Need advice about a scene that might be risque...

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Kbars

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So my novel has over 29,000 words. I didn't set out to do it, but the characters have morphed part of the plot into a romance. It is turning out very unconventional in that it is taking my genre into a direction I have not seen before. My goal is to describe the full human condition in that I want to explore: Love, Desire, Desperation, Fear, Hope, Happiness, Sadness, Regret.

I apologize for being cryptic of the full scenario of my novel. This could be great. This may be paranoid, but I worry about having my idea taken. It will take a long time to finish to get correct.

My writing is becoming arrested. I am having fears about certain scenes within my novel. I worry that fans of my genre will reject it.

The Scene in question:
The town is in chaos. The Heroine of the novel saves the Hero's life but sustains injuries in the process. Both arms sprained. She cannot make it home. Grateful for his life, he takes her to his home. They find each other attractive. A day passes. Using strategic towel placement and closed eyes, he helps her in taking a bath. No, he is a gentleman, he does not look. He's tempted...but he doesn't.

Yes, this does seem juvenile. But I am not so sure. AT NO POINT IS THERE ANY HUMILIATION WHATSOEVER. She is a doctor. She has given many exams to men. The vulnerability of being in their situation makes her humble. The way I see it, the scene would build trust any some intimacy. Remember the town and its citizens are in a chaotic situation. In dire times, people's attitudes towards modesty are flexible. The entire scene is also very symbolic of the plot of the story which I am uncomfortable to explain.

Also, the scene leads up hilarity, since his daughter comes home and embarrasses her dad. "Um, dad. We do have a few beds around here. You don't have to do it in the bathroom," type jokes.


My questions:
1. Has anyone ever seen a situation like this in a romance novel? If so, name of book?
2. Could this be romantic?
3. Is this Juvenile?
4. Is this a bad idea?
5. Should I go with the buff? Or should she keep on her underwear?
6. Should I say that her parents were nudist, and she grew up that way?
7. Is this even conceivable?
8. Um...I hesitate to ask, but what if she needed feminine hygiene help?

I am clueless. I don't know the rules. This scene might be silly, but it seems important to my story.

Thank you so much!
 
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MaeZe

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One can't judge this until you write it. Take your ideas, write the story and get critique. You say you have 29K words. Hang out here for another 43+ posts so you can put some of this in the ShowYourWork forum.

The idea sounds interesting. Risqué depends on how you write it. And how you write it depends on what you want.

You sound like you have enthusiasm for this story. That's important. But have a little patience, read critiques of other work, critique what you can. You'll get there.
 

mccardey

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I don't really know much about Romance, but this seems fairly sweet to me. As Maeze says, I expect it comes down to how you write it. You're the boss of that, so you get to decide. :)
 

frimble3

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Not the reader you're looking for, 'women's fiction' not being my thing.

But, if the town is in the kind of chaos where your MC has to be saved by the FC, who is injured in the process (2 sprained arms sound odd, somehow - as you though want her helpless, but not 'really' injured? Sprained at the elbows, at the shoulders?) and it's a dire situation in general, this seems unlikely.

A few days without a bath is the least of their problems, unless she's so covered in sludge-of-dubious-content that it would be a health hazard. In which case they wouldn't be waiting a day, and neither one would be interested in more touching than necessary, or modesty, come to that. A combination of "Ew, yuck, icky" and "Gedditoffme, gedditoffme!"

Taking a shower would be quicker, easier, and wouldn't leave her sitting in a soup of sludge. He helps her undress, and into the shower, turns on the water, removes the towel she was wrapped in, and lets her move under the water. (He can help with the bits that the water doesn't hit. And, he is allowed to peek, with the intent of making sure she's okay, and that he did a thorough job.)

Also, given the circumstances you describe, chaos, danger, etc, I don't think the daughter would be in much of a mood to embarrass dear old dad.

And, the feminine hygiene thing isn't any harder than the other stuff: the daughter will have supplies - let's say 'pads' for simplicity's sake. He gets a clean pair of underwear, presuming that the daughter is about the same size, places the pad appropriately (the MC can give instructions) and help her into the underwear. Actually, if he has a teenage daughter (judging by the humourous byplay she's not a little kid) she could be prevailed upon to help during an emergency.
Less humourous and more practical, he's going to have to help her with general bathroom stuff, getting her clothes out of the way, wiping her clean afterwards. Not as cute and romantic as bathing, but more realistic. Especially during a chaotic crisis.
 

MinaJane

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It's difficult to know if it'll work without reading the scene, because it will mostly depend on how you write it. Even though I write erotic romance, I don't consider myself an expert so this is only my humble opinion:

I agree with frimble3, if you want it to be realistic, it can build some level of trust between your characters, but it won't be romantic.
And it will also only work if your heroin's personality fits with what you want to convey in the scene. Being in such a vulnerable position can feel very demeaning and humiliating for some people, no matter how respectful the caregiver is. If it doesn't feel right for your MC, it will put the reader off.

If romantic is what you're going for, I would suggest steering clear of extreme helplessness. Only one of her arms injured, he helps her undress, towel dry her back, put underwear back on for example, it's less risqué...
 

Kbars

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Thank you all for the encouragement and advice! +1 for everyone.

I have a few more details about the situation and motivations of the characters that I should share.

The power is out so there is no hot water. The heroine had to walk 15 miles to get to the situation where she saves the MC. Eric recognizes that Alex(andra) is feeling icky. He heats a lot of water on the grill the following morning so she can have a bath. Eric is a little clueless when it comes to women. He looks at the big picture mostly. He did not consider that she would need help. Eric is very hesitant at first. Alex points out that this situation is only as awkward as they make it. He immediately agrees to help out of respect. Also, a bath is better than a cold shower because of the modesty of bubbles!

