As I work on finishing my steampunk erotic novel, I am taking a break to pass along a few observation that arise like warm air as I write, and rewrite, and rewrite.
Writing erotic fiction poses a double challenge–creating a universe of erotic situations (and describing them in an enticing and, dare I say erotic, manner) and telling a good story. To be honest, telling a good story is a huge challenge to begin with. It isn’t so much a questions of writing something believable, but something that engages the readers. It must reward the reader for spending time with it. Ideally, it treats something important, such as relationships, in an interesting and insightful way. The best erotic literature doesn’t skimp on this point. The worst fiction in every genre does.
The erotic part of the storytelling requires the development a well refined sense of balance. Certainly if the story is classified as erotic, the writer must keep eros at the centre of things. Otherwise the reader feels, rightfully, cheated. Treating graphic sex scenes with honesty, sufficient realism to titillate, and drawing the reader into those scenes, is an art form.
The tendency is to overwrite, putting in too much of everything, which makes some stories, some books, lose track of another important element of storytelling–pacing. The story must have its ups and downs. It must excite and then calm and then excite again. These highs and lows have to come at the right time to let the reader catch his/her breath without losing interest, and reach a peak, like sex itself, at the end. Too much, too soon is exhausting and then deflating; too little, too late and the reader has moved on to something else. So again the writer struggles to achieve the balance that will build tension, release a little, then build again.
The goal of writing erotic literature, my goal at least, is to engage the reader by offering something a bit different. The difference is my perspective on the erotic. Fortunately, we each see the erotic slightly differently; fortunately, there is also a lot of common ground. To provide my own take on the erotic, it is important that I look at every passage and be clear on what it is trying to convey and then ensuring that the style, the perspective represent my own thoughts, and I haven’t slipped into the slough of cliches. As an avid reader, I have scores of them lurking in the dark recesses of my brain, right alongside clever thoughts, sexy thoughts, and even stupid ones. At times, the wrong one slips out and onto a page. It is a fair amount of work to capture the sly buggers and even keep the correct ones in place. Ideas and thoughts are cantankerous beasts at the best of times.
So now back to the story.