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By Lisabet Sarai

So what is the difference between erotica and porn?

Oh no! Not that old chestnut again! I’ve been a member of the ERWA Writers list for almost two decades. At least once or twice a year, some newcomer resurrects that question. Those of us who have been around for a while roll our eyes and grin to ourselves, already knowing how the discussion will go.

However, as I was thinking about my ERWA blog post for this month, I had an insight on this issue, which relates to writing craft.

Porn is easy. Erotica is hard.

I’m not saying that porn is easy to write. Though some people believe it’s a snap to throw together a great stroke story, I know that’s not true. Getting people hot and bothered takes talent and work, skill and imagination. This is true of erotica as well, of course, despite the disdain lavished on our genre by the literary establishment.

What I mean is that in porn, things are easy for the characters. The focus is on obtaining sexual satisfaction, the sooner the better. Readers don’t want the author to put obstacles in the way of the characters getting off. Hence, porn rarely features any significant conflict. The path from meeting to fucking is smooth and direct, with few if any stops along the way.

Erotica (and especially erotic romance), in contrast, thrives on obstruction. Erotica authors are more likely to put their characters through an emotional or physical wringer before the final consummation. Meanwhile, erotica readers tend to be more accepting of deferred gratification than readers of stroke fiction, in return for a richer and more complex narrative in which the characters overcome internal or external barriers in their journey toward release.

Conflict creates dynamic tension. It prevents the characters from rushing headlong into a sexual connection. As conflict keeps the protagonists apart—or at least denies them complete satisfaction—their level of arousal increases. When the conflict is finally resolved, the resulting experience, both for the characters and the reader, can be far more intense than the problem-free hookup in a stroke story.

Classic theory categorizes fictional conflict as man versus nature (or God, or demon – super-human forces at least), man versus man, and man versus himself. I hate the sexist terminology, but agree with the general breakdown. I’ve read (and written) erotica that used all three categories.

K.D. Grace’s recent novel In the Flesh offers a wonderful example of the first type of conflict. Her heroine Susan falls under the sway of an evil but mercilessly seductive disembodied entity who uses her natural sensuality as a route to destroy her. In fact, the perilous lure of supernatural sex is a common theme in paranormal erotica. It would be all too easy for Susan to succumb; she fights her erotic urges because she recognizes the danger.

Daddy X exploits “man versus man” (or more accurately, man versus woman) conflict in his fantastic short story “Spy versus Spy”. Nicolai and Lilya have been sexual partners for years. Their long acquaintance and shared history means each is still aroused by the other. However, neither trusts the other—for excellent reasons.

Conflict internal to the character is perhaps the most ubiquitous type found in erotica. Characters are often torn between their own deepest desires and their beliefs about what is acceptable, healthy or normal. Remittance Girl’s controversial novella Gaijin illustrates this pattern in the extreme. Kidnapped and raped by a Japanese gangster, her heroine still finds herself aroused—and hates herself for those feelings. In Cecila Tan’s Wild Licks, we meet rock star Mal Kenneally, an extreme sadist who never has sex with a woman more than once because he’s worried he’ll do serious physical or psychological damage. Uncertainty about sexual orientation or identity—religious guilt—memories of abuse —fear of losing control—struggles with fidelity—sex is an emotional mine field.

We erotica authors regularly take advantage of that fact.

How is this relevant to craft? If you’re trying to write erotica (as opposed to porn), you need to consider the question of conflict. All too often I find that stories I read in erotica anthologies are really just vignettes. They may be well-written, but ultimately they consist of sex scenes and little else. They’re not really stories. (Belinda made a related point in her Editing Corner post a few months ago.) Other readers may enjoy these tales, but I find them flat and unsatisfying. When I read erotica, I want something more complex and challenging.

Please note that I do not mean to denigrate stroke fiction. In fact, my observation about conflict can be applied to this sub-genre as well. If you want to write one-handed stories (and I’ve definitely done so), you should probably avoid conflict. Your readers very likely do not want characters who agonize over whether or not to do the deed.

Actually, it’s funny. Sometimes when I set out to write stroke fiction, I don’t completely succeed, because my characters’ motivations become too complicated. A good example is my story The Antidote. I wrote this very filthy tale in reaction to the self-censorship required by my erotic romance publisher (hence, the title). I wanted to create something full of no-holds-barred sex scenes. Instead, I ended up with an arousing but rather heavy tale about sex, society and deceit. Erotic, but not the porn I was trying for!

The distinction, of course, is not clear cut. That’s one reason we veterans sigh when someone brings up the porn/erotica debate. There’s really no black and white answer, only (please forgive me!) shades of gray.

Whichever direction your writing leans, though, you should consider the question of conflict. Are you going to give your characters what they want right away, or make them jump through hoops? Your decision makes a big difference in your readers’ experience.

Last week, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 introduced a series of restrictions on the pornography produced and sold in the UK. The acts that are now prohibited to show on video range from the edgy to the puzzling.

  • Spanking
  • Caning
  • Aggressive whipping
  • Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
  • Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of  if consensual)
  • Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)
  • Role-playing as non-adults
  • Physical restraint
  • Humiliation
  • Female ejaculation
  • Strangulation
  • Facesitting
  • Fisting


The last three are included for being potentially life threatening.

Rest assured, all these restriction only apply to video remediation of the acts, but what interests me is the reasoning behind them.

Certainly breath play can be dangerous; there might, feasibly be some concern that making it seem unproblematic could lead people to try it without further education on the subject (although a reenactment your run-of-the-mill movie bar fight would be just as likely to cause severe injury). But a search of the research indicates only one death, in 1987, caused by fisting which tore the tissues so badly that the victim bled to death. There is another recorded death associated with an air embolism. Following this reasoning, as dangerous activities go, videos of showers should be banned; it’s a thousand times more likely to lead to fatality. I’ve searched far and wide, and cannot find a single incident of death by ‘facesitting’.

Then there is the puzzling ban on female ejaculation. When asked to explain their thinking on this, the group responsible for this decision argued that there was no evidence that female ejaculation actually exists and that the fluid being ‘ejaculated’ might contain urine, putting it in the same category as other watersports, i.e. golden showers. The fact that mainstream society’s objection to golden showers stems from it being considered an act of degradation – not because it involves urine – seems to have been lost on this panel. Is there actually porn out there where women degrade men by squirting on them? Well, if there wasn’t, there will be now!

