Awesome ERWA and the Power of POV

by | Jan 18, 2019 | General | 6 comments

The New Year is starting off right for me with two appearances at ERWA. In addition to this column, I have the honor of being this month’s ERWA Awesome Author. Choosing a story and writing an updated bio got me thinking about why I love erotica writing and ERWA, which has been and continues to be an awesome group of writers. Thus, I decided to take a break from time travel and talk about the power of point of view.

The story I chose, “Frank and Eva” published in Alison Tyler’s Sudden Sex, presents a sexual encounter from the different points of view of each partner. I think many readers enjoy experiencing the same situation through the eyes of different narrators—I certainly do. My appreciation of that approach in erotica dates all the way back to 1997 and one of the very first literary erotic anthologies to inspire me to write: The Mammoth Book of International Erotica, edited by Maxim Jakubowski. In the story “Watching,” by J.P. Kansas, we first take the husband’s perspective as he comes home early from work to discover his wife masturbating to one of his pornographic videotapes (hmm, maybe we are going back to the distant past after all?). The husband watches, thinking he is unobserved, but in the second part of the story, we learn from the wife’s perspective that she knew he was watching and in fact was performing for him. The couple’s responses to pornography and their curiosity about the other’s responses are explored to fascinating and humorous effect.

She-said-he-said stories are often assumed to present mutually exclusive versions of the truth of an event. We think we must somehow take sides—one person is more “right” than the other, or at least their worldview fits more closely to ours. But a story like “Watching” reveals that when we experience the sensibilities of both partners in an encounter, the result can be as rich and layered as two people making love.

“Frank and Eva” was really fun to write. I don’t often write stories from the male point of view, but when I’ve dared to do so, I’m always particularly engaged in the task. It’s exciting to imagine what it’s like to be another person with different experiences, all the more so in intimate circumstances. Of course, I always check my male POV stories with a male friend for any glaring inaccuracies just in case I’m way off base!

The challenge of crossing that distance reminds me of the discussion of “social distance” in Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. In his exploration of they ways groups feel alienated from each other in our society, author Christopher Hayes identifies two types of social distance: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal occurs between people of roughly equal social station. The examples he gives are members of different races or religions who might live in the same city but occupy different worlds. Vertical social distance is the gap between those in authority and the people who are affected by their policies and decisions. These days many people, whatever their political views, feel our leaders are out of touch and unresponsive to the needs of ordinary citizens. (Twilight of the Elites, 184-186)

However, Hayes’ model doesn’t really capture the special form of social distance between different genders. We live in close proximity, often intimately, yet male privilege and the very different ways genders are socialized mean there is always a distance in how we experience the world.

She-said-he said stories are a way to cross that distance in the reader’s and writer’s mind. If we approach the exercise with empathy and sincere curiosity, I believe we help close that distance between us. Why not give it a try?

Happy New Year and best wishes for a creative year ahead!

About the Author Donna George Storey

Donna George Storey

I want to change the world one dirty story at a time.

When I posted this mission statement on my website, I hoped my cheeky ambition would make my readers smile. I smile every time I read it myself. And yet I’m totally serious. I truly believe that writers who are brave enough to speak their truth about the erotic experience in all its complexity—the yearning, the pleasure, the conflicts, and the sweet satisfaction—do change the world for the better.

So if you’re here at ERWA because you’re already writing erotica, a big thank you and keep on doing what you’re doing. If you’re more a reader than a writer, I encourage you to start dreaming and writing and expressing the truth and magic of this fundamental part of the human experience in your own unique voice. Can there be a more pleasurable way to change the world?

I'm the author of Amorous Woman, a semi-autobiographical erotic novel set in Japan, The Mammoth Book of Erotica Presents the Best of Donna George Storey  and nearly 200 short stories and essays in journals and anthologies. Check out my Facebook author page at: https://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor/

 

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi, Donna,

    I really enjoyed Frank and Eva… I’ve read quite a few of your stories but not this one.

    Your post got me thinking about writing a male POV. A number of my tales are written completely or partially from a male perspective. However, I’ve never checked with male readers as to the accuracy of my portrayals. Of course, most of my male characters are far from the macho, alpha stereotypes. I have a deep affection for betas and nerds. On the other hand, in real life, most men aren’t superheroes either.

    • Donna George Storey

      Actually, while I just went on about how fun it is to try to write from the male POV, I generally approach male characters as fellow human beings with the same basic emotions, dreams, desires that I have, then work with gender expectations as more of an after-thought. From your stories and novels I’ve read, your male characters feel authentic to me! So glad you enjoyed the story!

  2. Jean Roberta

    Congratulations on being an Awesome Author, Donna. As a writer and teacher of university English courses, I’ve come to think that viewpoint is the key to writing and understanding fiction. A story that’s told by both central characters is satisfying. In some sense, an erotic story told that way is more satisfying than actual sex,because none of us can really experience it in stereo. 🙂

    • Donna George Storey

      I agree, Jean! Point of view is key both technically and in terms of how both reader and writer connect with the story. As a former literature teacher myself, apparently one of the truths my students took away from my classes was “never trust the narrator.” Actually, I’d amend that to: think critically about what s/he says!

  3. Avatar

    Good advice and writing encouragement! I have a story in mind of a person with 3 personalities and identifies as demigender. Writing an encounter from the POV of each personality sounds fascinating. I’ll give it a try. If I like the results, I’ll let you know. Appreciate your work.

    • Donna George Storey

      That does sound fascinating, Darnell, and I have confidence it will be awesome. I’ve found that when I give my time and attention to getting inside different characters (yours being three in one), I discovery a lot about my characters I didn’t know at first, and in fact, they start dictating to me about who they are and what matters to them. For more minor characters, that doesn’t usually happen. Good luck with the project!

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