What Does “Graphic” Mean?


I’ve been part of a discussion on a list I belong to about “graphic” scenes in romance novels. Where’s the line between sensual and graphic? How hot is too hot? I’m still not completely sure I understand what people mean when they talk about graphic scenes in romance, so I decided to throw out the question here and see what I learn.

When I write romances, I don’t cut away from the sex scenes. The main characters very definitely and very blatantly engage in sexual activity in the contexts of their relationships, and I use pretty frank language, as I think I blogged about here a while back.

However, I recently received a very complimentary review in which the reviewer praised my not being graphic in the sex scenes between my hero and heroine.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled about the review, and I don’t dispute anything said in it. (Honestly, it’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever received for my romance stuff.) The love scenes–because they are love scenes, not *just* sex–are some of my best, in my own admittedly biased opinion. But I used language that I would consider graphic, and I described what the hero and heroine are doing in bed.

So in your opinion as a reader or writer, what makes a scene graphic as opposed to sensual? Is there content that you, as a reader, would consider too much in a sex scene (assuming that none of the big publisher no-nos are broken)? Does explicit language and complete descriptions count as a graphic scene, or just an explicit one (or is there a difference between graphic and explicit)?

As you can see, I have a lot of questions now. My mind and curiosity are racing, which they do periodically anyway. Apparently I needed something to help me procrastinate from my current work-in-progress (the dance story I blogged about a couple weeks ago), so this is it. LOL Let me know what you think!

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One response to “What Does “Graphic” Mean?

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