The Crusie Theory of Sex Scenes

Sex scenes are not fun to write.  (Well, for me, they’re not; Krissie loves writing them.)  And since I’ve struggled with them for over twenty years, I now have Theories, which I am about to inflict on you, mainly because I’m struggling with the sex scenes in Nita now.  

So here’s what I think about sex in fiction:

  1. A sex scene must move the plot, not just the earth.
    A sex scene is first a scene which means it must have structure: conflict that rises to a climax (yes, I know) that throws the story into the next scene.  The fact that there’s sex in the scene is content, and content alone is not enough to justify including a scene in a story.
  2. A sex scene must arc character.
    A sex scene should have an impact on character.  If the characters are the same people they were before the sex scene, then the story doesn’t  need the sex scene.   But since most people who are having sex for the first time are coming into the scene with different expectations, hang-ups, hopes, and fears, you can pretty much bet that any realistic sex scene is going to change those characters, at least in their attitudes and expectations toward each other.  Which is why I write sex scenes: it’s a cheat not to do if it changes something about the characters, and the first time they have sex, it always changes things.
  3. Sex scenes are about emotions and physical feelings.
    They are not about what the characters are actually doing (unless you’re writing erotica; then have at it). Chances are that anybody who is reading your sex scene has either had sex or seen it on cable TV.  Therefore writing Ikea scenes (“Put tab A into slot B, use enclosed screw and wingnut . . .”) is ineffective because that’s not where the rush is.  The rush is in all those emotions clashing together, the physical sensation that results from the physical action.  The rush is in the characters and what they’re feeling,  not in the specific description of the physical action.
  4. Sex scenes are most effective when they give readers room to use their imagination.
    I have heard that readers often skip sex scenes in books because nothing is happening except Ikea.  So how do you keep people reading?  Well first, see points one through three here; they make the sex scene integral to the story and therefore necessary reading.  But the fourth point may be the most important: Sexy is in the brain of the beholder.  Just as monsters that are fully described in detail are the least frightening, so sex scenes that are fully described in detail are the least compelling because they’re the most distant from the reader’s experience.  (Think of the last time you had sex and thought, Penis, let alone velvet-covered manhood.)  If you give the reader the white space in the text to write in her own preferences and fantasies, she’s going to think that’s the hottest sex ever put on the page. 
  5. Sex scenes are most effective when the characters are vulnerable.
    Two beautiful people who fall into each other’s arms and have perfect sex are boring.  Two flawed people who enter into a sexual relationship with reservations that have been overwhelmed by lust and who then have flawed but interesting sex are fun to read because (a) there’s conflict there, (b) unexpected things happen, and (c) we worry about them.  And that means that the characters aren’t fabulously beautiful and completely in control.  Think Irene Adler purring at Sherlock that smart is the new sexy; he’s completely taken aback and even though he’s a genius, he falls into her trap and sputters out the answer to her question.  Think Indiana Jones in his glasses in the classroom in Raiders; he’s stunned into silence watching a student blink I love you.  Think how much hotter Clark Kent is than Superman because he’s flustered around Lois.  Yes, all those men are played by very attractive actors, but they’re also in roles that aren’t the stereotypical Hot Guy Named Rod.  This is one of the reasons why I like to write The Screwball Best Friend instead of the Beautiful Rom Com Heroine: the best friend is vulnerable.  I think the first Thor movie would have been vastly improved if Thor had fallen for Darcy instead of Jane.  (It’s also the reason I like the Oh-Hell-Not-You romance, but that’s a different essay.)

So that’s what I think about sex scenes.  Now here’s what’s happening with Nita.

Nick, as we all know, is dead.  Nita is not, but since Nick’s body isn’t real, she’s pretty much ruled out a physical relationship from the beginning, especially since she’s finding out that she’s not completely human and that tends to occupy her thoughts.  Meanwhile, Nick is being poisoned with Lazarus Bell which is making him a paradox: a dead guy with a live body.  Because of these things, they go through some hefty emotional bonding in the first two acts of the book, so there comes a point when they hit the sheets.  

Sex Scene 1, Act 2: Nita is fine with casual sex, Nick is just starting to remember it.  The sex is okay but they’re both disconnected; Nita’s dealing with the underlying knowledge that Nick is both dead and about to become the Devil, and Nick’s mind is melting out his ears because he’s remembering sex while he’s doing it.  There’s some fairly heavy mental adjustment going on afterward, not to mention the necrophilia jokes (Hello, Keres).  They’re not upset with each other, they’re mostly dealing with the impact side-by-side, not together.

