Monday, June 30, 2014

You Got Chocolate in My Peanut Butter!

Anyone else remember those old Reeses Peanut Butter Cup commercials?  Someone has a chocolate bar and someone else has a jar of peanut butter, and after some minor catastrophe, the two end up together.  And both people decide the mix is good.

But sometimes, throwing two things together doesn't end up so good.  For me, mixing sex with action rarely works.  I realize right now there are dozens of you ready to beat me over the head with a set of salad tongs. After all, there's a whole genre devoted to mixing romance with suspense.  But please understand... I'm talking about FOR ME.  As a reader, I can't marry the idea of two characters running for their lives or evading tragedy or escaping doom who suddenly have time for a quick roll in the hay.  And as a writer, I can't make it work so that I feel I have suspended disbelief.  (If I can suspend my own, how can I hope to suspend yours?)

I'm not saying it never works.  As I was typing the above paragraph, the love scene from the movie Terminator popped into my head.  In that case, there was a logical break in the action and the tension of running from Ahnold melded them together. Plus, she had to conceive at some point or the plot would've fallen apart.  And there they were stuck inside a house being moved with nothing much else to do except stew over when the terminator would find them, so they had plenty of time to enjoy each other's company.

I just don't see it working like that very often otherwise.  For me, I'll be reading along, enjoying the plot and then suddenly, the hero and the heroine are sexing it up.  Sometimes it's so sudden, it drops me out of the plot.  Most times, I just flip past the pages of sexual description until I can pick up the plot thread again.  Every rare once in a while, I read the whole scene because there is actually something crucial to the story woven into the scene.

But maybe it's just me.  I used to inhale sex scenes in novels, pouring over every word.  Now?  Meh.  These days I'm just as content to have the writer hint that they're having sex and then close the door on the scene.  I'm happier when they get me right back to the plot.  And as a writer, that's what I hope to do.  You know, if I ever have my characters in a place where sex right then is necessary to the storyline.

In my unpublished suspense, Dying Embers, the heroine knows she wants the hero.  Hell, I even got them both in the same hotel room.  But as I wrote the scene I realized her mind was totally wrapped up in finding a killer and he was too tired to make a move anyway.  In the end, the story felt more real with her thinking about him rather than jumping on him.

Like I said, though, maybe it's just me.  Time for you to chime in.  If you're a reader, do you find sex scenes in action settings believable?  Do you even care?  As a writer, how do you manage to weave the intimacy in with the tension and make it work? 


3 comments:

jblynn said...

Great post!

I'm all distracted by remembering that commercial. I personally like chocolate and love peanut butter but I HATE them together.

I think that some writers make sex and suspense/action work really well together. Some don't.

I personally find it challenging. Then again, I find most everything challenging, lol.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Thanks, JB! You know me, I'm a chocolate and peanut butter person - in any combination. So, if you accidentally get peanut butter on your chocolate, you know you can always send it to me. ;o)

Some writers really do a good job of combining the two. I think it's a constant balancing act that I haven't been forced to master.

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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