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Clare: and Chrissy: Good morning! Welcome to the April Shower Edition of The Clare and Chrissy Show. Being a new quarter, and a new month, we're feeling motivated! Let's grab our coffee and jump right in.

Chrissy: Wait! Wait!

Clare: What?

Chrissy: We need a confetti toss!

Clare: Really?

Chrissy: *opens mouth*

Clare: Forget I asked. Toss away, dear. Just let me duck first.

Chrissy: Wheeeee! It truly is the little things. You must need another vacation.

Clare: Holiday. The proper term is Holiday.

Chrissy: And there is our British-ism for the day. *wink*

Clare: One of the miracles of writing life is that there are just as many different readers and their personal preferences as there are writers eager to fill them.

Chrissy: But no matter how hard we might try, we can't please everyone.

Clare: It's guaranteed at one point or another an author will receive a comment from a reader who finished a story and didn't find it to their sexual taste.

Chrissy: Rather like Goldilock's porridge - some may find a story too hot, others may find the same story too cold.

Clare: (Porridge?? *shakes head*) Add to that we run right up front into the very solid wall of misperception if we write M/M…

Chrissy: …as for many readers, M/M fiction equals Erotica.

Clare: Despite our blurbs, despite the use of the word Romance…

Chrissy: …there are those who still haven't realized that there are just as many heat levels in M/M fiction as there are in any other type of fiction.

Clare: It's frustrating, because as authors, we welcome the opportunity to write a variety of romantic encounters between our main characters.

Chrissy: And as a reader, it's a pleasure not to have to skim through page after page of detailed sex, no matter the gender, when I'm not in the mood.

Clare: You're a skimmer?

Chrissy: There's been days. Sometimes life's too short and my head's just not in the game, no matter how sensual the writing.

Clare: The things we learn. *shakes head*

Chrissy: Pfffft.

Clare: One of the first questions we hear from many new authors is a simple one.

Chrissy: How do you know how much sex to add a story?

Clare: This always makes me chuckle, as I picture us sitting at our computers with aprons on and a large wooden spoon in hand to start stirring. This isn't a recipe we're following.

Chrissy: *gasps* What? You mean it isn't a case of mix two parts sex to every one part plot? Hmmm, or is that the other way around … I never remember.

Clare: As humans, we're lucky to enjoy the full spectrum of human interaction…

Chrissy: …why wouldn't our writing reflect that?

Clare: When asked, our answer is to write the amount of intimacy the story requires. No more, no less.

Chrissy: All right, we hear all the groaning out there. But that answer isn't a cop-out, it's true.

Clare: Common sense wins the day. We know the story, we know the characters, and we know the context. What heat level will those combined items support?

Chrissy: Maybe this is more like cooking than we first thought. Where did you put those aprons?

Clare: Down girl.

Chrissy: We've all heard the complaints from readers eagerly engrossed in a nail-biting scenario of imminent danger. The main characters are moments away from either a successful escape or dreadful discovery. Of course that's when they are suddenly overwhelmed with passion and drop their drawers, despite their approaching potential demise.

Clare: Gawd, I've written that scene myself *g*. But unless this is written in a framework informing the readers that the author is deliberately giving the characters one last opportunity for a quick shag before a horrible death, it tends to nullify all the hard work the author put into creating the nail-biting scenario in the first place.

Chrissy: And leaves the reader crying foul.

Clare: Or even worse, giggling.

Chrissy: We can examine our stories in the Winter Warmers anthology as examples.

Clare: In Chrissy's story, Butterscotch Kisses, Matthew and Andrew come to know each other through a series of brief encounters over the course of a single week. The gentle pace of their relationship and the sweet promise still to come would have made a suddenly graphic sex scene a jarring addition.

Chrissy: Or perhaps, turned the story into an example of a Penthouse Forum Letter.

Clare: Naah, if that were the case they would have only met once, and never exchanged names. And the adorable hats would be some weird kind of sex aid.... .

Chrissy: *cocks an inquisitive eyebrow*

Clare: *clears throat* Or so I've been led to believe.

Chrissy: Clare's contribution, Lucky Dip, gives us a humorously modern take on second chances. Greg and Andy already have an intimate history together, and the sexual tension sparking between them kindles into a satisfying rendezvous despite a few misadventures along the way.

Clare: In either case, the circumstances of the story appropriately support the heat level - and I'd say, so does the limit of the word count.

Chrissy: Could we decide beforehand what heat level we wish to write? Sure. But then we would deliberately tailor elements of the story to enable the desired intimacy.

Clare: We also need to factor in our comfort level when it comes to writing intimate encounters.


Chrissy: Some authors can make us tingle with just a single kiss.

Clare: Others make us wish they had stopped there :).




Clare and Chrissy: So we could say that the level of heat in a story depends on four C's: Characters, Context, Comfort, and Common Sense.

Authors, what methods do you use to determine how graphic a story will be? Readers, are you skimmers of intimate scenes or do you savor every syllable? And, just like in real life, does it all come down to our mood?

Leave us a comment and share your point of view. All entries will be used in a random drawer for some festive Clare and Chrissy swag. Winner to be announced during our next monthly blog post.

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SPECIAL NOTE: We're gearing up for a special "open forum" episode of The Clare and Chrissy Show later this year. Do you have a question about one of our posts? One of our stories? Love or Hate our characters? Interested in our favorite music? Reader's choice! All Clare, all Chrissy, all questions will be answered. But fear not shy soul, no names will be used, only questions.

You have between now and September 2012 to think of a question you'd like answered and email it to chrissymunder@yahoo.com. Be sure to mark which one of us the question is for, and then sit back and get ready to learn all.

