Miss Snark feels sexually harrassed...sadly Mr. Clooney is nowhere to be found

A Snarkling wonders

Miss Snark,

I write women's fiction, and my current WIP opens with my main character engaging in a romp with a local cowboy she picked up in a bar. It's not written in a sexually explicit way, and the scene focuses more on what is going on in her mind during the interlude. I've had feedback from some in my critique group that this may close some agent doors as this type of opening is "old and been done a million times before." I really believe in my ms, and I feel that this opening is truly the gateway to rest of the story. So - I throw it to you...
To have sex or not to have sex? That is the question.

So, the critique group has seen this "a million times" huh? Did they name any titles?
It's certainly not something I've seen a million times, but then I don't read the hard sciences or much self help either.

Here's the deal: if you write it well, it doesn't matter what anyone else does. If everyone did it and you did it so much better, you'll get noticed. Think of it like basketball: everyone in the NBA can sink a two pointer. Michael Jordan just did it more often and with more flair than anyone else alive.

What I get annoyed about is not that the situation is common but that the writing is pedestrian. Flowing blonde mane and heaving bosoms are a one way ticket to the "not for me" missionary position. Same with whores with hearts of gold, and serial killers stalking coeds. You have to write REALLY well to make that fresh and original.

Sex is very very very hard to write about. Reading about some prince licking some peabrain's toes while she moans "the sacrifices I make for England" is very low on my list of things to read about.

So, if you think it works well, captures the reader's interest and is absolutely the best writing of your life, tell your critique group to go..er....never mind.



Dave Kuzminski said...

In all seriousness, I'd like your opinion on a work wherein the first book is very YA in tone and so forth. Sure, there's a nude scene, but it's caused by circumstances and not for any sexual purposes. Additionally, the heroine only wounds a few bad guys.

Okay, in book two, she's forced to kill a few bad guys in order to protect herself and some friends. There's some more nudity, but it's strictly for non-sexual reasons.

In book three, she willingly kills some bad guys, society has been flip-flopped because of her time-travel activities. Nudity, sexual activity, and even violence likewise socially acceptable. None of this is blatently described, but it's clear that it's happening around her.

It's also clear that the story is straining to slip out of YA. Is that good, bad, duh, or what? I can't change the first. It's already out.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

ROFL...Personally Dave, I guess if you can find a YA publisher that let's you go that far....sigh...it's your story, but it sounds like it's trying to be T&A not YA! Yikes!

Oh, Miss Snark...speaking of Mr Clooney. He was on Oprah last friday, and jokingly (I hope) asked her to marry him. He said with a sly grin, that it would be quite a merger! Don't take me there! Looks like you still have a chance. Sharpen those stilettoes and shine up the gin pail!

THRILL said...

Dave, have your read John Marsden? His YA tomorrow series starts out with kids trying to avoid being killed. As the series develops the have to make the choice whether to engage in sex or not. And it does happen.

It's definitely older YA, IMHO.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Thrill, I thought that might be the case, but I haven't read any YA in ages. Thanks for the opinion.

Mama Rose said...

If you're going to write YA, I'd think you'd want to read what's currently being sold as YA. I'm a firm believer in reading extensively in your genre and knowing what's selling now. But that's just my opinion. YMMV. :)


Cornelia Read said...

While Dave's boundary-pushing YA series sounds like an intriguing read to this FLTYA (Frumpy Less-Than-Young Adult) reader, I offer a comment to the lucky snarkling whose question originally prompted the Hallowed Musings(tm) of our snarkificent cyber-hostess... To wit: go for it, especially since your writerly heart tells you this opening sex scene lends structural integrity to the story as a whole, beyond mere "hooky" but otherwise peripheral titillation value.

A great recent titillation-plus-serious-insight opener, IMHO, is the first chapter of Martha O'Connor's THE BITCH POSSE. Lucky Snarkling's start sounds decidedly different in tone, but TBP might offer good food for thought on how to make a touch of raunch at inception hit readers as solidly "justified" enough to transcend gimmickry.

THRILL said...

Pleasure, Dave. Always willing to give my opinion wearing my reader hat!

Cornelia, that's another title to add to my skyscraper stack of must read books.