Thursday, 28 March 2013

Too much sex? Or just a personal preference?

And I'm talking about in books here, before anyone gets excited and thinks I'm writing a post about porn. Now, I'm almost positive I've banged on about this subject before some time in the dim and distant past, but I'm bringing it up again today because, overnight, a nice 4* review appeared over on Amazon for my latest novel, the sexy soccer romance Striker. This particular person liked the book, thought it was a good read, and because this reviewer has read and enjoyed quite a few of my books, I kind of trust what they have to say. But they had one niggle with Striker, and this niggle is what caused them to give me 4 rather than 5 stars - too much sex. They're looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, but they'd like the sex to be toned down a bit. 

Too much sex...?
So, I can't help but ask myself, was there too much sex in Striker? Or is this all just a case of personal preference? Now, I'm not denying that there isn't a lot of sex in Striker, because there is - there's quite a bit of it, actually. But as I was writing that book I really was conscious all the way through about the amount of sex I included. I dropped scenes, put them back in, took them out again, then put them back in a slightly toned-down version. Although, I would like to point out, that the majority of sex scenes in Striker remain in their original state. But I was demented half the time, believe me, not knowing what to do for the best. Because how much sex to include can be quite confusing at times.

Could've done with more sex, for me...
I mean, some people say 'Fifty Shades of Grey' contained too much sex, but in my opinion (yes, I succumbed to the hype and read it), it could have done with a shed-load more to make it interesting for me. I actually thought it had a lot less sex than I'd been led to believe, but that's just my opinion. And everyone has a different one of those.

Take my rock star romance See You At The Show for example - I've had some people say they'd wished there'd been more sex in that book, and I was annoyed with myself for editing it back. But if I'd left it in its original state would some people then have complained there was too much sex? Not enough/too much - am I ever really going to be able to keep everybody happy? I'm not sure.

Not enough sex...?
I think people who know me, and who've followed my writing over the past few years, will have noticed that my books are now leaning slightly more towards the sexier side of romance - the hotter side of romance, even, although I'm stopping short of full-on erotica. I'm not sure I can go that far, not yet, anyway. So, sex is going to figure quite a bit in most of my books from now on. And maybe that will alienate some readers, maybe it will gain me some new ones, I don't know. Keeping every reader happy is an impossible job, you just can't do it. 

But now that someone has mentioned that the amount of sex in Striker put them off slightly, well - as a writer you can't help but take that on board. It's just what I do with that now that I have to think about. I'm in the middle of writing 'Extra Time' at the moment, the next book in the Striker Trilogy. And so far the characters haven't exactly been celibate. In fact, I'll let you all into a little secret with this book - there's sex within the first few pages. Might as well kick it all off the way I mean to go on. However, that doesn't mean to say that the book will continue on into one long shag-fest. It won't. It isn't. But it isn't going to be some middle-class aga-saga either. There'll be sex, and there'll be quite a bit of it. So you have been warmed. But how much exactly is something I may have to re-think. Do I back off slightly and tone it all down? To keep one reader happy? Well, there's the question, you see. So far that's the only comment I've had about the amount of sex in Striker, no one else has made any other negative comment about that, in fact, some people have gone in the complete opposite direction and said the sex scenes were fabulous! So, yeah, I'm confused. 

However, last week I read a very important piece of advice from someone who works at a big publishing house. Information that I think every writer should take on board - write for yourself, first and foremost. Don't write what you think readers/editors/publishers want to read. Write for yourself, because, if you wouldn't want to read what you've written, then how can you expect anyone else to want to read it, too? 

So, I've come to the conclusion that, no, there isn't such a thing as too much sex in books. It's all a matter of personal preference - the old "one man's meat is another man's poison" analogy. And, as long as the book isn't just one long round of bonking, as long as that book has a story to it, something that makes people want to read it regardless of the sex (which I'm glad people are pointing out with Striker - that it does actually have a good story to it), then surely the amount of sex involved is always going to be something that people's attitudes will differ over. 

