Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 2 of 3

SS2 - Coming Around 150516

Click graphic to Preview

 

My first article in this mini-series looked at what I’ve written and published in the erotica genre. As a refresher, it explains I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a novel. It also highlights my latest venture – I’m underway with a series of novellas.

This second post is an insight into why I decided to get involved in this area of creative writing. Reading erotica isn’t for everybody, and having read comments from writers who can spin a great yarn, I know the writing of erotica isn’t for everybody either.

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In closing Part 1, I promised the whys and wherefores of my interest.

I first dabbled in literary titillation when I was experimenting with poetry. I’d written about natural history, the military life, thrillers, reincarnation, romance, and a few odd pieces where I introduced humour. It was when I wrote about relationships I found I had to move on from the meeting, and the dialogue.

Surely as the romance deepened it would be natural to move on to action?

It took several attempts before I produced anything I’d post on the poetry website, which had guidelines on ‘acceptable’ content for any genre.

My erotica poetry started out like sexual foreplay. The hints were in there, a bit of teasing of what might come, and I took it forward with visual appreciation, dialogue, romance, titillation, and finally action. I received several compliments on my efforts and I was glad I’d tried.

An excerpt from ‘Our First Time’ (Poetry Vol 2 – Love and Romance) Click graphic to Preview

 

In the background I had already started playing around with the concept of short stories, and I’d tried a variety of genre. The prompt to try my hand at erotica came from a fellow poet. The lady wrote well, which was why I was delighted to have public praise from her on my widely varying poetic efforts. As I developed my verse, this lady was particularly impressed with my erotica and wrote me a private message to let me know.

A couple of private messages later there was a request for me to write an erotica short story. It wasn’t for general consumption, but for my secret fan, who said she’d be willing to critique the finished product. I obliged and produced a story which she liked, and it was followed by a few others. We’re no longer in regular contact, but I get an occasional message to let me know she reads all my work.

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I was keen to write romance, adventure and thrillers, which were the genre I read. As I increased my selection of reading material, I selected the first in the ‘Fifty Shades …’ series. Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed by either the writing or the content. I wrote a review which appears here: Fifty Shades – a review.

Having had my interest piqued by the popularity of something so badly written, I downloaded erotica eBooks by both male and female authors. It should be remembered at this point, a high number of authors in this genre use a pseudonym. I found several areas of concern in my research of erotica storytelling.

1. A lot of the ‘books’ purporting to be erotica are neither erotica, nor stories, but a series of scenes involving two or more people in sexual activity.

2. Many of these titles are badly written in the extreme, but the worst are usually spotted in their short sample available on Amazon.

3. A personal gripe is the ‘author’ who produces a badly written, short book, and compounds those two factors by over-pricing.

Is there anything worse?

Yes, sadly, a few of them go on to write a ‘series’. I detected many of these by the rapid turnaround of the ‘next in the series’ being produced a month after the previous title.

Having read several erotica titles covering a wide range of sexual orientation I can tell who knows their subject, and who uses vague descriptions.

What’s the difference?

Put simply, it’s the difference between saying ‘The man had a gun.’ or, ‘Dan carried his Browning 9mm automatic.’

I’ve read samples which have had me shake my head because they’re so awful, and I’ve seen eBooks which made me smile – because the cover, title, length, sample, and price were so bad. It takes imagination to believe the author is serious.

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Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

There we have it faithful followers. I was erotica curious, and tried my hand. I believe I’m making progress, and my titles have positive reviews. I am still experimenting to some extent, but I work on the premise my finished titles should have a story, and the books should be written and formatted with the same care given to any other genre.

In the final part of this insight I will take you under the covers, and we’ll look at the detail.

Thank you for reading my offerings, and any comments are welcome as always.

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Fifty Shades of Blue

Oct 1988 - Copy

Okay, I know it’s not a stretch to work out what this is going to be about, but it’s only right that we have some fun with blog titles … right?

When I made the leap from short stories to novels, I didn’t have to be told that I’d need a break after each draft.

 

I needed a serious change of scene, and I found myself trying to write short stories, but my novel characters kept appearing in my head. I vaguely remembered reading that it helped to ‘rest’ the primary project.

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Escapism to some people is Star Trek, Sex in the City, The Boston Chainsaw Massacre, or Gone With the Wind. Yes, escapism is many things to many people. I decided I wanted to write a genre that had no great interest for me with regard to my regular writing – but one where I might have a bit of private fun.

I wanted to write stories that would let me exercise, possibly even stretch my writing muscles, practise my characterisation, scene setting, imagery, dialogue, plot direction, pace, and so on. It had to be something that wouldn’t distract me by being too serious.