I recognize that this cannot be romantic now. Thank you frimble3 and MinaJane. But there is the potential for trust building, intimacy, characterization, and humor here.

For Example: Alex picked the worst clothing the previous day. She is wearing Button-Fly Skinny Jeans that are quite tight. He tries to unbutton her without placing fingers inside her seam. This would be near impossible. Alex is amused at Eric's extreme attempts to protect her modesty.

Yes, I do see that there might be some humiliation here. But isn't that what being human is about?

My intent is to explore how two people might come together in an extreme situation. Eric is conflicted about his emotions. Is it convenience(She is a doctor and his daughter has medical issues)? Is it desire(she is quite pretty)? Is it the highly emotional circumstances they are in(the world at this time is quite scary)? Is it love(it will be eventually)? Can Eric afford the distraction of a courtship in such a dangerous time(his main priority IS his daughter after all)?

As for Eric's daughter, Kelly, she recognizes that her dad is awkward around women. She teases him mercilessly because she wants to encourage him to break out of his shell and be more open about his desires. She wants him to be happy. Embarrassing her dad is not the best way to encourage him, but it is the most fun and she is only 15. But this aspect of her personality is paramount. She forces her dad to confront and talk about his feelings. Otherwise, he would likely suppress them.

I see this as a series of books. Each book will start with extreme situations. Fast paced to get the reader charged because of the dire circumstances. It will then calm down and focus on the characters relationships with humor and sweetness. Finally it will build back up to the extreme crisis. They won't get together until the last book. At that point, I see the story as being dead. I see them as having disagreements of course, but I don't want to create a soap opera...
 
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Kbars

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It's a weird mixture that I am not sure how to categorize. It's definitely not straight romance. I cannot see the cover as having my heroes embracing each other. I am not disrespecting romance by saying this! Honestly, I am one of those guys who secretly enjoys a good Hallmark movie once in a while. It's a mixture of dystopian/survival/contemporary/romance. I apologize if I broke any rules by posting to this section. I honestly did not think I would get such good responses from the sci/fi section.

I would love it if romance readers read my story as well as post apocalyptic readers.

This is also what terrifies me. Humans use categories so they can classify to study/simplify. You wouldn't expect to find a box of cereal in the ice cream freezer at the grocery store. This is kind of how I am feeling about about my novel. Right now I have 29,000 words. These are mostly brain dumps of what I have come up with in my head. (Long drive to work, and work is very menial and allows me to think). I know what I currently have is unpublishable. I am still developing my craft and see myself as making multiple complete edits of the story. I am in this for the long haul and recognize that I have hundreds, if not thousands of hours to go before the book is ready.
 
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Woollybear

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On its face, mashing post apocalyptic with vulnerable intimacy seems like a nice contrast to me. But. There's no good way to know if it comes off as juvenile or not because it depends on your execution.

Try "In My Room." It's an indie film. No idea if this is the sort of mash-up you are talking about, and try not to worry too much about having your idea stolen... :) I think a lot of us feel that way, and it's normal to do so... and probably even happens from time to time, but maybe not as much as we fear at the outset.
 
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Auteur

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You could say that he was lusting in his heart. While their relationship was purely platonic, he couldn't help but wish the towel would accidently slip, exposing her large, pendulous breasts. He felt a stir in his shorts and tried to think of something else -- something extremely unpleasant to ease his cravings. What to think about? Sarah Sanders. Yes! That's it. Sarah Sanders naked! He visualized her standing at the podium, but she didn't look like Sarah Sanders. She had morphed into the doctor! Standing there completely naked! Oh, my god. He now had a full erection! He doubled over and tried to hide it with his arm. She opened her eyes. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Oh, nothing," he replied, trying to look nonchalant...

Well, you get the point. :)
 

Kbars

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Thank you Patty. I'll look into that film. And thank you for the reassurance :)

Auteur thank you for the input. I worry that lusting would be a little much while she is so vulnerable. This would turn readers off. I do like the idea of thinking about unpleasant stuff to counter his desires. Worms, snails, and slugs. I might use this later when she has to to doctor stuff to him...
 

Marissa D

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This is also what terrifies me. Humans use categories so they can classify to study/simplify. You wouldn't expect to find a box of cereal in the ice cream freezer at the grocery store. This is kind of how I am feeling about about my novel.

Well, no--human booksellers use categories so that they can sell the right types of books to the people who want them. So it's a valuable exercise to think about where in a bookstore your book might fit, because genres come with certain expectations--and while you can play with those expectations, there are some that can't be broken (for example, like calling a book a romance when in the end its main characters don't end up together or likely to be together, or a mystery where the bad guy is not discovered and brought to justice.)

If you think your book might be a romance, I would suggest finding a few science fiction romances to read and see how other authors balance the science fictional and romantic elements in their stories (I suggest science fiction as dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction is often put under that umbrella), and if you think your story would be similar.

Oh--IIRC, Stephen King's post-apocalyptic The Stand included romantic/developing relationship elements, though their development wasn't a major part of the book.
 

Hayley Lane

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Perhaps romantic isn't the first word that comes to mind, at least the way it was laid out in the main post. I just stumbled on the fact that she has sprained both her arms, the city is in chaos and she needs a bath. My first thought is that with two sprained arms - and I understood they have not been tended to by medics - she's in so much pain she doesn't even come close to think about bathing. I'd buy that he would perhaps use a cloth to wipe of the worst (blood, grime, etc.) as she's more or less bound to wherever she's laying. However, as has been pointed out above, one doesn't really know if this works until you have written it.
 

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