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5.7.10

Story Taboos & Condoms

Romance is the cornerstone of our stories and sex is the decor.

Nowadays, authors are supposed to write "safe" stories. By "safe" I mean our characters should use condoms. They shouldn't smoke or participate in any unhealthy type behavior.

A friend just told me more than one reviewer recently dissed her books and called them "dangerous" because her lovers didn't use condoms. Likewise, I sometimes get notes in the sides of my manuscripts from my editors when my characters neglect to use condoms. Ditto for lube during anal sex. Both are no nos. At least according to my editors.

I've also received editorial notes that characters shouldn't smoke, it's not healthy and it makes the character unsympathetic.

Why? Our books are supposed to stand as good examples to our readers. We want to promote safe sex and healthy living.

It was okay, however, when a serial murderer rampaged through the pages of one of my books. When dead bodies popped up every few pages.

It was okay when my heroine stalked my hero with an intent to murder him. Or when the murderer attacked his victims. It was even okay when one of my characters blew up the entire planet Earth. Blood and gore, death and pain are all okay as long as we use condoms and don't smoke?

These things make me go "Hmm..."

My guess is that no one thinks a reader will emulate a murderer or try to blow up an entire planet, but might practice unprotected sex because they read it in a book.

I'm trying to remember to make my lovers use condoms every time they have sex. Every time it's possible that is. Sometimes it's unrealistic or just implausible for condoms to be available and the characters to abstain because of it.

It can be rather awkward to make characters stop in the middle of a hot scene to go in search of the condoms. In "Must Love Dogs" John Cusack drives all over town to find a condom and the mood's dead by the time he finally finds one. That's a cute scene in context. But that'd be boring if it happened everytime our characters heated up, in every one of our books.

It's tough to write sex scenes. At least I find it so. This added complication of keeping the sex scene sexy when stopping to put on condoms really puts erotic writers to the test. And I will do my best to meet the challenge and keep my characters healthy and simultaneously turn up the heat.




In my next Total-E-Bound story "Whirlwind Romance" which is scheduled to release July 26, 2010, Colleen is sucked back to 1978, a time just before AIDS frightened the world. As she is privy to the future, good and bad, she practices safe sex.

http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=854

Ashley
http://www.ashleyladd.blogspot.com/

5 comments:

kaisquared said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nerine Dorman said...

Dunno, just wrote my first erotic fiction and included condom use in the first scene but then didn't mention it again, to set up the idea that perhaps they did continue with this. Then again, I aimed to write "real" situations with real people and I know I'd never sleep with some guy I've just met without some precautions. As much as I love the idea of a wild bang, no sane woman nowadays would think to engage in such behaviour, so none of my characters would, IMO.

ladybirdrobi said...

Personally I don't understand it. Political correctness, what you can pack in your luggage and leaving God out of government building and other stuff like this. Let's be realistic here. How many people caught up in the moment are going to remember to stop and put the condom on. I never thought about it, maybe because I grew up in an era where you didn't have STD and AIDS to worry about. I can't imagine someone being capable of stopping and putting on the condom when the body is on fire and just wants to put it out. Most men now a days carry condoms in their wallets so they can be prepared like little boy scouts. Most women these days are looking at ways to get rid of that damn monthly cycle and they are prepared with birth control. I'm married now and I know where my hubs has been so there is no need for a condom and I'm also glad I grew up in the time period I did when all you worried about was am I pregnant.

If an author is writing about a werewolf or other shapeshifter most always say there is no need for that fear. When I'm reading about that special moment in a romance I don't think okay guys slow down and put that condom on. To me it seems ridiculous to expect anyone in that moment to think oh it's time to put on that condom, your mind is too busy processing all those neurons that are shouting this feels good.

Have a great day.
Robin
Robbibird3@aol.com
ladybirdrobi@yahoo.com

orelukjp0 said...

I really do not take too much notice if the characters use a condom or not. I like it better when it's glossed over in a scene, ie... when all is over the hero tosses a used condom in the trash but no mention is given when it is put on. As you stated, things can grind to a halt if the search is on for one.
Then again, when a seduction scene is set in advance, the placement of condoms in the drawer or on the table can be mentioned and it doesn't provide a stumbling block to the whole sex scene and we know that safe sex if being practiced.
When you have crazed rapists, I do not think a mention would be right. They really don't care.
Also a hot and heavy, heat of the moment does not need one. Especially when the main characters involved will stay together in the story with marriage and children in the future.
Maybe I grew up in a different time period but this never was a big issue when I was growing up, not like it is now. Safe sex was another one of those hush hush things that was not talked about.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Ashley,

I don't think that it's our responsibility to educate our readers. And to be honest, sometimes something like a smoking habit is just what you need to define a vivid character. If everyone is healthy and well-adjusted, characters are all going to seem bland and overly similar.

That being said, I usually (but not always) include condoms in my sex scenes, because I tend to write contemporary, realistic tales and it just feels wrong to leave it out.

I had an editor insist that I remove a drug-related scene from a story, even though the villain had drugged the hero. I thought that this was kind of silly. However, you've got to pay attention to what your publisher wants if you want to get published.

Best,
Lisabet