Sex … In or Out?

You’ve written a great story. Do you need sex amidst the guns, fighting and mayhem, the psychological trauma and mystery, or the tenderness and promises?

When I say ‘do you need sex’ I’m obviously referring to the requirements of the story—not your personal urges. I digress … .

This blog post was born from the need to offer my opinion on a regular comment I see on social media, and if we’re all honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. The comment usually follows similar lines to: ‘… and when I reach a sex scene I move on …’

There is usually a bit more to it, but in essence, we have two main areas to address.

Question 1 – Is the reader a prude, or simply someone who knows when a sex scene could have been done more tastefully—if it were needed at all?

Question 2 – Did the author make a mistake by getting carried away, drifting from the primary genre, thus adversely affecting the plot of the story?

The answer to Question 1 is not as simple as it sounds. For some readers, if an author goes beyond: ‘… she stood with her back to the door and raised an eyebrow …’ it’s too much. For others, it’s frustratingly brief, and they want to at least know if one person is wearing matching underwear and if the other person is wearing underwear at all.

Now, Question 2 throws up a whole new dilemma. As authors, it is not simply a personal choice, but in my (humble) opinion, it is our duty to remain true to our craft. No, I’m not getting high and mighty because I’ve written more than two books—I’m simply telling it like it is. The reputation of indie authors is being destroyed from within by some people with low standards. Those of us who work long hard hours and go beyond the first draft must persevere to produce the best we can.

You cannot refer to yourself in your branding or promotional material (of whatever level) as a thriller writer if you have the main character kill someone and then for the rest of the book he/she beds every other person in the ‘adventure’. You can dress it up, or undress it if you wish, but one of the aims of any author should be to focus on the job—in this case, a good story based on the primary genre.

I write a wide variety of genre and among them is erotica. I may allow a kiss or a caress—even partial undressing in some stories but graphic, no-holds-barred sexual activity is kept for my erotica.

If an author writes thrillers, westerns, sci-fi or other genres there ought to be sufficient time invested in character development, dialogue, imagery, pace and the accurate choreography of action. Any mention of sex will usually be incidental, except, of course, for romance, some paranormal and fantasy where it may go further.

An author who writes erotica is not out to shock—they are aiming to indulge their readers in the type of material they sought. This is not to say that character development and those other ingredients I mentioned earlier are not required in erotica—they are just as important. The erotica author must avoid sex becoming the ‘story’; an opportunity to be self-indulgent with repetitive and meaningless scenes of gratuitous carnal jiggery-pokery (mainly pokery).

In my ‘mainstream’ genres, there may be terms of endearment, a kiss or an embrace but they are strategically placed. Occasionally, in my erotica, there is less need for such romantic overtures, activity or subtlety. The characters might be more interested in mutual physical gratification than an emotional rollercoaster ride but there will still be character development and the activities are created with a purpose. It depends on the story.

I believe the author should strive to be faithful to the principle genre and whatever extended subjects it entails whether it be an action-packed or psychological plot, and plot or character-driven.

If you’d like to see ‘erotica’ as it once was, read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. Like most other genres, erotica has moved on and readers are no longer satisfied with what was once considered shocking—people want to envisage themselves in scenes which will (in most cases) forever be a fantasy. With the greatest respect D.H.Lawrence, move over my friend.

I’m a great believer in the use of metaphor if it spells something out clearly. I’ll summarise with two questions to authors who are trying to work out if sex ought to be highlighted in a story?

Would you wear flip-flops and boxing gloves to run a marathon, or perhaps mask, snorkel and flippers to ride a bicycle?

Let’s be honest—if it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t belong.

Thank you for reading, and any comments.

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

 

Give & Take 150516
FREE  weekend on Amazon –  Sat 30th / Sun 31st July 2016

In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.

In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.

I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….

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In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.

Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.

We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?

The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.

I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:

1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’

2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.

3. A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.

4. An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.

5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

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What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?

Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.

1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.

2. I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.

3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.

4. Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.

5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.

I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarWhich erotica appeals to me?

I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.

Which erotica irritates or alienates me?

When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.

When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.

Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.

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Where do I go from here with my titles?

I have erotica poetry within my Love and Romance volume, short stories in Coming Around: and other erotic stories and my novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica.

Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.

Coming soon ...
Coming soon …

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Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.

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As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.

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