Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Erotica Fail

I read a lot of erotica. Sometimes, it's wonderful. Occasionally, it's dull. And then there's the truly dreadful stuff. TDS makes me grumpy, and since I'm suffering through an anthology full of it, I'm going to vent.

People write erotica for many reasons. Many write their personal fantasies. Those stories have a sense of urgency and raw lust that I love. But if you're writing for publication, please follow a few simple rules.

1) Read a lot of erotica. That way, you'll be aware of the cliched plots. The one that's driving me nuts right now is the old "man/woman picks up a stranger for hot sex, but in the end, the stranger ends up being his/her wife/husband" plot. It's not a clever twist. It's stupid. Worse, it's unoriginal stupid.

2) Misogyny isn't sexy. That includes women writers hating on other women. Quit showing women as gossiping, jealous, hateful biddies. It does nothing for your story, and it doesn't make your character fascinating by comparison.

3) Dudes - women generally do not get turned on by feeling up their own breasts. Women do that in porn because their hands are standing in for the viewer's hands. In real life, women do not go around groping themselves. It's not the same feeling as stroking your cock.

4) About 50% of the population in erotica have flashing emerald eyes. In real life, no one does. Knock it the fuck off.

5) Have you ever worn stockings for a romantic evening out on the town? There's a reason pantyhose were invented. About the time the salad is served at that dimly lit romantic restaurant, the garter is digging into the back of your thigh. The reason you're squirming through the main course isn't because of your wet panties or his fascinating discussion. It's because you're trying to figure out how to move the garter without hiking up your skirt to your waist. After you go powder your nose, AKA go to the bathroom and move the damn garters (when you also realize that the bulk of the garter belt below your waist makes you look like you added ten pounds of belly weight), you realize that the pressure mark from the garter feels as if your skin has been sliced open. Then you go back to the table and sit down, which is like rubbing salt into that cut from the garter. Sexy? Not exactly. God help you if you're headed to the theater after dinner. No wonder women in stockings peel off their clothes so quickly.

6) If you're writing a fetish piece, then please, lovingly describe the piece of clothing that inspires the fetish, but spend more time talking about how the character reacts to it. Otherwise, the full back story about how she went shopping with her bff and bought the sexy little dress and push up bra that cost too much and really she shouldn't have, but she has no spine and her bff dared her to so she couldn't say no has no place in your story. So give us all a break and back off the fashion report. It's how your character feels that's important, not the color of the panties.

7) If you have to tell readers that your character is sexy, you haven't written a sexy character.

8) Does you character have amnesia? No? Then why the hell does she have to spend two paragraphs in front of a mirror describing what she sees to herself? Doesn't she know she has flashing emerald eyes? Does she need to remind herself? Does she need to verify it by looking in a mirror? "Why yes, I do indeed have flashing emerald eyes." No doubt she's going to spend a third paragraph describing that push up bra her bff made her buy. I'll be skimming by that point, as will many of your readers. Soon, I will fling the book.

9) No real live human being says, "I feel vulnerable." Few even think those words.

10) Anyone who lets a complete stranger tie them up without telling friends where they're going - at a minimum, a chaperon is better - is an idiot and deserves to be featured on the ten o'clock news after the police find the body.

I feel so much better having ranted. Now on to the second story...


Anonymous said...

That just made me snort tea out of my nose. And not in a fetish way. Though, I did want to buy the Earl Grey, but my husband - he's so much smarter than me, it makes me feel vulnerable - he said I had to go with the orange pekoe.

Chloe Devlin said...

You know, some of those things are true for any sort of writing, no matter the subgenre. I find a lot of those, especially #2, #4, #7, and #8 in romance fiction, too.

But those are great reminders. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Some of the things that you say not to do may actually work when done right.

The husband/wife as the stranger has been done before, so has many other plot points and storyline. But the key is to put a new twist on an old idea if possible. I happen to like that scenario in some stories.

And yeah #2 does get old. And for the women groping, yeah generally women don't but again it can work if it's done right.

I don't think I've read a story with "flashing emerald eyes". Mostly if blue, brown or black in the stories I read.

I wholeheartedly agree about the stockings and garter. And also with #7 and #8 and #10.

Great post.

K.S. Manning said...

I love it Julie. I don't get to read much erotic fiction but when I do I generally find at least one of those points you posted within the story. Great reminders (and resources for some writers out there...lol)!

Jennifer Leeland said...

Oh I have to disagree! The man/woman picking up a stranger that turns out to be a spouse? I love that story. Well written and it's a winner.
And I have to say that I do like playing with my own boobs during sex. Is that TMI? Well, I might be in a minority, but I don't think women ONLY do it in porn.
But I know some of the tired plots and tired cliches in ANY aspect of romance can be annoying.
Oh, and I HAVE thought "I feel vulnerable". LOL.

Helen said...

Been reading a bit lately, have we?

I did a similar list on Twitter once, things not to do in an erotica tale. Thinking we ought to do that as a regular hashtag for Fridays, maybe? Could be fun ;)

Oh, and if the amnesiac needs to look in the mirror to double check if her eyes are green and her dainty little push up bra her BFF made her buy still fits, she probably better grope her breasts while she's at it to make sure they're still there!

ivanova said...

I'm glad someone else went on record as liking to fondle her own boobs, so I didn't have to. (Oh, wait a minute. . . I just did.)

Bryn said...

I'm not an erotica writer or reader, but this cracked me up. And like Chloe said, some of it is good advice for other genres too.

Darla M Sands said...

Great read! Honestly, I actually like some of the husband/wife pickup stories, but I've only read a few and they were well done. And I like touching myself for the reaction it brings to my guy. :) Too much information, but it's a heartfelt confession. And I learned early from an honest lover that it's a huge turn-on.

Thanks for sharing great insights and a laugh! I love this.

Stacia said...

#7 is one of the best writing rules I've seen. :-)

Verry funny! Although I love wearing garter belts and find them very comfortable, actually.