O.M.G. If I thought my writing wouldn't go over well with my family, nothing could have prepared me for the type of vitriol she's faced. Rather than congratulating her on her success, her family has been vocally unsupportive. It disgusts me.
The latest round went something like this:
"It takes no talent to write a bunch of sex in a book. Anybody can do that. It takes real talent to write a book without sex."
Idiot say what?
Now, if I'd heard this randomly, I would have just had a good laugh about people who don't know any better and moved on. But the author who had to deal with this is a friend, and I am pissed. Without a direction to point my ire though, we're just going to spend today discussing the comments. (And I'm going to do my best to stay civil about it considering the people who read and respond to this blog are unlikely to deserve my anger.)
Let's start with the last statement: "It takes real talent to write a book without sex." I've read a lot of books in my time. Many have sex, many more have sexual tension, and many have no hint of sex at all. IT FUCKING TOOK TALENT TO WRITE ANY OF THEM.
Sorry for (virtually) shouting, I hope you understand why that needs to be screamed from rooftops. The physical act of writing is easy. People learn how to put pen or pencil to paper in elementary school. Writing stories is not easy. It takes talent and hard work, especially if you're talking about something good enough for an agent or editor to say "Yes, I want this."
Now, within the realm of everything that gets published, there are stories that people don't like. Some have sex, some don't. But the same book I can't stand someone else will love. There are best sellers that I could barely make it through because I thought the writing was atrocious or the characters ridiculous. Obviously a lot of other people disagree. Those books? Some have sex, some don't.
So let's look at the first part of what she said: "It takes no talent to write a bunch of sex in a book."
I like writing sex. It's fun for me. Then again, I like writing fight scenes too. I like action more than I like musing. But neither sex nor action scenes are easy for me to write. And a poorly written one can destroy an entire book for me.
You see, sex scenes aren't just about mechanics. Putting tab A into slot B isn't enough no matter how vividly you describe it. You're still just putting a tab into a slot. A good sex scene involves choreography, much like a fight scene. It needs to have more action than just the insertion. But even that isn't enough. Great action is only going to get you so far. For a sex scene to really shine, it also needs emotion. People have thoughts and feelings when they're having sex, often more heightened than at other times. If you don't include that aspect, your sex scene will fall short of what it could be.
Plus, sex scenes aren't just about the act, they're about the characters and the story. I'll use the opening of "Of Course I Try" as an example. Yes, Max and Jocelyn are getting busy. And I could have just written about where his hands and mouth were. *yawn* That would have been sex with no point. The purpose of that particular scene is for the reader to understand that:
- Max is an incredible lover who drives Jocelyn crazy.
- Jocelyn wants to leave Max
- When she's with him, Jocelyn can't think straight. It isn't just the sex that does this--it's him. Which in turn, gives hints as to how the first two points play into the story.
That is a lot of character information and plot shoved into one emotional roller coaster of a scene. Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but I think it took talent to squeeze all of that into just a few hundred words. And I've read work by other authors that did much more with a single sex scene. They've got mad skills that I can only hope I have someday.
Then there's her last bit: "Anybody can do that." Honestly, my response to stuff like this is always the same: "Then get out there and do it." Dismissing someone else's skill or talent doesn't take much effort. Proving you are just as good? That means putting yourself out there and risking that the world will prove you to be an idiot and a jerk.
Most people can put pen to paper and spew out sentences. That doesn't mean they can all write.