1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude New Member Contributor

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    What's with all the pointless romance and sex in books lately?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by WriterDude, May 5, 2012.

    I was reading a book today about strange murder mystery where a person was skinned alive and decapitated here in Norway. Then a while later, another person was killed in the exact same way in the US. Weird, I know. Even better, it has connection to Edgar Allan Poe and something that happened back in the 1500s. I really enjoyed the story... until about halfway thorugh. Then we got this:

    New woman in the museum met co-worker on their day off by coincidence. New woman invited co-worker home. New woman gives co-worker a blowjob for no apparent reason.

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    WTF? Later on, the detective leading the investigation in Norway went home to the 'new woman' to question her. She kissed him (no idea why), resulting in him turning into a brainless zombie and had sex with her. As a result, I almost threw the book away. This was just two random scenes from the same book, but I have seen disturbingly many scenes like this lately in countless books. The worst offender so far is 'The Atlantis Code', though. We're talking a guy who had sex with his girlfriend through the whole book. He was forced to work with another woman who hates him through the whole book, except for the one night the guy argued with his girlfriend. His girlfriend don't want to have sex with him, so he has sex with the woman who hates him. Go figure. 'Of course' he's irresistable to every woman on the planet. He's a linguistic, after all. :rolleyes: Even worse, we had the -exact- same scene in the second book. Sigh...

    The question is simple. Why do people do this crap? Wh do they have to involve sex and romance in every book, even when it makes no sense what so ever? I know sex sells, but are they that desperate to sell books that they don't care about the story or characters? Just because a woman kisses a man, he doesn't turn into a brainless zombie. For that matter, a woman in a club once asked me if I wanted to get drunk and come home with her. Really, that was her exact words. I said no. And I was single at the time. If my life had been a book, I could probably walk up to a random woman, hug her and kiss her until she stopped struggling, and then it would be love. Geez...
  2. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Member

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    Sex really does sell? But seriously people do things to add adjectives. A murder mystery can no be listed as sexy and sleek as well as intriguing, it's a gimmick. I say be glad you are above it.
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  3. Trilby
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    Trilby Senior Member Contributor

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    I agree with CtMap - sex sells just look at the adverts, pop videos, sex scenes in movies.
  4. angelicrock
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    angelicrock New Member

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    The examples you listed seem a bit more extreme than what I thought this post was referring to. Really though, I think these types of scenes are becoming more common because of how society accepts them as normal. For me, I have never had a scenario in my life like the scenes mentioned above (and proudly so). In the scenes mentioned it does seem very detrimental to a the story. I think you can use the subject matter well but it would need to help drive some part of the story such as character development or plot development. Justin Cronin has a sex scene in his book The Passage but it drives a major scene in the book later on. Without the a purpose for the scene I can understand why it bothers you, id be bothered too.
  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Senior Member

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    Grasshopper,

    Treasure these so-called sexy scenes that pay charming homage to the books of the last century; the pre-internet dark age, where such sections were sacred script, passed hand to hand in playground and park. Often betrayal resulted on account of the hanging spine flip; a cruel torture method applied by disclipinarian matriarchs who rooted shelves in quest hunt for the filth soiling youth's minds. Hypocracy leaves a man scarred.

    From deep recollection I recall the half-page in Jaws and Harold Robbins, the Betsy p146-148...Man's Body, an owner's manual - much in demand and single copy of Damon equalling whole Omen trilogy on account of the toothbrush or goldfish, can hardly remember. Face full of Werthers so I'll stop.
  6. II Capitano
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    II Capitano New Member

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    It's extremely annoying, and I agree with what you have said. It's not like it bears any significance whatsoever to the main plot, leaving it to be an irrelevant bit of information. The same can be said about movies, where you are enjoying whatever that film may be, but abruptly you end up watching a sex scene. Personally, I'm a Muslim (not a terrorist, of course :p ) and so this is my opinion and the conventional way of looking at things. However, this is what society has become, we have to deal with reality, no matter what. Men are treating woman like objects, and more sex means more revenue generated, this is how the world works, and it's sad to see because we're all much better than that.
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sex is one our most potent, primal drives. Of course it has a place in fiction. If it is merely there to titillate the lascivious reader, though, it is a cheap ploy, and all but the most unsophisticated readers will see through it.

    Of course, graphic, lurid violence, like flaying and decapitation, can also be an exploitation of the readers' basest fascinations.
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

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    I don't think gratuitous sex adds value to a novel, but I think it is reasonable to expect romance of some sort in most novels. Romantic relationships are a fundamental aspect of aspect of the human existence. They're probably as close to a universal element of the human experience as you can get. Any novel covering a sufficient amount of time, and getting into sufficient detail about the lives of the characters is probably going to contemplate romance to some degree. It would be odd if it didn't, because real people do and if your characters never do, then they're lacking some depth of definition (unless there is a good explanation for it).
  9. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    I understand what you're saying, WriterDude. Sex is often substituted for good writing. While one might argue that such matters might happen to come up in a story naturally, the problem is that they usually come out unnaturally and quite randomly in stories. There's no quality writing or appropriateness to the plot. It's just there to be a gimmick, with most writers. And all it usually serves to do is make both the characters (and the author) look dumb, trashy, or both. I attempted to read Wizard's First Rule, and wow, did that reach a really gratuitous and stupid level. It was random and served no function in the plot.

    The short of it is, if you're going to argue that romance is a natural part of the story, then it should be written as a natural part of the story.
  10. GaleSkies
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    GaleSkies Member

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    Fortunately for me, the closest I get to the mystery genre is Robert Ludlum. Whether sex is implied or described it is still there. It tracks progress in a relationship between characters. I think that relationship is important and the level of detail simply comes down to a matter of taste. I'd rather know whether the characters had a banging good time, or whether there was an awkward moment of laughter. I'll argue that romance is as natural a part of the story as letting the reader's know the color of the protagonists hair.

    As far as Teh-Goodkind and Wizard's First Rule are concerned, I think there is a thread devoted to that discussion. I didn't find his romance to be jarring or stupid. I was much more interested in the characters than the "red fruit" but I'll take slightly unnatural romance over completely unexplained romance.
  11. GaleSkies
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    GaleSkies Member

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    Double post oh double post,
    Where do you come from?
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

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    I also "attempted" to read it. Terrible book (at least the 1/2 that I made it through). At least you won't duplicate Goodkind's mistake.
  13. WriterDude
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    WriterDude New Member Contributor

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    Don't get me wrong, it's not the sex and romance I don't like. What I don't like is adding it just to sell more, even when it doesn't make any sense at all. If a movie is listed as an erotic movie (Basic Instinct, 9 1/4 Weeks, Eyes wide shut etc), it can have a lot of sex and nudity, and still be pretty good. The same goes for books. But in movies and books like that, you expect the sex part, and it often has a vital part in the story. It can usually be cut down a lot, though, or even just hinted to. But still, it's a part of the plot, just like murder and violence is a part of action stories and horror stories. If I were to see a James Bond-movie where no one dies, I'd be disappointed.

    But again, what I don't like is when they add stuff like this just to sell more. Far too often, it seems to be an unwritten rule that if you have a male and female main character, they will end up in bed together sooner or later. They can be two complete strangers on the run from a whole bunch of people who are trying to kill them and expecting to be attacked at any time, and yet there's at least a 95% chance they will be dating by the end of the story. Even if they hated each other by the start of the story. They could even be enemies who are forced to work together, and they still fall in love sooner or later. Why is it so impossible to write a story where the main characters don't fall in love or end up in bed? Are people really that desperate to make a bit of money? Whatever happened to art? Or don't we consider movies and books art anymore?
  14. Abigail
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    Abigail Member

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    You all seem way more intelligent (and or older, haha) than I, but I would like to put in my opinion here, if you don't mind. :)
    I also get upset when I see this sort of thing in movies and books. What really angers me is the stuff geared towards men. You're watching a great movie, and then POP! out of nowhere, a naked woman. Like, really? Is that necessary? Sex seems to have no value these days, is it because of the way it's portrayed in books and in movies? Kids see it and think it's alright to go out and have sex with whoever, and I suppose it's your own personal beliefs that determine whether that is right or not but it is certainly different than how things used to be.


    WriterDude - I have to say I'm agreeing with a lot of what you're saying. "Far too often, it seems to be an unwritten rule that if you have a male and female main character, they will end up in bed together sooner or later." So true!!

    Cogito - "Sex is one our most potent, primal drives. Of course it has a place in fiction." Yes, I agree with this. There are lots of places for sex to be used in novels and it can be good, but I dislike the meaningless random crap only placed in movies/books to, perhaps, make money or just to be more interesting, and does not add to their plot or develops the story.


    It's something we cannot change and that's that. :p
  15. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Member

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    If written well, I find no problem with it. Humans are sexual by nature. We have sex, without reason most times, except for, in that moment we are horny. It is not done to further our life stories, it is not done (only) for procreation. It is done, simply because it feels good and offers and escape from the world for a short time.

    Books that portray humans in a relationship, and sometimes not in a relationship since there's plenty of casual sex around as well, will have sex that may or may not seem to further the story line. However, since humans like this little three letter word, it would be odd to have a book without it.
  16. MissRis
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    MissRis New Member

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    Abigail, I think what you are trying to express is the difference between sexual objectification of bodies and the act of sex itself. They are not mutually exclusive, but our culture leans toward objectification (of both men and women).

    However, allow me to play devil's advocate, how believable would a story be if a story featured a relationship, not as its primary element, but as one of the subplots, and characters never had sex? I would find that less believable. I'm not saying they need to be banging every chance they get, but if they have a relationship and never have sex?

