Jordan L. Hawk, The Joyful Approach

Wanna Know What Jordan L. Hawk Wants To Talk About? Hint: It’s Spicy… And There’s A Giveaway!!




Let’s talk about sex!

Some writers hate to write sex scenes, and others can’t wait to get to the naughty scenes. As for me, I’m firmly in the second camp. I love writing sex scenes, not just because sex is awesome in and of itself, but because I believe showing how your characters approach sex can truly deepen and enrich a book.

When it comes to planning (because I’m nothing if not a plotter), I approach sex scenes as I would any other conversation between the characters. What are they trying to express to one another? Is it something they might never be able to say aloud, or just a reaffirmation of what the other person already knows? It can be something simple and straightforward: “I want you.” “I care about you.” Or more complex: “I’m afraid you’ll leave me.” “Nothing in my life feels real except this.” “You’re mine and I won’t share you with anyone else.”

There’s a complicated language which develops organically between each couple, and everything from what sort of sex they choose to have (frottage, oral, anal), to which partner is giving or receiving (if applicable) expresses something specific.

Similarly, it’s worth noting when a character can’t sustain the mood and ends up not having sex. Rare in the romance genre, I know! But it can be a powerful way of showing a character’s sorrow, or how neurotically freaked out he is over being compared to an ex, or whatever other emotion needs to be conveyed.

The amount of realism in sex scenes is an ongoing debate among fiction writers (and readers). Given I’m writing about zombies, ghosts, vampires, and other assorted fantastic beasties, should I feel compelled to include condoms, for instance?

I think the answer to this varies from writer to writer. As with so much, there is no “right” answer here. For me, I’m already asking the reader to suspend their disbelief with the paranormal aspects. Therefore, I feel I need to make an effort not to jar them out of the story with the ordinary aspects. Not to mention, how conscientious a character is (or isn’t) about condoms can say something about him. Not to mention it gives me an excuse to turn up the heat if they both test safe and are now free to do it bareback. ;)

On the other hand, when it comes to stories set in historic eras, like Widdershins and Threshold, I’m more than content to just assume Griffin got extremely lucky. I’ve yet to have anyone write me and complain he isn’t riddled with syphilis or other (at the time) incurable STDs. It might not be realistic, but that’s simply not what the story is about.

As for realism in other aspects, well, you may have gathered I’m very sex-positive, so more than anything what I want to do is show the characters having a good time in a way that will satisfy the reader. I figure I put my poor characters through hell, so I can at least give them a great time in bed to balance everything out.

So what’s your opinion on sex scenes, readers? Writers, how do you approach them in your work?

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THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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32 thoughts on “Wanna Know What Jordan L. Hawk Wants To Talk About? Hint: It’s Spicy… And There’s A Giveaway!!

  1. Completely agree on the historicals front. (KA Mitchell’s ‘Improper Holiday’ uses the threat of disease to good effect: one hero is convinced that his lover’s highly promiscuous ex will have picked up something horrible, and there are some great exchanges round that.) But yeah, I think if we’re assuming two guys are lucky enough to find each other and fall in love and not get sent to prison etc, we can give them the extra bit of luck not to catch the clap.

    I think a sex scene has to advance the story in some way – push the relationship on or off track, or move the plot on, or allow a connection/conversation – so if my characters are having non-plot-advancing sex (sometimes it’s just a cigar…), I tend to fade to black, rather than writing it up. Luckily, they usually find a way to move the plot on as well. :)

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    • I’ll check out Improper Holiday for sure, KJ! I’d love to see how it’s handled. :)

      I figure between Griffin having already been in an insane asylum, not to mention fighting monsters and evil sorcerers, he had enough problems without adding syphilis to the mix. ;)

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      • Yeah. Did you see the Johnny Depp film about the Earl of Rochester, I think it was called The Libertine? Not great and a travesty of the man, but a really shocking depiction of the effect of syphilis at the end. Incontinence, noselessness, madness. Nasty. I say let’s stick to the mental torture. :-)

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  2. Jay Ross says:

    I’m all for sex scenes. However when they become 70% or more of the book, it can become too much. The story should still be the main subject of a book.

    Please count me in for the drawing.

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  3. Allison says:

    I enjoy sex scenes when they are appropriate and when, as you have said, they advance the story. I do have a few favorites that have no sex scenes but do have scenes of great emotional intimacy, it’s all about what fits the story. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  4. Sex is good. I’m good with sex. Mostly. (P.S. – I’ll skip over me when it comes time for the drawing.) :)

    For me, the act of sex has to be about more than the act of sex, though. I want provocative and sensual and to know more than the mere mechanics of it. I want to know what the scene feels like and sounds like and smells like and tastes like so I can buy into it. If an author can accomplish that for me, I don’t even necessarily need the sex to advance the story, but I do want to understand how I’m supposed to feel about what’s happening at that particular point in time. I want the sex to reveal a little bit about who the characters are involved in it, and about how they feel about it afterward.