The list of ‘strange’ goes on. Spanking is out, even though approximately 65% of all couples have tried it. Penetration by any object “associated with violence” is on pretty dicey grounds; most women who have been raped would consider a penis an object associated with violence.  Physical restraint is so broad as to be laughable. Hands up if you’ve ever let your lover tie you up and fuck you? The absurdity of this part of the list would be risible if it weren’t so sad. How is it that a government ends up banning the remediation of what a considerable number of lovers do in their bedroom on a fairly regular basis? The subtext is that these things aren’t normal. They are abusive, they are perversions, they are wrong.

But strangest of all, at least to me, are the prohibited acts that are not even physical: verbal abuse, humiliation and age-play. None of these are acceptable even when there is clear consent in the video. All of these restrictions approach the concept of ‘sins of the mind’. It appears that the powers that have imposed these restrictions have completely discounted the difference between fantasy and reality. Fictionality is no longer acceptable in porn because, in their view, our society can no longer be trusted to distinguish the difference between, for instance, pretending to be a 12-year old schoolgirl and actually being one.  Ironically, it is fictionality that makes porn culturally safer.

Another defense of these restrictions is that it protects children from seeing things they shouldn’t see. But think about all the sexual acts NOT on the list. Is it okay for children to see those things? I’m not going to list them. I trust your imaginations. This argument can be dismissed as ridiculous.

On a personal basis, the banning of the remediation of the acts on list offends me – not because I would want to see most of the acts, I’m not much of a porn fan – but because the prohibition makes a very grave statement about how intellectually subnormal the government assumes its adult citizens to be. More importantly, the government has once again entered into the business, as it did in most of the 20th Century, of taking on the authority to determine what normative sexuality is, and it has moved to ensure that non-normative forms are discouraged, even in fantasy.

But more ironically than all of that, in the name of stemming ‘rape culture’ and the depiction of violence against women, it has banned the video remediation of female ejaculation and facesitting, while still allowing the depiction of women choking on cocks and bukakke scenes.

This is not about protecting anyone from anything. This is, along with the ever-increasing surveillance of our private lives, a claiming of additional powers in the guise of concern for our safety.

Of course, the censorship of sexually explicit material and bans on pornography have never stopped people from getting their hands on it. The plethora of both written and photographic porn produced during the late Victorian period attests to this. What the legislation has done is make certain pornographic spectacle more forbidden, and therefore more alluring. If squirting was a popular meme before, its cache in the UK will go through the roof.  People will crave more violent flogging, caning and spanking material because it is prohibited. Eroticism requires transgression and this has simply made the things that have been banned all the more erotic.

And it that spirit, I offer you a little piece of social science fiction:

Show Me Bad

Having pulled on their gimp masks as they make their way down into the basement of the strip-mall Thai takeaway in Ruislip. Gina, Lotte and Rose weave their way through the occupied stacking chairs in the dank, windowless, impromptu cinema.

The others in the secret audience are also masked. Some in balaclavas, some in gas masks, some in pillowcases with holes for the eyes. People nod, murmur. All the seats are occupied, so they stand to the side, leaning against the damp brick wall, and stare at a large flatscreen TV.

Someone switches the lights off. The bluescreen menu prompt pops up and the input is set to ‘video’. First the screen goes black, and then brightens again. On the screen, in what looks like an old fashioned kitchen, a small, bony man argues with what appears to be his obese wife. The wife grabs him, trips him, and pins him to the dirty linoleum floor. The camera moves in, closer, closer. She is hiking up the skirt of her faded, stained housedress. She’s not wearing anything under it. The little man is struggling to free himself but he’s no match for her. She inches her bared bulk up his body.

Someone in the audience whispers, “Fuck, yeah.” The sound of multiple zippers being pulled down, the rustle of displaced clothes is a whisper beneath the hiss of the video. On the screen, there’s a close-up of a plump, enormous cunt lowering itself onto the little man’s panicked face. He screams as the huge, meaty, wet labia cover his nose and mouth. Only his bloodshot,frightened eyes are visible as the woman begins to rock her pelvis back and forth, slathering his face in viscous effluvia.

“Lick me, you motherfucker,” mutters the woman. The man’s hands are fluttering, clawing at her thighs but she doesn’t stop.

In the dark of the room, there are moans, the quick, determined sounds of genitals being self-pleasured.

The man’s legs are kicking wildly, uselessly. Muffled choking sounds are emanating from under the draped slabs of her vulva

“Oh, my god,” whispers Lotte.

Gina has her hand down the front of her jeans, frigging herself, gimp mask impassive, eyes fixed on the flatscreen. The little man’s face – what’s visible of it – has turned a deep red. His head jerks helplessly.

“So fucking hot,” whispers Rose.

On the screen, the massive woman is coming. Her body goes rigid, flesh judders, fluid floods out over the face of the little man, who now appears to be passed out, if not dead.

Half the masked audience is also coming. Moans, cries, grunts fill the dark. 

* * *

While waiting for the bus, Rose, Gina and Lotte stand in silence for a while, their gimp masks tucked safely back in their purses.

“I can’t believe what we saw,” says Lotte. “So this is a thing?” “They used to have face sitting in porn, on the net,” says Rose. “It used to be just cunnilingus, you know. The normal kind. But then the government banned it.”

Lotte looks confused. “Why did they ban it?”

Gina smiles. “They said it was too dangerous,” she says. “So someone decided to make it dangerous, for real.”

Rose nods. “It’s way hotter now, isn’t it?”

By Lisabet Sarai

[This blog is a repost from a 2010 item at my personal blog, but I thought ERWA denizens would also enjoy it. Certainly I think you’d enjoy the films! ~ Lisabet]

Last night my husband and I watched Radley Metzger’s 1972 film “Score”. We’d seen it before, in the nineties, when we first discovered a collection of Metzger’s work on VHS (remember VHS?) at our local independent video store (remember independent video stores?). The film was as lively and erotic as I had remembered, though some of the more dated references evoked a laugh or two.

Many of you are probably not familiar with Metzger. He began making sexually-oriented films in the late sixties and is responsible for ground-breaking efforts such as “I, a Woman” and “Therese and Isabelle”, one of the first films to concern itself with lesbian love. Later in his career, under the name of Henry Paris, he directed hard-core features including the classic “The Opening of Misty Beethoven”. The movies that initially made his name, however, skirt the edge between art and porn. They include nudity and simulated intercourse, but the attention to characterization and dialogue, not to mention the elegant cinematography and breathtaking locales (many of Metzger’s films were shot in Europe), move these films into a category all their own.

