Gratuitous Sex – Quantum Entanglement – Jack White.
Think those are just random words I used to lure you in? Wrong! I’m going to discuss all of them. And they will all be relevant (I hope).
Let’s start with the gratuitous sex bit. My novel, Infamous, just hit the e-shelves, and the gratuitous sex issue has been on my mind recently. Don’t get me wrong – I’m an avid romance reader as well as writer. I like hot sex as much as the next person. There’s nothing I like better in a good read, especially a romance, than a steamy sexy scene.
Infamous was, I thought, a rather sweet romance. Very family oriented. With, you know, a few steamy sexy scenes. In fact, just the right amount of sex (so I thought) to express the relationship that existed between my characters, Morgan and Jessica.
Imagine my surprise when I found out Infamous had been picked up for Crimson Romance’s “spicy” line. Spicy! Wow. Now, I should tell you, I didn’t really have a problem with this. I did write the steamy sex, after all. I read widely – including that new-fangled erotica on occasion. I don’t have a problem with sex scenes or erotica. But there is one thing I do have a problem with.
I’ll give you the scenario:
I’ve downloaded Hot New Romance Novel by Bestselling Author to my kindle. I’m enjoying it quite well when I get to this part (situation wildly altered to protect the guilty):
The protags, two physicists, are walking up a hill one afternoon discussing string theory as it relates to quantum entanglement and arguing over whether they should even take a second glance at loop quantum gravity. This is a Big Deal in the plot because their research grant is at stake. It’s an animated discussion. Then — Suddenly — They are having sex!
Tab A goes into Slot B and. . . . .WHOA!
Okay, back up. I was skimming a bit, because the math behind string theory is a bit over my head, so I obviously missed something. Except I didn’t. There’s no emotional lead-in to explain why these two people are suddenly having monkey sex. None. Then they get done and continue with the physics discussion.
Okay, that was the quantum entanglement bit. I’ll admit I cheated a little. It might not have been completely relevant.
Now here’s the thing. This is not a love scene. This is not even erotica. This is nothing. This is sex-for-the-sake-of-a-sex scene. I am not amused. I lose a bit of respect for Bestselling Author.
Why did all this become relevant to my “sweet” romance (with the steamy sex scenes)?
Well, apparently “sweet-with-steamy” wasn’t quite “spicy”. My editor asked me to add two sex scenes to maintain a heat level appropriate to the line. I agree (hey, I want the sale) and I am (I tell myself) a professional.
I sit down to make revisions, and the first scene goes off without a hitch. It’s actually just an expansion of a scene that was already in the book. I have the sneaking suspicion that I was just lazy not to have writen it in the first place. Onward to Scene Two.
And here’s where Artistic Integrity rears it’s head (who knew I had such a thing). I don’t want to write Scene Two. You see, I’ve made a Big Deal in the place where Scene Two is supposed to go about Jessica and Morgan not having sex. It is toward the end of the book and they are not in a good place. They are barely speaking. They are not having sex.
But I’m a professional.
I spend several days kicking around different ideas for Scene Two (which I now refer to in my head as “Gratuitous Sex Scene”). I begin to have empathy for Bestselling Author and her physicists. I complain to my husband (the non-romance writer) who is spectacularly unsympathetic and says, “I don’t see the problem. We have fights. Sometimes we have sex in the middle. It happens.” Except in writing romance. In romance, sex means something. Otherwise, it is the romance equivalent of Chekhov’s gun never being fired.
Enter my love affair with Jack White.
Jack’s White’s “Love Interruption” more specifically (although, yes, I was already crushing on Jack before that). Here are the lyrics that did it for me:
I want love
To roll me over slowly
stick a knife inside me,
and twist it all around.
Holy cow! That’s devastating. That’s beautiful. And. . . it hit me. . . that’s what Jessica and Morgan needed if Gratuitous Sex Scene was going to work.
So I wrote it. Or I tried. I honestly can’t judge my own work. But I did try.
In the end, I think (I hope) it made the story stronger.
Thank you Jennifer Lawler (Not-So-Evil Editor) and Jack White (rock god).
So here are my questions for you – when is the sex gratuitous? Always? Never? Some gray area in between? Have you experienced the Quantum Entanglement situation in a novel you’ve read?
If you’ve been kind enough to read Infamous, I’d love your feedback on how I handled the love scenes between Jessica and Morgan.
You can read the first chapter free on my website. I warn you, there may be gratuitous sex. You can come back here and flame me if I broke my own rules!
Irene Preston lives in the hill country outside Austin, Texas. Her “spicy-sweet” novel Infamous is currently available at most ebook retailers.
What happens when a Hollywood socialite falls for a conservative soccer dad?
Everyone knows Jessica Sinclair. She’s that girl on the cover of all the tabloids. As a Hollywood insider, Jessica has spent her life partying with A-list celebrities, shopping on Rodeo Drive, and living through scandal after scandal. When her estranged husband offers her a second chance at the ‘All American’ lifestyle she can’t pass up a shot at real happiness. Back in suburbia, Jessica spends her nights in sexy role-play hoping Morgan will overlook her deficiencies as a homemaker. She spends her days attending P.T.A. meetings, burning cookies, and asking herself “What would June Cleaver do?” More to the point, what will Morgan do when she winds up back in the tabloids–with his teenage daughter right next to her?
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