Monthly Archives: February 2017
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.
It’s the last day of Women In Horror Month, and I wanted to
talk a bit more about erotic horror like I did in January’s post. Last month, I talked about eroticism in
horror. This month, I want to talk about setting a proper mood for writing
erotic horror. There is a lot of music out there that lends itself to both the
spooky and the sensuous. I didn’t want
to include the usuals like Mussorgsky’s Night
On Bald Mountain or Bach’s Toccata
and Fugue in D Minor since they’re a bit overplayed and are very closely
associated with horror, but not erotic horror. There are some classical pieces
that are great accompaniments to writing erotic horror because they are so
Stanley Kubrick used Bertok’s Adagio from Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta in his hit
movie The Shining. Although The
Shining is obviously not erotic, this music can easily set that kind of mood.
Back to Kubrick, he used Ligeti’s Requiem in his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. This haunting piece is perfect to set a darker mood for your erotica.
Sally’s Song from A Nightmare Before Christmas is a haunting and sad tune that will bring tears to your eyes. So when your hero and heroine are far apart, this is the song to listen to that will gain you access to their hearts.
Lustmord was one of the first dark ambient artists I discovered over 20 years ago. The music is very atmospheric and perfect for setting a dangerous albeit sexy mood. Lustmord’s Astronomicon sounds like something Emily Brontë or Daphne du Maurier would have liked. It has a Gothic and sensuous feel to it.
Now for something a bit more melodic. Enigma’s The Principles of Lust is perfect for any sexy mood. You’ll crack open the flavored lube listening to Enigma. You’ll have to go to Youtube to watch and listen to this video.
Enigma’s Sadeness (Marquis de Sade?) is another go-to piece. Here are parts 1 through 3. Same as above – you must watch and listen to this video on Youtube.
Now for something with a bit more bite to it. I can see listening to Lords of Acid while writing action-packed dark vampire erotica. Their album Voodoo U is especially sexy. Here’s Special Moments.
How can you resist a song with a name like Dirty Willy, also by Lords of Acid.
Now that you’re in a sinister but sexed up mood, grab a suitable book like Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy or Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse and give your dark side a treat.
by Jean Roberta
The introduction of sex in a work of fiction can feel problematic for several reasons: sex has traditionally been considered “unspeakable,” something that can’t and shouldn’t be described in detail, at least in the social mainstream, and sex is considered an exceptional activity, a form of interaction that is completely different from any other. Of course, sex is different from every other shared activity, but even the most casual hookup is usually preceded by a comment or question (“Looking for a good time, sailor?” “Are you alone?” “Do you come here often?”).
The challenge for an erotic writer is how to get from here to there. Going beyond conversation to the shedding of clothes usually means shedding certain readers as well. Erotic writers know that some readers won’t read writing about sex, even if these readers actually have sex lives, and even if they bring murder mysteries with them to the beach for “light” reading.
Besides all this, there still seems to be an amazing amount of confusion about what is sexually acceptable in the real world. I recently had a conversation with my stepson (age 36, and a veteran of several serious heterosexual relationships) when he agreed to drive me to the home of a fellow-volunteer counsellor on the local sexual assault line so I could pass on the satchel that contains a mobile phone for emergency calls.
Stepson seemed to feel he was under suspicion of various crimes just because he is male. I assured him that I trust him more than I trust most men, having known him since his ninth birthday.
My assurance apparently didn’t ease his discomfort enough. He told me that when he sees an attractive woman, he wants to have sex with her. I wasn’t sure if he was confessing a sin or defending his male nature against a particularly feminist form of prudery. I told him that wanting sex is fine. (He knows I’m an erotic writer, but this fact often seems to slip from his consciousness.) I explained that wrestling a protesting woman to the ground or putting a drug in her drink to knock her out is not fine; in fact, those activities are crimes. He implied that no sane man would do any of those things, but he still seemed troubled.
I was aware that a stepmother-stepson relationship is an awkward context for a conversation about sex that is not intended as foreplay. For all practical purposes, I am one of his parents, but we’re not actually related by blood. I still feel as if someone needs to explain the concept of consent to him as thoroughly as possible, but I doubt if I’m the best person to do that.
