Thursday, June 27, 2013

Erotic, or Just Boring?

Probably the great majority of the people I am following on Twitter, and who are following me, are writers of one kind or another. At least, they have writing listed as one of their primary activities or interests. A large number of those write in particular genres, one of which is erotica. For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, the program constantly provides a list of people you might possibly wish to follow, based on your previous interests. But this function seems to have a very short memory. So, if I follow one person who happens to be interested in Mongolian literature between CE 1204 and CE 1205, Twitter will immediately throw up everyone else with similar interests. Sometimes it can be a very short list. However, if I happen to follow someone who writes erotic literature, I can be bombarded with suggestions of nothing but other erotic writers for hours to come. It’s clearly a genre that many people like to write (if not to read). So I thought I would read a couple of the shorter pieces, to see what I might be up against if one of these writers sought my editing services. Important research, I’m sure you will agree.

I thought I knew what to expect, and hoped to be pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t. After all, how many images can you come up with for his ‘proud rod’ or her ‘slippery wetness’? How many ways can you describe this act? It’s one of the reasons that I don’t particularly like describing the sex act in my writings. Not because I am prudish or embarrassed, but because it is very difficult to find any new ways in which to describe it. As a writer, do I really need to describe it in detail each time? As a reader, do I really want to be subjected to such descriptions time and time again.

The other point concerns what is really erotic. Which is more erotic (for a man, at least—can’t help it, I am one): A completely naked woman standing in front of me with her legs slightly apart? Or a woman standing in front of me, legs slightly apart, in a slightly see-through skirt, with a window behind her? A naked woman, or a woman in a skirt with the suggestion that she might not be wearing underwear? What is erotic is the teasing, the suggestion, the anticipation. It is not the rather tedious blow by blow mechanics of the sex act itself. As a writer, there is also much more scope for creating the suggestions, providing the tantalising glimpses. The same goes for the visual media.

I emphasise again that this has nothing to do with prudery or embarrassment. It has to do with what is actually erotic and actually sexy. If the erotic literature I have sampled to date is typical of the genre, then, in my opinion, it isn’t—erotic, that is.


  1. Well said. I couldn't agree more.

  2. Nice to see you on Reddit. Hope this means your platform is growing by leaps and bounds. Best wishes.

  3. I agree with your view on erotica. I think it's the same as the difference between writerly and readerly writing. Writerly writing explains everything to the reader, then explains again to make absolutely sure they have understood. Whereas reading writing provides space for the reader, leaving some of the imagining to them. After all, we all know what happens in sex. And, like you, I don't think I'm being pruddish.

  4. True erotica, I think, is exactly what you have described as 'teasing', but in recent years it has become a euphemism for porn. After all, no one wants to admit they write pornography for a living, do they? I've met a few authors who do write the stuff, but always under a name other than the one they use for ordinary fiction!