I don’t know how many of you watch modern “adult” movies. Based on my experience, most contemporary porn is pretty boring. The characters are primarily presented as bodies, who are largely interchangeable. They have no connection with one another beyond the physical tab-A into slot-B. There’s little or no conversation, no buildup of tension, no sense of transgression. One has no sense of any of the participants as individuals. Furthermore the sexual interactions tend to be annoyingly stereotyped and predictable. There is zero suspense.

Metzger’s work, in contrast, and “Score” in particular, focuses on the development of sexual attraction and the lure of the forbidden. Some of his films are more serious than others, but all are concerned with the experience of desire as much as with its fulfillment.


“Score” is one of his more light-hearted offerings. Jack and Elvira are a sophisticated, swinging couple who compete in their seductions. They set their sights on Eddie and Betsy, a pair of apparently innocent newlyweds. However, this is swinging with a twist. Elvira lays her snares to attract and corrupt angelic-looking Betsy, while Jack is determined to fulfill Eddie’s barely-suppressed homoerotic fantasies.

Neither Betsy nor Eddie falls immediately into bed with their pursuers. Elvira and Jack are gradual and subtle in their seductions. The characters are naked by the middle of the film, but it takes many sensual touches and intense, smoldering stares before the victims actually fall. Metzger vividly communicates the embarrassment and fear that mixes with Betsy’s and Eddie’s burgeoning lust. When they finally succumb to their hosts, the viewer feels a release of tension that goes far beyond the physical.

Metzger’s characters live in a permissive world where any sort of sexual activity might occur, including same-sex interactions. “Score” is cheerfully kinky in its acceptance of homosexuality, orgies, voyeurism, even a touch of S&M. It aims to arouse but not particularly to shock. Watching the film brought me back to the days when sex was fun, when it was relatively safe to surrender to desire.

Modern porn has much to learn from Metzger’s work. Even if you find porn offensive, you might well appreciate Metzger’s films. He has a healthy respect for his characters and their sexuality. In his world, sex is made to be enjoyed—and the chase is as exciting as the consummation.

By Robin Juliet (Guest Blogger)

“She fired me because of my writing. She was worried about her reputation.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. I thought you were a serious writer. What do you write, porn?”

Fear coursed through me when I read my mother’s best friend’s words. Do I write porn? Is that what I do? How do I explain my decision to write erotica?

In many ways, erotica books chose me.

Unlike many, I did not come to this genre through reading. I have never been one to devour smut as a consumer. This is not to say I judge the genre harshly, it’s just never been on my radar screen as a reader.

Rather, I came to erotica through my writing.

Like most aspiring writers, I was told to “write what you know.” I get that. Start with a situation with which you have some familiarity so it rings true and isn’t based entirely on stereotypes and cliché. I still agree with the adage and work with it to a degree.

But, the fact of the matter is, the reason I write erotica is because of what I don’t know. And, what I still don’t understand is how and why and who and what we all do for sex. What makes sex interesting for me is when the physical sensation mingles with the emotional (or sometimes even spiritual) piece of who we are.

Human sexuality, and all of the psychological aftermath that comes along with sex, has me stumped:

  • How can you have amazing chemistry with someone you don’t even like?
  • Why do some people go POOF?
  • What makes someone a great lover? A terrible lover?
  • Is it ever possible to have ongoing casual sex with a favorite lover without getting attached?

Instead of claiming to know the answers to these questions, I prefer to write fiction where I place characters in these situations and find out what happens to them.

I don’t know the answers.

Neither do my characters.

Do erotica readers?

Not knowing is what makes erotica interesting. Not knowing is the difference between erotica and porn. Not knowing is why I write it. And, not knowing is why they come back for more.

“Are you saying your writing is considered porn?”

“By some people. You wouldn’t like them.”

“Good grief.”

“It’s what I gravitate to as a writer. I’m into the psychological play more than the sex, but people focus on the sex. It’s nothing worse than what you might find on HBO.”

Silence.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I told her.

“Oh my dear, the disappointment is certainly not with you but with the idiots who have stupidly labeled your writing. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, you can shove it down their . . . you know what I mean.”

About Robin
We cannot help but rubberneck when erotic romance author Robin Juliet explores the psychological train wreck that occurs when lust and love collide.

Never one to shy away from breaking out the lube, Ms. Juliet writes contemporary erotic romances where lust trumps love and happily ever after gets twisted beyond recognition.
Ms. Juliet lives and writes in Denver, Colorado with her dog Bennett. You can reach her at robinjulietwrites [at] gmail [dot] com

Links
Robin Juliet’s newest novella, Involuntary Reflex, is now available in paperback at: https://www.createspace.com/4742348
Website: http://authorrobinjuliet.wordpress.com
Twitter @robin_juliet
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/AuthorRobinJuliet

By J.T. Benjamin (Guest Blogger)

I’ll never forget my first real exposure to pornography. The June, 1979 issue of Playboy Magazine featured Monique St. Pierre as Playmate of the Year, and Louann Fernald as Playmate of the Month. The former was European, Nordic, sleek, sultry, and exotic. She wore a glamorous, shimmering evening gown on the cover of the magazine. The latter was homegrown, olive-skinned, buxom and as wholesome as the sundress-wearing college student-girl next door she was. 

 

And I was hypnotized by both. The magazine had been “borrowed” by a friend of mine from his older brother, the same way I “borrowed” it from my friend. (My shameful introduction into a life of crime and debauchery). 

 

To this point, my Catholic upbringing had induced me to fear sexuality; any sexual image, any sexual concept, any sexual thought meant the hellfire of eternal damnation. And yet, when I gazed upon those gorgeous, nude, sensual images, a little voice in the back of my head told me that when considering the opportunity to see more full frontal female nudity versus the risk of eternal damnation,, I decided to take my chances. The flames of Hell? Nothing compared to Playmate of the Month. 

 

So began my descent into Hell. I masturbated. I fantasized. I procured more porn. More Playboys. Penthouse. Hustler. Then came the movies. The first few were in the company of others, at which I laughed and pretended to be more amused than aroused, but after a while, I stopped pretending and I simply watched the movies alone. Then I started reading porn. Oh, sure. Some people called it “erotica,”, but I knew that if I read it or watched it and I got a hard-on, it was porn. And I embraced it. And watching it or reading it made me a better person. 