I wonder how many other men either feel like criminals because the sight of attractive women excites them, or who feel entitled to do whatever they have to do to overcome most women’s refusal to have immediate (unpaid) sex with strangers—or with men they know too well.
A fellow erotic writer recently suggested to me that none of us are “politically correct,” which apparently means that scenarios about men using force or deception to have sex with women shouldn’t offend any of us. It’s not as if any erotic writer was ever a young woman who needed a job, and didn’t want to be tricked into a sketchy situation involving non-consensual sex and no pay, with the risk of getting killed. And it’s not as if any erotic writer was ever a woman who wanted human status.
As I’ve said here earlier, my fantasies about true sexual freedom (without degradation, contempt, or various forms of punishment) take place in an alternative world because I’ve rarely seen it in this one. I can imagine a culture in which it would be perfectly acceptable for a person to approach another person for sex, and perfectly acceptable to accept or refuse. In the case of rejection, the seeker would just continue looking for a playmate. In the absence of sexual hypocrisy, homophobia, or a sexist double standard, the search probably wouldn’t take long.
In a fantasy novel that I read years ago (sorry I can’t remember the title or the female author), the question “May I offer you anything?” was widely understood to be a proposition, and the answer was often yes. The simple honesty of this form of etiquette appealed to me, and I wished I could visit that imaginary world.
So in the world we live in, as well as in the stories we write, how do we take two or more sympathetic characters from everyday interactions—in which everyone is fully dressed—to sexual ecstasy? A standard guidebook on sexual etiquette would help. More honesty and empathy in the culture at large would help more.
What would help the most would be a general understanding that no one is “out of character” when they are out of their clothes. Au contraire. The butcher, the baker and the cabinet-maker want sex is some form, with someone. So do the doctor, the lawyer, the accountant, your child’s kindergarten teacher, and the bag lady pushing a shopping cart.
I haven’t found a way to segue comfortably from non-sex to sex on the page without feeling as if some part of the narrative doesn’t fit with the rest. As my spouse often says, I want to live on my own planet.
As long as I am stuck on this one, I will be tempted to describe sex (when I do) in a culture that speaks what is still largely unspeakable here.
by Kathleen Bradean
Have you ever been writing and felt as if the sex scene was going to ruin your story? I have, and was weird, because I’d started out to write erotica. It wasn’t one of those other genre stories where I reached a point where the characters were getting turned on and I had to make that decision to follow them or move on to a later scene. This was the point of the story. And yet…
I’ve mentioned before that I write in another genre. I made the decision to leave out sex scenes (honestly – because my father wanted to read my work and he wouldn’t if there was sex) and find it’s difficult to stop myself when it’s the natural progression of a scene. I often feel like writing little fanfics of my own work so I can write what I imagine follows rather than let all that lovely sex stay locked in my imagination.
Why would it be so easy in those stories to scorch the pages when sometimes it’s so hard to get into the mood to write the actual sex part of my erotica? I’ve seen writer burnout in this genre. Few of the writers I “came up” with at ERWA still write. But it feels like it’s a different issue than burnout.
I think – and this may be off base – but it seems to be an issue with the characters. The pair in my series have great chemistry. Even when it isn’t about sex with them, it’s about sex. I recently reread The Thin Man and it reminded me how fun it is to see a couple that’s so deeply into each other. There was no sex on those pages either, but you just knew between the scenes that Nick and Nora Charles were all over each other.
There’s an annual bad sex writing award – which I hate. The whole idea is to laugh at writers – usually big names – who did a terrible job writing sex scenes. In every case, I can sense the dread. The smooth writing becomes awkward. At times it feels as if they wrote everything else around it, maybe using a place keeper *insert sex scene here* then circled back at the end, leaned as far from their computers as they could, wrinkled their noses, turned their heads, painfully sputtered a few words across the page, slammed the computer shut and sent the manuscript off to their editor like it was a used diaper left cooking in the back seat of a car in Atlanta in August.
