Is sex the only thing that ups the heat in erotic fiction?

Today I’m here with guest blogger S.L. Armstrong she wants to talk about one of my favorite topics SEX 😉 I am looking forward to reading all the comments on today’s topic. I am sure they are bound to be interesting and varied. While  I don’t think sex is the only thing that ups the heat in erotic fiction it doesn’t hurt. I know when I myself first started reading erotic fiction it was all about the sex but now that I’m older and jaded 😉 lol I want more story… I find myself drawn into a story more by who they are and what is going on with the heroes and the occasional heroine in the story I’m reading.

Lets welcome S.L. Armstrong to International Heat!

Is sex the only thing that ups the heat in erotic fiction?

That’s what I’d like to talk about today on International Heat, which is part of Storm Moon Press’ blog tour this month to promote our newest release, Cast the Cards. It’s an erotic anthology staring six short stories from six amazing authors, all centering around the tarot and including an LGBT romance.

As we put Cast the Cards together, we had to ask ourselves just that question. What makes a story hot? Was it the explicitness? Was it the language used? Or was it all in the hints of sex while the emotions were brought to the forefront?

We quickly realized that it was a combination of language, explicitness, and the emotion. Sex without the emotion wasn’t satisfying to read, and explicit scenes with poor language were just utter turn offs. There was a balance that needed to be struck, and I think it’s a pretty difficult feat to manage. I mean, the authors had only 10,000 words to introduce characters, create a connection with the read, weave a momentary story, and include something of an erotic nature. It’s a high expectation, and not one I feel is as easily done as many believe.

In Burn the Brightest by Emily Moreton, the erotic aspects of the story are subtle and low-burning until those final moments after the reader has become completely wrapped up in the story of Jo and Edith and if their romance will make it or not. Grief of the Bond-Maid by Janine Ashbless is a fantastical story where the erotic content is woven so gently into the emotional fabric of Sjofn’s journey for freedom. The sex doesn’t smack you in the face when it happens, but it is erotic and gets the heart pumping.

Then you have the more explicit nature of Oneiros by S.L. Armstrong and Surrender by K. Piet. The sex in those stories are obvious, there from the first line, and you know exactly what you’re in for from moment one. Desperate, emotionless sex for Caleb in Oneiros, while Aaron is swept away by Travis’ domination in Surrender. The explicit, blunt language is just as arousing as the subtle, emotional word choices found in Burn the Brightest and Grief of the Bond-Maid.

The Direction of Greatest Courage by Erik Moore is focused almost entirely on the sexual growth of the main character, Jason, and the sex is only one step among many he takes. Bea and Hope in Blazing Star are comfortable lovers reconnecting in a dangerous, magic-laden world. Their lovemaking was familiar and sweet, but that familiarity didn’t take away from the hotness of their romance.

Through the creation of Cast the Cards, I learned a great many things about language and emotional connection and storytelling. Even a single love scene in a short story, in the hands of a talented writer, will be scorching.

So, I think the answer is quite simple: No. Sex isn’t the only thing that ups the heat rating in a story, but it helps. Sex without emotion or the talent of a good writer is merely a mechanical recitation of a physical act, and that isn’t hot. 😉

Cast the Cards is currently available from Storm Moon Press (http://stormmoonpress.com/books/Cast-the-Cards.aspx) in various e-book formats as well as a print volume.

I would like to thank T and the rest of the ladies of International Heat for the opportunity to visit and share my thoughts! Feel free to share your opinions in the comments!

You can find me at http://www.slarmstrong.net/ or @peachesnjasmin on Twitter. 🙂

17 Responses to “Is sex the only thing that ups the heat in erotic fiction?”

  1. I personally think you are absolutely correct. If a novel is well written and the characters are interesting then it can be a great read, but personally I love the erotica of the books I read. All characters bring a different element to their own story when it comes to how the sex or sexual tension occurs, but I admit I will still read erotica over any other genre unless it’s just a bad writer who puts the sex in just to sell. I doesn’t matter if they are blunt about the sex if that fits the character(s), just as long as it “fits” the storyline.

    • I love erotica, and will usually choose it as my reading material over most other genres, but I have learned to be a bit more discerning. I love a plot with great, explicit erotic content. I am not a fan of the sex scenes strung together for 300+ pages with 15 pages of supposed plot linking them together. 🙂 But, that’s just me.

      I think there is a balance that needs to be struck, but what that balance is will be different for every reader. Reading is such a personal, subjective thing that I would never dream of saying this is the definitive way of things. *chuckles* I just know that, as I chose the various stories for inclusion in the anthology, I discovered all different approaches to erotica that I found wonderfully erotic to read, even if some were more nuanced and emotional than explicit.

  2. I personally think “off screen” sex is far hotter than explicit. What could be hotter than Rhett carrying Scarlett up the stairs, and a cut to her lying abed smiling the next morning? But it’s an “organic” thing with me – some stories it just flows right in (Longhorns, e.g.) and others I can’t make it happen (Angel Land – the characters rejected it). I can’t sit down and say, now I’m going to write a dirty story. With me, it always comes back to the characters.