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March Winner: sandra_lindsey- Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to Chrissy at chrissymunder@yahoo.com for your festive Clare and Chrissy Swag.

Missed a month? Follow the sticky post for these rambles of ours HERE

Be sure to catch the latest from Clare London. 3 Sexy Shorts featuring the men of True Colors.



And to learn more about us:


Here's Chrissy! website // blog.


Here's Clare! website // blog.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
luscious_words
Apr. 18th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
I definitely have to comment this time because I've celebrated the return of my beloved smutty muse. (I referred to her as a bitch in the post celebrating her return, but I meant it in a very nice way.) :)

As a writer, I like to write the hot stuff. I write what I like to read. So I get to answer your question as a reader, too. However, the mood definitely plays into it. If I need fluff, I want fluff. If I need heat, I want heat. (Who am I kidding? It's almost always needing heat. *G*)

If a story does not meet the requirements of the given moment, I will put it down and move on. If it meets the requirements, I'll shove aside other things to finish it. As to gender mixes or bends, that also is dependent on the mood. Sometimes I want a m/m or a f/f story to take me away. Other times I want a threesome, foursome or moresome. Sometimes it might be a f/m/m/m kind of mood. :)
chrissymunder
Apr. 18th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
It's interesting to think about when the mood strikes, and where it takes us. :)

A reader's mood is definitely a factor out of an author's control - which is another good reason to write what we enjoy.

Congrats on the return of the smutty muse.
luscious_words
Apr. 18th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
I've had story ideas that started off innocently enough that ended up with me muttering, "I'll be in my bunk." Then there are others that seemed like they were going to be steamy but ended up rather less so. I will say my experience with attempting a sweet romance left me with a bitter taste in my mouth because I HAD to write it with nothing more than a kiss to fit the writing group's anthology, but I could see where something more would have enhanced the story. I didn't have to be sex, but it needed more than just kisses.

The Welshman has suggested numerous times that I should just write what I like then hopefully we could find a home for it. Right now, my writing is solely fanfic and it's mixed in terms of m/m, f/f, m/f, etc.

Her return brought with it an idea I'm working that features one female and four male characters from my favorite show. Yeah, she returned with a vengeance...but it's all good. :D
clarelondon
Apr. 19th, 2012 09:31 am (UTC)
I have to say, I love the wide range of choice in the reading world nowadays. For a book to capture my imagination and devotion, it has to have much MORE than just heat, though I also like that in my reading :).
luscious_words
Apr. 19th, 2012 10:12 am (UTC)
It's great to have so much selection in reading options. It gives a reader the option to pick and choose what meets their whim at the moment, and there are many good writers who have come to light.

*nods* I agree, it does need more than heat. I'm a fan of character-driven stories. I like knowing what makes someone tick. But I'll admit I have a tendency toward hotter in both reading and writing. :)
egret17
Apr. 19th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
It depends. :) On the skill of the writer, how the sex fits into the story, etc. There's an author or two I just can't read because the sex-to-story ratio is so terribly skewed I end up skimming to find any hint of plot hidden in the thrusting and moaning...
clarelondon
Apr. 19th, 2012 09:37 am (UTC)
That's a very critical point you make - the *balance* of a story. I think that's even more important than the amount or the level of heat overall. And the heat always has to be plausible and exciting. IMHO *g*
luscious_words
Apr. 19th, 2012 10:15 am (UTC)
This is important, too. As much as I like sex in my stories, I like well-placed sex, not sex for sex's sake. And if I want just sex, that's when I go for erotica or write my own. :)
chrissymunder
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:31 am (UTC)
I always feel a bit guilty if I'm in a skimming state of mind because someone took the time to write all this out, pace it, worry over it, and then I blithley just wrinkle up my nose and flip the pages.

But you're right, I'm looking for hints of plot as I skim. So all's not lost. And I may very well slow down the next time I read the story and spend time there. I'm a very mood-driven reader - but I do reread.
anne_barwell
Apr. 19th, 2012 05:36 am (UTC)
Definitely agree with the four 'c's.

The two novels I have out now, have little to none onscreen sex, but I felt including it in either would have been gratiousness considering the situation these guys were in.

Slow Dreaming, however, has a onscreen sex scene, but it needed it as it was an intergral part of the story, these guys needed to connect on fast and also I wasn't about to say no to them. I have some self-preservation skills after all *g*

I know as a reader if I get to a nail biting scene and they suddenly are shagging like bunnies I'm WTF? If you're running for your life, you're not going to suddenly do that. Really. Survive, then do it. I also find stories with sex scenes every couple of pages get boring rather fast.

I'd much prefer one or two strategically placed where they fit the story and the characters and it makes sense.
clarelondon
Apr. 19th, 2012 09:41 am (UTC)
I'm still blushing because I *have* written that "omg, the bad guy is on his way, we're really tense but let's realise at last we should be together and have a reunion shag" scene, but never mind. It felt good at the time :)

I think Chrissy's 4C's should be enshrined in all good writing forums!

I had a great chat with Sue Brown the other night about the "insert sex scene here" issue, and how some of us love writing it *cough*, some don't. But as you so rightly point out, it's whether it fits (no pun intended). "Gratuitous" is the watchword. And it really can - and should - further the plot and characterisation.

chrissymunder
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:37 am (UTC)
I also find stories with sex scenes every couple of pages get boring rather fast.

That's a horrifying proposition, and the last thing an author hopes to do to their reader. LOL.

Sex in or Sex out, it has a lot to do with being flexible as a writer and allowing the work to unfold for you.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )