Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm so edgy that my edges have edges.

If you are acquainted with me at all online you will know that I pride myself on being openminded and maybe even a little edgy. I’m the kind of mother who lets her children ingest most any type media they choose, because I trust them to choose what they can handle. If they can’t handle it I trust them to stop ingesting it and think of me as their personal poison control center. We can talk about what bothered them.

However, I found myself writing an accidental sex scene a few days ago. I had no idea that my characters were so randy or that they felt that strongly towards one another. I wasn’t really thinking about what I was writing, but when I read back through the text I realized I pulled a classic fade-to-black.

Joel had never imagined her lips could be quite that soft. She broke the kiss and he wanted to cry out to her to continue kissing him. He needed to kiss her.

“Let’s go to bed,” she said.

Joel stood, Chrissy took her hand in his and led him to the bigger bedroom. They sank into the sheets, kissing, touching, free from the bad if only for a little while.

Later, as he fell asleep, he thought he heard Chrissy whisper that she loved him.

I did two things that I despise. I faded to black, and I threw in the love equates sex mindset. I think teens can handle sex, hell a lot of them are probably having sex, so why did I fade to black? I still have no answer to this question.

Also, being a woman of the 21st century I think that women and men can have sex just because sex is awesome. They don’t need to love each other, or spill the fruit of their loins in holy matrimony and produce a mini creature that symbolizes their love for all of time. So why did I equate sex to love?

I am the farthest thing from a prude there is. I am married to a Dutchman and we all know anything goes in Holland. I even read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. You feel me dog? I don’t understand how or why my subconscious wrote this atrocity of a scene.

So what do you think? Should sex in YA equate with love and be fade to black?


  1. Personally, I'm not a fan of sex=love unless there was love in the relationship beforehand. I find it irritating when someone says they love someone only after they've enjoyed the other's body. Adds even more question marks, as if sex isn't confusing enough in the first place at times.

    It's interesting the way you handle media with your kids. My parents were fairly strict when I was young, but lately they've relaxed a lot. Recently, though, I realized my dad had me watch Doctor Zhivagowhen I was eight. Not exactly child appropriate material. So maybe they weren't as strict as I thought they were at the time.

  2. Melanie: My parents were super strict, but in an idiotic way. I couldn't watch TV or read Dungeons and Dragons but I was left to pursue any classic I wanted, they thought that was safe. So I grew up on Dickens, and Wilde and Twain.

  3. I'm going to break open my trusty (and battered) copy of The Princess Bride:

    "At this point in the story, my wife wants it known that she feels violently cheated, not being allowed the scene of reconciliation on the ravine floor between the lovers. My reply to her is simply this: (a)each of God's beings, from the lowliest on up, is entitled to at least a few moments of genuine privacy. (b) What actually was spoken, while moving enough to those involved at the actual time, flattens like toothpaste when transferred to paper for later reading." - William Goldman

    Which could just be Goldman being silly (it's a deliciously silly book) but I think it's more likely that he knew that sometimes the kissing scenes work better if they're implied. Not always. Just sometimes.

    IMO whether or not a sex scene fades to black depends on three things:

    1) What suits the story.
    2) What suits the characters.
    3) Whether or not the author can actually pull it off.

    The two sex scenes in Going Bovine are a great example of the amount of description perfectly matching the characters and the story. Mockingjay, in contrast, has a fade to black that perfectly suits its protagonist and tone (because can you really picture Katniss EVER sharing the details of her sex life in a first person POV?)

    Equating sex with love is a little bit trickier. People have sex for a variety of reasons, love being one of them. Love isn't always part of the equation but for some people (and by extension some characters) it absolutely is. Editing that out for fear of reinforcing the mindset that sex must equal love doesn't seem much better than inserting those words in the mouth of a character who would never say them just in order to push a message.

    (I'm not Dutch but I am Canadian.)