 

How? I’m so glad you asked.

First, as the saying goes, “Once you’ve seen one woman naked, you want to see them all naked.” My exposure to the sultry Monique St. Pierre and the charmingly homespun Louann Fernald only made me want to pursue examination of the female form in every way possible. I examined naked women in every way, shape and form Pale skin, dark skin, olive skin, blonde, brunette, redhead, large breasts, little boy breasts, firm ass, long legs, short legs, buxom figure, petite figure, every possible configuration, and every possible way to look beautiful. I gained an appreciation for the female form that can only come from considering all the possibilities. Through pornography, I saw beauty and sensuality in everyone.

Then, came the exploration of alternative sexualities. At first, like most ignorant adolescents, I initially saw homosexuality or bisexuality as some sort of aberration or deviation. Once I started exploring pornography, I saw these alternative sexualities as something as normal as my fascination with girls with glasses, 140 IQs and fishnet stockings. Lesbian sex? Okay. Bondage? Sure, why not. Leather? You bet. Homosexuality? Okay with me. Not my bag, but still. 

Ultimately, I figured out that what (or who) turned other people on wasn’t my problem or even my business, because, as the saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks.”

Thirdly, I have turn-ons, kinks, and depravities. Thanks to my exposure to porn, I realized everyone else does, too. It’s no more appropriate for me to cast judgment on the kinks of others as it would be for those others to cast judgment on my kinks. So, when the issue of same-sex marriage came up, it was easy for me to decide which side to choose. Everyone’s entitled to their own pursuit of happiness. I wouldn’t have come to this realization without exposure (through porn) to this notion.

Finally, ultimately, in my opinion, the goal of porn is arousal. Either the arousal of one’s partner, one’s own arousal, or even the arousal of total strangers. For myself, porn isn’t fun if someone else isn’t having fun. I take pride in the fact that when I’ve been intimate with others, I’ve exerted the utmost effort in giving as much pleasure as possible to my partner or partners. For the most part, as far as I’ve been led to believe, I’ve been successful in that effort more often than not. I wouldn’t be so diligent in those efforts if not for the exposure to porn I’ve had over the years.

In short, thanks to my exploration of pornography I’ve learned how to be curious about sex, adventurous about sex, tolerant about concepts of arousal divergent from my own, and I’ve acquired a general notion that someone else’s idea of pleasure is simply none of my business. 

 

So, why do I write about porn? Well, I just want to give something back. 


About the Author

J.T. Benjamin, latter-day hippie, writer, philosopher, and porn pundit, has been a member of ERWA since 1998.  These days he’s working on the Great American Sex Novel when he’s not a cubicle slave for The Man and being devoted to his Lovely Wife, children, five dogs, three cats, and his mortgage.

 

If we wore these everyday, no one would think they were sexy.

The term ‘normalization’ (and the verb ‘to normalize) has become very popular of late.  It has a number of meanings, but its most current use in the media refers to a process by which exposure to something renders it ‘normal’ in the minds of those who are exposed.  For instance, it has been proposed that the preponderance of photos of women’s legs, showing them with a gap between their thighs has ‘normalized’ a body type that is not normal (Jones, 2013), and video games ‘normalize’ violence against animals (Hochschartner, 2013).

Of course, we’ve spent years hearing about the way pornography – any kind of pornography – normalizes the view of women as sexual objects and encourages violence against them (Horeck, Days, & Don, 2013).  Attempts to verify this through research have resulted either in highly ambiguous results, or actually contradicted these claims.  A literature review of a large number of studies has concluded that porn is not even a co-relational factor in violence against women (Ferguson, 2013). In fact, there is good data to suggest the opposite; that the more widespread the access to pornography, the lower the violence to women (Amato & Law, n.d.).

As of January, 2014, it will be illegal in the UK to possess material that contains eroticized depictions of rape. Not possession of photographs or videos of actual rape – that was always illegal, but material containing fictional depictions of rape (Zara, 2013).  According to many sources, including the Prime Minister, David Cameron, exposure to this kind of pornography ‘normalizes’ sexual violence against women (Morris, 2103).

My problem with the word ‘normalize’ is that it has been widely interpreted to mean that exposure to whatever it is that is currently offensive to us will cause us to think that it’s okay.  They’ll stop having negative feelings about it, and embrace it as part of their everyday lives. I’m not disputing that constant exposure to something will change the way we think about it – that would be cognitively impossible for that not to occur.  What I’m disputing is our assumptions about two things.

The first is a widespread assumption that fictionalized versions of horrific realities are interpreted by the brain in the same way as witnessing or experiencing those realities.  I can accept, for instance, that small children might have difficulties telling the difference between a fictionalized, mediated version of war and war itself.  But adults reading “War and Peace” or watching “Saving Private Ryan” don’t believe they are actually experiencing war.  Admittedly, we do suspend disbelief when we read or view fiction, but we don’t mistake it for reality.

The second assumption is that repeated exposure to mediated forms of real horrors will cause us to feel neutral or even positively about them.  This has no basis in fact either. Indeed, in the last century, we have been exposed to more mediated versions of reality than in the whole of human history. More war, more death, more rape, more everything.  And as much as the media would like you to believe you live in a terribly dangerous time, the truth is that we are safer, healthier and longer-lived than we have ever been.

As a woman, a writer of erotic fiction and a questioner of received wisdom, I do believe that the widespread availability of explicit sexual imagery must, indeed, be having some effect on us. I just don’t accept that it is either wholly positive or wholly negative. For instance, I’m pretty sure that far fewer people today feel that there is anything fundamentally evil about sex; I think porn has played a part in this.  I think the quantity of mediated sex out there has allowed many more people to admit to watching and enjoying it. 

I also believe – although I have no hard evidence of this – porn has served to ‘model’ what sex should look like.  After all, for many people, it’s the only sex they see (other than their own).  And porn sex is, by its nature, exaggerated and dramatized. I think there are people who may (because they aren’t having the sort of sex that looks like the sex in porn) feel a greater sense of dissatisfaction with the sex they do have.