I attempted erotic poetry and had a few nice comments, so I was looking for a natural extension … but aren’t we all guys …

Okay, moving swiftly on. I wrote erotic short stories over a period of a couple of years, in between drafts of my novels, and to be honest, I thought they were bloody awful, so they remained on file. I wanted to revisit them at some stage in the future and apply any new found skills.

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Why then did I start to work harder at erotica?

I could write a long, flowing, imaginative answer that still probably wouldn’t satisfy everybody, so let’s investigate the truth.

Now you’re hooked, aren’t you?

The truth is possibly stranger than fiction … and it goes beyond the straightforward.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, I left home as a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-swearing, quietly spoken, shy and retiring 17-year-old. It was the early 70’s, and over the next few years things were to change in spectacular fashion.

Tom - Dec 1969

Tom – Dec 1969

I had become a soldier. I was young, single, carefree, and lived in a foreign country. I smoked, drank heavily, swore … quite a lot actually, and turned violent at the hint of a threat. I lived a social life that frankly, I’m pleased to have survived.

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Long before ‘porn sites’ were a part of everyday conversation, I was accustomed to sitting in bars, in seedy districts, in the wee small hours, pouring beer down my throat and watching serious hard-core.

I would usually be in the company of a few like-minded individuals. We might have screwed our faces up sometimes, or even shared a laugh, but as I remember, we continued to watch the action. Did I imagine myself taking part in it? Of course I did. We all did.

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I didn’t have to watch that stuff – I had a choice, so therefore I must have chosen to do it. My life didn’t revolve around the subject, but it was omnipresent. Sex and all associated topics was a conversation that was never difficult to have in the company I kept in those days.  March 1985 2

I’m a self-taught artist and have always enjoyed drawing the female form. I thought this was an appropriate article to decorate with drawings.

I’m not about to open up about my most intimate experiences, but let’s just say that at certain stages, it was emotional, enjoyable, and educational.

All of that was before I left my hedonistic lifestyle behind and married a decent young lady and settled down. I would become nornal. Enough said.

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Now, zip forward several light years to around 2012. I had been writing a couple of years. I had memories, experiences, increasing confidence in my writing skills, and a need to draw all of those things together and create believable characters in believable situations, doing unbelievable things to, and with each other.

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Why did I move on from writing erotica for myself?

Keeping my writer’s head on, I read romance, sci-fi, adventure, thrillers, horror, paranormal, chick-lit, and many other things. Fifty Shades of Grey appeared. Erotica had become main-stream – so I read the book – only to discover that in my humble, unbiased opinion, that it wasn’t erotic, and the woman who wrote it must have had a sheltered life if she thought that it was. Anyway, I digress.

The disappointment of that book caused me to ponder what else was out there posing as ‘erotica’, so over a period of time, in between other genre, I read different authors’ ideas of erotica. It was after about the fourth book in the genre, which I had paid for, that I decided I could do the job better.

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The result?

In 2014, my anthology – Coming Around, and other erotic stories.
Okay, it’s not a best-seller, and they haven’t chosen one of the stories as the basis of a movie, but it has received a couple of decent reviews.    912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_

How did I go about the composition of an erotic anthology?

I have always been recognised as broad-minded and prepared to accept people for what they are.

I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow, or any shade in between. It doesn’t bother me if your sexual orientation is heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, or a mixture of the aforementioned.
I know I could have used LGBT, but there are still some folk who would be Googling it.

I listed a few areas of the sexually-orientated story and then had a look at the fun stories I’d written for myself. Over a period of months, I blended the two.

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Why have I decided to tackle an erotic novel?

Don’t worry if there is somewhere you have to be in a little while, I’m not going to list all of my reasons, but here are a few:
1. First of all an important reason – because I think I can do it.
2. It’s a challenge – and I do enjoy trying something different …
3. It’s a genre which creates a wide variety of responses from men and women alike.
4. I wanted to try another genre, but had tried and failed at writing a story for children – I went in the opposite direction to write specifically for an adult audience.
5. Not one, but three different writers asked if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel.
6. I am not afraid to recognise when I’m not good at something, so if I make an attempt at this and my peers tell me I’m not good at it – I’ll leave it alone, but I will have tried.

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What is my project?

The title is Give and Take. If I may use an appropriate metaphor at this stage, I’m aiming to make this story like a body. It will have a backbone, plenty of meat on the bones, a variety of senses and emotions, and will provide both pleasure and pain in varying measure. Oh yes, and it will be a naked body – I am not dressing this up.