Sex Scene 2, Act 3: The people poisoning Nick decide it’s taking too long and up the dosage and he forgets who he is and thinks he’s back in fifteenth century.  Trouble ensues as he works his way up to the twentieth century (he doesn’t get to the twenty-first until the last act), and Nita tries to help while keeping him from killing anybody or getting sucked back to Hell in his vulnerable state, while dealing with all hell breaking loose on her island and new revelations about her own heritage.  Nick’s not a completely different guy, she can still see the basic Nick in there, but he doesn’t remember her or the key aspects of his situation.  So when they sleep with each other this time, it’s like another first time with a lot more baggage.  (One of the reasons I wanted this in here is that it’s a good indication of mature love–“I need you because I love you,” not “I love you because I need you.”)

Love Scene, Act 4: I don’t know if this is going to be a sex scene or not, I’m pretty sure it’s not because by Act 4 things are moving so fast that they really don’t have time for anything horizontal, but there has to be a third beat where all the people Nick has been coalesce into one permanent Nick and where all the people Nita has thought she was coalesce into one Nita, and they recognize that no matter who they’ve thought they were, they still loved and wanted each other (it’s that mature love thing).  

Which brings me to:

6. In a romance novel, the sex scene is there to arc the relationship.  If it doesn’t at least foreshadow that the characters are on an irrevocable path to mature love, then it’s not selling the major point of a romance novel, the most important clause in the contract with the reader: These people are going to love each other forever.

And now I must get back to work.  Sex scenes.  Bleah.  Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, or how right I am, or your theory of sex scenes.  Like I could stop you.

65 thoughts on “The Crusie Theory of Sex Scenes

  1. Jenny, you are so right, I am one of the people who skip the long (pages of ) boring technical sex scenes, I like your ikea description, if there is any dialogue to further the plot too bad. Some authors have a “progressive” I personally think it is too pad out the book and that they have “insert here”in various chapters. I still read the books because I enjoy the plot. My favorites are like you leave it to the imagination. I thought I was peculiar until I read the above. Thank you

    8+

  2. I agree with you. I almost always skip sex scenes nowadays. I used to read them, and then I wrote some, which was fun at first, but after a while it was like having a car chase in every book. So now I write the lead up to sex, which has lots of emotional clout, but rarely the play-by-play. Lately, my characters are in love by the time they have sex, so the intimate details seem quite private. I prefer to leave them up to the reader’s imagination, and mine as well.

    5+

  3. Thank you, Jenny. I follow your posts partly because you write them, and quite simply, I’m hooked; I’ll read anything you write. But mostly it’s because when you write posts like this one or the first one on Sense-8, I start to understand why a particular book or show either brings me back for more (in one case, multiple reads per year – Sunshine by Robin McKinley) or leaves me flat, sometimes not even finishing the book. I love your label – Ikea sex. It’s as unsatisfying to read about as it is to participate in.

    So again, thank you.

    2+

  4. Nailed all.

    Vulnerability matters a lot to me. If both characters are just two capable people with everything going for them, then there’s very little three-dimensionality to them.

    A sex scene suggests an attempt at trust in situations often fraught with potential for pain.

    3+

  5. I never thought “velvet-covered manhood” in my moments. Never! :))
    I’m one of those who habitually skip sex scenes in romances. They bore me because they’re mostly what you said: IKEA sex, the same from book to book, regardless of the author or genre. But I think I’ll read your sex scenes in this book.
    Gosh, I can’t wait to read this book.

    4+

  6. SEP happened to mention this in one of our RWA strolls (i.e. While I was definitely NOT stalking her). Neither of us professed to liking writing the damned things either. Mind you, I still do, but I do try to hang the scene on emotions rather than body parts.

    2+

  7. Friend of mine read fantasy adventurer type books, with lots of saving of villages, damsels in distress, dragons etc

    he said they always ended with “and then they made love” The End

    Some writers just can’t

    2+

  8. So now I’m wondering how those vulnerable moments happen without sex. Does it have to be something physically intense – like they are nearly killed while mountain climbing but save each other? Or, are there other quieter ways to make those character arcs happen? For the life of me, I can’t think of one at the moment. But lots of stories happen without either mountain climbing or sex, so there must be ways.

