Writing Erotica – Harder Than It Looks

Lousy pun above, hmm?! I thought I’d try my hand at some erotica recently. How hard can it be (sorry!), I thought to myself. No need to worry too much about a plot, just put in TONNES of sex and it’ll be fine!

There’s a real niche market for erotica on the Kindle. That’s why it was invented, really, so people could read dirty books during their commute and none of their fellow passengers would be any the wiser. All the best-sellers appear to be self-published, and their covers have a home-made feel to them. Writing erotica appealed to me, as it seemed like a low-cost way to publish and make money.

A few attempts later, and I take my hat off to the porn writers. I ran out of sex scenes to describe after the first four of ‘em, and I am bored, bored, bored. I don’t mind writing sex scenes, but I’d prefer to write just a few of them and scatter them in a book where they can be stumbled upon and relished for their scarcity.

Once you’ve done your four or five sex scenes, everything else feels repetitive, a rehash of sex scene one or two. And it all gets so contrived. Perhaps regular readers of erotica don’t mind the contrive-ity of it all, but it bugs me. You read something and think, “Oh for heaven’s sake, they can’t possibly have sex here or again!”

I keep thinking of that award that is given out to writers annually, the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction. (Though, luckily for me, it’s only given to high-brow fiction writers, and I don’t put myself in that category.)

This year’s contenders include this one…

He puts his hands on Bianca’s shoulders and slips off her low-cut top. Suddenly inspired, he whispers into her ear, as if to himself: ‘I desire the landscape that is enveloped in this woman, a landscape I do not know but that I can feel, and until I have unfolded that landscape, I will not be happy …’

Bianca shivers with pleasure. Simon whispers to her with an authority that he has never felt before: ‘Let’s construct an assemblage.’ From The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet

The Literary Review chose this one in the end,

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen

On the stone porch, in the hot, mountain air, we grapple with our clothing, which, in the darkness, becomes as complicated as mountaineering gear. Her black shirt around her neck, mine unbuttoned, our shorts and underwear slid to our ankles, we seem to be moving at avalanche speed and also, unfortunately, with avalanche precision.

So, writing about sex is something most people struggle with. Interesting to note too, that the majority of this year’s contenders are men.

Will I continue to write my own erotica, the imaginatively titled Unnatural Desires? I’m loath to not finish something I’ve started. And a challenge is good, right?

Then, there is that demand thing. As I said, the bulk of erotica available on the Kindle appears to have been written by indies. Maybe the quality control element isn’t so essential here. That’s not to say there isn’t such a thing as well-written erotica, just that perhaps erotica readers aren’t so bothered by the narrative structure and character development?

We’ll see.

Do you have any examples of badly-written sex scenes, or contrarily are there are any writers you think create great sex scenes? I think Fiona Walker does them really well, for example. I’d love to know your thoughts.

 

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10 thoughts on “Writing Erotica – Harder Than It Looks

  1. Yes, I loved her too. Those scenes were terribly earthy. The most recent book had RCB using the words buttery c*** over, and over though, which was dreadful!

  2. Having edited some of this stuff I can honestly say most of the sex scenes had me laughing my head off, and the mark Up consisted mainly of comments such as ‘how many hands has this bloke got?’ or ‘how big are her boobs that he needed both hands to caress a nipple?’. I think the hardest part is finding non-cringey names for genitals that don’t read like a medical dictionary or the wall in the boys toilets at a secondary school.

    • Yes, it’s hard to write without it sounding like directions for a play or film. Love that someone might be so busty they need a bloke with two hands to caress a nipple!!!!

    • Caron, some months ago by chance Emma and I actually had a brief discussion on the best words to use for (a) the sex act and (b) genitalia. Emma had a few suggestions, but they were a little direct for my taste. But I think that says something about how our society sees sex: women can write it about it much more freely, whereas a man writing about sex seems sleazy. It’s interesting that the Bad Sex Award is dominated by men.

      I’m afraid I chicken out and try and leave it to the imagination.

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