A recent review of my latest novel, At the River’s Edge, caught my attention. The reviewer appreciated reading a murder mystery that wasn’t laced with profanity and sexual content. Similar comments have been made by other readers.
To be clear, I wrote this book for adults, and it does contain earthy language and moderate violence. After all, it is a murder mystery, but it doesn’t contain explicit sex scenes, and the violence is within the context of the story.
I believe you can build tension and suspense in a mystery without gory violence or profane language. I only need to reference Rod Serling and his TV series, The Twilight Zone, to make my point. For younger readers, Google him or take a look at a YouTube clip of one of the episodes from the 1950s and 1960s.
I’ve never overused violence or profane language in any of my novels. Early on, however, I mistakenly believed those who told me sex sells, and I attempted a couple of lust-filled scenes in my first two books, Corrupt Connection and Better Late Than Ever.
A romance novelist who reviewed the second book said the sex scenes read like the author was not committed to what he was describing. She was right. I couldn’t force myself to write the oft-used, salacious words describing what the lovemaking partners were doing to each other. While readers expect this content in romance novels, I don’t think it flows naturally in a murder mystery or crime novel.
You will not find a focus on lust in John Grisham’s suspense-filled novels. In fact, he once mentioned his early attempts at integrating sex scenes into his thrillers made his wife laugh. To this date, he avoids politics and lust. I can’t think of a better role model or advice for writers of suspense.
My current novels contain elements of romance, including At the River’s Edge, but now the door closes and reopens a few pages later. What happens in between is up to your imagination.
Learn more about At the River’s Edge by Clicking Here.