Have you ever felt like the sex scene ruined the flow of your story? Have you felt it ruined the flow of the story? How did you fix that?
few days ago, I received the welcome news that a short story of mine
had been provisionally accepted into an anthology. The editor wrote:
love your story, but it will need a little bit of amending: we cannot
have any mention of anyone under the age of 18 having sexual thoughts
or masturbating. (I know this is absolutely silly but we are not in a
position to risk it.)”
me make it clear that this story (which would probably be categorized
as literary erotica) does not feature underage sex. The main
character has an unusual and rather dangerous fetish, which first
appeared after an experience in his mid-teens. The story includes a
flashback in which the protagonist describes those early events and
how they shaped his current, adult sexuality. Like most teens, his
reaction to arousal was to masturbate.
not going to fight with this editor, first of all because I really
would like to be part of the anthology and secondly because she
recognizes the ridiculous nature of the prohibition. However, this
state of affairs still makes me fume. I mean, let’s get real.
Nobody masturbates more often than teenage boys! And sexual
thoughts? As I recall my high school years, it was pretty difficult
to focus on anything else!
hard for me to understand the logic behind this rule. We’re not
talking about pedophilia here. We’re discussing private sexual
stimulation. Who is being hurt? Why should this be a forbidden topic?
first time I remember masturbating, I was four. I didn’t have any
idea what I was doing, but I knew it felt good. I had erotic
fantasies in grade school (about being kidnapped at the beach by a
classmate who wanted to pull off my bathing suit). It’s an accepted
scientific fact that children have sexual urges, and that in the
years right after puberty, hormones run rampant. What purpose does it
serve to pretend otherwise?
anyone still cling to the myth of childhood purity and innocence?
fact, fetishes often have their roots in childhood experiences.
Changing my story probably won’t do great violence to its main
points, but it does reduce the authenticity of the tale.
write, and read, erotica for many reasons. As for me, I’m simply
fascinated by sex. My personal motivation in writing is to explore
the way sexuality complicates, illumines and transforms human
existence. I want to realistically portray the experience of desire
and to show its varied impacts on the lives of my characters. If I
can arouse my readers in the process, I’m pleased, but that’s a
side effect rather than my primary goal.
become quite difficult to achieve this goal when I’m forced to deny
power and importance of teenage sex. Confusing, scary, wondrous,
earliest encounters with sex strongly influence our adult fantasies
who says otherwise is either a liar, or out of touch with reality.
At this point, Valentine’s Day is just a sweet, hot memory. However, you can help keep the erotic fires burning through February. Today’s the day for sharing your Sexy Snippets.
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. No extra promo text, please!
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
by Donna George Storey
We live in a tumultuous time and few can predict the news each day will bring. However, we can be certain that under a Republican Congress and President and with a Supreme Court that is bound to become more “conservative,” the U.S. government will move to limit its citizens’ access to contraception and sex education.
When I say citizens, I mean both women and men.
Yes, men will be intimately affected by limited access to contraception. Why do so few of them seem to understand this?
Shutting down funding for Planned Parenthood is always presented in terms of its effect on women’s health. Reproductive choice is regarded as a woman’s issue, something that might sway the votes of women, but never men. It’s as if men don’t play a role in pregnancy at all.
Men may no longer have the luxury of ignoring the fact that they do.
Let me pause here to say for the record that my argument has nothing to do with abortion, which is about what happens after conception. I’m talking about the access adult men and women have to modern medical technology that will enable them to have sexual intercourse without conceiving a child.
But seriously, you say, who would take this access to birth control away from us? That would never happen!
Haven’t you noticed? All kinds of crazy and unimaginable things are happening these days.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of powerful male politicians who either actually want to take access away–especially from the young and people with low incomes–or who go along without thinking through how it might affect their male voters’ lives. Too many of us take for granted that contraception is part of our right to privacy. Birth control has nothing to do with government control. However, a look back in history shows that our government has zealously denied its citizens access to contraception for a period of over ninety years.
