BY MINDI SCOTT
The other day, I was texting with Michelle about a book that we’ve both read. I told her that while I was reading a certain scene in said book, my thought process was approximately this:
So she’s going to have sex with this guy. Or . . . he’s about to go down on her?
Wait. No. I guess neither. They’re just holding each other.
And now some time has passed and they’re . . . putting their clothes back on? What? When did they take them off? Why did they take them off?
Unless . . . hmm. They must have done more than just cuddle. But WHAT DID THEY DO?
Now, I know that there are some readers out there who would appreciate this kind of subtlety, who would find it “classy” that the author didn’t “go there.”
I am not one of those readers.
This isn’t to say that I want every detail every time. (In fact, please, no. I’m looking at you, Jason Myers. ;-)) I guess I just feel like if I’m spending time in a character’s head and they are confiding all sorts of things in me, if sex was had in a chapter that I’m reading (or even in between chapters), I should know about it. Right?
I’ve actually come across this a number of times over the years, though. I’ll be reading along and find myself uncertain of whether I’m interpreting a scene correctly. I once discovered, like, 30 pages after the fact, that the very sensitive narrator I was chilling with had lost his virginity. It was kind of a big deal, and he didn’t bother to clue me in at the time. Dude! Why not?
Another thing Michelle and I discussed is those situations when a narrator has a crush on/is in love with someone. S/he wants that other person so badly and tells readers all about it for pages and pages, but then they finally get it on, and the narrator goes silent about it. FOR THE REST OF THE BOOK. I don’t necessarily need to witness or find out how everyone’s performance was or the mechanics of it, but I am certainly thinking: You just got what you wanted, but was it really what you wanted? Regrets? No regrets? Confusion about whether you have regrets? Give me something!
In some cases, I never get to find out.
Luckily for me, Michelle also is of the opinion that knowing how characters feel about sex and whether or not sex has actually occurred is important!
The way we’ve outlined the story we’re writing together, we’ve left plenty of room to surprise each other and ourselves with what is going to happen. At this point, we don’t know the specifics of when or how or if any characters will be hooking up onscreen. But whatever way it ends up going, readers will not have to wonder whether it happened or not. We promise!