, really, in a way it is. It’s my scene and my characters. Some men may not do that, or might not do that in that situation, or whatever. But come on now, we’re all well aware that women do not climax as easily as men do from straight intercourse (geez, that sentence could have come from a freaking textbook, huh?) So while a blow job might be simply icing on the cake (was that a bad image to use?) for a man, oral sex could very well be the only way a woman gets to finish. What gentleman could allow her to go without, especially the first time? Even if he’s dead confident he can get her there a second time, it’s still only polite, isn’t it?
But really, what it comes down to for me, what it came down to, is that adding the blow job lengthens the scene and makes it more graphic than it needs to be. Those of you who’ve read both my December books and PD saw–and quite a few commented on–how different those scenes were in tone, language, and action. Because I felt that difference was necessary and important.
It’s not that I think the addition of a blow job automatically makes a scene porn, or too erotic, or whatever. I’m not saying that at all. It’s simply–and if I wasn’t so wordy I would have just said this and it could have been the whole post–that not every scene calls for every sexual act. Very few of my erotic books follow that he-does-so-she-does formula; to be honest, it bothers me a bit when they do. It feels frankly disruptive. It messes with the smooth flow of the action, IMO, or at least it would have in that scene and in quite a few of my December scenes too. There’s no need to prove some point by making sure everybody gets a little mouth action in every scene; sex shouldn’t need to be egalitarian.
I’m sure there will be some who disagree with me, and I’m really looking forward to that discussion. But like I said, that comment really did make the think about why I didn’t put that in there, why I considered and discarded the idea. I didn’t really put a lot of thought into it at the time, although I do have a very clear memory of considering having her reciprocate at the moment and deciding not to, because she was laying down (or lying? I’m never sure) and he was looming over her and I thought it would be sort of clumsy and graceless to fit that in, and it just wasn’t where I wanted to go.
So…what do you guys think?
You know what? Maybe I’ll do my summer series on writing sex scenes. That sounds really fun, actually. Hmm.