Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Does No Sex Still = A Good Romance Novel?

It was mentioned several times at the RWA National Conference and in several articles written in the weeks that followed - Romance novels aren't just about sex. The perception is changing and the old term “smut” books isn’t used like it once was.

But the majority of romance novels contain several scenes where the heroine and hero have sex or make love.

I just finished the first draft of my third book, “Emotional Warfare.” It wasn’t until the twelfth chapter, out of an anticipated fifteen, that I realized not only had my hero and heroine not had sex, they weren’t going to by the end of the book. There wasn’t going to be an opportunity, and it didn’t suit their personalities to force an opportunity. Oh, there’s plenty of sexual tension, but they don't lose complete control or give in to their desire for each other. At the end you know they will, but it will all be in your imagination.

Technically, I know the answer is yes, it can still be a good romance novel without the love scene. But what do you think? Does it matter to you if the hero and heroine don’t make love? Does the story lose something for you if they don’t consummate their relationship?

13 comments:

Keri Stevens said...

It the writing, Baby!

As long as I know that AFTER the story is over, the H/H are going to have a lifelong commitment (that, allows for the possibility of wall-banging sex, even if I don't "witness" it)

Do I feel more reassured if I get to read the wall-shaking sections? Sure I do. That's why I read books with sex in them. For, ahem, reassurance.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely – but it depends on what kind of book it is. If you are looking for a good erotic novel then you know which authors to seek out. But I have read many novels that have resonated with me on a deep emotional level and the H/H did not have sex.
In fact, there are a few novels I've read lately that the best thing about them were the sex scenes. I don't know about you but hot sex scenes are not why I love romance. It's the journey the characters take to be together, the sexual tension between them -- that intense physical attraction that goes unrequited for much of the book that puts us on the edge of our seats. That said -- I do enjoy the well written sex scene now and then. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi all -
The previous comment was from me - forgot to sign it!
Lorie Langdon

Becke Davis said...

One of my all-time favorite romances is Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs, which has no sex and the kisses come late in the book. Julia Harper's HOT is hot as blazes, but the h/h don't even meet in person until about page 100 -- it's all on the phone until then. Do what's right for your story -- that, and the emotional intensity -- is the main thing.

beckster said...

I agree with the others, that it totally depends on the story and the characters and their personalities, and also what you as the writer want out of the story. I think the worst thing in the world is a sex scene that is thrown into a story just so the characters can get it on, but it has no real place in the story, there is no meaning behind it. Maybe it's the prude in me, but I think that a sex scene in a story should be meaningful and not just a booty call. It should be a part of the plot and the growth of the characters. If your story doesn't need one, don't feel that you have to throw one in. As we all know, a romance novel is not about sex; it is about love and romance. Sure, sex adds some spice, but stay true to the characters you have created and the story you love.

Christine said...

Well it could be an inspirational book--or a superromance for HQN--sex isn't always necessary--you have to be true to the characters... course, you know my peeps can't keep away from the fun--but I don't look for it in other books I enjoy.

Rosie Murphy said...

Give me smut, smut and more smut! Well, Tina, I'm sure you may know what I'm going to say ;-) but I do agree with my fellow postees. It depends on the story. Barbara Cartland didn't have sex scenes and *gasp* I LOVED them. Of course, my tastes have evolved since then and I do normally go for the spicier read, but it's the sexual tension that really propells the story for me.

I agree whole-heartedly with Annonymous/Lori :-) I've read some doosies where sex was the only thing going for the story and I'm always disappointed. So stick to your instincts and the integrity of the story. That is so much more satisfying.

Christina Wolfer said...

Thanks all for stopping in and leaving a comment. I agree with Lorie, its the journey and sexual tension that keeps you turning the page. And it would have been forced for me to add a sex scene. Circumstances kept them being able to go against who and what they believe in, but it's far from an inspirational.

I personally like reading, as Keri said, the wall banging sex scenes. I like writing them, too.

Maybe, my next story will be erotica to make up for what I missed out on in this one. LOL.

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi Tina! A good novel definitely can be pulled off with sex. I also have a couple MS where they don't have sex or sex it super subtle and not graphic. It's just the type of genre I write. My latest MS Long Road to Romance is more about my heroine finding her place in life and the romance part is literally a back seat of the plot. I have started to query process and think...hmmm...should I try inspirational or women's fiction?

Tonya Kappes said...

I meant to say with out sex...I need to edit EVERYTHING!!!!!

Christina Wolfer said...

Rosie - you smutty thang, I almost put in my post that you need not comment, hehe, just kidding.

And Tonya, I think the heroine finding her place in life, finding peace with herself, is one of the most important parts of a romance. Without it, nothing else really matters.

Christine said...

I just nominated you for a lemonade award --

Christine said...

Your link is posted on my blog, too. I am slowly figuring out how to do all this stuff... hope your writing is going well!