Friday, October 26, 2007

JERR - Interview with Morgan Hawke

Just Erotic Romance Reviews
Interview with Morgan Hawke

by Claudia Orpik

I still remember the first time I read a short story from Morgan Hawke … I didn’t know what to make of it.  Then I tried another and I thought “um, not bad … not bad at all”.  I know I sound horribly arrogant, but truth be told, Morgan Hawke is among my top five favorite erotic romance authors.  My initial mixed reaction to her stories didn’t last long and for good reason.  She truly masters the erotic romance genre and brings to the reader everything that a well written erotic romance story should be, including well developed characters and enthralling plot lines, with amazing sex scenes thrown in for good measure.  As part of our Halloween issue of the JERR newsletter, we present you Morgan Hawke.

How long have you been writing erotic romance?  I see from your website that you most certainly had an early start.

I started writing erotic stories in 1998, shortly after reading my very first Angela Knight short story, “Blood and Kisses” published in Secrets anthology 4 by Red Sage. I thought I was writing mere erotica. Only later did I discover that I was in fact writing Erotic Romance. I had far too much plot in my stories for them to be mere Erotica, and far too much Romance.

Is it much different to write erotica than it is to write erotic romance?

Erotica is very different from Erotic Romance. Erotica focuses on the smut, the whole smut, and nothing but the smut. Erotic Romance focuses on the adventure, i.e. the plot, and the relationship dynamics of the main characters, which is normally expressed through sex.

When writing erotica, you merely need to get the couple together and in bed; feelings don’t necessarily matter. In Erotic Romance, you not only have to get the couple together and in bed, you also have to consider the feelings of the participants, AND the story going on around them.

Many people ask me if the story is actually all that important in an Erotic Romance. Believe me, it is very important. Erotic Romance readers will forgive so-so love scenes if the feelings are strong and the story is engaging. Erotica readers on the other hand, tend to skip everything to get to the smut.

It helps to think of Erotic Romance as: Women’s Adult Pulp Fiction -- because that’s what Erotic Romance actually is.

What attracted you to erotic romance?

I liked writing adventure stories that had a strong sexual romance happening in the middle of it. Later on I discovered that I was writing Erotic Romance.

You have several paranormal, contemporary, and futuristic stories, do you prefer one genre over the other or do you just prefer to write in a variety of categories?

I get bored very, very easily, so I jump around from genre to genre to keep my imagination fresh. However, I prefer writing anything and everything that isn’t purely realistic. I only do contemporaries as a last resort. Believe it or not, it is much easier to get something wrong in a contemporary than it is to get something wrong in any other genre. No matter what you write about in a contemporary, someone always knows what you’re writing about far better than you.

What attracts you to the futuristic/sci-fi and paranormal genres?

They were my favorite genres to read as a kid, so naturally they became my favorite genres to write. What attracts me? The fact that it’s far from the real world I live in. I write for the same reasons I read -- escapism.

You also have several homoerotic stories. Do you find it much different to write a same sex erotic romance than to write one in which the main couple is “traditional” i.e. male hero(es)/female heroine(s)

Writing a guy-guy romance is very different from a guy-girl romance. Two guys in love don’t act, or react the same way as a guy and a girl. Men are traditionally taught to suppress all emotions but pride and anger. This cultural demand that they not show tender emotions, or even admit that they have them, makes it hard for any guy to admit that he’s in love with a female, never mind admitting it to someone he’s supposed to treat as a rival -- another male.

At the same time, this back and forth struggle to acknowledge such feelings, accept them, and then express them makes writing a guy-guy romance very interesting. The stories can come out incredibly funny, or incredibly painful, but never, ever dull.

What do you like best about being a writer?

The total immersion into my own imagination. As  writer, I get to indulge in just about any fantasy I can come up with -- and they pay me for it! LOL!

Did it take long for you to have your first book submission contracted?

I’m afraid not. They contacted me, I didn’t contact them. This happened with both my very first ebook publisher and my agent. I was approached and asked point blank. I told them what I had, they grabbed it and ran.

In the case of my ebook publisher, I’d been writing short erotic stories for five full years, so I had quite a bit of practice on the technical end and had already learned how to cater to my reading audience. By the time my agent came along, I had over twenty ebooks out of varying lengths and had gained quite a bit of polish.

How long would you say that it takes for you to complete a book? 

Normally six months. If my muse acts up, or life interferes, it can take longer, much longer.

How have things changed for you since becoming published? 

Life didn’t change until 2004 when I offered Victorious Star to Loose Id. That was the book that allowed me to quit my day job.

Describe a day in the life of Morgan Hawke

Are you sure you want to know? My life is booooring. Seriously.

I get up, turn on the coffee maker, turn on the CD player, choose a soundtrack to act as background music for whatever story I’m writing, charge up the computer, then sit down and write, or do research. No family, no kids, no distractions, so it’s not unusual for me stay at my desk for a full 12 to 14 hours then to go to bed in the same pajamas I woke up in. I even eat at my computer.

