It’s kind of hard, being an erotica writer, writing under a pseudonym. There’s a ton of stuff I’d love to share, about what I’m up to, my travels, my life, all the things I’ve seen and done. The trouble is of course, the greater the detail I provide, the closer I come to losing the anonymity of a pseudonym, so I end up saying very little, or most of the time nothing at all. Related to that is my need to feel like anything I say is worth saying. I use Twitter now, but find it difficult to share every random thought that comes into my head. On writer’s forums, I’d love to join in the conversation, but I hold back, wondering if what I have to say needs an audience. I guess it’s just me, and the nature of being naturally an introvert by nature – good for sitting at my desk writing, less good for going out and selling myself!
All that said, I was thinking, the other day, about how I came to writing, and how the pathway I took has influenced my storytelling. I had been praised (by Jaye Elise, who had kindly agreed to read my Work in Progress) for the way I write sex scenes – with an eye for the detail, but without letting things get bogged down. It is of course very nice to hear someone say flattering things about me, so I accepted the compliment gratefully!
One of the mistakes I made with my early forays into erotica was to think it is essentially writing sex. It is, in the sense that the sex scenes have to be hot, but it isn’t in that it is really just storytelling, just like any other fiction. If you can’t wrap your sex scenes in a plot of some kind, good enough to drag the reader along, and if the sex isn’t between characters the reader wants to see together, then ultimately, the erotica will fail (or be less successful).
I had to learn that lesson the hard way. I started out writing sex scenes, rather than stories, because the first things I wrote were in emails, designed to entertain, or seduce, or arouse, whoever happened to be my lover (or prospective lover) at the time. More than that, because I grew up in the cellphone age, the very first sex scenes I wrote were in text messages! In both cases, I was writing sex, and writing sex to arouse, and had to learn to focus on the details, and how to compress them, highlighting some things, glossing over others. It was the positive responses to my ability to “write sex” that got me into thinking about writing erotica.
There are (or were) two drawbacks to this approach to learning to write erotica. Firstly, in an email or text message, the characters are usually called “I” and “You”. That’s great when it is two people who know each other, not so good for writing for a wider audience. My first job was to learn about point of view, and work out when I should be using first person, or where third person would give a better story. Secondly, if you already know someone, then there is no need to create much of a plot – there is no particular need to ‘engineer’ people into bed – they’re already there. So I had to learn about storytelling, and pacing an entire story, not just a sex scene.
So I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still learning. My work has its strong points, and areas where I can improve. The stories I’ve put up for sale are all things that I’ve thought of as being milestones – I can see the improvements as I write more, and I can see how I’m getting better as a storyteller. Of course, I’ll always want to strive to get better, and be the best writer I possibly can be, but it is interesting to look over my shoulder, and see where I’ve come from.