In the Middle Ages, children learned what normal sex looked like by witnessing it – either seeing it, or hearing it in a darkened room because private space was at a premium. Today we’d call that child abuse.  These days, other than porn, the only way to see real sex between real people is by being a voyeur, which is loaded with its own taboos.  It’s hardly a wonder that amateur porn became so popular. There is some sense that this is real sex. Sadly, because of the fact that it needs to stand up against produced porn, more and more commercial porn memes creep into amateur porn. Conversely, commercial porn producers have sought to make their product look more ‘amateur’ in order to appeal to amateur porn viewers. They tend to fail miserably.

What I’d really like to dig my inquisitional fingers into is the idea of ‘normalization’ as it applies to the erotic. I want to make a distinction between the sexual and the erotic, because I am increasingly coming to believe that there is the biological urge to scratch the itch, which requires nothing other than a relatively functional body and no imagery or semiotics at all, and something else.  This something else is the intersection between that biological imperative and language. Not language in the sense of words, but language in the sense that, as our brains mature, we process reality through the veil of language.  There is nothing fundamentally sexy about a black, patent leather, high-heeled shoe.  It is language in the larger sense, in the way we make relational linkages and chunk feeling and meaning together, that has made the ‘fuck-me-pump’ the iconically sexy item it has become.

I’m going to call this ‘the erotic’ as distinct from ‘the sexual.’ The erotic is heavily dependent on limits: on what is allowed and what is forbidden (Bataille, 1962; Foucault, 1980; Paz, 1995).  There is a reason for why the adjectives we use about the erotic ideas that turn us on are negative: naughty, filthy, dirty, forbidden, nasty, sinful, obscene, perverse, wanton, illicit, etc.  We want, most passionately, the things we shouldn’t want.  It doesn’t mean that we act to get them, or need to transgress socially accepted behaviour in order to be sexually satisfied, but our mind goes there.  Of course, positive things can also be erotic: beauty, love, devotion, affection, perfection, purity, faith, truth… but even as I type these words, and even as you read them, it starts to become obvious that erotic desire feeds more voraciously off the forbidden than the allowed. 

Here’s the paradox:  things that become ‘normalized’ can no longer be the stuff of erotic fantasy.  So, I’m not arguing that normalization doesn’t occur. I’m suggesting that it is a self-limiting phenomenon.  I’m suggesting that we are twisted little creatures who don’t get off on the ‘normalized’.  And so our fears as to its consequences may be somewhat hyperbolic.

My greatest antipathy towards the ‘normalization’ of the erotically forbidden is that it will lose its power to be erotic.  I believe that our inner, transgressive, politically incorrect and ugly erotic desires are part of who we are as human beings.  Our ability to understand that these things we want,  things that when acted out in the real world would be atrocities, are part of the mechanism that preserves our inner and outer worlds as separate.  Like fantasy, fictionality affords us a playground for our deeply unsocial selves.  It doesn’t school us in what is acceptable in the real world. It underscores and helps to contrast between the two. 

References

Erotica writers get no
respect. (Apologies to Rodney Dangerfield.)

I’m sure every
erotica and erotic romance writer has been mocked for what she writes. (I’m
using the feminine pronoun only because most erotic writers I know are female.)
We are told a squirrel could write what we write since it doesn’t take much
talent, and that women of little intelligence read it. That sort of thing
normally doesn’t bother me since I have a cast iron resolve, but I posted in a
forum recently where I felt like “one of the guys”, letting everyone
know about one of my erotic books making it to #18 in Amazon’s free erotic
Kindle books. That’s the highest I’ve ever ranked, and I was proud of it. I wanted
to let everyone know so they could pick up a copy of the book and drive me to
#1.

Didn’t happen.

Instead they
ridiculed me, which took me completely by surprise. They made comments like,
“An erotic romance novel? I’m so scared I think I just peed myself.” I
was quite miffed, although I shouldn’t let that kind of thing get to me.
Ridicule may be one of the professional hazards we take as erotic writers, and
we deserve combat pay for it. I’ve heard of other women tsk-tsked by family
members, laughed at by friends, and given the hairy eyeball by work colleagues
when these people find out we write stories with hot, steaming sex in them. Too
many people who have never picked up an erotic book in their lives think the
prose reads something like D. M. Dunn’s Dishonorable Mention Romance winner in
the 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Awards contest: “Their love began as a tailor,
quickly measuring the nooks and crannies of their personalities, but it soon
became the seamstress of subterfuge, each of them aware of the others lingual
haberdashery: Mindy trying to create a perfect suited garment to display in
public and Sean only concerned with the inseam.” Too many people who have
never touched an erotic book or a romance novel think all of them contain words
like “turgid”, “throbbing man meat”, and “burning
slit”.

What About Other Erotic Fiction Writers?

I interviewed erotic
romance writers about whether or not those closest to them take their chosen
profession seriously, and most had some horror stories to tell. I noticed
common elements, such as ridiculing the writers by reading steamy passages
aloud at family gatherings in order to get a few laughs at the writer’s
expense. Calling what they write “trash” or “smut” or
“porn”. Wondering why they “waste their time” if they
aren’t making much money at it, if any at all. After all, why aren’t they
making as much money as that woman who wrote “50 Shades of Grey”? Those
from conservative or religious backgrounds bore a great deal of ridicule and
tut-tutting.

Gina’s ex-significant
other did everything in his power to prevent her from working and he still does,
although he’s the biggest purveyor of porn she’s ever met. Gina owns a small,
independent erotic romance publishing company. She had no issue with his porn
until he found it more preferable to masturbate than to have sex with her. Ann
heard that one of her sisters had shown her erotic romance web site to older
family members at a family gathering in the hope of shocking them and shaming
her. She also read aloud snippets from one of Ann’s steamy ménage romances, at
the top of her voice, after dinner. This was not done in a supportive manner to
promote her sister’s books.

Similar stories
abound, especially accusations that what we write is porn as if that’s a bad
thing. Sex columnist and author Violet Blue describes the difference between
porn and erotica for Psychology Today: “Porn is something that is a
graphic sexual image that conjures up an animalistic reaction in you. You like
it or you don’t,” she says. “Erotica also is graphic sexual imagery,
but it has an extra component or several extra components that resonate with
the viewer—be it artistic, be it passionate, be it something that emotionally
engages you, be it something that parlays into a fantasy that you have about
sexuality or the way that you relate to the people on screen.” When the
general public sees “porn”, it views it as gratuitous sexual imagery without
emotional connection that serves no useful purpose, and this view is a negative
one when it doesn’t have to be. As Violet Blue said, you like it or you don’t.
It’a a matter of taste.

