Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | February 1, 2012

Is Sex All People Look For In A Novel?

I came across another comment–which I approved–on my blog page today where one apparently disgruntled reader copied and pasted a sample of a sex scene from The Price of Freedom and then added his two cents in by saying succinctly: “This doesn’t excite me one bit. If this was published, I wouldn’t buy it.”

So it got me wondering: Is sex all people look for when they read a novel? 

See if there are any “juicy bits” buried in the book before actually considering making a purchase?

Because this just reminds me of a book I bought ages ago called Infectress by Tom Cool, which was a book about a covert female spy named Arabella who was after the world’s first thinking supercomputer. I don’t recall much about the book itself (since it’s been in storage for awhile now), but the female lead character in that book would often prostitute herself in order to achieve her said goals with the supercomputer’s head designer (owner?) in order to gain the inside track.

The book was a bit more graphic (and still is by today’s standards), but it’s not what drew me to the book itself. I didn’t really care how much graphic sex was in the novel or if the author was using powerful buzz words to get his reading audience excited or aroused.

What drew me to the the book was the plot and the fact that this covert spy creation of his was wildly imaginative and deadly. She had no morals or values that I could uncover. She would kill at the drop of a hat, or do things that would beguile the human imagination.

The sex aspect of the book was just a minor element in an otherwise fascinating read. And I couldn’t have liked it more than if I just read it for the sex.

The same can be said for The Price of Freedom. Like I’ve said before, I don’t write porn into my books. I write poetry. I take the overall beauty of the moment and do my best to convey the sheer power of the experience.

And since everything I write is like a movie running in my head, choreographing the act of romance and the sex becomes much easier than I anticipated. I can forget focusing on the precise movements or beats of each character during the interlude and just keep things simple and moving.

Give the reader something to draw their focus on with their minds–not just their ample imaginations. 

But the sex in this novel is just a minor element and not a major player at all. What drives the novel primarily is the journey that both Kayla Sorenson and Kenneth Sparks has to undertake in order to achieve their said goals or missions. (That and their tumultuous relationship.)

Getting them to have sex with one another is just my way of rewarding them for a job well done at the end of the day. Not every pit stop they come across is another opportunity for a roll in the hay. In many cases, they just do the normal things that married couples do in their lives: Talk.

Spend time with one another. There is a reason why I space out specific sex scenes in the book: It’s to give the characters much needed breathing room. There’s going to be time for romance, time for sex, time to share passionate love with one another, but other times–especially in the world they live in–these moments are sometimes both rare and fleeting.

These two aren’t going to be having as much personal time in a short bit after they drop by for a visit with Kenneth’s aunt in Jonesboro–because of some unfinished (and very bloody) business happening down in Waco later on.

But if you read a lot of romance novels, you’d notice that most of these books are built around a singular premise of one or both characters being the “unattainable” gal or guy–with the other character trying to chase them down to wed them, bed them, or have sex with them.

And despite the fact that I find this cheesy, predictable, and often times boring, there is always something that is pivotal and daring in these books which keeps the novels moving and interesting. Nobody in these books has the time to introspect the finer points of a relationship–once it comes down to sex. Only because the majority of these novels we read are spent on building up the characters and the reader for one giant cheap thrill after another.

Nothing is sacred.

And neither is the sex. But this is what our minds and personal expectations are geared for because that’s what the author is trying to drive home.

So disappointment is abound when you come across a book that breaks all these rules and boundaries and you’re left thinking: “Whoa! Wait a minute here. This isn’t right.”

The Price of Freedom is such a book. It doesn’t have the same attributes as a regular romance novel, but it also doesn’t have the same tell-tale markers of a sci-fi/fantasy one either.

Things are bound to be different.

But what makes the book worthwhile–in my opinion–are the 40+ characters written into it like a large Shakespearean play. There’s a lot of people who have small and large parts in this novel and they are spread out over the course of the book to engage the reader on a number of levels–each with their own little story to tell.

Which makes things more interesting than boring or bland. As for the sex scenes…? They aren’t you’re standard run-of-the-mill variety. You have passion, you have tension, you have feeling and you have emotion. It may not have the same effect on you as say some guy driving it home into the woman he’s presently engaged in, but that’s not the reason why it’s written in there in the first place.