    At the moment I want nothing to do with sex, real or written, so I’m avoiding it. And I’ve written enough that I probably can manage to get the arc without it, but it’s that thing where someone says don’t think about the black cat, and that stupid black cat keeps showing up in your thoughts. (Unless you concentrate hard on the pink ice cream and even then the cat can end up holding the cone if you aren’t careful.) Should I be writing sex scenes even though I don’t want to? Hmmph.

    And this may be why I’m ghost writing trash instead of working on books my name gets attached to. Maybe.

    5+

    1. Have a parent show up if you don’t want to have sex scenes. I’ve found you want some vulnerability, the person who changed your diapers usually exposes it.

      Or a professional weakness or worry that gets exposed.

      The physical is easier but the emotional usually carries more weight.

      0

    2. Kate, I was watching a TV show episode recently that was focused on arcing the romance subplot between two supporting characters (who are far more interesting than the beautiful, perfect, main characters, but that’s beside the point).

      They were at dinner with the girl’s older brother, and he started mocking her about their shared past. The guy sticks up for her and kicks the brother out of his apartment (he’s been staying there). The brother retaliates by stealing the guy’s electronics then moving into the girl’s house, and she stands up to him for the first time, gets the guy’s stuff back and kicks him out. At the end of the episode the couple have sex, but it’s off screen because the impactful stuff was all in the buildup.

      So I think moments of emotional intensity that force character growth (he avoids conflict up to this point, she’s always let her big brother put her down before now) can form that kind of bond, not just physical intimacy or danger. Taking care of each other, like Cal and Min at their respective family dinners.

      I don’t know if that helps at all, but it was what came to mind reading your comment.

      5+

  9. Tilda and Davy, when they’re gleefully conning each other and turning each other on once all the secrets are out in the open, is still one of the hottest sex scenes. I love that your characters are quite capable of having disappointing sex, and that the hottest stuff comes out of knowing each other and seeing each other for all that they are.

    Laurell K Hamilton lost me because she shelved story in favour of Ikea sex (I swear she has a Cluedo check list – ok, heroine did it with two werewolves and a vampire on the bathroom sink, now she’s going to do it with three vampires, a water god and a goat in the supermarket) and it’s so boring!! Jacqueline Carey holds me because no matter how kinky it gets (one of her main characters is a submissive courtesan), it’s all about story and character growth.

    9+

    1. Wait, so I’m not crazy about Hamilton, right?! I never got into Anita Blake, but did like the Merry Gentry series–well, like the first three, though I slogged through all of them. In the first few books, the sex scenes moved the plot along, didn’t they? And then, it seemed like they were there just to be there. No one I know reads these, so I never had a chance to discuss them with anyone!

      3+

      1. That’s what really annoys me about Hamilton, though. Both series started out pretty good. The Merry Gentry books in particular had an interesting premise and I enjoyed them enough so that I persisted with both series past the point where Hamilton literally lost the plot. The sex started out relevant, but after a while it felt as though she was so focused on upping the sex ante that everything else disappeared. If she’d been plotless and boring from the beginning, I wouldn’t have invested in her characters, and I wouldn’t have felt so betrayed when the good stuff went away to make room for the bad sex.

        4+

        1. For me, sometimes the pressure from readers to put sex in the book clouds my own judgment. Of course, there is also pressure from readers to leave the sex out. At some point someone labeled my work “Cozy Mystery” – it wasn’t me – and ever since then, I get letters pointing out that cozies don’t have sex. Some people are very irate, not that I blame them.

          Anyway, back to my original point, there’s this kind of pressure to include the sex even when it’s not really forwarding the plot or character arc, just to please the readers who like that kind of thing. But after reading this thread I think I’ll stick to the lead-up and the moments after, at least until I’m interested in writing sex again.

          2+

          1. I had the problem of sex being required when I wrote short historical novellas for Harlequin. Fortunately, at the time I hadn’t written many sex scenes, so it was sort of fun. I always made it move the character arc forward (thanks to the Crusie guidelines), but I must say it felt sort of fake to always make it good sex. As for trying to describe an orgasm (rolls eyes)…

            1+

          2. I thought that was why they were getting “cozy” in the first place?

            Put it in, leave it out. I read the sex scenes the first time in a book and if they work for me, I read them every time. I honestly have more of a problem with sex scenes in historicals than I do in mysteries since while, yes, everyone was having sex, women got pregnant and died a lot, got driven from their houses or sent to a convent (depending on the period) and most women were aware of the consequences of having sex with a man you weren’t married to or who wasn’t the king/local lord etc who didn’t require your consent.

