Making Erotica an Adventure
Amarillo at sunset. The light was low, a long day of driving behind, but I wasn’t going to hurtle past in the dark.
One of the most surreal sights of my life. A line of classic Cadillacs planted nose down in a Texas field, all painted bright red, a crew of manic workers at the end of their long day of hot sun and paint fumes and perhaps the odd bit of horseplay with the brushes dripping red.
I made a few photos of the weird scene and oddly enough, it’s lodged in a corner of my memory like a pubic hair stuck in a back tooth. Kind of irritating, kind of fun.
I’ve got a rough idea of a story based around this scene. With the working title of Jolly Rancher, I’ll have my lady photographer character happen by — in the morning rather than at sunset — take some photographs of the iconic scene, offer to help paint the thing red, labour along with the crew all day long, splash a bit of red paint around and in the showers later get hands-on with the group leader.
Adding colour to the bare story
This is what I want to explore in my writing. A combination of travel, sex, and quirk. Not fetishes. Fetishes are strange and disturbing and raise all kinds of flags in my mind about consent and gender roles and the idea that one party isn’t enjoying the process as much as the other(s).
I get no fun out of that; if I write about such things, this will come through to the reader, and I want my readers to finish my stories with a happy sigh of satisfaction.
Personally, I find sex exciting enough without getting into the kinks and fetishes that my fellow erotica writers assure me keeps the money rolling in. Hotwives and submissives, bondage and breast milk, stepdads and dinosaur sex. Ewww.
But, let’s face it, once you’ve gotten over the first few times, a lot of the mystery and excitement of sex is gone for good. Oh yes, it’s still something that will get the expected results if you do it right, and it’s generally fun, especially as you gain skill and confidence.
But is your own regular Tuesday evening sex romp anything special? Is it a story worth telling, with all the beats and the tempo, the exposition, the conflict, the (ahem) rising action, the climax, and resolution? Or is it more of an A to B journey, as interesting a dramatic tale as a visit to the supermarket?
Readers might be keen on a written description of that — perhaps if they are teenagers looking for information and titillation — but they aren’t likely to come back and pay money for another story if it doesn’t entertain as well as arouse.
There has to be conflict, an element of uncertainty, an exotic twist of setting, maybe some danger. Will the conductor want to punch your ticket halfway through your random screw in the second-class compartment? If your boyfriend reaches into your lap during the ballgame, just how far will he get?
OMG, but there’s some awful erotica around
I’ve been researching erotica. Kind of fun, kind of irritating. A lot of it is well-crafted and arousing. A lot is horrid, just body parts sliding around without the benefit of grammar or context. And a lot of both ends and most of the middle is formulaic; a bit of setting, a couple of characters, enough unlikely sex in the latter pages to support a one-handed reader.
Formulaic equals boring in my eyes. You know what’s coming, you read on regardless. The half-witted characters either plough on without worrying too much about whether the relationship is at all plausible, or they obsess about whether the other party is interested in their well-described charms. (News flash: they are.)
If you are writing erotica, try a bit of imagination and quirk. Make the sex the icing on the cake, not the main course.