Before the Comstock Act, a federal law pushed through a tired, distracted Congress in 1873, birth control was legal in the United States. The Comstock Act cleverly prohibited sending any device or information having to do with contraception through the mail. Its pure-minded father, Anthony Comstock, was also appointed as a special agent to the post office to enforce his law, which he did with sanctimonious enthusiasm. He most often targeted small-scale, immigrant-run condom and “womb veil” producers, while letting Goodyear, a wealthy company which manufactured rubber condoms as well as other rubber goods, avoid surveillance and consequences. By the way, the Comstock Act also prohibited sending obscene materials through the mail—including sex toys, pornography and erotica, although the latter was surely not as well-written as erotica authored today!
The Comstock Act was terminated in 1957–that is, not all that long ago–although in 1936 there was a court ruling, United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries (the best court case name ever!), that the federal government could not prevent a doctor from providing contraception to his patients. In other words, those who were wealthy enough to have enlightened physicians who supported family planning could enjoy the benefits of reproductive technology much earlier than the common man.
In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution protected the right of married people to use birth control as late as 1965. Only in 1972 did Eisenstadt v. Baird allow unmarried people the same right. Estelle Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut who opened a birth control clinic in New Haven to challenge the state’s lingering Comstock law. William Baird purposely got himself arrested and convicted for handing a condom and package of contraceptive foam to a 19-year-old unmarried woman after a lecture on birth control. We must remember this didn’t just happen. These brave people along with many others (Margaret Sanger and her husband and many more) endured prison and hardship to win us our right to control our reproduction.
It might be a fight we have to wage once more.
Indeed some want to turn back the clock to a more idyllic time in America, before all these pushy women had the idea they were equal and wanted to have sex without consequences. I’d like to consider what such a renaissance of old-time values and customs would mean for men who want to have sex today.
Until the 1920s, when sexual intimacy was first acknowledged as an important part of a married couple’s happiness, an enlightened man would be considerate of wife’s health and abstain from sexual intercourse as much as possible. That was the only universally accepted way to control family size. The desire for sex was a bestial urge, and the civilized man would conceive a few children to help his wife fulfill her womanly nature, then nobly refrain—or visit a prostitute.
Now some men were not so noble, or inclined to visit prostitutes, and relied on other means to control family size.
Clelia Mosher’s survey of married women beginning in 1892 revealed that withdrawal was a fairly popular birth control method back when men were men and women wore corsets all the time and not just for fetish reasons. Planned Parenthood reports that if always done correctly, only 4 in 100 women will become pregnant each year using the withdrawal method. I was told it was a terrible form of birth control, so I’m surprised it’s that good. Of course, the rate climbs to 27 out of 100 if the man is not as conscientious, so it probably is not a great method for teenagers.
Back in the early twentieth century, many doctors recommended against withdrawal because it would make men weak and mentally infirm. The argument was no doubt self-interested, but most men today would probably agree. The rhythm method was not discovered until 1930. Before that, most physicians thought women were “safe” at the midpoint of their menstrual cycle based on studies of animals. The rhythm method might also be called “limited abstinence” because the couple might have to abstain as many as ten days of the cycle. If you don’t like sex during menstruation, the period of abstinence will be even longer.
Is traditional-values living sounding good so far?
Condoms were the most popular purchased contraceptive back in our glory days. Goodyear rubber condoms were so thick and sturdy they could be washed and reused. If we return to such a way of life, remember that recycling is good for the environment! Latex condoms were invented in the 1920s but men still had to purchase them under the counter in cigar stores, gas stations and saloons. Bellboys usually had a few on hand if you tipped nicely. Again we might ask—who would take condoms from the shelves of CVS? Can we take anything for granted in this crazy twenty-first century world of ours?
The other option was and is, of course, to have lots and lots of children. If followed to its logical conclusion, a policy which prohibits family planning and sex education means that someone with an active sex life will have twenty children. Since every other man with an active sex life will also have twenty children, that’s a lot of babies. And babies don’t die as often as they used to from diphtheria and measles as they did back in the day, although with an anti-vaxxer in the White House, infectious diseases might be great again, too. But let’s figure the world will be really crowded and competitive with all those kids running around. You think it’s hard to get into a good college now?
So in summary, gentlemen, if you don’t stand up and insist on every citizen’s right to reproductive options to your elected officials in the most vehement terms, you may well be left with the following choices of yore:
Then again there is one more option for sexual expression I forgot to mention: read erotic stories with your lover and pleasure each other manually and orally. Save the intercourse strictly for when you want kids.
