Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To condom or not to condom (in our writing that is)

I've been curious how readers feel about this and also how other writers feel about it: Do you think the h&h should always wear condoms in books or does it depend on the circumstance? So far, my characters have always used condoms in their love scenes. I've wondered if it breaks the moment for readers. Are they really getting into the scene when we put up a big stop sign to put on the condom? Lets face the facts that in today's world using a condom is not only the responsible thing to do but the smart thing to do. It can save your life. But I know a lot of people read books to get a little escape from reality. To step into a world that maybe you don't always HAVE to think about those things. For those reasons is it okay not to use the condom or do you feel like the characters are being irresponsible if they don't? Especially if the heroine is on the pill, does that give them the okay to not use a condom? Also do you think its different for erotica? Why or why not?


Pearl X Jones said...

"Are they [readers] really getting into the scene when we put up a big stop sign to put on the condom?"

Why should this stop the story? It's a realistic part of many (if not most) modern early-in-the-relationship love scenes. How characters handle the issue can show a developing closeness or present a hurdle to intimacy, can be funny or a little sad or--anything!

I expect to see at least a nod toward condoms in any contemporary romance. It doesn't always fit into fetish erotica or in fantasy, but in a contemporary romance involving any sex at all, I find the lack disturbing.

Which isn't to say that every story has to have little foil packages scattered everywhere, of course. (You can leave that to me.)


Reach Out and Touch Someone (Safely!)
Aspen Mountain Press

Stacy~ said...

I admit that I actually am bothered when protection is not mentioned. It doesn't have to be a drawn-out ordeal, but having a quick sentence indicating that the hero grabbed some condoms isn't too much to ask. Escapism or not, most readers probably want their characters to act responsibly, even in the heat of passion, no matter how intense. I know it sounds hot when the hero tells the heroine that he wanted her so much that he forgot protection, but if I were her and heard that, it would be like a bucket of ice water thrown at me.

I started reading romances when I was twelve, so if young girls are reading romances like I did, I think it's especially smart to write a scene involving condoms to show these girls that no matter how badly their hormones are raging, it's important to always be protected.

I'm a bit more lenient with erotic romances because that is part of the attraction - the more risque and wilder stuff. And while it's not the best alternative, if the heroine mentions she's on the pill or whatever, at least the topic has been brought up, so I can accept it if the hero isn't suited up for action.

Dara Edmondson said...

I'm with everyone else. I want to know the condom is there. It used to give me a jolt years ago, but now, if it's missing, I wonder why.

Jamie Hill said...

I agree as well! I think you almost have to mention condoms. It's the responsible thing to do.

Again, it doesn't have to be a big drawn out thing, but just a quick mention is worthwhile I think!

Thanks for asking!!


Kelley Nyrae said...

Seems like everyone agrees with the way I feel about this. I too think that a condom is a must. When I read books and they don't use one I usually re-read the section to make sure I got it right. Thats why I've used condoms in all my books so far. I love hearing how everyone else feels about the subject as well!

Amy Ruttan said...

Readers are looking for fantasy, and unless it flows well with the story and doesn't stop the action then ya, use it.

We know the characters will be responsible deep down. I think most of the time I like getting carried away with the romance and the impatiencness of it all.

Jodi said...

I agree with everyone else. I expect to read that they are using protection.
Kelley, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has re-read a scene when I didn't notice the use of a condom.

Paige Tyler said...

I usually don't have my characters use them, mainly because it just doesn't fit and seems to take away from the story. However, the h/h use them in a new erotic romance I'm working on do use them. I think it really depends on the story!


Leticia Bailey said...

Great topic. I think it depends on the story on how it's written into the scene. I prefer when there isn't a lot of discussion or narrative about condoms. When it's swift and effortless, like quickly removing one's shirt, it doesn't distract from the passionate sex scene. It's reality, but not romantic or sexy. I'm a Huge advocate for using condoms in real life. I've read stories where the couple uses a condom at the beginning of the relationship and then make the decision not to once they're committed (using another form of contraception). It's like a symbolic transformation in their relationship. When done well, it's very sexy.

Anne Rainey said...

I let the characters take me down that path. I've had scenes where they used protection, and scenes where they didn't.

In Tasting Candy--coming to Samhain next year--Blade and Candice both forget. Blade is so into her and they're both swept up by passion.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I do use condoms in my scene but its usually a quick one-liner so I try not to break up the scene.

Desirée Lee said...

For my writing it is situational. I have one book where the H/H forget it and do end up with a bundle of joy from the encounter.

Much of it depends on the writing. It can be tactfully and tastefully written so that it adds to the intimacy of the scene.

Last night we watched the DVD of the movie Knocked Up. Now the condom scene in that movie... if I were reading that in a book I would be laughing my ass off rather than getting hot and bothered by the scene. Then again it is a comedy movie and that's the effect they were going for.


Lia said...

If I am reading a contemporary I expect the condom. I am not pulled out of the story by it. It can be as simple as 'He reached for the foil wrapper.'

In this day and age I would be more diturbed by characters having unprotected sex.

Now if we are talking about a paranormal... I don't expect them. Vampire, werewolf, fairy, I have already suspended disbelief for this story.

Anonymous said...

Actually either way is fine with me. I grew up reading historicals and a lot of them were NA romances and there was no mention of condoms,it doesn't bother me if it is mentioned them putting one on, it just gives me another image :-) both are fine

CJ England said...

I like the way Ellora Cave has it laid out in their Author Guidelines...

"Use condoms wisely and if it fits the storyline, not just to be "PC", remember -- this is a fantasy."

That helped me a lot when I do my scenes.

CJ England

Jade Twilight said...

Personally I think it depends on the story but over all yeah I think a responsible adult would use a condom now a days.