Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where's the Line? Is it Here or Over There? Let's Find Out!

Let's talk deleted scenes. I've noticed that authors often post scenes that didn't make it into their books. Heck, I've done that myself. Now, most of the time, my deleted scenes get deleted for the very good reason that they weren't the sharpest knife in the drawer of novel chapters. So, off with their papery little heads. It's a bloodless coup, not that it doesn't hurt me.

Poor chapter, I thought it was going to work out, but I'm sorry. I couldn't make you what you deserved and I swear this hurts me more than it hurts you.


Off the chapter goes into my deleted chapters folder.

But sometimes I delete a chapter because I was taking a risk. Just how far can I go? I think to myself. Let's find out! And I write the chapter. And then my editor either blinks or doesn't at all.

For example, in A Darker Crimson I wrote a scene in which my vampire hero has sex with the human heroine whilst he is possessed by a demon. Oddly enough I wasn't worried about that scene at all. In retrospect, I should have been, but I was more worried about the scene in which my heroine has sex with a demon under the influence of an arcane demonic bond; they're both having sex without their full free will. My editor didn't say a word about that scene. But he did want me to change the possession sex scene. So, all right! I did post the deleted scene to my website and at least some people said they liked that better than the one I wrote in it's place. But, my editor was right in his objections, which, actually had less to do with sex during demonic possession and more to do with my heroine's personal agency.

In My Wicked Enemy (on sale now!!) one of my revision requests was this:

No penis touching

By now you've wondered WTF? A novel that falls on the hot side of the romance spectrum often has lots of penis touching. Good golly! Was Carolyn asked to deprive her poor hero? No. The touching involved occurred between my hero and a male secondary character who happened to be on a bed (no, they weren't doing that, not exactly anyway) with the heroine.

In my final manuscript, there was male to male penis touching, which I edited out on request and I do think the scene as rewritten was very good and still resonated with a touch of oh my gosh! Are they going to---?

So, what do you-all think about a scene like that? Would it bother you in a Romance novel? I'm curious to know what you think.


Tarot By Arwen said...

Having just read "My Wicked Enemy", I was really really surprised by the possible M/M. It was so well done. It didn't seem awkward or gratuitous at all. If it had been in there, I think it would have been fine for me. I can see where others might have been... taken aback.

It was in character and made sense in your world. That was what sold it for me. I said it elsewhere and I'll say it here. This is one of my top 10 paranormals of the year.

ciara said...

M/m wouldn't bother me at all. However, sex without full consent (under the influence or whatnot) bothers me a LOT. I suppose we all have our hot buttons, and rape is mine. As long as the people/demons/vampires/aliens/whatever are consenting adults, all I need is love.
(please excuse typos - sent from my iPhone)

Megan Frampton said...

M/M stuff doesn't bother me at all, especially if it makes sense in context, as this scene does. I don't want to read exclusively that, but it's not a turn-off.

Carolyn said...

@ciara: It was inaccurate, or maybe just incomplete, of me to suggest there wasn't consent in that scene. But, it's also a grey area, in my opinion. In this book (A Darker Crimson) demons are subject to a life-bond over which they have no choice. It happens and both parties are affected. So, in this scene this bond kicked in. On the one hand, neither of them chose the bond yet that bond made them sexually compatible and attracted to each other. So, in a sense, there was not free will but there was consent.

This trope of a magical bond that cannot be denied shows up in many many Paranormal romances (SFF, too) so it's not uncommon, and yet there is that element of lack of choice. (See, eg., Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books as well as Meyer's werewolves in the Twilight series.)

Is it rape if the parties are under the influence of such a bond? If so, then it must be rape for both, right? What I found interesting about the reader reaction to that scene is no one who emailed me noted that the lack of free will applied equally to the male partner. I found that to be an interesting gender bias.

But, I don't think I'd ever stop writing out there at the uncomfortable gray edges.

andrea pickens said...

Hi Carolyn,

I'm not bothered at all by that concept—of course it just all depends on the way it's written. (And you do it splendidly!) I like authors who take a chance, who push the envelope. I suppose there are some things I would have trouble accepting . . .like others have said, I have a very hard time imagining how any author could make rape acceptable for me. But for the most part, in consensual sex, I'm open to reading it and giving an author the chance to make me say "hey, this is really well done!"

Carolyn said...


Thanks for stopping by. Pretty much, I agree with you. And thanks for the kind words.