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Re: gentlemen's-entertainment niche

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  • Joe R. Christopher
    Hi, Lizzie-- ... I think what made me wary of sex in popular fiction was an essay some twenty years ago in _The Armchair Detective_ about Nick Carter,
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 18, 2004
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      Hi, Lizzie--

      > a lot of action-detective stories have sex, but that is the
      >gentleman's-entertainment niche, really.

      I think what made me wary of sex in popular fiction was an essay some
      twenty years ago in _The Armchair Detective_ about Nick Carter, Spymaster,
      or some such series. Besides giving a list of all the books, with real
      authors under the house name when possible, it gave some of the
      requirements for the series: I forget about violence, but the rules also
      said that each book had to be laid in a new country and each book had to
      have two explicit sex scenes. The rules were set up by a man, but the
      actual editors were women; according to the discussion, at one point one of
      the women said that each book had to have one explicit sex scene but the
      other scene could be more one of affection--after the sales went down, the
      series went back to two explicit sex scenes. Obviously, Tolkien shows one
      can sell well without such scenes. Interestingly enough, John Gresham also
      shows that; his first agent told him to put some sex scenes into a current
      novel; Gresham replied that he didn't do that. (I haven't read any of
      Gresham's books, but I heard him give a talk one time.) I suppose it's
      what audience one is trying for. (One of my three favorite authors back
      when I was in junior highschool was Henry Kuttner--and Kuttner, selling to
      the pulps to make a living, sold five stories to _Spicey Mystery
      Stories_ and one to _Spicey Adventure Stories_ [not that they were esp.
      erotic by current standard]--so I understand the need to authors to meet
      current demands if they're writing for a living.) It's a messy
      situation. Tolkien, as an academic, didn't have to meet publication
      demands--and he got into publishing as a children's author; Gresham had a
      law practice when he started out. But I as a reader dislike feeling I'm
      being manipulated by the market. This is not an argument for censorship,
      of course--after all, I have read some of D. H. Lawrence's novels and
      taught one of them in a graduate class one time. (Yes, I have read C. S.
      Lewis's anti-Lady Chatterley essay, "Four-Letter Words"; I'm not sure it
      still applies, with wide-spread modern usage.) I haven't taken up the
      issue of violence, for that would just get us back to Peter Jackson vs.
      Tolkien.

      --Joe
    • Margaret Dean
      ... I agree with Joe that I don t like to feel manipulated by the market, and I don t think a writer should have to be, either. If the story you are telling
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 18, 2004
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        "Joe R. Christopher" wrote:
        >
        > Hi, Lizzie--
        >
        > > a lot of action-detective stories have sex, but that is the
        > >gentleman's-entertainment niche, really.
        >
        > I think what made me wary of sex in popular fiction was an essay some
        > twenty years ago in _The Armchair Detective_ about Nick Carter, Spymaster,
        > or some such series. Besides giving a list of all the books, with real
        > authors under the house name when possible, it gave some of the
        > requirements for the series: I forget about violence, but the rules also
        > said that each book had to be laid in a new country and each book had to
        > have two explicit sex scenes. The rules were set up by a man, but the
        > actual editors were women; according to the discussion, at one point one of
        > the women said that each book had to have one explicit sex scene but the
        > other scene could be more one of affection--after the sales went down, the
        > series went back to two explicit sex scenes. Obviously, Tolkien shows one
        > can sell well without such scenes. Interestingly enough, John Gresham also
        > shows that; his first agent told him to put some sex scenes into a current
        > novel; Gresham replied that he didn't do that. (I haven't read any of
        > Gresham's books, but I heard him give a talk one time.) I suppose it's
        > what audience one is trying for. (One of my three favorite authors back
        > when I was in junior highschool was Henry Kuttner--and Kuttner, selling to
        > the pulps to make a living, sold five stories to _Spicey Mystery
        > Stories_ and one to _Spicey Adventure Stories_ [not that they were esp.
        > erotic by current standard]--so I understand the need to authors to meet
        > current demands if they're writing for a living.) It's a messy
        > situation. Tolkien, as an academic, didn't have to meet publication
        > demands--and he got into publishing as a children's author; Gresham had a
        > law practice when he started out. But I as a reader dislike feeling I'm
        > being manipulated by the market. This is not an argument for censorship,
        > of course--after all, I have read some of D. H. Lawrence's novels and
        > taught one of them in a graduate class one time. (Yes, I have read C. S.
        > Lewis's anti-Lady Chatterley essay, "Four-Letter Words"; I'm not sure it
        > still applies, with wide-spread modern usage.) I haven't taken up the
        > issue of violence, for that would just get us back to Peter Jackson vs.
        > Tolkien.