    Also, although some authors are ridiculous (I'm thinking of this E.L. James woman who published those "mommy porn" books 50 Shades of Grey....) I think some authors, Stieg Larsson comes to mind, that use sex to subvert cultural understandings. And emphasize themes within the text. (If you haven't read the Millenium trilogy I recommend you do so). Interlinked in stories about sexual abuse and violence toward women -- are very sexually open characters who bed hop, have open marriages, and feature same-sex couplings. Now I wonder if this sexual openness of his characters has to do with him being European? There is some sense of sexual rigidity within North America.
  17. gypsytrails
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    gypsytrails New Member

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    It is possible to include intimacy at a certain level in just about every genre. Cogito is right: it is part of human nature. At the same it there is also a time, place, quality, and quantity that needs to be observed. I couldn't even make it ten pages into "The Atlantis Code". I've found several authors are masking poor writing styles and/or plot development with gaudy scenes in an attempt to "sell to the masses." Or really well written series are thrown into the trash heap when the intimacy factor gets ramped up and the protagonist turns into a sex crazed maniac and every other scene is heated. For several of those books out there that use sex as a selling feature: you don't need to be detailed. We are readers before we are writers: we have imaginations, let us use them. In several cases an author could quite often can leave the reader at the bedroom door, we don't need to be invited in.
  18. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix New Member

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    The protagonist of my novel happens to be asexual and aromantic. Is my story boring?

    Lol. The thing is that being an aromantic myself, I didn't thnk of a romantic subplot. Also sex won't have a plot point, so I just cut it off. I don't really buy that writers write about sex and romance because ALL people relate to.

    They write about it because otherwise the plot would be uninteresting.
  19. loomingtale
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    loomingtale New Member

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    Desperate writers

    A handful of books about sex, and a handful of books about zombies, fairies and vampires, became famous, and some wannabe authors decided to make a spaghetti out of these themes and voila! You have a ubiquity of stupid sex stories. People can do a lot worse than write such pathetic stories to earn some bucks. We are talking about desperate writers here :p

    And these books do have a market -_- The standards are through the floor!
  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think most sex romps are added because the author doesn't have - either the imagination, or the nerve to include interaction with the opposite sex that doesn't end with a bang. Pun intended.
    Sex is good when it benefits the story or the characters.
    Sex is horrible when it trips up the action.
    Writers get sloppy - why wrack your brain to envision a scene in which a detective and his wife spend an evening enjoying each others company ( without sex ) , when a sex scene conjurs up all kinds of easy and juicy verbs. Plus there is the rogue factor. The writer assumes his readers won't believe his hero to be a sexy rogue, if he isn't bedding everything in sight.
  21. Islander
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    Islander Senior Member Contributor

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    I haven't read Stieg Larsson's books, but that does sound like Sweden. The vast majority of couples move together first and marry later, perhaps not until they get children.

    That doesn't mean most people have same-sex or open relationships, just that those who do can be open with it.
  22. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin New Member

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    Well, this is basically getting to the point of it: lowering standards and rediscovery/reinforcement of human instincts. De-evolution, if you ask me. Anyways, I can't necessarily prove that sex scenes in books destroy them, since I really try to avoid books like that. But I can prove this:

    The Great Gatsby, the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a book driven by romance, love triangles, so on and so fourth. There is never a sex scene anywhere in the novel, though the time depicted and the narration lead away from that. Nonetheless, readers go on in the novel wanting to see the result, see who ends up with who, and when the star-crossed lovers will finally be together. Wonderful, I know. But never a sex scene anywhere (References, maybe, but please... as if those were ever consequential).

    A book doesn't have to have a sex scene for it to be good, even when it's centered around relationships. What the problem is, though, is that some people aren't able to understand this. This is why we see so many "Bandwagon" novels; one "pilot fish" finds something that works, and the "shark," i.e. seemingly every other unknown author, follows along. Nobody decides to mess with the template, and so we have copies of the original, often deteriorating as the writing gets progressively worse and worse, as... well, parodies of the original are released, re-released, and soon the entire market is flooded with sex-for-filler novels that simply aren't up to par.

    For now, though, that "pilot fish" has found sex. And now we're seeing a feeding frenzy, tearing into this new media, this new sales pitch. Honestly, this is what's ruined my hopes for my generation (There ARE exceptions, just a little flickering light of hope). But as writers, aren't we supposed to think of the unconventional? Isn't that what we're supposed to sell? Something that isn't normality?
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  23. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Member

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    And yet the Great Gatsby made it on the list of books members didn't care for. Probably not a good example.
  24. loomingtale
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    loomingtale New Member

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    @JPGriffin
    Actually, a lot of people now expect there to be a sex scene. Like 'Sex' is a cliche of almost every other movie. Recently, I watched Bridges of Madison County. Beautiful movie, my fav actor, but I was kinda disappointed because there was so much rich romance, but it didn't culminate in a bed :p Romance and sex are now intertwined.
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Which is a perfectly good reason to write a story in which there is romance without sex, if you wish to make the point that they are not inseparable.

    In fact, there is a surprising example in a franchise often criticized, even ridiculed, for gratuitous love-them-and-leave-them sex. In the most recent James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, Bond never takes the woman to bed, even though they form a fairly deep personal relationship. In fact, it's probably the first Bond movie in which he had sex with no one. They clearly had chemistry together, although I wouldn't necessarily call it romance either, but it was obvious they never became physically intimate.

    If a Bond movie can break that mold, certainly any of the fresh young (or not) novelists here can make that choice too.

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