Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Avoiding Redundancy in Multiple Sex Scenes While Writing a Novel

by Kathleen Bradean

Two months ago, I asked readers to tell me what topics they'd like for us to cover. Martin asked how to avoid redundancy in sex scenes while writing a novel. I tried to pass that on to Lisabet and Donna, and they did answer, but this question deserves deeper investigation.

For purposes of discussion, I'm going to over-simplify a few things, such as an observation that there are two types of erotica novels. The first is a fun romp of sex scenes loosely tied together. The other is the exploration of a character through the lens of sex and sexuality.

If you're writing the first type, the aim is variety. A Donna mentioned, avoid redundancy by bringing in different or multiple partners, using different sexual acts, adding elements such a voyeurism, and increasing the stakes be it more intense BDSM or the possibility of being caught or whatever fits the plot. The result should be light and fun for both the characters and the readers. (I don't mean light as an insult. It's difficult to maintain an upbeat tone page after page. I couldn't write a breezy story if my life depended upon it. But I do enjoy reading them.)

If you're writing the second type, you're probably going to have fewer sex scenes than in the first type, but that's up to you and what best fits your story. You can use all the tools available to the previous type, but this isn't sex just for the sake of sex. This is a carefully crafted sexual encounter designed to transform the character. Titillating your audience isn't necessarily your aim or an inadvertent outcome, although there is absolutely nothing wrong/right/good/bad if it happens. Redundancy shouldn't be a problem here because you are focusing on what this particular encounter means to a character at this specific point in their life. Since your character should be changing throughout your novel, at each sex scene they have a slightly different take on what's happening and you're going to help them grow through it. So even if in both scenes the sexual positions and partners are the same, the emotional outfall might be very different. Maybe the first time the character is over the moon that this person wanted to have sex with them, but the second time, they feel used or sad. You also have the luxury of writing bad sex/sex gone wrong/discomfort with what happened/mixed or complicated feelings. We learn a lot through setbacks in life, and so should our characters.

Martin, I hope this is what you meant by redundancy. If not, let me know.

Feel free to add your thoughts on this.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Prick by Any Other Name?



By Lisabet Sarai

When it comes to sexual vocabulary, I'm agnostic. I will use whatever word seems to fit in a particular situation. Some authors I know are uncomfortable using terms that are particularly graphic or viewed as obscene. In contrast, I have no problem calling female genitalia a “cunt”, assuming the term is consistent with tone of my tale and the personality of my characters. On the other hand, I won't eschew a bit of euphemism, even somewhat purple-tinged, when the story, the characters and/or the readership require it. I'll use clinical or anatomical terms, too, if that's what seems right. I think carefully about the words I choose in sexual description, because an unfortunate decision can distract and even alienate readers.

Hence, I don't appreciate being told what words I can and cannot use in my fiction. For the most part, I am deeply satisfied with my main erotic romance publisher, TotallyBound. They're the most well-organized, diligent and supportive publishing company I've ever encountered. And they let me get away with a lot! However, I've had a few run-ins with editors when I wanted to use the word “prick”.

I've been told that, according to their style guide, “prick” is not acceptable terminology. I'm really not sure about the motivation, since for me the word is no more graphic or offensive than “cock”. It's true that in American English, calling a man a “prick” (or a “dick”, for that matter) is considered deeply insulting (though the two epithets do not have the same implications). Does that carry over into the original use of the word to denote the penis? Not in my dialect, anyway. It has occurred to me that the connotations might be different in the UK, where TB is based, but we do have readers all over the world.

I'll sometimes choose “prick” as an alternative to “cock” when a man is thinking about his own organ. It seems to capture, for me, some aspect of gritty physicality. It makes me think of locker rooms and surreptitious hand jobs, of embarrassing hard-ons and Internet porn watched on the sly. Personally I wouldn't tend to call a penis a “prick”, because I don't have one, but I feel that a man might (and I hope that our male Grip members will either confirm or refute this).

Prick” also has the nice implication of something that pierces or penetrates. I'm certain that extra level of meaning makes it sound a bit dirtier.

Anyway, when I received the edits for a recent erotic romance, Challenge to Him, there were several instances of “prick” called out.

He could scarcely look at her without imagining her rounded limbs wound with rope, her neat bosom bared to his pinching fingers, her lively brown eyes hidden by the blindfold that would give him license to use her however he chose. His prick swelled to an uncomfortable bulk inside his trousers. He was grateful that the motoring duster he wore concealed the evidence of his excitement.
This example fits in with my commentary above. The hero is slightly embarrassed by his sudden arousal, and thus thinks of his organ as a “prick”.

I thought a long time about whether it was worthwhile to fight about this. Ultimately I decided to change the word to “cock”. In my opinion, this loses a bit of the meaning, but not enough to justify antagonizing the editor.

However, a second case occurred here.

You’re a clever little slut,” Andrew muttered through gritted teeth. “I’ll wager this isn’t your first time eating a man’s prick.” He wound his fingers into her hair and held her head still. “Open!” Jerking his hips, he drove his cock down her throat with bruising force.

I refused to change this instance. Andrew has deliberately selected the term “prick” to embarrass and excite the heroine. Replacing this with some other term would weaken the utterance. There's also the problem of repetition, since I wanted to use “cock” in the following sentence.

Some authors agonize over every word. I have to admit that I don't do that. However, I can usually trust my instincts, especially in a sex scene.

I'm not a prima donna, I swear! You can even ask my editors! However, I'll stand up for my right to use the words that work in my story. Penis, cock prick, dick, dong, schlong, shaft, meat, phallus, skewer, screwer... there's a place for each one. Maybe even “hardness”! Words are my tools. I'm not going to reject any of them out of hand.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sexy Snippets for August



Where did the summer go?

I hope you've spent yours writing suitably steamy stories. If so, today is your chance to share a bit of them!

The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.

On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day's post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link.

Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and seduce them into buying your books!

Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It's an open invitation!

Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author, please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I'll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I'll say no more!

After you've posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.

Enjoy!

~ Lisabet

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sodom-by-the-Sea: Sensation and Sex at Good Old Coney Island


As I’ve written here before, it seems that every generation believes it invented sex. Given the long history of the human race, this idea is physically impossible, of course, but it is not wrong in spirit. Each individual does indeed “invent” sexual experience for herself with every passing day. Yet one of the fascinating surprises of my research into early twentieth-century erotic culture is that many aspects of what we consider “modern” sexuality—“respectable” girls pursuing and enjoying sex, finding boyfriends at dances or other amusement places, and generally rebelling against wait-until-the-wedding values—were flourishing all the way back in 1910.

Sexual freedom was especially abundant in one famous locale at the bottom edge of Brooklyn: Coney Island. I had the pleasure of visiting Coney Island for the first time earlier this month, and while its glitter is somewhat diminished from its heyday in the early 1900s, the spirit of carnival and sensual liberation lives on.

The desolate sands of Coney Island were first developed into a high-class hotel resort in the mid-nineteenth century. With the advent of cheap trolley, steamboat and rail service, Coney soon became the playground of the people, an affordable way for working families to escape the heat of the city. In the early twentieth century, the enclosed amusement park was born at Coney. Steeplechase Park, Luna Park and Dreamland lured millions of visitors to frolic every summer. Rides included roller coasters (also known as “scenic railways”), tunnels of love, trips to the moon or exotic terrestrial lands, and reenactments of fires and floods.


But the real attraction of Coney Island was sex. Sea bathing only became popular in the late nineteenth century. Bathing suits covered far more flesh back then than they do today, but they were quite skimpy by the standards of 1900 dress. Shedding corsets and waistcoats led to untrammeled fun. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 notes that bathers were acting “precisely as if the thing to do in the water was to behave exactly contrary to the manner of behaving anywhere else.” (p. 1136)


Even more insidious to morals were the mechanical rides. From 1897 to 1964, Steeplechase Park’s headliner ride--a mechanical horse race that allowed for two riders to share the saddle, one behind the other--provided a well-known opportunity for couples to get closer than they ever dared in the parlor of a Sunday. Roller coasters allowed young women to clutch their male escorts tight and scream. Tunnels of love such as the Old Mill allowed couples to spoon and cuddle without a chaperon. “Three times through the Old Mill was considered equivalent to the engagement ring, and sometimes once even did the trick,” write Oliver Pilat and Jo Ranson in Sodom by the Sea: An Affectionate History of Coney Island. An old Coney Island joke runs thus:

“You shouldn’t have done it Sam,” Sarah said after the Old Mill ride.

“But I didn’t do anything, Sarah!”

“Nothing, Sam?”

“Not a thing, Sarah.”

“Well, somebody did!” (Sodom by the Sea, p. 217)


Sweethearts often went to Coney together to dance and dine, have their photos taken and their fortunes told, but the resort was also known as a place to meet a stranger of the opposite sex for a day of fun. Young working-class women could enjoy all of Coney’s pleasures for the price of trolley fare, as single young men were on the lookout for a pretty girl to treat with the promise of at least a kiss or two. Common wisdom has it that the clever girls managed to board the train home without surrendering any sexual repayment, but one wonders if the girls weren’t caught up in the anything-goes spirit of the place as well. Rent-by-the-hour hotels were certainly a mainstay of local business. (For more on the Coney Island sex excursion, see Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York 1880-1920).



Today Coney Island still offers cool breezes on a hot summer day, as I can well attest. You can still ride Deno’s Wonder Wheel and dare yourself to try the roller coasters and spook houses. You can still eat a hot dog from Nathan’s in its centennial year and get your fortune told for a quarter from a waxwork grandma. She told me to expect a letter soon and refuse the next opportunity to travel because my “best interest lies in staying at home.” Grandmother also foresaw a great financial change in my status in the near future and suggested I drop in another coin to learn more.


The tradition of sideshows also lives on at Sideshows by the Seashore where a vaguely nefarious barker beguiles passersby into stepping inside to see a snake dancer, a sword swallower, a fire eater, a singing dwarf and a very weird guy who swings a bowling ball from ropes threaded through his nose piercings (I closed my eyes for that one). The performers insist that no one lies on stage at Sideshows by the Seashore, and strangely, seated in the small, bare-bones theater, I sensed there was truth to that falsehood. Or perhaps there’s just something in the sea air that makes you want to believe?

Most marvelous of all, however, was the thought that people have been seeking sensual pleasure at Coney for over a century in the very same ways we do today. To all the couples who got engaged in the Old Mill and kissed under the boardwalk and dared to cuddle on the Steeplechase horses—you were the present and future of Eros in America.

Long live the Coney Island of the mind!

Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman and a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

Monday, August 15, 2016

Anticipation

By Bob Buckley

Playing with a person's emotions is a dangerous thing, but we writers do it all the time, from the moment we seek to hook our reader with an opening paragraph that piques their curiosity as well as, we hope, tweaks their libido. Then we string them along, leading them down a path to a conclusion where we hope they say, "Wow."

Or maybe they'll just say, "Huh?"

Along the way to one conclusion or the other, our readers begin to wonder where our tale is going. They can't help it. They build up expectations: Will she sleep with him? Is he going to leave her? Will they live happily ever after?

Even that last expectation – guaranteed if the story has been labeled romance – still elicits a guess about how we're going to get there – the HEA, that is. We all do it as readers, after we've come to care one way or the other about the characters. Sure we wonder what's going to happen next, but we also anticipate, which is different - in effect, we try to get ahead of the story, writing our own in our head and seeing if it eventually matches up with the author's plot. Haven't we all, at one time or another, said at the end of a story or novel, "I knew that was going to happen," or, "I saw that coming."

Anticipation – okay, cue up Carly Simon honking away with that nasally voice of hers.