            There’s a whole slew of historicals of the Angelique school where the heroine sleeps her way across a couple of continents and never gets pregnant – never even gets a scare. I was in high school in the 1970s – nobody had that kind of luck without birth control.

            4+

    2. Gilda and Davy and cons. Sophie and Phin and throwing alarm clocks. Min and Cal and donuts. Agnes and Shane and anger/porches. All awesome.

      I generally skip sex scenes too, but I love a good one. They are rare in general but the norm in a Crusie book.

      6+

  10. I will read a book over again not because of the sex scene but because of the story and characters. By the way Wuthering Heights is on PBS tonight with Tom Hardy I hope there isn’t a lot of PBS chatter.

    0

  11. I’m a connoiseur of sex scenes. But I’m choosy about who I read. Good writers generally write good sex scenes, I think. I do admit that Hamilton’s sex scenes make me think more about Laurell Hamilton than about her characters. I think this stuff she writes about with the multiple hubbies and random pickups is her world. What turns her on. Just one character, Ms Anita, going on book after book, increasing her handsome harem. I am not sure what this means in terms of (Anita’s) character development. She appears to be developing as Empress of the Male World, but is so busy that females barely blip on her radar, except when they are bitchy (!) Well, I will agree that Crusie rules! Sisterhood and Cool Guy! What could make more sense! Want to run for president, Ms Crusie?

    1+

      1. Not exactly. Anyone can win the Presidency.

        I think what’s being proven is it’s not that easy to actually be President.

        3+

  12. I mostly skip them, although I make sure to skim the pages looking for quotation marks just in case there’s dialogue. Then I read the dialogue and move on. I try to read the first sex scene in any romance novel, because I agree that’s the one that really matters. If it’s all technical then I give up on it, but since it’s such an important step in arcing the romance, I give it a shot.

    1+

  13. I’m one who usually skips the sex scenes, because in my experience, they feel inauthentic — more like they reflect the author’s attempts to make heroines do what modern women are expected to be doing than like the give me insights into the arc of a relationship. Most of the language puts me off, whether the overblown stuff (velvet manhood yadda yadda) or just the mechanics of undressing and positioning or anything that forces my imagination into following a script. I just want to know about the internal feelings that drive the two people’s acceptance and affection for one another.

    Somehow, I’ve always found that confusing scene in Pride and Prejudice to be the sexiest scene I can think of in literature — where the two of them are walking, not knowing quite what to say to one another or how they’re actually feeling but just so happy that the gap between them has been bridged.

    And sexiest Crusie scene I can think of is in Bradley, where Lucy looks at Zack and all she can think of is “you brought me a dog!” because that to me is where everything in their relationship changed.

    Not that this helps you at all with writing a sex scene between a dead Renaissance guy and a spooky Hades-American half breed, but there it is.

    6+

      1. For me, it is in Agnes and the Hitman, where Agnes says that her court-appointed psychiatrist says she needs to funnel her anger into productive activities which leads to her and Shane having sex. For some reason, I just love that.

        11+

        1. Yeah, that scene in Agnes is one of the few longer and somewhat more detailed sexscenes that I actually enjoy re-reading.

          Like most everyone above, I will tend to skim or skip the sex stuff (the former when I read a book for the first time, in the hopes that there might be something unexpected, although there seldom is, and the latter when I am re-reading a fave but the sexscene could have been more “fade to black” than IKEA).

          1+

      2. Charlie All Night …

        Allie: I thought we were a one night stand.
        Charlie: We are … one night at a time.

        🙂

        2+

  14. I think from the beginnings of the novel itself, sex scenes have mostly been a problem in publishing. It could get your book banned or burned, so it wasn’t allowed. (Of course, there was the subset of novels — right from the beginning — that were sex act after sex act after sex act, and some of those managed to find a niche and survive to our century. But that’s probably a different discussion.)

    Generally, in sex scenes, the arcing seems to happen either just before or just after actual, um, IKEA construction. You rarely hear stories about someone going, “Oooh, ahh, baby, you fill the hole left in my life when I flunked out of Stanford. Yeah, give it to me!” Or whatever vulnerability our main character is revealing.

    Although, I will say there is a literary moment that sticks with me. It’s not romance; in fact, it’s from a book called The Pornographers. This guy arranges sex parties, and he tricks young women into having sex with strange men. He notices one woman who in the throes of the act cries, “Marry me! Marry me!” I won’t go into the sordid details, but it’s sordid, and terribly poignant. The man she’s doing is not going to marry her, and what’s more, she doesn’t really want him to. Her vulnerability is wanting to be a good girl who follows societal norms. I can’t remember if this is a turning point that makes the anti-hero decide to be a better person and not prey on people (probably not — I can’t remember if he reformed or not). But out of all my reading, this is really the only moment in-the-act that has actually stuck with me.

    So, I’m saying it’s OK for most stories to shut the bedroom doors (or the kitchen doors or the dining room curtains) at some point.

    It sounds like for Nick and Nita, though, some of the actual mechanics of the sex act reveal their real selves and move the story forward in a way that can’t be accomplished by info-dumping.

    0

  15. Hmmm, what’s the old saying “I know it when I see it.” 😉

    I once wrote a sex scene that was only four sentences long and I was really proud of it. It was essentially – Scene question asked. Scene question answered. The reader got to fill in the rest.

    I think the most important things are vulnerability (so it matters to the characters and the reader) and keeping the reactions true to the characters (so the reader believes it fully and it feels more personal and less Ikea). Otherwise you could just flip through late night tv. Personally, I love the build up in the story towards something that feels inevitable (because of the attraction) but fraught with emotional danger (because of the vulnerability). That sense of momentum (almost like foreplay;-)) can be more exciting the actual sex scenes.

    I personally like a little bit of funny, revealing, sexy, or quirky dialogue thrown in there. Cruisie books are great for that. 😉

    I remember reading another author’s advice for writing sex scenes and she said she thought talking during sex scenes was silly and cheesy. I mean, it can be if it’s not done well, sure. I don’t want a whole sonnet. But I do think brains are sexy and funny is sexy. It’s hard to show those things with just thrusting.

    I think a little well written dialogue can also make it feel more specific to the characters and less generic “sex scene version 27.”

    2+

  16. One of the things I love about your books is that the characters can have bad sex. Faking It springs to mind but there are others. The first time I read Faking It I was blown away by the fact that these characters are deeply flawed and bad bad sex for quite a while. Loved it!

    7+

  17. I just contracted the 3rd English Village book, and the heroine is a paraplegic. It was a tough call, put a sex scene on the page, or leave the door closed. I wrestled with her privacy over reader expectation. I’d gone to great lengths to show the reader her strengths, how she had accepted her situation, and how she considered hersel “abled.”
    I finally did write the scene, but foreshadowed it with her fears, angst, discussion with therapist, and finally with the hero. There was more discussion, understanding, later, but from then on the door was closed. Haven’t started edits yet. Will see what my editor thinks.

    3+

    1. My daughter uses a walker in the house and a wheelchair outside. One physical therapist mentioned that she could benefit from strong orgasms. It got me thinking.

      I wrote a story with a handsome sexy male lead who uses a wheelchair. (There is a condition in which a trauma can cause a major leg muscle to be permanently weakened. So he had weak legs but was a smart, active professional.)

      Info abounds on the internet about sex when one partner is physically disabled. Fortunately for me (I don’t like writing or reading sex scenes that are like operating manuals), lots of pillows (wedge and any other shape) are involved. I focused on playing with the pillows (the heroine was learning to let go of her need to be in control of herself, so the character arc was satisfied).

      1+

      1. Did you ever watch Coming Home with Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern & Jon Voight? My strongest memory of the movie is the two different sex scenes with the able bodied and the disabled men.

        0

  18. Jenny, I’ve been a fan of yours for an age, and you are so right. If a sex scene doesn’t have an effect on the characters and it doesn’t come from somewhere or take the plot somewhere, it’s not worth writing. I’m glad to see this theory list- it really does make sense.

    0

    1. This certainly explains why I’ve glazed over reading so many sex scenes.

      Phin and Sophie and the “Hi, I’m Phin Tucker and I’m inside you”/alarm clock smashing will always be memorable to me.