Come to think of it, if we’re not slapped with a revival of the Comstock Act, the new era of reproductive restriction might be good business for erotica writers after all.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
have a crow to pluck (bone to pick) with James Joyce.
has been credited with writing the greatest short story of the Twentieth
Century, “The Dead,” one of a collection of tales he compiled under
the title, “The Dubliners.” “The Dead” is also recognized
as one of the first and best examples of modernist
fiction, when writers began to use characters to look inward into themselves
rather than out at the world.
don’t panic, or worse, yawn. I’m not
going to lead you through a class of Modern Fiction .101. It’s just, there is
something about “The Dead” that always rubs me wrong, despite that
it’s a marvelous story, on its face so simple and yet fraught with wry humor
and symbolism. After many years I recently reread it and, sure enough, it still
leaves me a tad irritated.
story revolves around a social gathering that takes place years before the
Irish rebellion hosted by three spinster ladies who are the queen bees of the
Dublin musical scene. Included in the company are locally known musicians, an
up-and-coming operatic tenor, an Irish nationalist and a token Protestant.
master of ceremonies is the nephew of two of the ladies, and cousin to the
other, Gabriel Conroy. Gabriel is portrayed as a nice enough guy by Joyce, but
a bit of a stuffed shirt, a music critic who feels his education and world outlook
elevate him intellectually several notches above the rest of the company. He
frets his speech/toast that he has prepared for the evening will go over their
the end of the story, Joyce arranges to have the wind taken out of Gabriel’s
sails, his ego deflated and his sense of place in the world utterly unmoored,
and in a way equally poignant and, I think, cruel.
is in a static, lackluster marriage with Gretta, a simple girl from the West of
Ireland, with whom he shared – he thought – an exuberant, lustful courting and
nascent wedlock, until children came along and ambition became his main focus.
the party ends, he catches sight of Gretta at the top of a stairway, stock
still, in what he sees as a classic pose, such as a goddess rendered in a Greek
sculpture. She is rapt, listening to the tenor’s rendition of a popular Irish
vision ignites in Gabriel a long dormant passion. He wants nothing more than to
hurry her to the hotel room he’s booked for the evening, a night away from home
and the kids. His heart swells with memories of the romance he experienced with
Gretta in their youth.
in their room, he’s watching her undress, and it’s all he can do to keep
himself from pouncing on her. He makes his overture, but he is rejected. She
just can’t … she’s too upset. The song that had so enraptured her was one a
young boy from her girlhood used to sing to her. His name was Michael and, she
sobs, he died out of love for her.
is at once amazed and angry. Gretta has never once told him of her previous
relationship. He begins to interrogate her and she explains that Michael was a
“delicate” young man, a euphemism for tuberculin. The night before
she was to leave her home in Galway to move to Dublin, she found him standing
outside her yard in the pouring rain. A week later, in Dublin, she learned he
then cries herself to sleep, leaving her husband alone to contemplate life and
his place in it. An epiphany shatters his illusions about himself and life. He
realizes he has never inflamed the passions of Gretta, nor any woman, as the
dead Michael had. He finds himself envying the sickly young fellow now long
Gabriel’s shortcomings, his arrogance is a mild sort. He’s not a bad guy. In
the moments before his wife’s revelation, he was bursting with love and lust
for her, only to have that proverbial bucket of ice water poured over his
uses Gabriel’s story as a metaphor for Ireland at the time. He was impatient
for his homeland to get on with modernizing, but it was held back by quaint
tradition and notions. It seems contradictory then, that he uses Gabriel, who
looks outside of Ireland, for example taking his holidays on the continent.
Still, he’s also in a sort of stasis, benighted by notions of class and culture.
those are the greater themes. I’m not so much affected by what he is supposed
to stand for, than as a sympathetic character who has just had his heart broken
perhaps that has always been the problem I’ve had with great literature. The BIG IDEAS never mattered as much as the small
and very human characters who make their way between them.
