Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Non-Raunchy, No Blaster

Maybe it's just the cover art, but I've had a really tough time finding any Science Fiction Romance without a Kick-Butt Heroine or graphic nookie against every bulkhead.  Is it just the cover art?  Are you guys only writing Raunchy and Weapon-Wielding Chicks?  Or is that all publishers are accepting these days?
I'd like to know because the short story (or novella, however it turns out) has a quiet, reserved Heroine and only one Sensual love scene. She engages in a little fun holographic fighting on the side, but that's it.
Counselor Deanna Troi was my favorite Next Gen character because her strength wasn't so *obvious,* but it was very definitely there.
Am I wasting my time writing heroines who don't 'kick butt?'  Is Sexy & Gritty the only kind of SFR which sells?
P.S. I'm not against Kick-Butt Heroines or Graphic Nookie (my comfort level doesn't exceed Sensual though.)  It just *seems* like that's all there is and, possibly, all that publishers believe sells.


  1. Wow Kimber what an interesting question. One best left for those more in the know than me. I will tell you a little about my latest publishing adventure, but I'm not sure it will answer your question. Probably it all depends on which publisher you target maybe?

    Okay—first, I don't like to think of erotic SFR as raunchy, but I do know what you mean. Sometimes we are encouraged to add more hot sex, etc. (as I was for my upcoming release, Forbidden Love—that btw was originally titled Endangered. Though I must say I don't mind writing with an erotic flair.)

    I love Troi and her soft personality too. And-- get this, I did get away without the blasters blazing in my short novella, FL. But there is lots of tension as the h/h escape from her warring world in the middle of trying to fix his spacecraft. Yet I must say the focus is on the romance between h/h. And there are graphic sex scenes. No, I'm not going to deny it. It's what I was prompted to write for this one. And the following, Forbidden Destiny, in this series as well.

    I will never say you have to write lots of graphic sex or kick ass heroines to get a publisher to notice you. It is my belief that if you write a kick ass story that's what will get you noticed and contracted, no matter the level of sex or absence of blasters.

    Again, just my two cents.

  2. Actually, I think a lot of it is just the cover art. I agree, it's hard to find the good stuff because all the covers and synopsis blurbs look about the same.
    I have to go entirely by word of mouth in deciding what to read.

  3. How much sex and grit "needs" to be in the book? What fits the story. As Kaye said, sometimes you may be prompted to include more, but I think it comes down to whether those scenes make sense. And how you feel about writing them.

    As someone who doesn't write graphic sex scenes, I'm hoping agents/editors will be taken in more by my engaging plot and characters : )

  4. Good point, Cathy! And just what I said at the end of my comment. If you write a stellar story with great plot and characters, I believe you won't have trouble finding a publisher who likes your work.

  5. I'm no expert here, but I do wonder if this is a case of packaging and merchandising. Could it be that it's harder to find the type of story you're looking for because it's shelved (virtually or physically) in another area? I haven't read THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer, but my understanding is it's basically non-blaster, low-sexual-content SFR, and I believe it's shelved in sci-fi/fantasy.

    Among this group I think you will probably find a variety of heroine types and levels of heat. My own heroines tend to be regular gals in over their heads. GHOST PLANET's heroine is a psychologist, and the sex scenes are fairly detailed but saved for key points in the story. (GP had interest from multiple agents, so there must be at least a potential market for this type of story.) I believe Brigade member Donna Frelick has also written a heroine in this vein.

    Just recently I've read a couple of Linnea's books, and while the heroines were both competent ship captains who could handle a weapon skillfully, they were also emotionally vulnerable, and I found I could connect to them. In both cases the sex was saved until the relationship had solidified to the point of mutual love and respect.

    Anyhow, just some random thoughts. I think one of the great things about this sub-genre is its experimental roots. For myself, I find just about any kind of story compelling if it has a strong author's voice and interesting, well-defined characters.

  6. Try Cordelia's Honor by Louis McMaster Bujold.

    Other than that... I know some SFR that isn't erotica, but most the heroines I'm familiar with are the kind that tote blasters.

    No, I tell a lie, as I went to post I realized I know a few sweet SFR books without blasters. But they aren't on the shelf yet. Go poke Laurie Green and tell her to get her current WIP finished.

  7. (((Kimber An tosses Tribbles at Laurie Green's head 'cause it's more fun than poking.)))

  8. Kimber, I wonder if that's the Urban Fantasy Effect seeping into SFR? It seems to work well for that genre, so maybe both writers and publishers are assuming that's the only road to success? I've written six SFR stories, and, looking back after reading your great post, there's only a physical kick-arse heroine in one of them, but she uses martial arts not blasters. The others tend to use their intellectual wiles to get their way...and are not always successful.

  9. *ducks*

    Wow, look at that. Furry comets!

    Kimber An, try Desert Breeze. I believe they e-publish non-erotica SFR. Not sure about non-KA though.

    Liana, you think OP is sweet romance? I've been calling it "steamy." It has a few scenes that are pretty high on the heat level scale, though not erotica.

    Kaz, that's an interesting thought on the UF bleedover of KA heroines into SFR. You may have something there. Personally, I think a heroine who's smart, clever and sometimes a little snarky (ala Sirantha Jax) is much more entertaining than Ms. Badazz. Sometimes a crafty smile gleams brighter than a blade, ya know?

  10. Interesting, interesting. I may not be the best person to say much here because I've been told I write gritty (even grim) space opera. Lots of sex? Nah. My guys and gals are too busy being shot at and dodging the verbal shots they're tossing back and forth. Ultimately? I say write what you want to read. If you love it and the writing is tight - you're going to find an audience. There's a lot more room in the scifi universe for a far more diverse population than is currently represented, in my opinion. (AKA: The more the merrier.)

  11. you people are cracking me up with the tribbles

  12. I think if you look, there's enough out there to fit the bill - my Marya is a reserved, scholarly type. Her book has, wait for it NO SEX, a story you don't have to hide from the youngsters. No blasters. No special abilities except her brains and her courage.


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