We can all think and imagine sex to be pretty carnal and pornographic–to the point where it starts sounding pretty damned silly. (And I’ve come across plenty of examples of such.) Or where sex is supposed to be so arousing that it makes our hair stand up on end and our skin to break out into either goose bumps or a good old-fashioned cold sweat.

But if you’ve been following along with the chapters of this book, you’d note a curious lack of empathy or essence of the same sexual element that is commonly found in today’s trashy romance novels.

Because it’s not supposed to be there.

I didn’t want The Price of Freedom or its sex scenes to be just “like” everybody else’s. I wanted it to be different. Special. Something that would give meaning to the character’s lives and ongoing experiences.


If you want another prime example of how different sex scenes play out in a novel, you should start reading Kushiel’s Dart (of the Kushiel’s Legacy series) by Jacqueline Carey. Hers also focuses on the characters and the essence of sex. Not just the acts themselves, or how each is intertwined throughout the story.

Carey manages to pull off a wonderful display of prowess when it comes to the act of sex itself by showcasing to the reader how her main heroine uses her talents to charm and bewitch her paying patrons in the sheer ecstasy of the moment. Not just the sex aspect. But the moment.

Simply by using the emotions and the feelings of each of her characters to play things out. And it comes out all beautiful and breath-taking in the end because the sex becomes much more than just something primal and easy to get into on a simple level. Carey really showcases what it means to be this person of her heroine’s coveted stature, and how her skills and talents makes everything possible through the ample use of dance and choreography.

What I’m doing in my book is no different. 

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Responses

  1. How old are you? Your reading comprehension is terrible. Sex, porn or whatever you call it is not what I was referring to. Y O U C A N N O T W R I T E V E R Y W E L L A T A L L ! Therefore, you should not include the sex in poetry as you call it. If that is how you think a sensual scene goes, or if that is based on your own sex life or fantasy, then you are either; 13 years old, a virgin, or just plan retarded. Any thing else you have written for the book went right down the crapper by including that awful written chapter. Have people really told you it was good? Did they have a straight face? I was willing to give you some slack till I started reading through this blog of yours. Now I know why you have been rejected so many times and why. No one has ever told you the truth if they say you are a good writer. They pity you and are trying to make you feel better, which is a big mistake. You have taken it upon yourself to think you are so creative and wonderful. Your not because you are a legend in your mind only. But thanks for the comedy! This is so worth sharing with the writing community everywhere as a lesson. And a lot of laughs. Sorry dude, finish jr high school and maybe try again. Also, get laid and read some real adult books. Maybe then you will get an understanding, I doubt it, but who knows, dogs can be taught, maybe you can!

  2. You said: The same can be said for The Price of Freedom. Like I’ve said before, I don’t write porn into my books. I write poetry. I take the overall beauty of the moment and do my best to convey the sheer power of the experience.

    Right there you nailed what your problem is. Nothing you said about your writing is like that. There is no poetry, no beauty. Nothing. The sentence structure is horrible, the words you choose to use to describe the scene’s and such are horrible. There is no poetry or beauty. No, it doesn’t have to be porn, but if you want the reader to at least enjoy the moments the characters are having, then do better than what you have written. Anyone who disagree’s with you is the enemy right? You really do have some serious problems. Self – delusion being first and formost. All you want is people who agree with you, offer no insight or honest critique. You want people to boost your inflated ego so you feel good about yourself. When, it’s pretty obvious by your blog , you have some serious self hate and self pity problems. I would say seek help, but I doubt you want to help yourself. You like being exactly what you are, an obnoxious self-pitying, attention whore who guilt’s people into giving him attention. You know in your own head you will never achieve anything. You probably could have been published if you had taken the time to listen to what people said that where trying to give you helpful advice, or at the very least dumped your ego. You have nothing to be egotistical about. Well, except self pity and failure to be a decent person. I would be willing to bet you are doing the same thing you have for years, and your going to be doing the same thing , in the same position now, and 1o years from now. You will never go forward until you learn humility and accept the fact that sometimes writers can suck and need un-biased advice and help. Pull your head out of your ass man. No one likes a egotistical jerk. They woud certainly never buy a book from him. Oh and all the people who supposedly praise your writing? Why don’t you find out if they actually read it. Then you will know if they are bullshiting you just so you will shut up, which obviously that doesn’t shut you up. Ask them some hard questions. Or are you afraid to know? Can’t face the truth?


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