By Sam Thorne, ERWA Editor
editor, the strangest request I’ve ever had from a prospective author was ‘can
you make this funny, please?’
they wanted (other than a proof of the existing story). This chap had sent his
85k words of beautifully-composed gloom to a publisher who loved the story and
the premise, but wanted him to lighten things up in parts so that the true
gloom glowed. Yes, I know that sounds like a total contradiction.
I have to
admit—it was the most intimidating job I’ve ever taken on. Black humour takes
many forms so there were plenty of tools to apply to the job, but returning
this supposedly FUNNY manuscript to the writer gave me separation anxiety. Pressing
‘send’ from my gmail account was akin to wobbling my way onto a stage on
stand-up night and hoping I didn’t squeak into the microphone. Happily, the
author loved the little touches added to his MS, but as it transpired, he was
given a publication offer from an editor who was a fan of his original grim and
loveless offering. That’s not meant as an insult, incidentally—it’s how he
described his own writing (with pride!)
many years ago. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time reading books about how to
write comedy (none of which were particularly helpful), and looking
forensically at the forms of humour across a range of novels, coffee-table
collections, and TV programmes. This is not a hilarious business, I can tell
you. To paraphrase Jimmy Carr (co-author of the fantastic book ‘The Naked Jape’),
examining a joke or script is like dissecting a frog; by the time you’ve got to
the bottom of what made it tick—note the past tense—nobody’s laughing and the
frog has died.
So, before I
get into the meat of this article, I’d like to post a disclaimer. You are
unlikely to titter, guffaw, or snigger at any point. I’m just talking about tools you can use.
intimidating aspect of creating humour is that humour is totally subjective. Of course it is. Whether or not your witticisms will elicit a grin in your reader depends on a few
- Their life
experience and prejudices
- Their mood
natural tendency towards schadenfreude (the laughter reaction at someone else’s
expense) vs their preference for kindness
- Their sense
of enjoying the ridiculous.
people are tickled by different things, so it may help, as a starting point, to
associate different types of humour with different beasts:
is king of the farce. It’s situational humour brought about by characters with
entirely conflicting goals. Most sitcoms largely fit into this category. But
wait! Some sitcoms are considered to be lacking in substance, while others give
the impression of being up-beat and edgy. Why? Because the situations depicted
are those that the audience strongly relate to, which brings us to…
The owl is
the wise one, who’s seen everything and has the worldly knowledge. People
grinning at an episode of ‘Modern Family’ quite often do so because of the distinct
feeling of connection. The owl has been there, done that, and worn the tee shirt.
The owl is all about observational humour. The owl is the representative for a
huge branch of stand-up comedy. Yet, even if the situations discussed in a
monologue have the potential to make you laugh, whether you do so or not
depends on the delivery. Not everyone enjoys an observation which is harsh or
close to the knuckle. Which brings me to…
The snake is
the overlord of deliberately cutting humour. Schadenfreude belongs here, as
does the razor-sharp quip, clever word-play and black humour. The snake represents
one-liners, the put-down you wish you’d used while engaged in an argument. Stand-up
comedians with an abrasive edge belong here.
enjoyment of snake humour doesn’t mean you have a dark soul—perhaps you simply effective
sarcasm, or a twist on a cliché: I don’t
have much shame; I have to ration it.
The bat is
the creature of the zany. Think groan-humour. Think total surreality or
incongruity. Monty Python’s sketches (and The Holy Grail) largely belong in
this category, as does Airplane, the Naked Gun series, and so on. Stand-up
comedians who fire off a hundred puns in ten minutes fall into this category. If
the majority of your chuckles are generated from bat humour, then you have a
very strong sense of the ridiculous.
humour sources in this way goes a long way to showing whyhumour is so subjective, and why some comedy series or films do
better than others—because they combine the beasts so well. Breaking Bad has a
situational concept (elephant), with a strong snake edge. Blackadder (which
remains one of the most successful British series of all time) combines all
four. I’m sure you can think of a few stand-up comedians who blend owl and
snake to perfect effect.
all this provides a framework for understanding what tickles you, and why. You
might want to keep this guide at hand for a few weeks while you’re reading or
watching films or TV. Get to know your
sense of humour. Make friends with it. Hell, give it a name, even.
