Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fifty Shades of a Shooting Star

Today is my two-year blogging anniversary. Hip, hip, hoorah. Confetti, horns, balloons, assorted snorts and giggles. What better to write about on an anniversary than sex?

This is not a usual topic for me. But I had to write a blogpost with the word Shades in the title. SEO, you know. No, seriously, are you surprised that sex still sells? How does the quip go? "Even bad sex is good sex."

I'm not suggesting Fifty Shades of Grey is bad. I haven't read it. I may or may not get around to it. I'll likely not pay for it if I do read it. From what I've read in reviews, I'd be better off borrowing a copy. I'm not knocking the topic of sex or S&M here. It's just not high on my reading list. But, apparently, it's on many others'. Fifty Shades is listed 1, 2, and 3 on the NYT bestsellers list along with two or three other books written by romance writers. I don't have a leg to stand on if I want to stand against the tide.

Still. My sensibilities, as a woman and a writer, tread a little less salaciously. I found Edgy Mama's review of Shades more my speed. But, Edgy is writing books about beer -- not romance.

Shades is erotica, and there are plenty of good erotic writers on the planet. Shades won the lottery. I occasionally will read erotica for ideas (I'm not blushing; see The Erotic Writer or find your own source). It's true. Sex makes money. Romance novels hold a significant market share (somewhere between 10-13 percent of book sales).

I've written sex scenes. My first novel is basically a romance, although I break with genre conventions more than not. But I wanted my sex scenes to read like poetry. I tell friends: I don't name parts (of the body; at least, the most conspicuously sexual ones). Try it. It's harder than it sounds. Romance writers I've bummed around with admit that sex scenes can be tough to write. Even the NYT Book Review wrote a piece once about the big literary giants falling flat in that arena (no pun intended; see The Naked and the Conflicted, 01/03/2010).

So, let Fifty Shades have its day in the sun. If it burns a few asses (oops, I broke my parts rule), chalk it up to the shooting-star syndrome. A book phenomenon that's bright but brief.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I'm going to wade into this. I've heard and cannot find my source so don't quote me that romance is over half the paperback market. I glanced over the NYT article. Why are they talking about male authors writing sex? Oh, yes, because they are the literary giants. Women write much better sex scenes than men. I like writing sex scenes but gave up the graphic descriptions. I'm now with you, Jennifer. Write poetic illusion for sex scenes and let the reader fill in the rest for herself. As for erotica, I once read a sample and the writing was sooooo bad, I didn't read the book. Too weird.


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