Although today’s topic is not directly related to the series, it is certainly something I pondered while writing the first two books and especially while drafting the collection of short stories related to the series, which include a lot more romance and a little more lovemaking!
Be it sex, violence, or swearing, everyone has a different tolerance or taste for what they want to read, watch, or hear. There are those who silently cheer when the ratings of our favorite HBO shows warn of nudity and adult situations. (If you’ve seen Alexander Skarsgård or Joe Manganiello, you’d be nodding right now.) There are others who prefer the much more PG lovemaking of ABC family shows, where apparently the pregnant teens all got that way without ever taking off their bras. Whether or not consumers want a few f-bombs in their books or sex scenes on their television shows, is a matter of personal preference. No one should be judged for liking or disliking such material. With that said, it’s impossible for writers or producers to please everyone, so how do we decide where do to draw the line?
“Know your audience” is the logical advice here, but that’s harder than it might seem. If you’re writing for the younger or the older crowds, this might be a bit more straightforward. Older audiences tend to have less of a comfort level or tolerance for the naughty things in life, at least when they’re explicitly described or portrayed. Though there were certainly some grannies who jumped on the Fifty Shades train last year! Younger audiences think they want naughty, but, really, they have no clue what naughty is yet—best you not be the one to teach them. It’s the middle crowd that’s tough. Some still view the world through the more prudish or proper view of generations past. Others, entrenched in raising kids, judge everything by how they’d handle it if their seven-year-old discovered it. The rest of us just want a little excitement in life, and we’ll take it wherever we can get it: books, movies, television—bring it on!
So the question still remains: to include nookie or not to include nookie? That depends on your purpose. With anything that could potentially offend or make readers uncomfortable, decide whether it’s necessary to develop character, plot, or tone. If it is, include it. Because if your soul sucking antagonist walks around saying, “Oh, golly, that hurt!” no one’s going to read your books, regardless of whether or not they approve of swearing. If it’s not meaningful, though, it’s probably best to table it. Even the steamiest sex scene looses its appeal if it’s squeezed randomly into a chapter like a cheap drive-through meal—initially tempting, but void of any nutritional value.
Unless, of course, it features Alexander Skarsgård or Joe Manganiello; then you should keep it. Trust me on that one.