A woman told Jerry,
a male erotica writer, that she refused to read or write porno. He elaborated
on his chosen form of writing, saying he writes stories with sex scenes but she
probably refused to listen. Shawn, another man who writes erotica, was also told
what he wrote was porn and he was wasting his time since he’d never make any
money at it. He was also told it was illegal. His family told him he was an
embarrassment to them. He wasn’t fazed, and continued to write erotica. His
girlfriend’s family even went to court to get a judge to keep him away from
her. That didn’t work. His girlfriend’s family has a very large trust fund she’ll
get when she turns 35. They think he’s after her money, which isn’t true.

Jean
made a very good point when she told me: “It’s the romance part that is
the stickler, Lizzie. People don’t take romance stories seriously. Somehow,
they think romance is easier to write or less important or emotional or
meaningful. And they are so wrong. But I don’t bother trying to explain. I
simply chalk them off my list.” Drew told Jean she could always remind
those people that “everything from Gone
With The Wind
to Romeo and Juliet
to When Harry Met Sally are romances,
and then tell them to shove it.”

Religion plays a
huge factor in disapproval, especially from family members. Shawn’s
girlfriend’s family is extremely religious. They tell him what he writes is
against God’s will and he’s tainting their daughter with his porn. (There’s
that word “porn” again.) Karenna told me: “At the church I used to attend, a woman I didn’t know
well asked me about my writing. She smiled and nodded when I said I wrote
novels for teens. When I said I also wrote adult romance, her expression
changed and she looked at me like she’d scraped me off the bottom of her shoe. My
husband’s grandmother and one of his aunts had similar reactions. The
grandmother actually put her hands over her ears and said, “I prefer not
to discuss that kind of thing. Times have certainly changed; that used to be
private.”

Creative Solutions

Not
all is gloomy. I’ve heard from erotic writers who have very creative ways of
handling the negative feedback they get. I proudly blurt, “I write
smut!” when asked and I enjoy the shocked and stupefied expressions on
people’s faces. Then, once I have them off guard, I explain in plain, gentle
English what I actually write. Interest in my writing is piqued enough for me
to sell some books. Kendall’s girlfriend constantly interrupts him when he’s
writing erotica. She looks over his shoulder, lets out heavy sighs, turns on
the TV very loudly or has loud telephone conversations. It’s very irritating
and distracting, which is her intension. However, if he’s writing something non-erotic
like an essay or play, she leaves him alone. Gina had an amusing suggestion –
the next time she sighs loudly, “grab her and toss her on the bed and do
super naughty things to her. Betcha she won’t bother you when you’re writing
erotica again for a while. When she does she’ll do the exact same thing as she
did last time, hoping for the same results – keep your ears open. Eventually
it’ll work out for you both. Trust me.”

I am
like many erotic writers in that I am very selective about which people I allow
into my literary world. My parents and sister aren’t supportive. They don’t
ridicule or give me the hairy eyeball. They simply have no interest in what I
write, and they don’t give me any support. I have a feeling if I discussed my
writing at length they’d disapprove., but I don’t want to test that theory. My
writing never comes up in conversation, and I don’t volunteer information. I
also write horror, and even that is greeted with a blank stare. I’ve developed
a close relationship with an older couple. They give me lots of support about
my writing. My husband and son are also very supportive. I have writer friends
online and in meat space I look to for conversation and advice I know I won’t
get from my family. One of my closest friends is a science fiction writer who
is very supportive of my work. Laurie also is very selective about who she
tells, as is Regina. Regina told me: “If someone brings it up I’m okay
with it. But I never say anything on my own.” Laurie replied that her
husband will tell some of his friends that he wants to be married to a smut
author. I imagine him saying that with a twinkle in his eye and a proud smile.

I work
at home and I’m my own boss so I don’t have a supervisor to worry about. Not
all writers are that fortunate. Tessa cheekily asked how she should handle the
fact that her day job boss knows about her extra-curricular writing job. Julez
suggested she smile sweetly and give him a copy of her books. She would but she
writes personal assistant/boss stories and she doesn’t want to give him the wrong
idea, something that could be very amusing.

It
must be a work hazard all of us erotic writers must deal with at one time or
another – negative feedback about our chosen profession from friends, family,
and work colleagues. I also would bet my burning slit many of those who mock
what we write have their own dog-eared copies of “50 Shades of Grey”
shoved beneath their mattresses, hidden away as if they are teenagers keeping
copies of Playboy away from mom and dad. Considering that erotica and
especially romance novels sell like hotcakes – outselling books in all other
genres – we may laugh at the ridicule and snippy looks as we deposit our
royalty checks into our growing bank accounts. In the end, as always, success
is its own reward.

In the past month, the subject of how to discuss what we write has come up an uncanny number of times, from diverse quarters.  I have a friend who writes erotic fiction, but never admits to it, because his wife doesn’t like it.  Another fellow writer says that he is uncomfortable about admitting what he writes, because he has children and (this must be an American thing) worries that people will somehow feels he’s an unreliable father if he writes erotica. I know many erotica writers who use a pen name because they fear an admission of what they write will imperil their careers.

When people, in everyday sorts of interchanges, ask me what I do, I say I teach and I write. They’re never all that interested in what I teach; they ask me what I write, and I tell them. Since the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, the next inevitable question is: oh, so you write stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey? No, not really, I say.

Their reaction – the knowing smirk, the sly wink and, occasionally, some far too TMI confession – constantly reminds me that what we do is still considered deviant and transgressive.

In the world of academia, it’s even more interesting. As a graduate student, you spend a considerable amount of time going to seminars, interacting with other graduate students, and the question of your research comes up all the time. In the last 2 months, I have had to sit in a group and fess up to exactly what I write and what I’m researching over and over. From time to time, I will encounter a genuinely thoughtful response: wow, what a compelling area of study! Good luck with it!

But more often than not, after the initial, very studied attempt to appear unfazed, I am met with the same ‘wink-wink, nudge-nudge’ follow-up that I receive from non-academics. Frankly, it depresses me. I suspect, being an intellectual snob, I expected something more intelligent from my colleagues.

