I write short. This stems from my comedy writing roots, where each word must be carefully chosen for impact. So my publishers don’t delete a lot of scenes from my books. In fact, they usually tell me where to add more words.
With one exception.
There seems to be a convention
that crime books shouldn’t contain sex. Oh, they can refer to sex. Sex
can be a powerful motivator for all those violent scenes we are allowed to
describe in painstaking detail. (Irony alert here.)
So you can refer to sex. But
Lord help you if you – ahem – ‘Show-not-Tell.’
Okay, so I show a bit. But
just a little bit. I don’t write X-rated, honest. In fact, I write
with the sort of silliness that might be associated with old Benny Hill skits.
So we’re not talking Fifty Shades of Naughty here. (otherwise known as Fifty
Shades of Boredom. But I digress…)
Still, my naughty bits get
censored. No sex please, we’re crime writers!
It’s a crime <sic>.
Heck, it’s enough to make a poor gal swap genres. Have you read any steamy
romance books lately? Those novels can be practically pornographic.
When did romance books become
more adult than crime books?
I explained to one of my publishers
why a certain sexy blackmail scene was essential to the story. It provided
motivation that was completely necessary. So here was their admittedly
Leave the dialogue in, but take
out the other senses – the sounds, the visuals, the - let’s leave it there.
Yes, it still works. You
get what’s going on by what is being said.
Does it lose impact? Well,
yes. I work hard to include all the senses in my writing.
But does it work for the plot?
Yes, it does. It might even be funnier without the senses.
You be the judge.
From THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, winner
of the 2014 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards:
“Now Carmine, move up front here
and pay close attention to this video,” I said. “You might know the people.”
Everyone came closer. You could
almost hear each individual breath. Except then I turned up the volume and you
could only hear the heavy breathing and moans coming from the laptop.
“Oh Carmy! Do it – do it – ahhhhh”
“I’m doin’ it, babe – I’m doin’ it –“
“Faster, Carmy! Faster – don’t stop”
All eyes were glued to the
“Oh, gross,” said Lou.
“Holy shit!” yelled Carmine.
“How did you get that?”
“Carm, that ain’t your wife.
Tracy’s not a blond.” Bertoni was confused.
“How the heck is she doing
that?” Pete stared at the video with far too much interest.
Has your publisher ever dialed back a
particularly sexy scene? Give us the dirt <sic> in the comments below.
THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE (from