Good Erotica vs. Bad Erotica

Blogging about erotica – this is something I never thought I’d do, but I’m loving every second of it! So, smutty stories. What’s so awesome about them, what should we avoid, and why can very few men write decent ones?

Men vs. Women

It’s true. Look at the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards – most of the nominated entries are written by men, and the award has been ‘won’ by men sixteen years out of the eighteen it’s been running. Why? Because men are turned on by visual stuff – that’s why they generally watch porn rather than read it.

Women write better erotica, because for women, it’s all about the emotional investment. That’s not to say that women don’t sleep around without getting attached to their sexual partners – some do. But even in these cases, the really hot sex scenes will focus on thoughts and feelings and sexual tension, rather than just plunging in (and out, and in, and out) and describing the sex itself.

Men who write long sex scenes often describe the physical stuff, sometimes with lots of truly horrifying metaphors and similes, but they neglect the emotional side. I remember letting a male acquaintance read an erotica piece I’d written, and after a couple of paragraphs he looked up and said, “This isn’t porn! When’s he gonna stick it in her?’

Right, then! Insert tab A into slot B, and away we go!

Bodice-Rippers vs. Erotica

On the other hand, some female writers go way too far in terms of emotion, and their erotica is filled with flowery euphemisms about men’s ‘members’ and ‘manhoods’, and women’s ‘pearls’ and ‘petals’. To me, that’s not erotica – it’s obvious that the author (or the editor) is embarrassed about sexuality and wants to present it in fuzzy, abstract terms. Either that, or the writer is catering to the section of female readers who are embarrassed about sexuality.

So I’d class bodice-rippers and true erotica as two different categories altogether. That’s my personal opinion, of course… but yeah. Add characterisation details relevant to your story, but don’t go overboard with the heaving bosoms and soft focus.

Good Erotica vs. Bad Erotica

My approach to erotica is to imagine watching the characters on a screen, playing out the scene I’ve planned in my head. I’ll describe the stuff that I’m struck by, and leave out the parts that don’t really need to be documented. Too much detail is just as bad as too little – okay, sometimes that might happen, but is it going to add to the sexiness of a scene, or is it something that you would actually try to ignore if you were one of the participants?

Character motivation and desires are key, but don’t substitute them for the actual sex. Four paragraphs of introspection about how a character has never felt this way before, followed by some hazy descriptions that amount to ‘and they had sex’,  is a little too removed from what’s going on.

Have your characters show their feelings by way of their actions – is he a control freak? Have him pin her wrists to the bed. Is she angry, or does she want to prove something to him? Have her resist him for a while to make a point.

And Now, a Disclaimer!

This blog post is entirely subjective – it’s about my preferences for erotica. You might feel differently, and if so, I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong. I just prefer a little substance to my sex scenes. 😉

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