Sex, Violence, and Good Story Crafting

I got an interesting review at the end of my story, Flashback. The reviewer had several nice things to say, but the one thing that really stuck out was that she liked the fact it wasn’t at all smutty. I really liked reading that particular compliment, because it told me my story was able to stand on its own two feet. I didn’t need to add cheap sexual scenes to keep a reader interested. And that brings me to the point of this particular entry.

I am of the opinion that good writing does not need graphic sex, gratuitous violence, or even curses every other word. In fact, I’m offended when a good story has that stuff thrown in there, "just because." A truly good story does not need sex and violence "just because" to keep it going. If it needs that stuff to be interesting, then the story isn’t very good. I believe a simple kiss, if written right and at the right moment, can be more romantic, or even more sensual than graphic descriptions of body parts (which often become boringly cliche) and sexual acts. More important is keeping the "sexual tension" between the two characters by NOT letting them get together. Bring them close to a kiss, then cause an intrusion of some type. Or if they do kiss well before the end of the story, then make something happen that will pull them apart, at least emotionally, so that the next time they do kiss, it’s still an "ah...finally" moment.

If the plot of a story depends on either a sexual or violent act, then it is a different case. In such instances, the act can be alluded to rather than shown, or then shown with a minimum of descriptions. I firmly believe a sexual act can be simply alluded to, whereas violence might need to be shown, but without alot of gore. In my one published novel, I had a rape scene, and I think it was very effective without going into alot of detail. I concentrated on the fear of the character before anything happened, and then the thoughts and feelings after it was over.

Our society, particularly the media, has cheapened the sexual act so much that it’s no longer about love. It has become a purely animal instinct and a way for cheap thrills. And the violence...I don't think I need to even comment much.

I won’t write that, to begin with, because of my Bible-based moral convictions. But even if I could put those convictions aside, I would still not write that kind of nonsense, purely for story crafting reasons. If what I write is not holding the reader’s interest without graphic sex and overt violence, then my story crafting needs help. And writing is all about the story.

Note: Comments are welcome. If you choose to disagree with anything written here, that's fine. That is your right. I have freely expressed my opinion on the subject, and you are welcome to do so as well. I only ask that you be nice about how you answer.


Ivy said…
Hey! Yes, I definitely agree--although I feel that sometimes it's necessary to show *some* of the violence/whatever just to give the reader the proper frame of mind for the psychological part that comes next (i.e. the discussion of the thoughts/feelings/all the rest). I'm not really big on violence/sex for the sake of violence/sex, though (though reading my fanfiction you may disagree...I gather I haven't offended you because you keep reading :D) (by the way, I did post my next chapter...I don't know if you got the notification thing...not trying to promo but my email is messing up and I'm wondering if it failed to notify other people about the new chapter...I really want to know what you think about it! speaking of violence...very difficult to write this chapter without violence, except most of it was mental/'s Wormtail's betrayal chapter).
ANYWAY back to this original topic...I think it's wonderful that you were able to write a historical romance without excessive violence or sex because I absolutely hate "historical" romances (i.e. trashy romance novels set in a historical time period)...I read ONE. Only one. It was a few years ago and I *thought* that it would be good because I like medieval England/Scotland and the premise looked decent...okay, the guy on the cover wasn't too bad-looking either, haha, but the "summary" was very was ALL sexual tension the whole time, ridiculous...past the point of being good (the way you described the keeping-them-away-from-one-another-with-intrusions-etc. thing). It was honestly appalling and I'm glad I read it because now I know what NEVER to write, ever.
I hope this won't overload the "comment box" so I'll go now...hope to hear from you soon!
Ivy :)

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