So, in terms
of conveying your sense of fun on the page, what tools do you have? Within
dialogue, you have quite a selection:
* understatement (most prevalent in Brit,
Aussie or NZ humour)
* sarcasm and exaggeration (good for
snake or bat humour, depending on tone).
* indignation (arises naturally from
elephant humour, empathy deriving from owl humour).
dialogue works best when your characters have very conflicting goals. This in
itself will guide the intonation in your characters’ speech, doing half the job
for you. If you’ve heard a good one-liner you want to use, build your scene around it. Create the context in which this is said. In constructing
a scene where you want your characters’ banter to work well:
- keep dialogue tags to a minimum. The faster the conversational flow, the better.
- let the punctuation
create intonation and tone of voice as far as possible.
- Play it
straight. Have your MC laugh at other characters’ lines by all means, but limit
the number of times that another character falls about laughing at your MC’s
wit. If that’s going to happen, let the
reader do it. However, if your MC gets into a pickle, there’s no problem
with other characters having a laugh at their expense.
- If you’re
writing omnisciently, or writing memoir-style in the first person, you can get
away with a far more visible narrator. In which case, you can apply the principle
of contrast to your speech tags:
“He’d look wonderful in a harness.”
“Or a headlock,” I offered, marching
away before Stella could give me the be-nice-to-Dan speech.
Some of the most
memorable and effective comic moments come from the laugh generated by
surprise. Without actively trying to be funny or consciously writing
lively banter, you’ll find that you’ll get a lot of mileage out of the concept
of incongruity. It’s hands-down the
easiest tool to use to create that note of levity in your work, whether you’re simply
to lighten the mood after a tense scene, or creating a bit-part personality to
bring the best (or worst) out of your main character.
The trick is
to present a very strange situation or personality with a totally straight face. The incongruity principle covers diversions from the expected such as:
- an unexpected
foe: like the hard man who’s reduced to impotent, furious, tooth-grinding
compliance by his formidable four-foot-tall grandmother. The foe could be
internal, too. Imagine being a real estate agent with claustrophobia. It’s not
good if you have to ask your clients to walk themselves around the property…
stereotype smashed to pieces: like the nonagenarian who’s hysterical at the thought
of going into a nursing home because they might not let him take his X-box. Or perhaps
the bloke who’s really shy at work but who gets arrested for public indecency…
- an incongruous
partnership: this is where the best bromances are born. The reader should be
intrigued to find what two such totally different people could possibly have in
common. Perhaps the brutish, widowed, aloof personal trainer develops a soft
spot for the teacher at his son’s school, who’s about half his size and a
nervous wreck. However, they bond in mutual indignation when someone parks in the
So – how to
use all this information?
- Write down things that annoy you. Groups
of people who annoy you. Can you get any mileage out of making them opponents
to your characters? Even if only as part of a scene to bring out your main
character’s timidity / wit / annoyance / eloquence / indignant speechlessness?
- Conversely, if a friend makes you crack up
laughing, think what you were talking about. A situation? A mutual acquaintance
struggling with a situation? Did they crack an awesome one-liner? If so, borrow
semi-shamelessly (in other words, ask first).
is subjective. It’s dependent upon delivery, context, timing and audience. But once
you’re on speaking terms with your own funny bone, your inspiration for
creating grin-worthy prose will increase tenfold.
In case you might be wondering what I’ve been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I’ve been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!
Say you’ve written an erotica book. What’s more, it’s a quality
erotica book, which is to say that it isn’t just about positions,
sensations, steamy looks, and lingerie. It has an engaging setting,
multidimensional characters, and a plot. It’s well written and seeks to
do more than turn the reader on. Hurray, and congratulations! I’ve
said it before, but it certainly bears repeating: this is an incredible feat.
There are very few people in this world that could have done what
you’ve done. Take a moment to luxuriate in your success.
Done luxuriating? Good. Now you’ve sent your book out and
congratulations (part two), you’ve managed to find a publisher for
your novel—this is no mean feat, especially these days. So now
you’ve written a book, you’ve sold a book, and soon it’s going to be for
Now is the time you must do something very important, and it may
surprise you, given the genre in which your book is written.