      1+

  19. The only book I have read recently that had more than a Jayne Anne Krentz amount of sex in it was “Rational Arrangement”. The sexual relationships were very germane to the story and I read it all. In just looking back on it, as the characters’ relationships stablized, the description of the sex lessened. By then I could have done without it altogether, but I didn’t find it unduly annoying. These days, mostly I skim the sex scenes… but then, I also skim overly long descriptions of the landscape, so it’s not sex per se, but things that aren’t moving things along (everything I type now sounds like an innuendo – I won’t tell you how many I deleted)

    1+

  20. Last night I reread “Anyone But You.” It’s not “Bet Me” or “Faking It,” so I believe publishing constraint left several scenes unwritten and dynamics unexplored. But the arc of the main relationship was just dandy, and so was the sex. I re-reread THOSE scenes this afternoon, and, yep, on all the levels on which I wanted them to work, they did. Those two are going to last together.

    0

  21. Totally the wrong place for this note, but too brain dead to find the right post–watching Good Eats on Hulu, the “Feeling Punchy” episode–after punch, he takes on the hot toddy. Of course I thought of Nita.

    1+

  22. I wasn’t going to comment, but there are a lot of comments here that might make a writer think sex scenes aren’t worth the bother. But I like them, and I can’t be alone here? OK, not Ikea, but if I think about, for instance, Welcome to Temptation, it wouldn’t have been the same book at all without the sex scenes. Or as another example, in Crazy for You when she takes him back in the school gym – if you read these books without the sex scenes, you’re missing really pivotal moments.

    8+

    1. I think there are so many sex scenes in novels and movies that are there because the writer thought, “I need a sex scene here, people will expect it” instead of “I have to have this next scene to tell the story, and it has sex in it.” That’s why one of my rules has always been “Never write sex scenes.” Write the scenes your story needs; sometimes those scenes have sex in them.”

      3+

    2. I think a lot of sex scenes fail because they aren’t story, but they aren’t porn, either. Or if they are porn, sometimes I feel like I wasn’t set up properly for it. “Hey, what’s this hot scene doing in the middle of my cozy story?”

      No, I take that back. I’ve never felt like that, I only imagine feeling like that under certain circumstances. In my experience, if someone has plunked down a hot scene that “doesn’t go”, they have probably committed other writing errors as well.

      Jenny does necessary sex scenes, and I have to admit, Bet Me is probably the first place I found several feel-good buttons combined efficiently in the sex scene. The whole Krispy Kreme thing still blows me away. Our issues with control (there was bondage in that scene as well as temptation in the form of a doughnut), the very real feel-good endorphins that come from eating/visualizing sugar and fat, vicarious sex, the fun of experiencing (as voyeurs, yet!) true love, and the joy of a good fairy tale coming to a happy ending. I’m probably missing some levels there, as well.

      The thing is, that particular sex scene reinforces so many themes in the book, and it ties things up in an extremely satisfactory fashion. (Whoops, no pun intended, but now that it’s there, let it stand.) Truly a gift of literature that keeps on giving.

      2+

    3. I generally like them, but I think that’s because if I wouldn’t like them I put down the book before I get to the sex. One author I love is Victoria Dahl – whatever issues and hopes and fears are in the sex scene are threaded throughout the book so well that the non sex scenes have a lot of sexuality in them, and the sex scenes have a lot of stuff that’s bigger than sex in them.

      I think that’s it – I really like romances that have some sort of sensuality as a theme, and a good sex scene is such a great vehicle for that type of story.

      2+

  23. I’m not sure I made it clear, I prefer a romance novel with sex scenes. Cartland-style chaste kisses don’t work for me AT all. I haven’t bothered to reflect on why though.

    I even use sex scenes as a cut off point, where I say “Ok, I’ll stop reading here.” This may be because they often do advance story or reveal something about character and it makes waiting to read more tomorrow more bearable with something having HAPPENED.

    2+

  24. Again off topic but could we please talk about Season 3 of The Flash? Being sick is giving me a chance to binge watch and catch up. What is up with this narrative and how it makes NO SENSE?

    0

    1. I gave up. I watched the musical episode because it was the musical episode, and that was great, but the rest of it was so angsty and confusing and Barry kept making the same mistake–stay in your own time stream, Barry–and all the fun went. It was so much fun the first season and now it’s all Barry suffering, which is like kicking a puppy.

      OTOH, Legends of Tomorrow went from a bipolar first season to Nothing But Awesome after that–George Lucas holding the Spear of Destiny from the Crucifixion was only one of many high points, although the zombie Confederate Army was also a winner, and then there was the Legion of Doom and Sara seducing the Queen of France while Mick bitched about his puffy shirt–so that’s my must-watch now. I understand Arrow got better in Season Five so I might check that out; the crossover episode they did with all three series was a helluva lot of fun (“Skirt, call me”), and the cameos Oliver did on Legends were really good (thinking of going to the bottom of the ocean to find the Waveride and waking up a cranky Mick).