It will not be a moral crusade, or a guide to good living, so at times the subject matter might give the impression that I’m insensitive to the pain and heartache of the real world of good and bad relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth.
(I did write a paragraph to justify myself here, but I deleted it, because it deflated this entire article.)
I write for many reasons, and I have a strong desire to write my new story – Give and Take.

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Will my signature topic ‘retribution’ be in there?

Of course it will, but adapted, amended and exercised in ways I’ve never expressed in previous work.

You will find all the usual suspects in there: characters, locations, conflicts, sex, dialogue, detail, plots and sub-plots, sex, love, retribution, education, sex, and a few other things besides … Did I mention sex?

I will say at the outset that if you’re looking for a soppy romance with some titillation – this will not be for you. If you are a fan of the Fifty Shades trilogy and you have the faintest belief in the characters and situations – sadly, once again this is not for you.

If on the other hand you’d be happy to read a story that has been researched to a certain extent, albeit many years ago, that has some depth, and a mixture of emotions, laced with some graphic scenes, then you should enjoy the tale.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and rhetoric, and for leaving any feedback.

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I thought if you got this far, you might want to see the full version of one of my drawings from the 80’s.

Jany 1987 2

Another one? Okay, but then I really have to go …

Oct 1988 crpd

Fifty Shades Of Grey – a review

 

I felt I had to read ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ for research purposes … no really, it was for that reason.  I have a couple of ideas for writing romance and erotica but I wanted to know what was being published in the up to date market.

For weeks I’ve seen the three books of the ‘Fifty Shades …’ trilogy by E.L. James on the bookshelves and never lifted one down.  I have a smug feeling of satisfaction now, in the the knowledge I had them pegged (no pun intended) just by the titles and covers.  For the benefit of anyone wondering, my graphic is not related to the trilogy in that it is not a book cover for any of them.

I suppose there is a hint on the covers of the paperbacks.  All the books have a black cover with a white/grey/silver  item spotlighted under the white title.  The first book features a woven grey/silver necktie, the second (Fifty Shades Darker) has a mask as might have been seen long ago in high society functions on the end of a small stick (not a full face mask) and the third book(Fifty Shades Freed), which actually gives the game away if you’re slow, features a key.

To the first in the trilogy, ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’.  I read it with an open mind, not because I’m well-acquainted with the world of BDSM (Bondage, Domination/Discipline, Submission and Masochism), although I confess I’ve dabbled in certain aspects.  No people or animals were injured or hurt in my experiments.

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Anyway, I digress.  The story features two main characters who in themselves are well-drawn, a pretty graduate called Anastasia Steele who is about as virginal as you could hope for – if that was your thing.  Kissing a guy is her full sexual experience to date.  Days before graduation she finds herself interviewing self-made millionaire Christian Gray, who is as good looking as he is rich.  A bit of a dish for the ladies and a fine catch if you want a rich guy in your life, albeit with strange personal habits.

Where ‘Ana’ is virginal and totally unprepared for the big bad world, Christian is a man for whom sex is more about his penchant to inflict pain on his ‘lover’ which is how he gets his rocks off.  In a magical/fantasy and physical way they are seriously attracted to each other and so the romance part of the story is born.

She falls in love with him.  He desires her.  It’s not really the same thing as the reader finds out quite rapidly.  Ana finds herself under Christian’s spell and though he does warn her (more than once), she succumbs and begins to fall into the character of his ‘submissive’.  Sadly, Ana believes that she is getting through to Christian and thinks she can change his ways and he’ll love her in a more conventional way.  Get real Ana – the guy is a bloody sadist!

Bound to be abused

I found the sex scenes were over a bit too quick for my liking.  If I’m going to read sex I want to feel it, get into it and enjoy it – not be taken in with the preamble and then find it’s all over – maybe too close to reality eh?  On the subject of desire, the writing left a lot to be desired and I’m no expert, but I’ve checked reviews by those who are in the know – and their view was similar to mine.

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Will I read the remainder of the trilogy?

No, not unless Mr. Grey sends around a couple of his beautiful blonde employees to tie me to a bed.  Thinking along the lines of one holding the other two books in front of my eyes while the other ladies do unspeakably delicious things to me.  I wasn’t disappointed by the end of the story … until I found out that the lovely and I have to add, gullable Miss Steele appears in not one, but both of the other books.  Talk about jumping on the bandwagon.

Now, as I said at the start of this diatribe, I’m no expert in the field, but this trilogy looks like an excuse to explore in writing, the ascending levels of pleasure that the BDSM brigade would enjoy in their fun-filled lives.

Sorry Mrs.  James, I’m only being honest.  I will say thank you for one thing.  You have by your success made me feel more like publishing my efforts on Kindle.  So with that in mind, I’m off to imagine what I could get up to in the privacy of my own mind.

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