Writers of mysteries and thrillers craft their tales around readers' anticipation and deliberately defy their expectations. It's called a plot twist. It throws you off the rails if it's successfully executed, if not, it might annoy the hell out of you. But for readers of these types of stories, nothing is more satisfying than a twist, particularly the twist-at-the-end. It's then they realize they've been manipulated, deceived and perhaps even disoriented. And they love it.

But, what if you're writing a romantic, erotic story and yank the rug out from under your reader by leading them to a place they didn't expect to go? Well, if you've achieved every writer's goal of getting your readers to believe in your characters and invest their emotions in them – they may end up hating you.

Some years ago I posted a story to ERWA about a pair of what my mother would have called "poor souls." I wanted to explore why some people, men and women, go through life alone and lonely, through no fault of their own.

My main characters included a lonely guy who couldn't get a woman to give him the time of day. You know the type, a guy whose romantic history involves him being aggressively overlooked. But like the Lonesome Loser of the song, "he still keeps on tryin'." He's allowed himself to be set up in a series of blind dates – none of which have panned out – by a good-intentioned friend. On one of these arranged meetings, he's introduced to a girl who has as sad a romantic history as he does. And voila, they hit it off  and have a wonderful night together that leads to some wonderful sex.

Unfortunately for them, I'm telling this story, and I decided from the beginning it was not going to end with a HEA. While he wants to continue to see her, she rejects the notion of them in a relationship. Though she likes him, she thinks it would be tantamount to "settling." She fears the world will look at them as two losers who couldn't land anyone better and she won't give the world that satisfaction.

Okay, it's a stupid reason to toss away something magical. Have you ever heard of anyone tossing happiness away for a good reason?

It ends with her out the door and him sitting on the banks of the Charles River in utter bewilderment.

I wasn't quite prepared for the vehement reactions to the story, even though I allowed that folks who love a HEA were going to be disappointed. Disappointed? They were furious! Even some critics who, themselves, were into darker explorations of the human heart were appalled.

Multiple responders demanded that I explain what it was about the male protag that made him repulsive to women. Well, how should I know? Why do nice guys, or for that matter, nice girls end up alone?

A few suggested ways I could give it a happy ending. (In fact, I could have added two short lines at the end and instantly turn it into a HEA.)

Given my sometimes morbid sense of humor, it tickled me to no end that some people were angry at me for being a prick to my characters. I had struck a nerve.

The furious backlash told me I had gotten under the readers' skins, manipulated them into caring for and hoping for all the best for my characters. I can't blame them for being furious, but I'm glad they were.

Still, it gives a writer pause, does it not?


When you write, you're playing with nitroglycerin ... be careful.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pronouns vs Names





By Mikey Rakes

When to use pronouns and when to use names can be tricky in any fiction writing, but with same-sex stories, editing can become critical. This is one of my pet peeves and something I also struggle with as a writer of male on male erotic thrillers. Sometimes I have to put myself in the reader's seat to understand where the confusion can come from and sometimes I'm surprised how even accomplished writers can fall into some pronouns pitfalls.

Many writers have an all-encompassing view of their world and who is moving around in that special space. On occasion, we forget the reader can't see the big picture. Editing is something we'd all like to have someone else do, but as writers it is our responsibility to make the manuscript the best possible product before we send to our editors. Unless you're writing and publishing, of course, in which case: it's all you, baby!

A prime example of a bit of a mix up came from a book I just finished reading, where the author started the paragraph with Character #1 doing something and in mid-paragraph changed to the 'he' pronoun, but although confusing, the ‘he’ was clearly Character #2.

Sex scenes are tricky, too. He came. He jacked him off. He felt sooo good inside of him. Which him? Him one or Him two? Or how about this one: ‘She exploded all over her fingers.’ Is this a masturbation scene? There was a Heather and a Sarah at the beginning of the paragraph, so who exploded on whose fingers? This type of ambiguity has a tendency to confuse the reader and pull them from the scene you worked so hard to write.

