Sex in Novels – Can We Say Too Much?

Authors Don’t Even Know What To Do

While researching this topic I was interested in what authors, also readers, have to say in their articles and posts as well as what recent book reviews are out there from publishers and editors. It is quite clear that this is not only a subjective question but one that rests on so many different barriers that it cannot simply be asked alone. I definitely appreciate the fact that publishers and editors are much more open today to the content that authors are allowed to place out there for the public, and that readers are allowed to choose for themselves what they wish to read. I definitely consider myself an open-minded and liberal person, yet quite scared of what I may place on the written page considering what my own family members or son may pick up in the bookstore or library and realize that I actually wrote for the entire world to read! That still is my right-brained, conservative, American voice beating furtively inside of me that will not go away. So, I turned to some articles and postings by other authors to see if there is some sort of solution to this subjective question for the correct “answer”, still an opinion, as to the right amount of sex to place within a novel when writing it.

In America We Used to Ban Books for Foul Language

I know that as a writer myself I am nervous about the creation of my very first book and the various types of scenes it may contain, especially if there may be romantic relationships between characters and the possibility of sex. I know the question of writing a sex scene is one that disturbs the writer’s mind, in how much detail to include in a scene, how many scenes are appropriate within a novel, and so forth and so on. I know that even though I wasn’t born until the year of his death, one of my favorite all-time authors, Henry Miller, lived under a dark cloud of infamy for more than two decades at the beginning of his career due to his bravery in overstepping the boundaries of America’s literary conservation during his era. Because he was willing to go to Paris and face the external culture of Europe and publish overseas, he ended up being banned from America’s bookstores and library shelves for over 20 years with his first novel. I definitely praise his liberation against the conservative voice and willingness to place shady four letter and sexual words on the page that would keep him published outside of his native language for years to begin his writing career. But my only question is… how far has literature in America evolved when today we have bestsellers like Fifty Shades of Grey and Sweet Surrender containing so much more sexual content than Tropic of Cancer did in 1934? Should we still ban or even limit the books that are published for sale today? Should there be any sort of limit to the amount of sexual scenes or content in the novels being published?

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