Monday 11 November 2013

No Sex Please, We’re Crime Writers!

I write short.  This stems from my comedy writing roots, where each word must be carefully chosen for impact.  So my publishers don’t delete a lot of scenes from my books.  In fact, they usually tell me where to add more words.

With one exception.

There seems to be a convention that crime books shouldn’t contain sex.  Oh, they can refer to sex. Sex can be a powerful motivator for all those violent scenes we are allowed to describe in painstaking detail. (Irony alert here.)

So you can refer to sex. But Lord help you if you – ahem – ‘Show-not-Tell.’

Okay, so I show a bit.  But just a little bit.  I don’t write X-rated, honest.  In fact, I write with the sort of silliness that might be associated with old Benny Hill skits.  So we’re not talking 50 Shades of Naughty here. Still, my naughty bits get censored.

No sex please, we’re crime writers!

It’s a crime <sic>.  Heck, it’s enough to make a poor gal swap genres. Have you read any steamy romance books lately?  Those novels can be practically pornographic.

When did romance books become more adult than crime books?

I explained to one publisher why a certain sexy blackmail scene was essential to the story. It provided motivation that was completely necessary.  So here was their admittedly canny solution:

Leave the dialogue, but take out the other senses – the sounds, the visuals, the - let’s leave it there.

Yes, it still works.  You get what’s going on by what is being said.

Does it lose impact?  Well, yes.  I work hard to include all the senses in my writing.

But does it work for the plot?  Yes, it does.  It might even be funnier without the senses.
You be the judge.

From THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, just released!
“Now Carmine, move up front here and pay close attention to this video. You might know the people.”
Everyone came closer. You could almost hear each individual breath. Except then I turned up the volume and you could only hear the heavy breathing and moans coming from the laptop.
“Oh Carmy! Do it – do it – ahhhhh”
“I’m doin’ it, babe – I’m doin’ it –“
“Faster, Carmy! Faster – don’t stop”
All eyes were glued to the screen.
“Oh, gross,” said Lou.
“Holy shit!” yelled Carmine. “How did you get that?”
“Carm, that ain’t your wife. Tracy’s not a blond.” Bertoni was confused.
            “How the heck is she doing that?” Pete stared at the video with far too much interest.

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