Something has been on my mind ever since Comicon 2016. Some of you I met at the event and you were kind enough to give Paragon a try. Very grateful for that, by the way. A very common question that was presented to me while I was there, however, was “does it contain sex?” This question was prompted by women, men, and mothers looking at the book as their children had expressed interest.
Now, my response to this was always “of course not!” It’s a superhero novel, for crying out loud; there’s violence, even some language, but no gratuitous, adult, X-Rated content. Why would there be? Each time I had to say this I became more and more flustered by the notion that someone might think it would. I was even starting to get really ticked off! Especially when someone asked and then, because I said “no”, decided NOT to buy the book. I figured, a superhero novel should be free of something like that, right?
Oh how wrong I was. It turns out, novels in general, these days, are simply flush with adult content. In fact, I recently went to a Barnes & Noble to find a new read. I went to the sci-fi/fantasy section and grabbed a random book, and flipped to a random page to see if what was going on would interest me (this is how I always used to pick out books. Worked pretty well for me.) Lo and behold, I happened to open the page to an incredibly graphic and descriptive sex montage. This was a novel about space ships and sword-wielding sorcerors and there was a 4-page penthouse letter that would’ve made a pornstar blush. This happened with the next 4 books I picked up. Maybe I just have bad luck.
One way or another, it seems to me that novels in general are starting to make graphic sex a staple of their content. I do not, for the life of me understand this. It’s even more frustrating when I join an author’s group so that I can be around other writers, only to find out most of them are writing erotica/fan-fics/fan-fic-erotica.
I, personally, have several problems with this. For one: you don’t need sex to make a good story. A romance can add character progression, flavor, and important dialect to the characters. Them having sex can alter the relationship drastically, or give the reader a better idea of what they are as a couple. But it does not NEED to be described with such vivid and horrific detail! Telling me “they went to bed that night, with no intent to sleep” allows for better progression through the story than describing to me who is throbbing inside of who. Yegh.
Secondly, a romance is not even required at all for a story. You can have a great story, fantastically deep characters, and a riveting journey without a love interest. Or, you can have a love interest, but not make it a focal point for the story. Look at the legendary “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. There’s only one “love triangle” and it’s between Eowyn, Aragorn, and Arwen, and I don’t entirely think you could even call it a full love triangle. Eowyn is infatuated with Aragorn who shows absolutely no interest in her and only has eyes for Arwen and at the end they’re married. At the end. Only at the end of the story is the romance fleshed out. They have a few brief moments of romance, but it is for the sake of the character and the story and it isn’t shoved in there nonsensically.
I digress. It really just annoys me when I’m reading a good story and all of a sudden I have to skip ahead a few pages to avoid reading porn. What’s worse is when there’s important dialogue I miss during said porn that comes up later in the story. Obviously if you’re writing a romance novel, there has to BE romance, but I can’t help but wonder how many romance novels are successful without gratuitous sex? Never read a romance novel, myself, but from what some friends have told me they’re pretty much all full of penthouse letters.
Bottom line, I still refuse to be one of these writers. If it means I’ll never have my own hour-episode Netflix show, so be it. If it means I’ll never sell a million copies, so be it. I’d rather write for fun than be a millionaire who only made if big because he’s really good at describing sex organs and thrusting hip motions. Perhaps sometime I’ll try my hand at writing a romance and see if a good one can be written without sex. Perhaps I’ll make it one of my short-stories? Who knows, and by the way if you like sex in your reading, it’s a free country. I am, by no means, trying to bash on your interests. I just don’t feel it is a necessary, or even a warranted, part of a novel (or a TV-show for that matter) and I wish authors would rely less on it.
I feel like Paragon had a decent romance in it. People certainly seemed to enjoy the relationship between Zeke and Kira and were traumatized/angry when I… Well, I’ll avoid the spoilers for those who haven’t read the book. I wanted him to have a romance, someone important to him, because of who I wrote him to be. I tried not to make it a focal point of the story, but still prevalent in the dialogue, if that makes any sense.
This is something that I’ve been bothered by since Comicon, as I said, and I needed to finally get it off my chest. Do you like sex in your novels? Do you prefer them without? What did you think of the romance in Paragon?