Musing Mondays #19: Explicitness

Posted June 9, 2014 in Discussion, Musing Mondays / 0 Comments

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Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
My Musings:
Explicitness
 
So, today’s topic is going to be controversial…yay! I love these kinds of topics. Anyway, I’m gonna discuss explicitness today. As in, how descriptive authors can get about what happens in the bedroom. 
 
It’s not stated in my Review Policy that I won’t read erotica, but the truth is I don’t really read it. I mean, you can get that kind of explicitness from the internet. If someone wanted me to review an erotica book, I would see if it had some kind of interesting factor that I’ve never seen in other books. Then it might be worth exploring. I like controversial things.
 
But sometimes authors can be sneaky. They won’t say a book is erotica, they’ll say it’s romance. But then BAM! They’ll have a sex scene. Or two. Or five. And it’ll be more explicit then you were expecting. (I can think of one book in particular but I’m not naming names.) Now, I’m sure most readers would shy away from that. Or perhaps throw the book down in disgust and write a negative review or perhaps even DNF it. I’m POSITIVE some of you reviewers out there have experienced this. 
 
But as for me, honestly I’m so OPEN to anything it doesn’t bother me. I will read pretty much ANYTHING, as the policy does state. I’ll read controversial stuff (here’s an example: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult). I won’t put down the book if it has explicitness. I’ve seen almost everything in books, so something like that won’t bother me too much. If it’s unnecessary to the story, that’s another matter. If the story isn’t ABOUT romance I’ll get a little annoyed. But not for the level of description alone will I DNF or hate a book. 
 
A lot of books manage to do their love scenes beautifully. They are just so well written that you can feel the intimacy and you only need the feeling to go on to know what’s happening and be satisfied. If there is some kind of intimate connection, then sometimes just knowing they did it is enough. (example: Graceling or Fire by Kristin Cashore) But if the book is leading up to that moment the entire time, then there IS a certain level of expectation, and I want it to be fulfilled. I want a little more detail. I want to know what’s going through the characters’ minds. THAT’S important to the story. Mind you, I don’t need EVERYTHING. I just need more than ‘they did it.’ 
 
And there’s another thing to consider. Whether you’re going to be explicit or not, there is the factor of closing the bedroom door. I read a post on this awhile ago but I can’t remember exactly where. Anyway, do we want to stop it right when they get into bed and pick up the morning after, or do we want to follow through and wait until they talk afterwards? That’s a big decision. Sometimes (more often than most), closing the bedroom door leaves us feeling unfulfilled. Disappointed. Even if the author isn’t going to get explicit in their description of events, sometimes how the characters feel about it, or what they talk about afterwards, is important to the story and how we relate to the characters. 
 
A good example of where it’s okay to close the bedroom door is in I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith (review). Now, I admit, that did have a lot of buildup, and sexual tension. There was a level of expectation there. But then it became so much MORE than that. It became about their emotional connection rather than their physical lust. We were so deep into the complicated emotions that by the time they actually ‘did it’, it was less of a big deal. At that point, it was all right to close the bedroom door, because we know they did it, and it was a big deal for them but there were more important things going on in the story than that. 
 
Now, say, if there was an affair going on, or the possibility of one, yes, details are rather important. We need to know how far the characters go in order to see if it’s really a serious affair or not. We don’t need every gory detail but we need more than a vague ‘they spent the night together.’ In some books that means sex. In others that means they stayed up talking. It really depends on how specific the writing is in general. If the writing doesn’t shy away from specifics, then they stayed up talking or something. If the writing is annoyingly vague a lot of the time, then that could mean anything from cuddling to sex. You’ve got to get a feel for what the author probably means based on their writing rather than what YOU think it means. 
 
So to sum it all up, I’m open. I’ll read pretty much anything. Explicitness in books doesn’t bother me, but I do consider its importance to the plot when I rate the book overall. I won’t shy away from explicit things or controversial ideas, and I won’t criticize people who do. I just happen to live by the ‘try anything once’ rule.
 
So what do you guys think about explicitness in books? And what about closing the bedroom door? Answer in the comments and link up your Monday Musings!
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