Eroticism is a dangerous subject; so dangerous, in fact, that our society consistently prefers to deal with it at arm’s length by mythologizing it or turning its subjects into caricatures.  Either that, or they try to reduce it to anthropological study. Eroticism is not sexuality, although it is often expressed through sexuality.  It has more in common with religious ecstasy than it does with procreation.  It is so mysterious to us, that we try and explain erotic attraction by aligning it with animal mating displays and successful reproductive strategies in the wild: i.e. men are attracted to red lipstick on women in the same way apes are attracted to females in estrus with inflamed backsides, or, masochists like to be whipped because it produces endorphins that get them high.

Let me put an end to this nonsense: male baboons don’t have fur fetishes and masochists are not drug addicts.

Eroticism is the story of our negotiation between self and other on a very deep, very visceral level.  We are born alone, die alone, and yet, in extremely special circumstances, we sense that there is a way to escape the gravity well of our hermetically sealed existences.  And very much like ecstatic religious experiences, profound erotic experiences offer us, if only for fleeting moments, that sense of there being something more. This is why, I think, so many of the French theorists, reflecting on eroticism, felt it was existentially connected to death – not death as a negative, but death as the greatest of all transformative experiences.  What makes eroticism more interesting, to me, is that you can live to talk about it.

And that’s the challenge for erotic writers. It is easy to describe a sex act, easy to list the attributes of a person you want to fuck, easy to trot out the slang, the jargon, the tropes, the memes we have all come to recognize as signifiers for activities that lead to orgasm or ejaculation. This is the use of cliche in as much as we wave textual imagery in front of our reader that we know will predictably trigger the reader’s arousal:  “He pounded into her tight, wet pussy.”

But that is mistaking pleasure for eroticism. Pleasure is part of eroticism, to be sure, but not its entirety.

The erotic experience, at its zenith (which may be at orgasm, or may be at some other point) renders us almost without language. To attempt to approach it, in writing, will never be entirely successful.  Authors will often, at the height of an erotic moment, slew sideways into romantic love, as if that will do duty to fill the vacuum of language that the erotic experience leaves us with. I’ve certainly been guilty of this.

I don’t have an answer. But what I have learned is that eroticism is best understood as the journey to a fleeting and liminal state rather than the destination. There is no end-game to eroticism. It is about our yearning, not really our getting. We reach, we think we’ve grasped that elusive prize, only to find out that what we’re holding either is too slippery to keep, or is not the prize we were after.

Like pathos, like nostalgia, like joy, terror or sadness, eroticism is a way-station, not a terminus.  However, unlike those other human experiences, our culture has not found ways to explore its depths or heights comfortably or unflinchingly. We turn its subjects into objects and depersonalize them because the spectacle of the real experience is thriling, utterly intimate, and overwhelming. 

But our challenge, as writers of the erotic, is to take that on. Not to flinch, not to look away, not to cheat by reducing the acts or the characters we write to caricatures or myths, or take refuge in the more socially acceptable sanctuary of romantic love.  And that’s why, unless our culture changes radically, we will always be transgressors in the literary world when we pursue the task of writing the erotic.

By Lisabet Sarai

What would it take to get some respect
for erotic fiction? To transform erotica from its current scorned
status as pornography with a fancy vocabulary into a legitimate
branch of literature? Earlier this month, Remittance Girl addressed this issue, suggesting that “critical engagement” might help. In
critiquing and reviewing erotica, we need to consider the non-sexual
aspects of the erotic fiction we read, focusing on premise, plot,
pacing, characterization, thematic depth and language instead of, or
at least in addition to, whether the story gets us hot and bothered.

I wholeheartedly agree with her thesis,
which she expanded into a fantastic treatise on appropriate
objectives and approaches for critiques and reviews. I’d like to
offer another, complementary suggestion. To convince readers (and
critics) to take our genre seriously, we need to take risks.

What do I mean by that? Am I talking
about moving beyond portrayals of vanilla sex to incorporate edgier
and more controversial sexual practices? That’s one kind of risk,
certainly; there’s some likelihood we’ll alienate or “squick”
some segment of our readership. However, the risk to which I’m
referring is more fundamental. To have our work considered as
something more than gussied-up stroke stories, we need to risk
breaking the rules of the genre.

Of course, erotica already tends to be
less formulaic than genres such as mystery or romance. Nevertheless,
readers have some unspoken expectations:

  • An erotic story will include
    physical sex acts, with some expectation that the more explicit and
    varied the sex acts, the better.
  • Characters in erotic stories will
    experience at least one orgasm (each).
  • Characters in erotic stories will
    experience physical pleasure on the way to orgasm.
  • Characters in erotic stories tend
    to be at least somewhat attractive.
  • The story will end happily, in the
    sense that the participants get what they want (sexual release).

These expectations are not equally
strong. In particular, the “happy ending” rule can be waived, in
so called “dark erotica”. However, as erotic romance becomes an
increasingly powerful force in the market, it has become more
difficult to publish erotic stories with tragic or otherwise negative
conclusions.

Stories that satisfy the expectations
above are likely to sell well. To some extent, readers are lazy (we
all are) and want experiences that offer familiar satisfactions, as
opposed to experiences that challenge them to think or feel something
different. If we write according to expectations, delivering what
readers are buying now, we’ll likely increase the size of our monthly
royalty checks. However, we may be undermining the reputation of the
genre as a whole.

I’ve been writing, publishing, reading
and reviewing erotica for more than a decade. Lately, the majority of
the stories I read have a depressing sameness. Even more alarming, I
find that I myself am reluctant to write stories that violate popular
expectations. I know that choosing to write an ugly or nasty
character, or to include only a minimal amount of actual sex, or to
leave a character frustrated, may interfere with my selling the story
– to publishers and to readers.

Great fiction takes risks. It stands
out from the crowd. The books and stories that most impress me tend
to be original, surprising, outrageous, even disturbing. If I aspire
to more than hack status, I must be willing to risk following my
intuitions instead of the rules.

At the moment, I’m working on an erotic
vampire story for the charitable anthology I’m editing, Coming
Together: In Vein
. In my initial notions about the
conclusion, the main character does not get what he wants. He’s
desperate to be taken by the vampires, to be ravished, used, drained
dry. He wants to sacrifice himself to them, because he loves them so
deeply. However, his master and mistress refuse to grant his wish.
Instead, he’s left in the same state of unrelieved desire as when the
story opens.

As I considered this, I found myself
thinking, “Oh-oh. Readers won’t like that. They want everyone to
get off. They crave satisfaction. Maybe I’d better change the
ending.” I was tempted to transform the tale into a more familiar
model, to hew more closely to the unspoken rules.

