Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WRITING IN THE SHADOW OF FIFTY SHADES

Thank  you, Ms. James. The success of your Fifty Shades series has set a new standard in publishing for we struggling writers to aspire to. Now it seems that every publisher wants “hot”, “hotter” or “hottest”. Fantastic news for those who are comfortable writing in that genre and I cheerfully wave and smile at my wonderful writer friends who write in that genre (and much better books than Fifty Shades!). Go for it girls…now is your time.

However not all of us are comfortable either writing or reading about endless ways to get the jiggly bits to connect. Page after page of complex choreography and new and exciting ways to describe the aforesaid jiggly bits.  The human body is a beautiful creation but personally, I find it much more alluring with clothes on, just as I find the slow build to a deserving coming together of two people so much more interesting than jumping each others’ bones the first minute they meet.  It’s what goes on with that big muscle between the ears that fascinates me as a writer (and a reader).

Let me just say I don’t write 'inspirational' stories. My characters do make it into the bedroom and I don’t close the door (or at least not all the way). As one reviewer said of my book,  BY THE SWORD “… is not the rip off your clothes and run through the sprinklers naked kind…” but for the characters it is a hard won and deserved consummation of a deep and abiding love for each other. As that same reviewer said “…It is slow and builds…All this adds to the reality…”

Have we forgotten how wonderful sexual tension can be? That gradual move from initial attraction, the increased heart rate as the object of desire enters the room, the brush of a finger... In the Keira Knightly film of “Pride and Prejudice”, Darcy assists Elizabeth into a carriage, as he turns and walks away the camera moves to his hand…the hand that has just touched hers and you see his fingers curl and flex. That’s all-- a simple gesture,  that would be missed by a casual onlooker, gives such an insight into his feelings. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!



The other day I introduced my 16 year old niece to one of my all time favourite films, WITNESS with Harrison Ford. This is a flawed film in some ways but when it comes to 'sexual tension', the following scene does it for me every time. You can cut the tension between them with a knife. Their clothes stay on at all times…they almost come together…



<SPOILER ALERT>

At the risk of spoilers.  Witness is not a romance, it’s primarily a thriller with a love story. There is no HEA for for them as a couple (but certainly the promise of a HEA for her). He says at one point “If we had made love last night either I would have to stay or you would have to leave” .  He can never belong to her world (of the Amish) just as she could never belong to his (tough Philadelphia street cop) but oh, for those few short days they are together, the air crackles and as the film builds to a crescendo they do come together in what has to be the most passionate kiss of all film making time as their yearning for each other reaches a climax...and how they yearn...



The director made a decision before the release of the film to delete the next  scene and we, the viewers, are left to our imaginations as to what follows the kiss… AND IT WORKS. It doesn’t matter that we don’t see the 'rumpy pumpy', what has carried us through the story is the growing attraction between these two characters and it is entirely satisfying.

So where are these stories in today's post Fifty Shades world?  
Surely not every reader wants hot and spicy?
Or am I wrong? Am I swimming against a tide or will the tide turn and the reading (and publishing) world will bore of the choreography of jiggly bits and return to stories that stir the imagination rather than any other part of the anatomy?

My personal feelings on the subject.... ;-)
Readers of the world...UNITE (without touching!)...and tell me what you think about the current trend to hot and spicy?

Maybe I will leave the final word to Ellen de Generes... "They do what with a spatula...?"



11 comments:

Maggi Andersen said...

I quite agree with you, Alison, surely it's the sexual tension which arises out of unfulfilled desire; and sometimes not admitting to wanting the other person for most of the story. Sit-coms thrive on it. Graphic sex, although I admit to writing it, can be dull when used too often and too soon.

Alison Stuart said...

It's about balance, Maggi. I see it as similar to gorging on a huge bar of Cadbury's milk chocolate when you could have one or two fine Belgian chocs. It is the anticipation of the fine chocolate that is half the enjoyment!

Jennifer St George said...

Really enjoyed your post, Alison. I love a slow build story.

alissa callen said...

Very apt post Alison and too love that image in P & P!

Téa Cooper said...

If you're swimming against the tide I am in your wake. I think the tension is the best bit - whether you're reading, writing or experiencing it!

Efthalia Pegios said...

Hi Alison,

Great post and I have to agree. I loved that same scene in pride and prejudice and he didn't need to throw her in the carriage and have his way with her. That simple contact was combustible.

Well said.

Smiles,
Efthalia

Cassandra Samuels said...

Absolutely wonderful post Alison. I love sexual tension it makes all the hard work of the characters all the more worthwhile when they do come together.

One book that I think does this very well is actually a paranormal called Spirited Away by Cindy Miles. The H and h cannot physically touch as he is a cursed ghost but they fall in love all the same and the ending is so satisfying because of all they went through.

Leah Weller (leahluvsmedieval) said...

I think I may be the only soul that doesn't even have the desire to read Fifty Shades. I think it was because all of the hoopla surrounding it that turned me off. That may be a crazy reason but it's how I feel.

Alison Stuart said...

Thank you to everyone who stopped past with a comment. I'm glad I'm not alone but unfortunately, as we are seeing there is just a plethora of 50 Shades wannabes and publishers peddling hard to keep up.

I have to confess to choosing NOT to read 50 Shades and I rather resent the fact I have given it air space. There you go...I think as a writer I would rather be poor and known for writing quality books. (and I will keep repeating that mantra!)...of course it would be nice to rich and known for writing quality books...

J.T. Webster said...

I'm a bit late to the conversation, but I just wanted to say I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have no wish to read 'those' books, or any like them. Give me a great story, and leave the rest to the imagination.
Thanks for airing these issues. It's good to see there are other people out there with similar views.

Alexia Tessier said...

I am awaiting for the releasing of 50 shades of grey movie