In general, I want them separate. If I want to read erotica/porn, then I go to asstr.
The thing with depicting sex in a story is that its like depicting brushing teeth, peeing, taking a dump, or any other activity that's usually private. Unless its plot-relevant, I don't want to read about it. Even romances can get away with no sex scenes, unless the sex scene happens to have an impact in the story (for example, one of the persons involved turns out to be abusive, enough to cause the other person to not want sex, which is significant in a relationship).
Take, for instance, Mario Puzo's The Godfather. It was a story about family, crime and corruption. The size of one of the character's dong is unimportant to the plot, as is the size of one of the character's vagina. But Puzo spends at least 11 pages detailing how big the woman's vagina is, as well as several pages scattered throughout the book on how big the character's penis is. Seriously, WTF? Puzo spends as much time describing their genitalia as the backgrounds of the main characters. Reading it annoyed me to no end.
Several novels I've written have had sex in them, but I never actually describe the actual physical act. I'll set up my characters in such a way that it's obvious they're about to go at it, then skip to the next scene, often a conversation held in bed. Here's why:
1) Sex scenes are a pace killer. Have to take time out and describe sex to someone rather than get on with the plot. 2) Brief allusions can imply and suggest a lot more than an actual scene. 3) Leaving the physical act in the imagination of the reader is better as my particular idea of good sex might not be someone else's. 4) The better sex scenes I've read tend to be sparse on detail. Reading about the physiology of throbbing hot swords thrusting into readily accepting vessels sounds like the voice of an adolescent that hasn't actually had sex.
as for what i don't like about hot/heavy/romance scenes... not sure. if it's necessary to the plot and moves the story along, then it has to be there. if it is just gratuitous romance, it just bores me.
I would say a story needs to be whatever it is and that a brilliant story contains no more and no less. So I would not impose such an expectation on any story but try to look at it on its own terms. I might prefer books that contained sex for whatever reason, but that's more a matter of taste than quality. For instance, I wouldn't look at one of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and say, "That's OK, but it needs more sex/romance." That's not what it is, so why should I want that? I could, however, say "That's OK, even though I usually prefer stories with sex/romance."
It doesn't have to, though. There are plenty of books in which it is only implied or simply never gets that far, and that is fine. Could including those details add another dimension to the relationships? Sure. Depends on the story. There are cases in which it can feel tacked on.
When reading fanfiction I look for smut on purpose, but when it comes to traditional literature, I'm almost always reading fantasy, epic fantasy, horror stories and things like that, and sex doesn't fit in that well in those stories. I don't see how it'd contribute to the story at all. Unless it's about rape or some sick fetish in a horror story. And the horror stories I read are more on the fantasy side, so I don't see that either. Apart from that, I don't think sex scenes would do well in those genres.
I don't think a sex scene is appropiate when the world is falling apart and all the characters are dying in horrible ways from the suffering war brings, a sex scene would appear too happy in a scenario like that. That's why I usually don't like it in my fantasy books.
Another one: in a saga of books I read once, there was this romance between two characters, a girl who whose personality split, just so one of them could be with her love, and her love was a -male- witch. But even if in some way it was hinted they had sex, the style it was written made the whole thing look very innocent, and a sex scene between them would have ruined it for me. :/
I gues it's about taste, I just don't like it unless I'm reading something that revolves entirely around romance. And I don't read romantic novels often. XP
Well yea, it definitely depends on the tone of the novel, but not all fantasy is doom and gloom either. Though I don't necessarily think it entirely out of place, especially during high stress scenarios where characters need to blow off some steam. There were a few scenes alluded to in the War of the Spider Queen series where I would have loved it if it had gone into a bit more detail. I actually feel it would have really given me more insight into the characters.
It's fantasy, a Dungeons & Dragons / Forgotten Realms novel. I really enjoyed Lisa Smeadman and Elaine Cunningham's work in Forgotten Realms, and they handled sex and sexuality very well, but the still faded to black over the actual scenes.
I mean, I know it takes a special hand to write erotica - it's not easy. It's the same repetitive motions over and over, so if an author can't handle writing it, then they shouldn't.
I tend to strew kisses and moments of nudity and affection showing in my works, though generally I don't go into much detail on the sex part.
That being said, I have nothing against such scenes and characters going all the way, so to speak. Joe Abercombie had an absolutely brilliant sex scene in one of his books that still makes me laugh when I think about it so they do have their places in books that aren't necessarily otherwise that focused on that aspect of the characters lives.
Sex definitely has its place. That place can be literature.
But it's definitely a preference thing. Personally, I don't mind a couple scenes of the horizontal hustle, but I'm not going to search it out in my literature either. If the characters or plot or whatever are somehow developed by sex, great. If it's just gratuitous, it kind of pisses me off that the author is wasting time meticulously detailing the act rather than getting on with the story. I'd rather a one sentence allusion than a full chapter of description.
I guess it comes down to this: If I want porn, I'll go look at/read porn. I would prefer literature to show a little more thought.