First of all, let me say I have nothing against a well-written love scene, and I do mean love scene, not sex scene. However, I draw the line at gratuitous sex and don't care for erotica. I just don't see what titillation has to do with story.
Play It Again, Sam, I have a love scene that is a very important part of the story and the growth of the character. Sam is single after 25 years of marriage and the whole dating scene has changed. She is not sure about recreational sex. So when the love scene happens it is because she has worked though many issues. It's not just there because romance readers expect it.
When One Small Victory was first published by Five Star, my editor there kept wanting me to let the central character, Jenny, do more than kiss the man she was attracted to. Problem was, Steve was the detective she was working for as a confidential informant, so there was a professional boundary that couldn't be crossed. Plus, she was an emotional mess, grieving for her son who had just been killed, and she didn't see sex as some sort of balm for her pain.
I firmly believed that going in the direction the editor wanted, even by adding a kiss here and there like she suggested, was not going to be true to the story or the characters, so I did not follow her suggestion in that area.
BTW, she really is a very good editor, and her edits improved the book in many ways. What I didn't know as we were going through the editing process is that Five Star planned to release the book as a romantic suspense. The title on the cover simply said, One Small Victory, a novel by Maryann Miller, so I had no idea it was going to be released in a category.
I was a bit dismayed when I found out. Not that I have anything against category fiction. However, I knew that fans of romantic suspense were going to be disappointed. In most romantic suspense, the romance is as important as the suspense, and that just wasn't happening in this story. To change it, just to satisfy that expectation would have been a huge mistake. There were just too many reasons for these two characters not to act on their attraction at the time. Some readers have asked if there is going to be a sequel, where maybe they do more than kiss, but I don't know. Right now it seems better to me to let each reader imagine what is down the road for Jenny and Steve.
Have you ever added sexual elements to a story to meet the expectations of readers? Have you been pressured by an editor to add sex or violence to a story because that is what sells?
Posted by Maryann Miller, who has been on both sides of the editing table and appreciates a good editor. Her next book, Open Season, will be released in December and can be pre-ordered HERE Visit Maryann's Web site for information about her editing services and her books.