Don’t. Think. About. Sex.
I know, I know—a bit weird, right? After all, you’ve written an
erotica book. So it seems more than natural that you’d want to reach
out to sexy, kinky, smutty, erotica venues—and well, you should. But
after you do that, you should really try and reach out to places a bit
more … tangential.
Let me explain: erotica is a fine and dandy genre (I’m not
disparaging it), but it’s also a bit limiting. In erotica, your book is one
of dozens, and every last one of them is clamoring to be the center of
attention. Sure, yours is different—for whatever reason—but in the
erotica world, your book is common first, and special second.
Let’s say, for example, that your book is about a soldier during
World War II. So why aren’t you thinking about your book being a
World War II book? Sure, you know you wrote it as erotica, and
that’s certainly essential to the book’s allure, but its more than that,
see? Try reaching out to soldier sites and World War II sites (and
authors, forums, and such). Sure, there’s a damn good chance your
emails and announcements will be ignored, but if someone does respond then your book will really stand out: a World War II book—
but an EROTICA one. Wow! Unique! Different!
In fact, I’ll bet if you really looked at your book, you could find
several places to branch off. Is it a love story? Then it could be
romance. Is there a mystery involved? Then it could be—well, you
get the idea.
Here’s an important detail. You should absolutely tweak your
announcements in a way to reach these different audiences. Instead of
“erotic” and “explicit,” try “sensual” and “stirring”—play up your
book’s connection to their world: a sensual tale of a love and
intimacy set in the latter days of World War II … that kind of thing.
Yeah, I know that sounds like another bit of Madison Avenue
trickery, but keep in mind that for many people, the whole idea of a
book with any kind of sexual content is a brain turn-off. You have to
get them to see your book more broadly—as a bona fide story, rather
than merely a sexual tale. The only way to do that sometimes is to
squeak it in under their radar. No, I’m not saying you should lie, but
what I am saying is this: why get the door shut in your face before
you’ve even had a chance to say one word about your cherished
Thinking of yourself as an erotica writer and your work as nothing
but erotica will limit you as well as your publicity opportunities.
Look beyond that simple label, and so will readers. You know your
book is more than Dick In Jane; you know there’s something special
about it—so why not use that uniqueness to open a whole new world
for both you and your works? Not only will this outlook give you a
possible new audience, but you’d be shocked by the number of
connections that also could emerge from stepping into other genres
and interests. Someone who never would have dreamed of reading
so-called smut suddenly has their eyes opened—by you, with your
So try and use the imagination you’ve developed in your writing to
expand more than just your storytelling: try expanding on other
possible places for exposure—and other possible places for you to
grow and develop as a writer.
By Ashley Lister
I’ve mentioned triplets before. The idea of putting three lines of poetry
together always excites me. Couplets are good for a rhyme scheme. They provide
a solid structure. But, to my mind, triplets increase the speed and seem to
allow a bigger build-up to the punchline of the poem.
Some lasses think that thongs are boss
But that opinion makes me cross
‘Cos a thong’s just fanny-dental-floss
And whilst some say the style is quaint
I would say it really ain’t
Cos a thong’s like cheese-wire on the taint
So what I’d say to every chick is
Treat yourself to some big knickers.
With this poem, I thought it might have a greater impact if
I mixed couplets with triplets. The title of the poem is ‘Big Knickers’ and the
focus is on the persona of the poem appreciating a fuller brief. Consequently,
to stress the importance of this sentiment, I thought the sedate couplet would
allow for the pace to slow down for the delivery of those two lines.
You see, when she’s ready to hit the sack
The kinkiest nymphomaniac
Does not want string across her crack
Thongs are cruel. Thongs can sting.
Thongs can be a dangerous thing.
They’re like barbed wire on the ring
Yes, whale-tails can raise most bloke’s smiles
But sit on this and think awhile
Thongs can aggravate your piles
To stop yourself from getting sick as
a cystitis parrot – wear big knickers
The poem goes on, but I’m going to cut it off there and say,
if you want to share a poem made up of a mixture of triplets and couplets, please
post them in the comments box below.