All at once, I realized I was
subverting my own creativity in order to be “safe”. I decided to
stick with my original concept. Of course, I don’t need to worry
about whether this story will be accepted, since I know the editor
well. The experience made me realize, though, how often I do choose
the well-trodden path, opting for sales and money as opposed to
originality.

I’m fascinated by the idea of purely
psychological dominance in D/s. I have another story concept stewing
at the back of my mind, a BDSM novel in which the master is a
quadriplegic. He cannot directly exert any power over the submissive.
Instead, he relies on surrogates and on the sub’s willingness to
surrender and obey. In particular, I have a scene in mind where he
completely immobilizes the sub so that she’ll have some understanding
of his personal experience.

This story premise breaks most of the
genre rules. Still, because this scenario intrigues me personally, I
suspect that I could make the tale erotic. However, I’ll probably
never write it, because I’m convinced that no publisher would accept
it (and I don’t have the time or energy to take the self-publishing
route). I’m basically holding back from taking the risks that might
produce something of serious literary merit.

How many of us are falling into the
same trap?

On the other hand, the most exquisite
prose, the most amazing literary insights, mean nothing if they’re
unread. If our fantastically creative erotic books never see the
light of day, we will accomplish nothing.

I continue to ponder this conundrum,
trying to decide if there’s a way to create outstanding erotic
fiction that takes risks and still gets read.

By Lisabet Sarai

I’m starting to wonder whether craft is the enemy of heat.

My first novel poured from my imagination onto the page in a breathless rush of passion. Looking back, I remember the process as almost effortless. Nothing seemed to block the flood of fantasy. My heroine Kate was my personal proxy, indulging in ever more transgressive erotic scenarios as she explored her sexual identity. As she surrendered to her master Gregory, I was reliving and perfecting my own odyssey of submission and then moving beyond recollection to conjure the imagined scenes I never had the opportunity to try. I wrote the whole book in a peculiar state of arousal – not exactly on the edge of orgasm, but with an exaggerated appreciation of every sexual stimulus, both internal and external.

Readers of Raw Silk tend to get turned on. The book has been called “scorching”, “outrageous”, “intensely erotic”, and “explosive”. And when I reread my favorite bits now, they still make me wet.

At the same time, I cringe when I notice the many flaws in the book. My sentences seem too long and complex, overly influenced by my academic training. The dialog strikes me as unrealistic and wooden. (This was before I learned to allow my characters to use contractions when they speak!) Repeated words, phrases and sentence structures jump out at me. And I realize, with a sinking heart, that some of the interactions that have the most visceral effect on me are overworked BDSM clichés.

In the dozen years since that first publication, I’ve matured as a writer. My prose is far more polished, less flowery and more direct. My characters can converse without sounding as though they’ve been filtered through Google Translate. I have conscious control over issues I used to manage by instinct – foreshadowing, flashbacks, suspense, sexual tension, narrative flow. Originality in premise and execution have become critical concerns. When I address a theme or a subgenre, I deliberately try to find a treatment or a twist to distinguish my work from the thousands of other authors writing erotica and erotic romance.

I was an amateur back then. Now I’m a professional. All my self-conscious craft, though, seems to have smothered the spark that used to kindle my readers (and me) into vicarious flames.

It’s much more difficult now to write a truly sexy scene. There’s too much going on in my head. Instead of simply reveling in my personal perversions, I worry. Is this too stereotyped? Is this too raw for romance? Is this too tame for erotica? Haven’t I written this same thing a million times before? Sure, it pushes my buttons, but didn’t I just read more or less the same thing in someone else’s story? And what about that sentence? I used “cock” twice already – should I change it to “prick”? Have I already used a storm metaphor for orgasm in this tale?

As a result, all too often these days I seem to find myself in a state of literary paralysis. The horny flow of erotic ideas has dwindled to a trickle. Sure, occasionally inspiration will seize me and a whole story will pour out of me in a few hours. I treasure those experiences – especially since they’ve become so rare.

I know that part of the problem is hormones – or lack thereof – as I age. And how could I not have become a bit jaded? I’ve probably read a thousand erotic short stories since I turned “pro”. I admit I’m almost as critical about other authors’ work as I’ve become of my own. It’s inevitable, I suppose, that one’s first story about anal sex is going to be a good deal more exciting than the fiftieth. You’re only a virgin once.

Still, I sometimes wonder whether I should stop being concerned about craft and just write “Sucking Daddy’s Big One” or “Slave to the Cruel Professor” or “The Pirate’s Whore” – the type of books that Amazon tells me people decide to purchase after viewing my recent BDSM story collection. It’s true – the stories in that collection are more subtle, surprising and literary than Raw Silk, but they’re not as hot. I don’t know if I COULD silence the analytical voice in my head, or ignore my concerns for originality and freshness, but if it were possible, would I be able to recapture the glorious searing intensity of my early work?

I’m a snob – I know it. A while ago I read a BDSM novel for purposes of a review and was appalled by the poor quality of the writing. Glaring grammar mistakes, incorrect punctuation, inappropriate word choice, confusing and inconsistent point of view – the book broke practically every rule of craft. Meanwhile, the story trotted out all sorts of stock BDSM elements: the stern but voluptuous employer in her tailored suits and spike heels, the innocent “natural” submissive with an inexhaustible appetite for abuse, the male “assistant” called into service to train the new slave. It had bondage, spanking, flogging, suspension, butt-fucking, medical play, pseudo-Victorian costumes… I wrote a pretty scathing review, but at the same time I have to admit (as I did in the review) that some parts of the book turned me on. The awful writing ultimately did not prevent me from being aroused.

So maybe, just maybe, the craft doesn’t matter. Could that be true? I know it’s possible to produce a supremely well-written erotic story that also has the power to arouse me – some of my favorite erotic authors do it all the time. And yes, elitist that I am, I find wonderful writing exciting in its own right. Perhaps, though, that aesthetic thrill could be teased apart from my baser (and more basic) sexual reactions.

Then again, perhaps not. The aspects of BDSM that arouse me most have to do with the emotional and psychological currents flowing between the dominant and the submissive. It takes a certain skill to bring those dynamics to life. Whips, handcuffs and gags by themselves won’t do the trick, at least not for me.

Does too much craft interfere with heat? Are the two independent, addressing totally different levels in the reader’s psyche? Should I switch to writing pure porn? Could I?

I really want to know what you think.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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