Writing sex …the difference between Outlander and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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fifty-shades-of-grey-lip-bite Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie based on the novel of the same name, is premiering this week and the media frenzy/blitz has been filling up the air waves and internet pages. It is hard not to know about the phenomenon that is FSOG, because it’s every where. I must first disclose that I have never read the novel nor do I intend too.  I have read excerpts and know the premise behind the story and that was enough for me  to know this wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure there are people who do want to spend their time reading this story. In fact, there are millions of them. To say their interest baffles me would be a gross understatement.  I understand sex sells, but this is being touted as a love story! The timing for its release was Valentines’s day! Really?!  Sex story? Okay. But, love story?

This past year, I  was shocked to find my high school students reading this novel.  When I asked a particular student if her mother knew she was reading this book, she informed me , “My mother is the one who gave it to me”.  It is hard for me to believe the mother thought it to be a typical and relatively harmless romance novel.The apparent “mainstreaming” of this book and its subject matter is, in my opinion, a step backwards for women and relationships in general. I’m dismayed when I hear woman talk about Christen Grey, the main male character in the novel, as if he represents the ideal in romantic heroes.  I know I shouldn’t have to make this point, but sex and love are not necessarily the same thing. I know the book is part of a trilogy and I’m told the relationship evolves.  There are folks who have read the novels and believe it is a love story. However, once again, I find myself grateful for Diana Gabaldon, her characters and the story she has written.

I want to tell the world there are better relationships to read about and some of the best can be found in the pages of the Outlander series! Let me say again, I have not read  FSOG, so it would be difficult for me to make a side by side comparison between the fictional couples Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and Outlander’s Jamie and Claire Fraser.  However, I can describe the relationship between Jamie and Claire and let you decide which couple best represents the kind of a love story and relationship women should want. Outlander is not without sex. In fact, some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read are found in Ms. Gabaldon’s books, Like a good life, a good story is enhanced by good sex.  One of the main reasons the sex scenes between the main characters in Outlander are different  is the context.  The hot sex between this couple is part of a loving committed and passionate relationship.  It isn’t all about the physical act.  The reader isn’t subject to a play by play of people touching each other’s body parts in inventive ways.  Not that Jamie and Claire don’t explore each other’s bodies, they do, its just that they do it as part of the bigger whole of their relationship. And in my opinion, the writing and relationship is the sexier for it.

One of the most quoted lines of dialogue from FSOG is Christian Grey’s informing his partner, “I don’t do romance”. However, he does give her the grand experiences that only a young kinky billionaire can provide.  It is then insinuated that Mr.Grey is unaware that his actions are indeed romantic. Their relationship is sealed with a contract spelling out the terms of her submission…literally.  He says, ” I don’t make love, I f*ck…hard”.  I know this kind of “rough” talk is a turn on for some and to each his own. I prefer my love stories to sound like this….After twenty years apart, Outlander’s Jamie and Claire have just made love and are lying in bed together and Jamie is trying to tell her their relationship isn’t just about the hot sex: “…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”.—Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

Diana Gabaldon is known to be generous with her wanna be writer fans and often writes about writing. She explains that writing a great sex scene is about the exchange of emotions…”not body fluids”. She goes on to explain that she believes lust is a hormonal response and not an emotion and as such, “going on” about is essentially boring.  She chooses to use dialogue and the senses express the emotional response her characters are feeling and experiencing  and…to great effect… “And I mean to hear ye groan like that again. And to moan and sob, even though you dinna wish to, for ye canna help it. I mean to make you sigh as though your heart would break, and scream with the wanting, and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I’ve served ye well.”  Diana Gabaldon, Outlander And, for me the most important part of the difference between the two stories is who these characters are as people. I was reading some reviews of FSOG and one readers’ comments caught my eye (and helped make my point) she said, “I love christian 😀 he´s so god damn hot and so f***ed up :D”. Jamie and Claire are characters with redeeming character.  They are people you could fall in love with, people to admire and emulate.  They are people with integrity, strength and kindness. They never lose their own identity in this relationship.  In fact, I don’t think they ever fail to appreciate who they are separately and the books are full of examples of them supporting and encouraging each other’s interests and endeavors. They are always foremost concerned for the other’s happiness and well-being. I’ve been known to read romance novels and enjoyed them… for about as long as it took me to read them, unlike Outlander, the one series of books I have read multiple times because I never tire of the relationship between the two main characters. When Jamie and Claire ” fall” in love the “slow burn” leading to the consummation of their relationship is exhilarating, but the maturing of their love is intoxicating and inspiring.  Their love spans impossibilities, heart-break, centuries and even time. Their love and attraction for one another is passionate, committed and mutual. Wisely, Diana Gabaldon knew that although falling in love is wonderful and interesting, there has to be more to keep a reader interested for the long haul!  Her characters have been written with depth. The reader continually learns more about Jamie and Claire as people and becomes invested in their relationship. The reader has the history of the long love story from which to draw understanding of what the characters are feeling when they come together physically. Their couplings are far from one dimensional. Outlander is a story full of passion, adventure and deeply satisfying relationships. The sex scenes are moving and far more interesting than hormone only driven scenes.   “