Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The First Step

The hos (also known as my critique group) got together last night. After we discussed many ways to pull my work in progress out of the fire, I told them what scene I had planned next. They immediately staged an intervention. "Fish are friends, not food" Oops, sorry, wrong story.

My intervention went like this "You cannot write another sex scene! I don’t care if it’s erotica, no more sex in this book." What happened to making I statements? One fellow ho who does substance abuse counseling recommended that I take the first step in the program. "I admit I am powerless over my addiction to writing male/male sex scenes and my story has become unmanageable."

I love my fellow hos. I do. I wouldn’t be here without them. But I have to ask, what makes a reader pick up (or download) an erotica? I’m not saying I don’t love traditional romance, even the ones with the will-they-or-won’t-they sexual tension that has you screaming in frustration by the time they finally do it. After which you lose interest. (Moonlighting, anyone?) To me an erotica is a story where much of the emotional growth and conflict is expressed either in the sex scenes or results from the sex scenes. If I want a traditionally plotted romance—no matter what the sensuality level—I know where to find one. When I want sex to be an important component in the story, I want to know where to find that, too.

Which leads me to an even more important question: If you’re selling something that’s labeled male/male erotica, who’s buying it? Some of our readers come from traditional romance. Some come to us from slash fanfiction. What keeps them coming back for more? The easy answer is that you can’t please everyone, but how much sex is too much sex in an erotica?

I think I will take that first step, but slightly altered. "I admit I am powerless over the voices in my head that send me words and pictures that make up the story of two men who have such amazing chemistry that no matter what other issues they face, they can’t keep their hands off each other." Hmmm. I do feel better now.

And they say the first step is the hardest.


Vivien Dean said...

My writing partner and I have this discussion all the time, lol. She's of the opinion that people are buying an erotic romance for very specific reasons, while I'm the plottier of the two of us and have been known to say, "Sex? Again?!?"

We usually end up compromising, but you're right. When two guys have such chemistry, it's very hard to keep them from touching other. We had one couple who almost always started kissing as soon as they stopped talking. We finally decided just to let them at it, lol

Amanda Young said...

As long as it fits your storyline and doesn't come off as repetitive, I don't see a problem. :)

Vivien Dean said...

The question becomes then, "What's repetitive?" We might not see it as such, but a reader who wants something else might. And I'm not sure there's a way to predict that.

But if there is, please share. :)

Caitlin said...

No matter how much I love the characters, there's a limit for me.

I agree with your definition of erotica :)

But I think sex being repetitive depends on the length of the story and some other things (same position each time, etc). For me, if sex scenes make up more than one third of the book, then the book is not erotica anymore. It's just flat out porn without plot.

K.A. Mitchell said...

I'm definitely going to go back through and make sure that each scene is tied in with the conflict or internal growth of the characters. And that last scene that I'm not supposed to have is really supposed to show everything they're losing at that moment.
I guess since most of my male characters don't usually like to talk about their feelings, even to themselves, this is the way they express them, sometimes rough, sometimes tender, sometimes possessive. I guess what I write is porn with plot. And goodness knows I like a variety of positions.

Amanda Young said...

I guess I should have clarified what I meant by repetitive, huh? All I meant was that if each sex scene is the same (ie, the same flat sex with no deeper meaning behind the act) then it would grow pointless and boring. I could list a few good examples, but that probably wouldn't be in very good taste.

K.A. Mitchell said...

I think good examples would help us all learn, Amanda. :) The more the better.

You didn't need clarification; I knew what you were saying and I agree. Even if the sex is hot and varied, if the emotions behind it aren't changing, it's repetitive.

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