Sunday, December 05, 2004

To BE Erotic Fiction - SEX has to drive the plot.

Art by Luis Royo

EROTICA
Not just a story with Sex in it.
Erotic Romance is more than one sex scene after another. Each event should signal and then trigger another event. If you intend to write something more than simple stroke fiction - like the stuff found in ordinary Men’s Magazine fiction, stories that get people off and that's it - you have to have a REASON for that Sex to be there - in Addition to titillation.

Memorize this:
In any form of Erotic Fiction the SEX has to forward the plot – and to forward the plot, you need Dramatic Tension. If all the dramatic tension comes from somewhere OTHER than the sex, then the sex isn’t necessary to tell the story. 
If the Sex isn’t necessary to tell the story,
it doesn’t belong in the story.

Gratuitous Sex?
Gratuitous is something that is tossed in as a Decoration; like sprinkles on a cake. Tossing a sex scene into a story that doesn’t need it - just to make it erotic – is a bad idea.

Adding ANYTHING gratuitously (a little sex, a little romance, a little mystery, a little fantasy, a little Sci-Fi, a vampire...) to appeal to an audience or a publisher, is the sign of someone who didn't bother to find a way to make everything work together.

ANYTHING that isn’t necessary to tell the story
Doesn’t belong in the story!

If it CAN be pulled out, it SHOULD be pulled out.

It's the basic law of fiction - in any genre.

Azimov codified it for Science Fiction:
"If you can remove the Science from the Science Fiction and still have a viable story in another genre - you did it WRONG!" (Azimov does not consider space operas to be science fiction. He considers them high-tech Westerns.)

Edo Von Belkom said it in “Writing Erotica”:
"If you can remove the Sex from the Erotica and still have a viable story in another genre - you did it WRONG!"

Tossing sex into a story to make it erotic even though the plot clearly doesn’t need it, is the most common mistake made in Erotica - but not by beginners! This rule is more commonly broken by semi-experienced authors. They get caught up in their intricate plots - and forget that in order for a story To BE Erotic Fiction - SEX has to drive the plot.

In any genre of fiction that genre’s main element must drive the plot to BE that genre.
In Romance - New Love drives the plot.
In Mystery Fiction - Unanswered Questions drive the plot.
In Science Fiction - Scientific Ideas drive the plot.
In Fantasy - Fantastic Creatures or Places drive the plot.
In Historical Fiction - Historical Figures or Events drive the plot.
In Paranormal Fiction - Paranormal Creatures or Events drive the plot.
In Erotic Fiction - SEX drives the plot.
If you are doing a Cross Genre, a story that mixes two whole genres in one story, BOTH of those elements need to Drive the Plot.
In a Mystery Sci-Fi - The Scientific Idea should be the key to the Unanswered Questions that drive the plot. 
In a Romantic Fantasy - A Fantastic element should be the key to the New Love that drives the plot.
If you are doing a Cross Genre, such as Erotic Romance with its Adventure, Romance and Sex, ALL of those elements need to drive the plot -- ALL OF THEM.

In an Erotic Paranormal Romance - SEX should be the key to the Paranormal situation that drives the New Love developing in the plot.

If it Doesn’t forward the plot 
- it doesn’t belong in the Story.
If it doesn’t belong in the story – Take It Out!

KINKY and Unusual Sex?

I have, and I do focus on particular kinks and fetishes, sometimes for more than a chapter. In fact, I have several whole books dedicated to the gymnastics and emotional dynamics of the SM - M/F/M ménage relationship. However, I do more than simply Decorate the story with these scenes, I USE that kink to Show something, to Prove something or to make something Happen.

Kink, BDSM, and Fetish Erotica are technically Cross Genres.

You can have an amazingly kinky tale Without Sex. All public BDSM scenes happen without sex, and are just as satisfying, because to a dedicated kinkster, the BDSM IS Sex. If the scene is done right, penetration, and even orgasm, is Gratuitous -- like sprinkles on an already decorated cake.

So...! In SM fiction the Kink has to forward the plot, and to forward the plot, you need Dramatic Tension. If all the dramatic tension comes from somewhere OTHER than the Kink, then the Kink isn’t necessary to tell the story. If the Kink isn’t necessary to tell the story - it doesn’t belong in the story.

In any genre of fiction that genre’s main element must drive the plot to BE that genre.
  • In Erotica - Sex drives the plot.
  • In Romance - New Love drives the plot.
  • In BDSM fiction - The KINK drives the plot.
If you are doing a cross genre ALL elements are needed to drive the plot.
  • In BDSM Erotic Romance - The KINK should be the key to the Erotic situation that drives the New Love developing in the plot.

If it Doesn’t forward the plot 
- it doesn’t belong in the Story.
If it doesn’t belong in the story – Take It Out!

Make the Sex COUNT!
Show something - Prove something 
Make something Happen

Instead of having just a chapter for the Sex Scene, sex needs a PURPOSE, a REASON to be in the story, just like any other element in your work of fiction.

