and on to my regular entry:
Get Your Sexy On
If you write erotica, you know this feeling. You've got a great story humming along, and then, crap, you slump in your seat and realize that you never got around to the sex. It's sort of like nodding off to sleep after dinner at a fancy restaurant and a ride in a horse drawn carriage on Valentines Day. The intent was there, but somehow with all the trapping of romance going on, you didn't get around to it. While your significant other may forgive you for the lapse, a reader expecting an erotic tale won't. So then you go back through the story and try to find a way to slip it in without it being too awkward, so that the reader won't notice, and realize that no matter what you do, it's going to look bad, very bad.
Congratulations! You've officially burned out.
I don't know if writers in other genres have this problem, but I see it a lot in erotica. No set up seems believable, everything feels like a cliché, and it feels as if there's no point to the story other than showing the characters having sex. It's hard to get motivated with all that hovering over a story.
So how do we fix this? How do we turn it around and get inspired again?
There probably isn't one answer, but I suggest trying the Justin Timberlake cure. That's right. Get your Sexy Back. Immerse yourself in sensuality. Feel textures - skin, leather, velvet, silk. Taste decadence - chocolate, fresh ripe fruit, exotic spices, creamy rich flavors. Hear seduction - whisper, listen to R&B (or to Justin Timberlake), let sexy lyrics wash over you. Inhale scents - a cup of coffee, your lover's skin, cologne.
There's one more sense you should indulge - sight - but I have a specific rule here. Don't watch people having sex in movies or on TV. Watch the seduction then turn it off. Leave yourself frustrated. Let your imagination run wild. Where would you take the story after that? But even more important, concentrate on what led you to this breathless state. That's what you truly want to capture on the page.
I'm convinced that the richer the seduction leading up to the sex, the better the sex will be. That means fully drawn characters that you're emotionally invested in. That means expressing passion and longing and all those wonderfully complicated conflicts between the brain and the body. Let it well up from inside you and pour it on the page. After that, writing the sex will be easier, because it will be such a relief.
Great post, Kathleen.ReplyDelete
Very well said.
Funny, but today I blogged about the passion of writing erotica.
Oh, do I know what you're talking about! These days it seems like I'm writing the same sex scenes over and over.ReplyDelete
But you know, erotica does not actually require the sex to play itself out. These days the market calls require explicitness, but some of the tales that I find most arousing are those that leave me wanting -- excited but not necessarily satisfied.
Nice post and, for me, quite timely. I've written, or part written, a few stories recently that started out as erotica but (you may laugh) ended up as horror. That;s just the way my head goes, sometimes. Mostly I've hung onto them on the basis that at some point, I'll have the headspace to think about how to rewrite - possibly with two distinct versions and amended plots, one for each genre...ReplyDelete
And I agree with Lisabet that while the market seems to want explicit, sometimes what's not said (and left to the imagination) is more arousing than explicit detail.
Fulani - I won't laugh, because I've always believed that erotica and horror have a lot in common. Both genres work on the lizard brain to provoke an instinctive response. Both are steeped in the senses. And sometimes, there's a thin line between the terrifying and the thrilling.ReplyDelete
Craig - I'll have to pop over and read what you wroteReplyDelete
Lisabet - Maybe we need to stage a sensualist's protest!ReplyDelete
Kathleen - that's a good point and an interesting one, since the distinction between terror and thrill is often a key point in, for example, erotica that deals with bdsm themes.ReplyDelete
I don;t think I;ve heard of the Erotica Authors Association. Maybe I should look into that. I still have so many basics to learn.
I'll als take away what you;ve said about getting our sexy on. We need to cherish our sensuality.
Garce - Hopefully I can change that invisibility.ReplyDelete
What a fabulous post. I love the way you framed this, the suggestions of immersing in sensuality—and the reasons for it in the form of expressing the emotion, motivation, complexity. Lovely! Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Emerald - thanks!ReplyDelete