Is She TOTBT- Too “O” To Be True?

corn mazes 097

They were doing it like…well, rabbits!


I love to read novels.  I have eclectic tastes, reading anything from thrillers, to sci-fi and fantasy, to erotica.  But my favorite genre is Romance- usually the spicier, the better.  Historical, paranormal, suspense- I like them all, and I admit it!  I prefer they have explicit sex scenes.

I have also read several reviews of romance novels, written by both professionals and readers, to help me decide what to read next.   A common criticism regarding romance writing is “TSTL”, or “Too Stupid To Live”- referring to the plot contrivance of a Heroine that foolishly puts herself in harm’s way so that she can be rescued later.  I am sure it is challenging to invent obstacles that are harrowing yet plausible (in fact, I know this to be true, having a few works in progress that I am writing), but it is the writer’s job to create a world where the reader can suspend their disbelief enough to not notice such contrivances.

The recent national fuss over the novel series “Fifty Shades of Grey” by author E.L. James, caught my attention, so I jumped on the bandwagon and downloaded it, more out of curiosity than anything.  I wanted to find out why this particular book was causing such a furor, as romances involving BDSM are nothing new.  Although it was not the most well-written book, I was intrigued enough to keep turning the pages for the first several chapters.  By chapter seventeen, I discovered a few things that were annoying me, but one aspect annoyed me enough to make up my own acronym- “TOTB”, or “Too Orgasmic To Believe”!

 I know the purpose of reading a romance novel is to escape the real world, and as a fantasy, the sex has to be perfect.  But, does it, really?  In almost every romance novel I have read, the Heroine has a mind-blowing-out-of-body-experience orgasm every time she has sex.  Does this make anyone else roll their eyes?!  The reason “Fifty Shades” hit this home for me was the fact that the Heroine was a virgin, had never had any kind of sex with anyone (including herself), and she orgasms not only the first time, but every single one of the hundreds of times they do it subsequently!  Even while she was on her period, and twice in a row, no less!  (Ewww- sorry, but that scene in the bathroom was just gross).  My “subconscious” and my “inner goddess” were both shaking their heads!  That woman is not just exceptional, she’s a freakin’ medical miracle!

I know Christian Grey and all the other alpha-male heroes are such super awesome perfect lovers, that they MAKE the heroines come every time….and, believe me, I aspire to that in real life.  But writers are also advised to make their heroes and heroines flawed in some way, so that their characters are more “relatable” to their readers, and have room to grow in the story.  Except in the bedroom apparently- where they have to be perfect lovers, eleven on a scale of one to ten, every time.  (The only notable exception is some BDSM stories have orgasm denial as a technique, in which case it is withheld on purpose.)

I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my own experience, having sex also has about ‘fifty shades’ to it- it’s rarely black or white, rarely awful or utterly fantastic.  It is possible to have awesome sex without orgasm, and it is also possible to have mind-blowing multiples.  And orgasms can vary in intensity and duration- I can count at least twenty different “shades” or types, of orgasm that I have experienced!

I am not saying that the sex scenes should be disappointing (unless that is part of the plot), but can we at least be a little more realistic?  I have heard there has been discussion over using more realistic physical descriptions, so that heroines would be more like “real” people and less like supermodels or Barbie Dolls.  With the trend toward making more relatable characters, will the sex become more realistic, and thereby more like real-life experiences?  Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the experience was more varied for the characters, rather than sexual nirvana every time?

And Ladies, if you actually do have over-the-top orgasms every time you have sex;  if you are truly “TOTB”, then I salute you!  Please start your own blog and tell us how you do it.

How do you like your romance/erotica sex scenes?  Complete fantasy or with a dose of realism?  What would you like to see done differently in regards to sex scenes?





















7 thoughts on “Is She TOTBT- Too “O” To Be True?

  1. Spot. On.

    Obviously, we read fiction as a means of relaxing or an escape from daily life. I get this. As a reader, though, it is hard to set aside disbelief when it comes to the magical, explosive, firework orgasms some heroines are having with a look, the soft glaze of a touch or whispered dirty words.

    Even with erotica, I want a touch of realism in my fantasy. It’s pretty certain that I won’t be kidnapped by a ruggedly sexy vampire pirate (who is secretly a Duke with a large fortune) at any point in my life, but I can’t even enjoy the fantasy of this crazy scenario if I keep getting pulled out of it to roll my eyes at another orgasm so amazing the heroine blacks out.


  2. I love a dose of realism. Sex has so many amazing ways that it can happen and literature really doesn’t cover enough of it. In my own history I’ve had both a bad sex life (at one point I was convinced something was terribly wrong with me because sex was no longer fun) and a fabulous sex life (mind blowing orgasms nearly every time) and I think it’s ridiculous to only portray one end of that spectrum. There’s so many emotions that can be tied up in a sex scene, not just orgasmic lust. Relief in having a good orgasm for the first time in your life (which can bring you to tears) can be an amazing sex scene and character building scene. The joy of trying to get pregnant. The awkwardness of two virgins who have no idea what they’re doing. The annoyed sex of two people who just don’t really want to be in this relationship anymore. I once told a friend that I could write an entire novel that only takes place in the bedroom because so much emotional connection and talk goes on in that room between partners.
    Not only that but where’s our sex scenes with all of those things that no one talks about in them? Falling off the bed, hitting your head on the headboard, lying on your partner’s arm the wrong way and having to readjust, being walked in on, the cat getting two inches away from your face and judging your performance….Things that like add a level of realism to your writing AND it also helps your reader feel normal.
    People who consume media such as erotic novels, porn, hentai, etc get some crazy ideas in their heads about how sex works. I’ve had to help a lot of young adults by giving them links to proper information because they had gotten all of their ideas from erotica. Questions like why it was that they and their partner don’t orgasm together, if toys will make them want their partner less, and if their parts were normal. One young lady I know thought average penis size was 8 inches. Especially in today’s society where sex still carries a social stigma and abstinence only education is producing a lot of clueless sexual adults it’s nice to be able to pass on a dose of reality. And while, as erotica writers, it’s not our job to educate I think it’s kind of cool if we do!
    I personally write all kinds of erotica with a large cast of characters ranging the board in gender, sexuality, and background. They’re a bit more grounded in reality than the romance novels my mother read. I tend to avoid the whole virginal heroine and super masculine hero concept. To me, if I can’t be really attached to the characters then the sex scene’s going to mean nothing. If the heroine annoys me at every turn and the hero just seems like an obnoxious blow hard then I’m not going to be interested in their sex life.
    But if I’m presented with characters that I can identify with on some level emotionally and their emotional connection to each other seems real? I want to know everything. Not just about the sex but about how they feel, what they think, and what they do. I can’t make that connection with “young heroine with tragic past A” and “stalwart hero who just needs to be loved B”.


    • Well said, Hannah. I agree a dose of realism can add depth to sex scenes. I’d love to read some more like that and hope to use it in my writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  3. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and
    actual effort to create a very good article… but what can I say…
    I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.


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