Show something:  
What can Sex show in an Erotic Romance? Everyone knows that the way a man Kisses tells you how they intend to make love. What can love-making show? In an Erotic Romance sex should express something about a character's base personality: tender, sweet, attention to detail, aggressive, humorous, serious…

Prove something:  
Loves scenes at the very least, should be visible proof of the progression a couple’s closeness, their growing love.

Make something Happen: 
The BEST way to make Sex work in a story is by having the sex trigger a shift in the plot. The traditional use for sex in fiction is to Make or Break a relationship, but that’s not all!
  • Sex can cause transformations -- vampirism & lycanthropy as STDs!
  • Sex can trigger psychic or magical ability.
  • Sex can be used as a distraction that allows someone else to accomplish something nefarious.

Getting in the MOOD for Love

So, how do you get the characters to Want Sex to begin with? You tie it to one of their NEEDS.

A physical dependence: “I need…”
A vampire needs blood. A cyborg needs maintenance...

The need for Sex is a Primal PHYSICAL need. Exertion and/or Danger (fear,) triggers a powerful endorphin / adrenaline rush. Under the right circumstances, this completely un-emotional body chemistry reaction can easily push people into Sex, even with those they Don't Like.


BTW - THIS is why BDSM play is so popular. BDSM deliberately triggers fear - and the endorphin / adrenaline -- sexual arousal -- rush that comes with it.
An emotional need: “I want…”
The desire to belong, to be hated, to be feared, to be rich, to be famous, to be understood, to control others, to be safe, to be free, to achieve revenge, to achieve greatness, to know something...

All of these are wonderful motivational triggers to get people into the sack.

A physical restriction: “I can’t…”
A vampire is limited by holy objects and daylight. Superman is limited by Kryptonite. Dorothy is limited by being a human child. Jason is part god but limited by his mortal body. Harry Dresden is a powerful wizard whose powers short out every electrical device in range of his influence. Harry can’t watch TV, get on the internet, or have a hot shower.

Think of all the reasons why having sex would be a bad idea for your characters - then Overcome those reasons.

Warning: Adultery in a Romance, erotic or not, is ALWAYS a Bad Idea! Most readers of Romances are in committed relationships. The last thing they want to read about are Cheaters.

An emotional hang-up: “I don’t like…”
Vampires and other monsters often fear the loss of what little humanity they have left. Neo is limited by his disbelief. Jason is afraid of failure. Selene has racial prejudices; she is a vampire but the man she loves is a werewolf.

In Romances, liking sex is often a big hang-up, then there's your basic 'Fear of Commitment' from bad sexual experiences, a broken heart, guilt over sex with the wrong person... The list is endless.

"Wow, that all sounds so very familiar…"


It should. These four 'needs' are essential in Character Building. You should know ALL of these needs for EACH of your main characters: Protagonist, Antagonist & Ally.
  • Physical dependence: “I need…”
  • Emotional need: “I want…”
  • Physical restriction: “I can’t…”
  • Emotional hang-up: “I don’t like…”
Note: Knowing your character's Needs & Drives is especially true with ‘borrowed’ characters. Whether you are writing a Fan Fiction, or merely modeling your character on a character you really like, make sure you ADJUST these 'Needs' to suit YOUR plot!

David, from 'The Lost Boys':
“I am..." a vampire.
Physical dependence: "I need…” Blood
Emotional need: “I want…” to have friends.
Physical restriction: “I can’t…” walk around in daylight.
Emotional hang-up: “I don’t like…” being under someone else’s control.

David, in 'My Personal Adult Fantasy':
“I am..." a vampire.
Physical dependence: “I need…” Blood and Sex
Emotional need: “I want…” to have a lover.
Physical restriction: “I can’t…” walk around in daylight.
Emotional hang-up: “I don’t like…” being under someone else’s control.

Which transforms the story from the original "I just want friends," story into...

If David wants a lover, but he’s under someone else’s control, wouldn’t that controlling person, that Master, want to know who David is sleeping with? Also, since there is a Master, what if this Master decided they wanted sex, or to do something far worse to David’s lover? Uh oh! We just made a Plot Conflict! Yay!

If David is aware of this possibility, and David is pretty bright so he would be aware of something of this sort, then wouldn’t he go out of his way to hide this lover? Oh look, more conflict!

Can you see the story building from here?

In Conclusion...
To make your fiction Erotic, the NEED for SEX should be among your Characters' basic MOTIVATIONS. This gives you a story Triggered by Sex, not Decorated with sex. With SEX so central to the story's issues, the plot moves forward every time your characters share intimacy.

Morgan Hawke
www.DarkErotica.Net
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

3 comments:

  1. This is such a fantastic site. It's so helpful and you are so generous to share your experience like this, especially for fledglings like me. I was wondering if I could ask a question though. How does getting drunk go down in Erotica?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm pleased you like my articles!

    How does getting drunk go down in Erotica?

    Well, getting someone drunk is probably THE most common method of getting into someone's pants, so EVERYONE uses it in erotica. This makes it a writing cliche. Almost as common is the 'Aphrodisiac in the food or drink' story.

    The trick to using a "we got drink and f*cked" story is to get them drunk on something that isn't booze.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your site. So much helpful infomation here.

    ReplyDelete