    • A fade-to-black can be wonderfully erotic, allowing the reader’s mind to provide the details. I know, sometimes, I much prefer those. Still, there are other times I’m really in the mood for something explicit and very on-screen. XD

      When I write, I tend to let the characters and the situation dictate how much ‘on-screen’ sex there is. Some of my novellas and novels are filled with sex–page after page of it–while others either fade-to-black or spend a lot of time on the sexual tension before that big payout at the end.

  3. You’re right I love to read them for the sex but I read the blurb, study the cover and usually read an excerpt to make sure the story and characters interest me before I’ll buy a story. I have passed up a few books because it seemed they were only about the sex or the emotions or characters didn’t seem real enough to me.
    Zina

    • For me, it comes down to believability of the characters and their relationship. I used to just blindly buy books based on the blurb the e-press had available, but I’ve learned to do as you do. I read the blurb, look at the cover, and–most importantly now–read the excerpt provided. I’ll also hunt around to see if the book has been reviewed anywhere. I’ve been burned one too many times with 250 pages of endless, repetitive sex that isn’t sexy at all. 🙂 I like my sex encased in a relationship that pulls me in and makes me root for their happy ending. It makes the sex sexier to me.

      So, yep, I agree with you 100%. ^_^

      S.L. Armstrong

  4. Explicit sex scenes can be a pleasure to read. However, I think they should have a reason for being in a story. They need to advance a plot which could stand on its own without the sex and/or contribute to our understanding or the characters. A person’s bedroom behavior can tell us a lot about him/her. Are they seductive, self-conscious, controlling, timid, playful, etc.? The mechanics I’m already quite familiar with, thank you. I’m not at all squeamish about reading (or writing) them, but if that’s all there is to it, I agree with Victor — it’s often hotter left to my imagination.

    • Exactly! Sex is a very telling act… or a very deceptive one. 🙂 It can reveal so much about a character if the author utilizes the opportunity to the best of their ability to further the development of their characters.

      Sadly, for me, sex for sex’s sake doesn’t really engage me anymore. I need more substance. XD

      S.L. Armstrong

  5. […] Diablo – Nov. 8th *-Ebook Addict Reviews – Nov. 9th *-Naughty in the Backseat – Nov. 10th *-International Heat – Nov. 11th Elisa Rolle – Nov. 12th Michele & Jeff Reviews – Nov. 13th Viki Lyn – Nov. […]

  6. […] What raises the heat rating for you in fiction? Is it the sexual tension? The explicit scenes? The men in uniform? (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself today!) Find out what Saundra thinks! She’s over on the International Heat blog asking, ‘Is sex the only thing that ups the heat in erotic fiction?’ Check it out! […]

  7. […] 10 of the blog tour was over at the International Heat blog where S.L. Armstrong discussed what increases the heat level of a […]

  8. I wrote an article on this very topic, or quite similar to it, for Queer Magazine Online. It’s titled: “Is there a clear line between M/M and gay fiction?” It very much addresses the misconception that gay fiction equals M/M fiction and vice versa. Too many people equate “gay” with sex or sexual activity and do not differentiate between reality and fiction. http://www.queermagazineonline.com/

    I personally don’t think it’s sad that sex becomes less engaging, but I do believe it’s grievous when somone only reads gay fiction to gather information about sexual acts. I seldom read M/M fiction because of this trend. Extremely detailed sex holds no thrill for me. Since I’m gay, I go have sex if I’m interested in it, not read someone else’s idea of it per se, especially in the cases where it is inaccurate in any case.

    • It has to be kept in mind that M/M erotic romance (which I do separate from M/M romance and gay fiction entirely) is merely fiction. There is usually a lot of inaccuracies in all the erotic romance and romance novels I’ve read, from gay to lesbian to straight. It’s because it’s pure fantasy with only some roots in reality, and I think that’s all right. I don’t read the romance genre (with its erotic sub-genres) for accuracy in sexual acts.

      What I like about the well written books in this genre is the characters. I love to see two people meet, fall in love, and receive a somewhat happy ending (as I can find enjoyment in a bittersweet ending). The sex, if woven into the story well, only enhances the plot for me. Sex for sex’s sake no longer interests me (though it did about five or six years ago). Many of the books offered by the popular e-presses that put out M/M fiction do have sex scenes that wind up feeling more like laundry lists than engaging relationship development, so I can understand your lack of interest in such things. 🙂

  9. I never thought I would like erotica, until I decided to break out of my shell and read one. Now, I can’t stop!

    • I’m not really sure what made me transition from the more traditional, vague, 1980-1990s Harlequins to actual erotica, but I’m so glad I did. 😀 I think sex is an important aspect of life, and to see it represented well in a compelling story is just wonderful.

      S.L. Armstrong

  10. The interesting information… And extension will be?

  11. […] Diablo – Nov. 8th Ebook Addict Reviews – Nov. 9th Naughty Boys in the Backseat – Nov. 10th International Heat – Nov. 11th Elisa Rolle – Nov. 12th Michele & Jeff Reviews – Nov. 13th Viki Lyn – Nov. […]

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