        I agree with Joe that I don't like to feel manipulated by the
        market, and I don't think a writer should have to be, either. If
        the story you are telling is about sex, or naturally includes sex
        (as plot development, character development, or both), then you
        should be allowed to write about it, but if it doesn't, you
        should be allowed NOT to. Same applies to violence -- or any
        element, really, but publishers don't tend to complain if you
        leave out having your characters eat, for example.


        --Margaret Dean
        <margdean@...>
      • jamcconney@aol.com
        Amazing how much we ve come to take for granted. I remember passing a novel around in high school library hour so we could all take turns reading a hot love
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 18, 2004
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          Amazing how much we've come to take for granted. I remember passing a novel
          around in high school library hour so we could all take turns reading a hot
          love scene in which the heroine actually sat down on the hero's bed and they
          KISSED. Later I learned the book had been serialized in the old Saturday
          Evening Post and out of curiosity (and perhaps nostalgia) looked it up in the
          bound copies at the library. As I remember it, the scene took place with both
          characters standing with their feet firmly planted on the floor. Don't remember
          if they kissed or not....

          Of course the old SEP was famous for it's (perhaps legendary) disclaimer:
          "The Post is not responsible for what the characters do between installments."

          Anne




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • David Bratman
          ... Yes. There are two fallacious points usually made by the proponents of mandatory sex in fiction. One is the claim that sexless stories, like LOTR, are
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 18, 2004
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            At 03:19 PM 7/18/2004 -0400, Margaret Dean wrote:

            >If
            >the story you are telling is about sex, or naturally includes sex
            >(as plot development, character development, or both), then you
            >should be allowed to write about it, but if it doesn't, you
            >should be allowed NOT to. Same applies to violence -- or any
            >element, really, but publishers don't tend to complain if you
            >leave out having your characters eat, for example.

            Yes. There are two fallacious points usually made by the proponents of
            mandatory sex in fiction.

            One is the claim that sexless stories, like LOTR, are "childish".
            Actually, it's an obsession with sex that's childish; and in any case LOTR
            is far from sexless; what it lacks is depictions of sexual intercourse.
            (In the same way that it doesn't lack religion: what it lacks is colorful
            fantasy-novel religious trappings.)

            The other is that sex is an important part of life, so it has to be
            included. Actually, there is no rulebook saying that every novel has to
            depict every aspect of life. And the number of things important in life
            that are not discussed in many of these proponents' novels show that
            they're not really interested in depicting what's important in life,
            they're just sex maniacs. Two of Tolkien's most important themes are
            things squeamishly avoided by far too many writers: the problem of good and
            evil; and death, and the desire for deathlessness.

            - David Bratman
          • David Bratman
            ... installments. That was real. As for the readers who criticized a 1931 serial, in which the first installment ended with a secretary dining at her boss s
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 18, 2004
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              At 05:45 PM 7/18/2004 -0400, Anne wrote:
              >Of course the old SEP was famous for it's (perhaps legendary) disclaimer:
              >"The Post is not responsible for what the characters do between
              installments."

              That was real.

              "As for the readers who criticized a 1931 serial, in which the first
              installment ended with a secretary dining at her boss's home and the second
              installment began with the couple having breakfast, [SEP editor George]
              Lorimer prepared a form letter: 'The Post cannot be responsible for what
              the characters in its serials do between installments.'" (Otto Friedrich,
              _Decline and Fall_ (NY: Harper, 1970), p. 9)

              - DB
            • Berni Phillips
              From: ... novel ... hot ... they ... When I was in high school, it was _The Godfather_, the scene with one of the bridesmaids before the
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 19, 2004
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                From: <jamcconney@...>


                > Amazing how much we've come to take for granted. I remember passing a
                novel
                > around in high school library hour so we could all take turns reading a
                hot
                > love scene in which the heroine actually sat down on the hero's bed and
                they
                > KISSED.

                When I was in high school, it was _The Godfather_, the scene with one of the
                bridesmaids before the wedding. I've never seen the movie so I don't know
                if it's in there.

                Berni
              • Croft, Janet B.
                *** Berni, you and I must have been in school around the same time -- I remember that making the rounds of the bus ... Janet When I was in high school, it was
                Message 7 of 7 , Jul 20, 2004
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                  *** Berni, you and I must have been in school around the same time -- I
                  remember that making the rounds of the bus ...

                  Janet


                  When I was in high school, it was _The Godfather_, the scene with one of
                  the
                  bridesmaids before the wedding. I've never seen the movie so I don't
                  know
                  if it's in there.

                  Berni




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