Sex sells, there can be no denying that fact, otherwise we wouldn’t see (semi) naked men and women selling everything from deodorant to cars and groceries. At least I hope not.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not against sex… at ALL, but I always struggle to understand why, in this modern world, we still all feel the need to revert to sex as a means to express emotion.
The change first happened in film, where every movie, or so it felt to me, a man who in my younger years would watch between three and five movies a day, that every movie had to have a sex scene in it. Not just the allusion to one, but the whole thing needed to be played out in all its hyped up, romanticized glory. Why? Because all relationships are bonded by sex. It is what ultimately drives us as humans (as some would say), and I can accept that, but why the details? Surely seeing the couple walk into the bedroom at the end of one shot, and lying beside each other with the sun streaming through the windows in the next is enough. Right?
We are a society that reveres sex in so many different ways, it is used as a tool to convey so many different things, from love and affection, to hate, to cover up problems, to show a character getting over a problem, beating their past by moving on… and into bed with their ‘hero’.
This movie trend is now spreading into the fiction I have been reading, with sex scenes being added not only as plot devices, but, it would seem, simply because the author felt slightly horny at the time of writing it. I mean sometimes, yes, I can understand using a sex scene, (and have included some in my most recent novel) even if it is just for the fun of writing (and or filming) it, but to throw it into the mix in a time and place that just makes no sense is stupid. Even if you can keep the pace going, make it dangerous or passionate to fit with their circumstances, as was the most recent case I can recall, there still remains the small burning question in the reader’s mind… WHY?
We have placed sex on a pedestal in our lives, we look up to it, we look down upon it, and until we can change our own view-point and stop seeing it as a naughty / disgusting / dirty little secret / perfect end to a perfect day sort of event, and just allow it to be present in our lives, things will never change. I don’t mean we should become strict schedule sex times beings, far from it, but as a collective, we need to stop viewing sex as the ultimate make or break life act.
Relationships can and do develop outside of sex, both before and after, so use a sex scene, but you don’t need one every time the sun goes down, a couple in love, seen having sex once in the book or film, it is fair to assume the audience knows what they are doing in the dark.
We may live in a world where romance is (sad to say) for the large part, dead. We decide to start a relationship based upon that first sexual encounter, and for many youngsters today that encounter comes before all other forms of relationship building. Romance can develop in other ways, it can be based around other things, and if you incorporate that into your writing. Allow your characters the chance to develop a proper, deep and meaningful relationship, then their bond with each other, and with the readers, will be that much stronger.
Please don’t misinterpret me, I am not saying this from any religious viewpoint or in any kind of no sex before marriage, wait for Mr. Right (or Mrs. Right), kind of way. The first point alone would mean my first two children should not be here. I am simply saying that, as writers, it is our job to create wonderful characters, that people remember, that they care about, and feel for, and to do that takes more than just throwing a couple into the sack and saying, there you go, they are an item.