I'll continue to write 'Extra Time' without any changes, for now, and see how things go. Now is not the time to edit, anyway. This is me - this is how I write. And I don't really want to change that.

But I do think that the question of sex in books will always be one of personal preference. Some people like a little, others like a lot. Now, if only I could hit that happy medium... 



  1. Michelle, you know my views on this already but just for the record of your blog post, it is most definitely a very personal preference, in my humble opinion. If someone doesn't like sex in a book then they have a very simple choice - don't read it. YOU are the writer of your own work and it needs to sit comfortably with YOU. There are many readers out there who don't like sex in books (and probably real life too) and there are many readers out there who do like sex - in both! You can't please everyone, it's impossible. I think 4 stars is a brilliant review. But the theme of this particular trilogy is hot romance and sexy footballers/wives. So I'm not sure toning down your next book just to please someone who doesn't appreciate the sex quite so much is really going to help anyone, least of all YOU.

    The comment left on my blog recently about me changing parts of the wording in my book was ridiculous. If we wrote books to please individual readers where would that get us? Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

    Keep going and writing those amazing sex scenes. If someone finds it's too much then they have the option not to read. For every one person who doesn't want to read your book, they'll be another 100 who do.

    K x

    p.s. also, I'll never forget my almost 70 yr old mum saying to me recently "sex sells".

    1. Everything you say is so true, Kathryn. I guess we writers just take things to heart sometimes, even when we shouldn't. But the theme of this trilogy of books is very much the sexier side of romance with hot footballers, handsome managers, beautiful women... It's sexy escapism, and you can't really have that without some sex being involved.

      So, I don't think I'll be toning down the naughty bits in 'Extra Time' all that much. I'm happy with things the way they are, so why change it? And, just like with 'Striker', there IS a story in between all the bonking, too! ;)

      Oh, and I think your mum is probably right, too - sex DOES sell. ;) x

  2. I'm with Kathryn on this.
    You don't write 'Mills & Boon', you write raunchy, steamy novels - that says it all really! You have promoted 'Striker' as 'Fifty Shades of Football' - tea, cakes and knitting were unlikely to feature too much!
    No reader has the right to tell you to cut down on the sex scenes - if writers took on board EVERY single comment that EVERY single reader gave them, no books would ever be written again!
    Keep up the good work and have as much sex as YOU want! ;)
    A xx
    PS: My 84 year old mother asked me why I couldn't write my own version of 50 Shades, saying, 'That would pay your mortgage!'

    1. It seems that mothers certainly have an opinion on this subject, don't they? ;)

      And thanks, Amanda. :) Deep down I think we all know that we can't change the way we write just to please one or two readers - what one person likes, another one is bound to be not quite so keen on. But, as you say, I've dubbed this trilogy of books 'Fifty Shades of Football', so maybe it's worth putting that in the book blurb on Amazon, just so's people are aware of just what kind of books these are going to be.

      Right, I'm off to write another sexy scene. I'm kind of in the mood for it now, after writing this post... ;) x

  3. I read plenty of lit fic and I can tell you the sex scenes in those babies can get pretty vulgar and detailed! Unlike with good romance, some of them make the whole thing seem kinda disgusting, to be honest. I'll take good romance sex over that any day.

    It is personal preference. As long as the characters are deep and there's a good story, I can skip detail I don't want. If it crosses into erotica, I won't pick up another by that author, but otherwise, skim past what you don't want and enjoy the rest. :-)

    As a side note: Would you be interested in a guest post with See You At The Show for my blog? at :-)

    1. Thank you so much for leaving a comment, Ella. I'm not really into erotica either - I've read a couple of books in that genre and I can tell you now that none of my books will stray into that territory! ;-) I just can't write like that, and I don't feel comfortable doing it, anyway. You make some interesting points, though. :-)

      And I would LOVE to do a guest post with See You At The Show for your blog. :-) Thank you!