Given the sensation of Fifty Shades Of Grey, it has caused controversy over whether the scenes are realistic or unnecessarily clichéd in books. Many authors have tried and tested it and made it work, however it seems that others should not have bothered. Sex is something that causes the most controversy in books and therefore has a heightened focus. So do authors really get a chance to get it right when there is so much attention on that aspect of the book as opposed to the bigger picture and the rest of the narrative? Many people, have criticised Fifty Shades Of Grey for its repetitive narrative and lack of story, however is this really why woman all over the world are reading it? Do we care about repetition and lack of literary direction when we only bought it in the first place for a bit of harmless titillation? As writers do we write based on what we know, or what is on television? Or is this something that we spend hours poring over (ahem), researching to get right?
It is something that can be very crude, bordering on pornographic or something that can be so abstract that we barely know what is happening. What is the harm? Everyone does it; we all have fascination about how others do to see if we are keeping up with the current sexual trend. Clearly, given the record sales of the book we have a mild interest in sex and the written word. Why shouldn’t authors like EL James expose it in a book for us to open our minds to new experiences or simply get a new kick out of reading?
Do some novelists shy away from this deliberately to avoid the fuss of whether they have done it effectively? Would you want to write a sex scene and have it scrutinised by everyone who reads it? Maybe like the real thing it takes practice and requires time to get it right. Sex is an easy target for press coverage and will likely always be taboo despite the rise of ‘mummy porn’ novels for the modern women.
In a recent interview with Vina Jackson, author of Eighty Days Yellow, I asked the question; How difficult is it to write sex sucessfully?
‘-It's not always easy. All strong human emotions - happiness, grief, love, etc - are difficult to write about successfully. And sex is really just another expression of a human emotion. But the writer is faced with a number of obstacles that exist in the readers' minds. Will the language used be too shocking, too euphemistic, or too anatomical? As each reader has their own, very specific and personal ways of relating to sex, will they find a scene that is intended to be erotic a turn on, or a turn off?
In Eighty Days Yellow, the sex is an integral part of the story. It's not just there to titillate, it's there as a natural result of the plot and the characterisation. Therefore we hope that the sex scenes fit organically into the story and that even our more reserved readers will appreciate that the sex is necessary for plot development.’
I think that says it all.
Female First Lucy Walton