Up until the last year, most of the stories I had written had been “straight” sci fi (pardon the pun) or fantasy – stories that relied on the sci fi or fantasy plot as the main driver of the story. Oh sure, they usually had a gay character or two, but not always as the main character, and even when they were, usually without a major “romance”.
Then I discovered Dreamspinner Press and their upcoming anthology submissions page. I decided to try my hand at writing some short stories that were MM romance with a sci fi or supernatural twist. It was a whole new thing for me, but it raised the question – when is it appropriate to include sex in a story? We’ll leave out erotica, which of course revolves around the sex, from the current discussion.
I realize most romance stories will include some sex, even if it’s of the “and they embraced as the lights went down” variety. But I’m talking more about in-your-face, sick it in there sex in writing.
I’ve always followed the rule of thumb that sex should only be included in a story if it advances the plot in some way, and that to do otherwise is gratuitous.
But does the same thing apply in LGBT stories, where our identity is inextricably tied to sexuality, and therefore to sex?
I’m reading Amy Lane’s A Solid Core of Alpha – it uses sex as a plot driver, as the (abusive) gay sex one of the main characters experiences serves as both a commentary on artificial intelligence and as something that moulds his character.
I also dipped my toe in the “sex in the story” pond for a story I’m writing for the Gay Sci-Fi (m/m romance) site at the request of Ashlyn, the site’s moderator – the instructions included the note “The requirement is ‘sex and sci-fi’.”
So I had to find a way to write a story where sex in the story has a specific purpose – in my case to make the main character question the fluidity of sex and gender in the future.
So how do you use sex in your stories, if at all? And as a reader, when do you want to see sex in a sci fi story?