    You know, one of the single most seductive scenes I’ve ever read included no sex at all. It was in Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen, when Belimai Sykes and Captain Harper are sharing a bottle of gin in the dark corner of a bar. I could feel the chemistry and tension and the covert and overt flirtation that was taking place. You know exactly what’s going to happen when they leave that place, and in the end, Belimai hints about what happened after, but the reader never sees it on the page. I didn’t need to because I was already blissed out over their verbal foreplay before they’d ever left the bar. That was good stuff. :)

    The whole condom/bareback thing is an entirely different ball of sex for me. I think we’re programmed to expect either a condom or “the talk” because, most especially in contemporary fiction, it’s difficult to separate the fiction from the reality of sexually transmitted diseases. It’s such a double-standard because no one reading M/F erotica expects the guy to stop and put a condom on before he has sex with a woman. But I think nearly everyone expects that pause in the foreplay to happen in M/M (with guys who aren’t yet established as a couple). It’s much easier to overlook that component in historical/sci-fi/fantasy because we’re either already suspending belief or are reading about a time period when condoms weren’t invented (or widely used) yet.

    Great topic, Jordan!

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  5. felinewyvern says:

    As a reader I prefer the sex scenes that add to the story with something to say about the characters. Not that I object to sex for sex sake sometimes if it’s well written and hot!! ;)

    ilona
    felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

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  6. Theo says:

    I like sex scene when there is build up and anticipation before the act and purpose in the story. I sometimes skip the sex scene when I feel it’s not really necessary for the plot and is put just to titillate the reader.

    Regarding condoms, I feel it’s important to address this in contemporary stories since it is a real issue nowadays. As long as the characters make informed decision about using or not using condoms, I’m fine either way. All bets are off on other genres though

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  7. Trix says:

    I think it just depends on what the characters and plot dictate. I’ve seen effective stories with wall-to-wall sex, and those with none at all. I’ve heard good arguments on both sides of the condom issue, but I must say that I always give big props to someone who manages to eroticize safe sex…

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  8. chickie434 says:

    I like sex scenes that advance the story. I started reading a series where half the book is sex, and sometimes pointless sex that just seems to be put in to make the story longer. I’ve given up on the series, which is a shame since I like the premise, but I literally skipped half the story because the sex was pointless. I like sex scenes like the ones you describe.

    As for the condom debate…I don’t really care one way or the other. If it’s a contemporary book, then yeah, I kinda expect test results or condoms. But if it’s a paranormal, a historical, I suspend the belief that condoms are necessary. For paranormals, I just assume they can’t catch a human disease, and like you said with the historicals, I like to believe that after all the crap they’ve been through, they won’t catch anything.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing Jordan, and I will definitely have to check out your books and your sex scenes :)

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  9. Great post – interesting about the condom issue, it can be an awkward interruption in the flow of the scene if done wrong, I’ve always tried to find a way to make it at least a little hot. But sometimes it’s me rather than the character going…oh wait, need a condom! lol Then having to go back and rework it in. (no pun intended). But you gotta figure sex is awkward and messy in its own right, so we can afford a bit of fumbling mid scene. : )

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  10. Jbst says:

    I like stories where there’s more plot and character development, so I would prefer sex scenes to reveal something about the characters, their relationship and the story.

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  11. Carissa says:

    What I really like is when sex is part of the story, not the whole story. It shows a lot about how the characters interact and I love seeing how normally more reserved people allow themselves to really show when they are with someone they trust. Plus, if it well written, it is just plain hot. When it comes to historical/magical/scifi novels the use of protection never seems to be a big deal with me, but if it set in a contemporary time I can get a little obsessive if the characters seem to just stupidly choose to play Russian-roulette with their, and their partners, health. I don’t like to be muttering “well that’s freaking stupid” during what is supposed to be a gripping love scene. Seriously throws the whole mood off.

    Oh, and lube is your friend–but more importantly lube will make your friends want to come back for more! ; )

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  12. Jennifer says:

    I like sex scenes (and they can be really detailed) as long as they are not a substitute for plot or character development. I like it best when they are varied and the participants are versatile. Agree with Carissa that lube is your friend. I always wince when just spit is used.

    BTW, I loved “Widdershins”and have “Threshold” on my list to read.

    Thanks for the blog and the giveaway.

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  13. Carolyn says:

    I appreciate well-written sex scenes, but if they’re not part of the book, it doesn’t bother me. In a romance, action, or mystery novel, I’m cool with wherever the author wants to take me, from sensual and sexual bonanza to restrained, fade-to-black intimacy. Of course, if it’s erotica, I would absolutely feel short-changed. *g*

    I notice when there isn’t condom use in a contemporary, and that’s just the modern world we live in. I can’t disassociate myself from the thought that they should be taking care of the person(s) they’re having sex with, no matter what body parts their partner(s) have. That’s not to say I’ll get huffy and write a letter to the author, but I will think, “Hmm, you just met that guy, and you’re having unprotected sex. That’s not too smart.” Thankfully, they are in fiction land and will only get diseases and/or pregnant if the author writes it that way. In real life, I’d have a lot more to say to someone acting that way.

    Thanks for the discussion, Jordan, and the giveaway!

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  14. Ashley E says:

    I’m all for the sex scenes, however, too many of them can ruin a good story (or just not leave any room for a good story). I can find porn free on the internet, if I’m paying good money for it, I want it to really be worth my time. Basically, sex with a point to it is terrific, but I don’t mind reading books with little to no sex. *gasp*

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  15. One more giveaway down, bunches more to come. Thanks for stopping by for the sex talk, everyone. Jordan’s contest has come to a close, and the winner has been selected. A $5 Amazon gift card goes to…

    Trix!

    Congratulations, Trix. I’ve already emailed Jordan with your contact information, so expect to be hearing from her soon. :)

    Like

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