How Much Sex Is Too Much Sex In Your SFF?

Many of you read the Extras chapter for COLD FIRE, which was not in the book because it is not written from Cat’s first person point of view but rather Andevai’s third person point of view. Some wished the chapter had been included in the book; some were happy that it was available but not in the book; some did not read it at all because they do not like to read the explicit sexytimes.

I mention this because I’m about 83,000 words into a a new epic fantasy novel (projected to become another trilogy). I am writing this one in third person multiple points of view.

Writing in first person for me means I have to adhere to the sensibilities of my narrator. If s/he would talk explicitly about sex, then I can; if s/he would not, then I can’t even if it is germane to the plot.

Writing in multiple third allows more leeway along several axes.

Even if I’m writing in tight third (where the text only sees, mentions, and notices that which the pov sees, mentions, and notices), the narrative still sits one step outside the pov, and that space gives me room to make decisions about what to describe that I don’t have in first person where the narrator would either mention something or would not.

Furthermore, writing with multiple povs means different characters will necessarily be written with different sensibilities. In fact one of the great things about multiple third is its ability to supply diverse views of related events and characters.

In The Spiritwalker Trilogy I was constrained in writing about sex by what the narrator, Cat, would say. [By the way, there is a reason the Spiritwalker books are narrated in first person; it’s not an arbitrary choice or a “flavor”. But you have to read the whole thing to understand what I mean by saying that.]

In the new book I’m not limited (in that particular sense) by first person. I’m writing in several different points of view, and a number of the characters have sex, like people do sometimes (or even often). I have leeway. I can be vague and allusive, or I can be absolutely as explicit as I want to be.

Hence my question:

How much sex do you like in your sff?

I need to specify an important clarification: I am speaking of consensual sex. This question is not intended to devolve into a discussion of representations of rape in epic fantasy because I have previously talked about that here and here and because I’m more interested in how consensual sex is depicted.

And it is a curious thing, is it not, that many readers seem more comfortable reading about non consensual sex than consensual sex as if non consensual sex is properly dramatic and consensual sex is not?

But again there was a great discussion of that specific issue in this post earlier this year.

So, how much sex DO you like in your SFF?

Should epic fantasy should be pristinely free of sexual feelings or reference? Are vague foreplay and kissing all right as long as the curtain is drawn early and often? Is explicit sexual description acceptable as long as it is only described when it absolutely matters to the plot? Or are sexytimes always welcome, regardless? Or something else entirely which you will note in the comments?

Tell me what you think, people. After all, presumably you may end up reading these scenes and lamenting that they have too much or too little sex in them. Speak!