Jane Austen

Skipping the sex scenes

First, due to popular request, here’s a pic from a few years ago when my children and I trick or treated as Hermione, her cat Crookshanks and Professor McGonagall.

Now back to my regularly scheduled post…

I’ve heard some readers say they skip sex scenes, but I’ve never done so. Once I’ve decided to read a book, I want to take it all in the way the author intended it. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll miss something. At an RWA workshop given by Julia Ross, she said something to the effect that if readers skipped her sex scenes, they’d have no idea what was going on. That’s how it should be. Sex scenes should not be skippable!

Sometimes I’ve found my attention wandering while reading a sex scene, though usually this happens in a book in which I’m already losing interest and may not finish. This happens if the hero and heroine seem like a generic romance couple. I love deep characterization and I don’t believe one can isolate the body from the mind from the heart. To me, sex scenes are a way to show the whole tangle, and that’s what makes them so much fun to read and write. In a well-written sex scene, the sex is never just a physical act and the characters remain true to themselves. That makes the sex more real and more exciting. What they do can be inventive or not; it just has to make sense for them.

So maybe some readers skip sex scenes when the characterization falters. On the other hand, I’ve heard some of the sex-scene-skippers say they just don’t want to be in someone else’s bedroom. I think that’s a matter of reading style. If you like to read about the hero and heroine, you might feel like an intruder. When I’m reading romance, I want to be the heroine and fall in love with the hero. So I don’t feel like an unwanted third party, even if the scene is in the hero’s point of view (which I really like reading and writing sometimes).

How about you? Do you ever skip sex scenes? Why or why not? Do you like sex scenes written in heroine or hero point of view, or either?


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11 years ago

How adorable!!

If I’m skipping scenes it’s because I’m not enjoying the story overall. Every scene should be revealing something about the hero and/or heroine, and I don’t mean revealing their creativity, because that’s boring really fast. If it doesn’t do that, it shouldn’t be in there. I like both points of view since it creates a natural variance in perspectives.

11 years ago

I frequently skip sex scenes because so often they seem to have been inserted simply because the author (or someone else) thinks there should be X-number of sex scenes in the book. I flip past the robots to get back to the real characters and the story.

I don’t have any special objection to sex scenes, but I am interested in the emotions and interactions of the characters. I am not much interested in new and different places to insert something. And if I am sitting there trying to figure out if something is physically possible, the author has obviously lost me.

Barbara E.
11 years ago

i don’t skip sex scenes, because I don’t want to miss anything. But if the scene was uncomfortably graphic or there were just too many that didn’t add to the story, I probably won’t be reading anything by that author again. I agree that a well-written sex scene should not be just a physical act, i think we should be learning more about the characters and how they relate to one another, how they feel and what they’re thinking.

Cara King
11 years ago

I just want to say: love that picture! And how clever to make a Crookshanks costume — I never would have thought of that…

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

I don’t skip sex scenes for all the reasons everyone has listed. I always hope to find at least one clue as to why the hero and/or heroine is the person they are and if they are on their way to becoming the person they were meant to be. Not every sex scene I read does that, but I always want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Glad people enjoyed the costumes!

We seem to all be on a page about sex scenes. And I thought I was bringing up a controversial topic! But this is a good thing, because I can see there are readers out there who like what I’m striving for.

11 years ago

Great post, Elena. I never skip a sex scene, unless it’s just poorly, poorly written. Then again, I’ve likely given up on the book by that point. In any event, you hit everything right on the head. I want to be the heroine, falling in love with the hero. In fact, I think it’s important that we as writers fall in love with our own heroes throughout the course of writing each novel. Because if you don’t, how the heck can anyone else?

As far as PoV… it doesn’t really matter. But it’s kind of nice when a book has at least two sex scenes, so we get one in each PoV.

Rosie Hong
11 years ago

I don’t usually skip sex scenes, but I find myself glazing over a lot of them because they tend to blend together from book to book, or if it’s a bad book, don’t usually help to move the story forward. There are a few sex scenes that are beautifully written though and really do define a turning moment in the main pair’s relationship, and I especially love when a scene is written from the hero’s POV.

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