      But if the Flash has Snart on, I will watch again.

      0

      1. It is very angsty and lots of dialogue that doesn’t MEAN anything. Like, as if they’re saying something profound, but no meaning, if that makes sense. And the reasoning doesn’t make sense at all. “We clearly must do this!” What? Why? How is that clear?

        So far Snart has showed up in one episode and it was nice to see him.

        0

        1. Was that the Mirror Whosis? Because there was not enough Snart in that one.
          He has really great chemistry with Barry, too; they make each other better. That episode where Snart’s dad came to town and Barry helped him save his sister is one of my favorites. Along with the episode where Barry came home and found Snart drinking cocoa out of a Christmas reindeer mug and bitching about no marshmallows.
          You know, making Snart a regular on The Flash would be a good idea. Every time Barry went emo, Snart could slap him upside the head.

          0

          1. I don’t know about Mirror Whosis? It’s “Into the Speed Force.”

            We could sure use Snart for a reality check in the episode I’m watching…

            0

          2. Mirror Maestro? Some guy who moved through mirrors? He came back to kill Snart?
            Yes, it obviously made a HUGE impression on me.
            The last episode I really remember was the date that Barry and Patty went on, where Barry was blind and couldn’t tell her. The episode that finished up with the shark guy. That one I kind of liked. I miss the first season Flash. It was funny and sweet.
            Of course Tom Cavanagh is great in any season.

            0

          3. Ohhhhh THAT ONE. But he was part of the flashback, which, as I’ve learned from you, doesn’t count ?

            Who’s Patty?

            I think I liked the finale. I think they knew where they wanted to go and so wrote to that which is why some of the plot lines are like, “don’t think about it too hard.”

            0

          4. Patty was the girlfriend he had for awhile. Maybe last season. She was practical and smart and vulnerable and brave. That date scene was excellent. He was trying so hard to pretend he could see and about halfway through she said, “You can’t see me at all, can you?” and went on to help him, no big deal about the lie. The blind kissing later was good, too.

            It’s impossible not to smile through that whole scene. But he was destined to be with Iris so . . .

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEsJfspj1RM

            0

      2. Oh good, so it wasn’t just me. He got all emo and I went “This is where I dumped Arrow” and decided to watch Stitchers instead. Hard to be emo when the main character feels no emotions.

        0

        1. Have you tried the second season of Legends? They keep the angst to minimal levels and the yes-we’re-often-incompetent-but-by-god-we-get-the-job-done on high.

          0

  25. In a certain kind of book, graphic sex scenes work for me. In most, they don’t. I like the fade-to-black, especially in historicals, where (for all the reasons given above) it’s just awkward because the consequences were so potentially devastating and the realities of historical hygiene are so off-putting. I can’t turn off my BUT THE LICE any more than I can turn off my knowledge that two actors doing a sex scene are not really in love.

    In several contemporaries I’ve read recently, there was a level of risk-taking that I couldn’t quite get around. Just because a heroine (thinks she) can’t get pregnant is no reason to go bareback, especially when the hero is a known player. STDs are a Real Thing. (Also I always suspect that the “I can’t have children” thing is a windup for a later surprise baby, a trope I HATE.)

    I have used sex scenes in my own writing, even though they make me cringe (“my mother will see this!”). My contemporary stuff’s got bad language, which you typically see only in “sexy” contemporary stuff. You don’t find a cozy anything where people use the F word. And readers don’t like being surprised.

    All that to say, I won’t skip over a sex scene unless it is really tedious, but I also don’t choose books just based on whether or not I think they will be “sexy.” If a couple of protagonists aren’t winning me in and of themselves, even a great sex scene is not going to convince me that they will work out. And it might even annoy me. Like “if you can put this much thought and detail into this physical encounter, why can’t you try a little harder with your backstory” or whatever.

    4+

    1. I could have written this post. I’m still struggling with figuring out the sex scenes in my own book–what level of detail, the vocabulary I want to use, etc–but those moments only happen because the characters need them to happen, not because I’m at page 100 and it’s expected.

      I think you’re right on the money with the F word leading to an expectation that the sex won’t happen behind closed doors. And my characters use that kind of language because, well, they do. It’s part of who they are and who they interact with. They won’t balk at sexytimes, either, so neither should I.

      2+

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