Poor pronoun placement can kill a sex scene. I hear all of you right now: but we can't be using their names ALL THE TIME! No, you can't, but you can use them more freely than usual when writing same sex stories. It's important your readers know who is whom seamlessly, so they aren't having to think about it. How you construct your sentences and paragraphs can help tremendously. If you start out a paragraph where Randy is nuzzling Jonas's cock, don't jump to Jonas enjoying it without establishing Jonas’s experience in a new paragraph.

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover's cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn't destined to last. He'd savor what he could and be happy in the moment.

Here we are clearly in Randy's focus. But what if we took the same paragraph and added a little bit:

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover's cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn't destined to last.  He'd savor what he could and be happy in the moment. He slipped his dick inside his mouth.

The last line sounds a little funky, eh? We know it's Randy. Or we think we know it's Randy, but are we sure? We have to deduce that Randy slipped Jonas's cock inside his (Randy's) mouth. But what if our next sentence is: Jonas sucked him hard. Now how do we feel about it? About the pronouns? The names? Are we sure we know what is happening? Are they now in a sixty-nine?

It may seem that I'm making this out to be something odd, but I've read many stories that are far worse in terms of pronoun usage and keeping the characters straight. Look at the paragraph as it stands now, before editing:

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover's cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn't destined to last. He'd savor what he could and be happy in the moment. He slipped his dick inside his mouth. Jonas sucked him hard. He rocked deep into his throat, almost triggering his gag reflex before pulling back out. He was in heaven.

See how easily the scene can get out of control? In the writer's mind it's clear, but on the page? Yeah, not so much. So how do we clear it up? Edit. Edit. Edit. One edit isn't enough, but we all get sick of reading the same thing over and over. So, take it in chunks. Break up your editing into small, easily manageable segments, such as just the sex scenes (I like doing the fun stuff first). Just remember, sex scenes aren't the only place where your pronouns can get muddled.

Also, remember that it's okay to use the character's names. Just don't overuse them. Take a look at the revised paragraph.

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hit his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, as the water rushed over his head, and his lover's cock caressed his cheek were the memories Randy tucked away every time they were together. In his mind, he knew their affair wasn't destined to last. He'd savor what he could and be happy in the moment. Calloused fingers grazed his chin and Randy looked up into his lover's lazy gaze. The lust in those heavy lidded eyes made Randy understand what Jonas wanted. Randy wanted it too. So he allowed Jonas to tilt his jaw open and slide his dick inside. The taste of Jonas in his mouth was heaven. Randy sucked him hard and Jonas's hips jerked, rocking him deep into Randy's throat. Jonas almost triggered Randy's gag reflex before he pulled out to glide his cockhead along his tongue. God, I love being on my knees for Jonas. For Randy, being used was a part of the turn on, and from the sounds coming from Jonas's throat, he enjoyed using him.

We didn't give up on using the pronouns, but attempted to place the names in such a way as to keep the picture clear. Deep first person thoughts can be useful as means to keep things straight as well. Used sparingly, they can be quite effective for conveying strong emotion.

If you read your work out loud, or have a program that reads it for you, it can be helpful in determining what sounds best to your reader's ear. I don't know about other folks, but I see and hear the words of the books I'm reading in my head. Sort of like watching a movie with subtitles: if the subtitles are messed up, it throws the experience all outta whack for me.


When you begin writing, focus on simply getting the story on the page, and worry about the mechanics later. Remember, however, that you don't want your reader pulling back at a crucial moment. Sex scenes are more than a way to titillate the reader. They must help to move the story along and expand the reader’s knowledge of the characters involved. Sex scenes enable the reader to understand your characters and grasp their normality. We all realize when we first fall in love the reality is...we fuck like bunnies. Sex is a part of life. In the case of same sex couplings, in our writing, we must be hyper-aware of the use of pronouns. Help the reader understand what he/she is doing to him/her, and your readers will love you for the extra effort they may never realize you've made. Make it seamless, baby.