Yes, I'm asking. That's because I've been chosen to talk on that topic at the upcoming Public Safety Writers conference in Vegas in June.

 

Mystery writers love a good mystery. We love a great murder. The white gloves are off--sorry Agatha C. But, do we need the bedroom door open?

 

I wrote a book, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, which is about an S&M sex club. Guess what? There was NO sex in the book. Nada. There was an intellectual discussion of the topic by a college prof in the book and even a trip to the club, but NO SEX. Was it a cop-out? Or, did I know my audience and exactly what they could handle?   

 

I'm far from a prude, that's why I was assigned the topic. It was sort of a "Truth-or-Dare" moment. I took the dare and I'm looking for the truth. Personally, if I want sex, I will go to the erotica genre. When I read a mystery, I want a clue.  

 

So, I'd like the folks on Crime Space to give me something to work with. What books crossed the line? Who got close and pulled it off? Titles and opinions, please!

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I think sex is like setting. Yeah, the audience has to know it's happening, but just like they don't have to see every fold in every drape in the room, they don't have to have an anatomical play-by-play of anyone's love life.

I use sexual actions as dialogue tags: "Blah blah blah." So and so stroked the other person's cock. "Let's talk some more about the crime we're really here for." So each scene is about pushing the plot forward, but the sex, like a crowded bar, can be the backdrop.

I wouldn't shy away from being graphic--we're not Victorians who need euphamisms--just say enough so the reader has a sense of what's going on. And say it vividly, so you only need a line or two in an entire chapter for readers to know it's a sex scene.
If I get that scenario, it certainly attests to the fact that the crime they are investigating is an overruling interest next to which all other activities pale.
Yeah. Obviously the example I gave is a fill-in-the-blanks scenario. But I think it's important for a sex scene to have a double purpose, unless you're writing erotica. It doesn't have to be overtly about solving the crime, but it should move the characters along in their journey toward crime-solving.

I think the golden rule is: Above all, entertain. Sex scenes, if written well, are a great way to keep a reader entertained.

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