Reality in Fiction–Sexuality, Emotionality, & Safety

A question I ask myself on a daily basis as a writer of not only erotic-romance, but also paranormal/fantasy fiction is one that might raise a few eyebrows. Then again maybe I’m not the only writer out there that asks themselves the question; How much realism should be included in fiction?

This question has always haunted the back of my mind even before I became a published writer. It’s been prominent in my mind for the past year as I’ve wrestled with a new series that follows the adventures of a paranormal investigation team led by gay psychologist Valentin Amoretti. I’d never done a series and this is an ambitious project for me that at times seems to be out to drive me crazy.

Valentin Amoretti, Psychologist & Pain in the Ass

Valentin my hero seems to be my own personal pain in the ass to be honest. Why you might ask? Well, Val is a bit promiscuous and considering that I wrote my first SAFE sex scene. I felt it was necessary considering where Val is going and where he might have been when it comes to his sexuality. Val has issues–boy does he have issues. *sighs* When I wrote that first sex scene in the first book of the series (which I’m trying to finish up right now) I hesitated for a moment when it came to protection. After all this is fiction and yet–

Hesitation was kicked to the curb when my muse popped up and said Are you insane? Use a friggin’ condom bitch!

My muse was right. Val is a character who has a history that’s led to him having intimacy issues and because of that history he never sticks to one partner. He comes off as a bit of a twat waffle and a slut. Of course, he’s not a fool or stupid, he’s just a pain in the ass. He’s the first character I’ve written that isn’t with a single partner or on his way to being with one right out of the gate.

I’ve know people in my life like Val, people who either confuse sex and love or are scared witless of opening up to love. Val’s behavior is based loosely on one particular friend of mine who I had in the early 1990’s. This friend, who happened to be female, ran the gambit in partners and didn’t use protection despite her track record. By the time she was 2o she openly admitted to sleeping with 40 men and claimed to have lost her virginity at 16. That would round out to 10 partners a year for 4 years. Not only that she’d had 2 abortions and numerous sexually transmitted problems. This was at a time when we were still learning just how devastating AIDS/HIV was and I felt like I was beating my head against a brick wall when trying to talk some sense into her.

Condoms in Fiction--Too Much Realism?

Now, Val is not that bad. He’s an intelligent guy and he doesn’t have a death wish. His major problem is psychological which is amusing considering he is a psychologist. Of course, I did have my college psychology professor tell me that you had to be a bit on the crazy side to get into the fields of psychology/psychiatry. Val enjoys sex, but he’ll be damned if he’ll ever open up to intimacy and make it more than just about sexual satisfaction. This is where I begin to wonder if perhaps too much reality might turn off a reader.

For me I bring to the table my own life experiences some of which might shock people who even know me well. For me love and the process of finding it has not been easy. In my opinion the fantasy image of what love is has crippled the way we view all our relationships–sexual or otherwise. Fantasy is wonderful, but when does the fantasy take a left turn and warp our real life? Does adding reality to our fictional works help change the way we view love, sex, and everything in between? Or does it instead scare us more? Do we prefer the fantasy minus the reality?

Personally, I need that base of reality in anything I read thus I write what I like to read. For me it pulls me into the story and makes me fall in love with the characters.  That’s all fine and dandy when it comes to the emotional, but when the sexual component joins in how realistic do the readers really want it? Positions, lubrication, sex toys, and protection–is it too much reality? Or is it just the perfect balance?

I’d love to hear what everyone thinks. Seriously people–before Val drives me over the edge into mega-psychosis. *glares at Val*

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8 comments on “Reality in Fiction–Sexuality, Emotionality, & Safety

  1. This is such a well-trampled subject, and you’ll get as many opinions as you do people commenting on your post. For me, I base my guys firmly in reality. They walk and talk as much like the men I know as I can make them, and they love and screw up as authentically as I can manage. Because as I see it, fantasy is much like lying; the good ones are all based insome sort of truth.

    Do you want people to believe Val is a promiscuous bastard with too many sexual partners to count, that he’s healthy and smart? From my perspective, you’d better have him use a condom, because your readers are not going believe he’s all that and so lucky he never contracted anything *and* still be able to talk guys into his bed, knowing his reputation.

    It’s much easier, for me, anyway, to believe in characters who act like the reasonable humans I know.

    That’s my two cents;
    Jaime

  2. I suppose it has been well-trampled, but on occasion I just feel the need to babble. Especially, when I’m being smacked around by my muses. 😉

    Do you want people to believe Val is a promiscuous bastard with too many sexual partners to count, that he’s healthy and smart?

    Well, he’s not quite that bad, he has doubts about what he does,and reasons for his lack of trust. Despite all that he still has a hard edge to him. And yeah, he used a condom in that first sex scene. When I first wrote it I wondered if maybe the condom thing would annoy people. Take them out of the moment as I’ve heard more than one reader say, which makes no sense to me at all.

    Sadly, I’ve heard a million and one opinions on the use of protection in sex scenes; some of which make sense and others that don’t. I wrote the scene and then started second guessing myself which I should know not to do by now. It’s one of my worse traits as a writer; I’m my own worse critic. *chuckles*

    I’m just like you when it comes to believability in characters. I was just having a moment of doubt. Thanks for the kick in the ass. 😀

  3. Hey, I worry about that too. I’m not writing about 1000-year old animated corpses who are looking for their “perfect woman”…I write contemporary romance about realistic mena dn women who, presumably, have working parts that can catch diseases and cause unwanted pregnancies. I always have my characters deal with the issue of safe sex before they have any at all. It’s an issue that I have always been aware of, and one that I have tried to teach my 4 kids to keep paramount in their minds. In fact recently, my boys (22,20 and 18) were bitching at me because when they were young I pissed off their grandmother, telling her that I planned on having a big bowl o’ condoms at the front door, so they could take them with every time they left. She said, “Surely you won’t let your daughter have one too?” I told her, “No, I’ll make sure she always has 2 in case one breaks!” But the boys are upset that now that they might need them, there really isn’t a bowl by the front door! I told them if they can’t afford the condoms, they can’t afford a sexual partner either.

  4. You just made my day with your comment. Hell,you got a laugh out of me–especially with the bowl of condoms by the door. My best friend has a 13 year old son and when he was younger and started asking questions her now ex-husband threw a tantrum because she actually answered his questions. He flipped out and said, “I suppose you’ll buy him condoms when he’s a teenager.” She looked her ex in the eye, straight faced, and said, “Yes, actually I will. I’d rather embarrass him for 5 minutes than have him become a father at sixteen.”

    Maybe if every writer wrote responsible sex scenes then we wouldn’t be so twitchy when the subject of protection comes up. It seems a natural part of being a responsible lover.

  5. If the story is fairly realistic in shape, then realism about the risks and issues is good. I write promiscuous characters too, and when they aren’t supernatural, I tend to issue them with condoms. I think realism can be sexy too, if you hhandle it right, the slow unravelling, the loving application of something slippery… that can be a lot of fun.

  6. The series is based in reality, but has supernatural elements. Val is just a normal man who happens to investigate the paranormal.

    I think realism can be sexy too, if you handle it right…

    Thank you! Thank you so much! I feel the same way. For some reason a number of people I’ve had discussions with or just discussions I’ve read I see comments about how 1) It’s a fantasy why go into all stuff because 2) it breaks the mood and/or 3) takes the reader out of the moment. I’ve never understood this mentality and I doubt I ever will.

    Thanks for stopping by and offering your own perspective. It makes me feel more confident in my decision about the use of protection.

  7. Pingback: Tweets that mention Reality in Fiction–Sexuality, Emotionality, & Safety « Jesse Fox -- Topsy.com

  8. Outside of the sexuality of any story, I feel that the factor of reality or realism in fiction makes it possible for a story to breathe life and be believable. It’s the stories that have fantasy that are the most watered down, poppy cock stories that somehow, many fiction readers grew to love…because they are stories that do not resemble some of the miserable lives some people perceive themselves as having. They want reading to be their escape from reality. But this world and life is real. People need to wakeup from the fairytale.

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