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To Fill or Not To Fill

I am reading a book (second in a series) by an author I love and have uber respect for. I’m not pleased. In fact, I’m extremely disappointed. Let me explain.

The first book was great. The writing was what I came to expect from that author, the characters were three-dimensional and fascinating, and the plot was intriguing and surprising at times. The book ended in a cliffhanger of sorts so I bought the second one without hesitation. I’m 70% into it and I’m at the point of DNFing it.

By now you must be asking yourself why? What can this author, who I love so much, be doing to warrant such thing?

Unfortunately it seems to be a trend lately. This is at least the third book I read (from different favorite writers) that follows this trend. The worst part–arguably–is that I don’t even blame the authors. Judging from reviews I have received for some of my own books, this is what many modern readers want to see in a fantasy romance/romantic fantasy.

So what is this trend you speak of?

Fillers that normally translate into either lengthy and repetitive conversations and/or extremely long and detailed sex scenes. Disclosure: I have nothing against a good sex scene. Have quite a few in my own stories. My issue with these scenes–especially the ones in this particular book–is that they don’t seem to fit with the story and also because there isn’t much going on in terms of plot. It really feel as the author is using these scenes and the repetitive conversations to stretch the series and thus sell more books (Who can blame her? We all want to sell more books. I mean, it is a job after all).

Another issue (for me) with the sex scenes in this book is the language used. This is a fantasy and even though the language is modern (no problem there) when the male protagonist started talking dirty during sex, it just totally ruined the fantasy/magical tone of the whole story. It took me out of the story world and that really pissed me off. I read for escapism so the fact that the fantastic, well-thought world this author created came crushing down when the MC started using certain lewd terms to address his love upset me to no end.

I started skipping parts of these scenes which makes me nervous because I’m always afraid I will miss something important in the plot. After reading most of the book, it’s a safe bet I won’t miss anything though. I will not DNF it because I do love this author’s stories, and I am hoping the third in the series is better. I doubt, however, that I will be reading it any time soon.

This creates a conundrum for other fantasy romance authors like me. I have been writing a short story that takes on something one of the side characters in Sleeping Love says and I’m planning to give it away to my followers and subscribers. It was agonizing to figure out how much detail to add to the sex scene in the story. I wanted to be a bit of a fade-to-black scene since it’s a 3K story, but every time I read it I would ask myself, “What if my readers want more? What if they’ll be upset that the scene is cut short? Will I lose some of my readers because of it?”

I considered expanding it and after a few days of painful deliberation, I decided against it. It just didn’t feel right for this particular story. But I can’t say I’m not nervous about it, because of what seems to be the current trend.

So what do you think? Are fillers (sexual or otherwise) acceptable to stretch a series and therefore expand the chances of income? Or not?

I want to know your opinion on this but please, do not name titles or authors in the comments. Thank you.

2 comments

  1. If a book becomes dragged-out just to fill space, I would suggest the author is more likely to lose followers than gain extra sales. Sex scenes in particular should leave something to the reader’s imagination so if your story felt right when you finished it, leave it alone! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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