Once a month, when the royalty checks arrive, I actually get dressed, go to the bank, go food shopping, pay the monthly bills, then go to my computer.

Every once in a while I’ll actually sit down in front of my TV and put in a movie, but that’s actually quite rare. Maybe once a month? I don’t watch ordinary TV at all. I don’t even have cable. If I hear about a really cool TV series, I’ll wait for the season’s end and buy the boxed set.

Do you find it’s challenging trying to balance your personal life with your writing  career? 

(Laughing hysterically!) What personal life? I live alone. My closest living relative is half a country away -- and we’re all much happier that way.

I live almost entirely in my own imagination. It not a life many people can lead. Most would come down with cabin fever in a big hurry, but I like it. It suits me.

Has your family supported you in your career choice? 

My mom and my brothers buy my books and show them to their friends, or some of their friends. Every now and again Mom will ask me, “So, when are you gonna write something I can show to the neighbors?”

My reply: “Sorry Mom, I don’t think that will ever happen.”

My writing career came as a total surprise to my entire family. They knew I had a good imagination, but they’d had no idea it was something I could actually use to live on. I was sort of the family black sheep, not good in school, and not really all that good with people in general, (too temperamental to hold onto a relationship.) They never expected to be anything more than a half-decent waitress.

However, once I proved that I could actually live off my books, my mom and my brothers were quick to express extreme relief that I’d finally found my niche in life where I could be happy.

What has been, so far, the highlight of your career as a writer.  

Truthfully? Not having to go to a job in the morning.

You have a very popular series, The Imperial Stars, how did the series come to be? 

It started out as a personal challenge. I just wanted to see if I could write a hardcore SM Sci-fi that wasn’t simply futuristic. Apparently, I could.

Is there a particular reading order to follow, though each story is a stand-alone.  I’ve noticed that the world building keeps being developed in each story.

There is an order, time-wise, but the books don’t have to be read that way.

  1. Lost Star
  2. Victorious Star
  3. Fortune’s Star - in the Hard Candy anthology
  4. Fallen Star

Did it take long for this series to be contracted?  Was it accepted on your first try?

I offered Victorious Star to Loose Id books. They notified me that they wanted it in less than an hour. (grin) I had also offered it to Ellora’s Cave, but they took four whole months to ask for more than the partial. By then Victorious Star was only days away from release at Loose Id.

Do you have a set number of stories for this series or are you keeping your options open? 

I will always keep my options open. I have no intention of ever leaving the Imperial Stars universe behind. I’m having way too much fun playing in it.

You also have a novelized Manga series which includes Yaoi/Shounen-ai and Hentai, do you plan to add more stories to this collection? I particularly enjoyed the Hentai one, which is extremely HOT.

I do indeed intend to write more in the Manga style. As soon as I finish what’s on my currently on plate

What attracts you to writing stories that are part of a series? 

I don’t actually see them as ‘series’ stories as each book stands alone. Stories may occupy the same universe, but I don’t like using the same characters as anything more than cameo appearances.

The love scenes in your books, even those classified as “vanilla sex only”, are extremely graphic, how comfortable are you about writing this sort of scenes?  Do you have to force yourself to write them or does the inspiration come naturally depending on the characters, setting, and story? 

Um, how to say this delicately? Sorry, there isn’t a delicate way to say this… I don’t have any problems writing hot love scenes because it’s all I think about. I spend hours every day working out new and different love scenes, then more hours thinking up characters to act out those love scenes, then even more hours building stories to make sure those scenes happen. In short, I have smut on the brain. Is that bad?

You have published a Cheater’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, how did you come up with the idea? 

Pure self-preservation. 90% of the letters I received from fans were questions on how I write. Not even a whole blog dedicated to my writing techniques could cover all their questions. Out of sheer desperation, I began to compile article after article, going from stage one - character creation, all the way through plotting and the use of a premise, to the technical details on how to write a love scene. I took those articles and opened a class to beta test the whole lot and make sure I had covered everything. After three completed classes, I handed the whole thing to Mojo Castle to publish it.

You already have a couple of paranormal stories published as part of Kensington’s Aphrodisia imprint, including a full length novel, are there more in the works?  If so, will they also be paranormal?  Can you tell us a bit more about them?

I do have another Kensington Aphrodisia book currently in production by the name of ‘Insatiable’, but I’m afraid that I’m not quite ready to share the details just yet. Any and all my Kensington books will definitely be hot paranormal fantasies.

If you could give some advice to hopeful romance authors, what would that advice be? 

Be stubborn. The only way to finish a book is by sitting down and doing it no matter what distractions the world throws at you.

What do you have in store next for your readers?   

Once I have finished the Kensington book, next is Lost Star from the Imperial Stars series. It’s the story of how Captain Ravnos of the Hellsbreath, from Victorious Star, met his First Officer, Prince Seht. The story is technically already more than halfway finished. Unfortunately, contracts must come before pleasure.

How can your fans contact you? 

I can be reached through my websites:

And now for the fun questions:

How would your friends describe you? 

Weird. Interesting, but weird. I’ve also been described as being a bit…intense. I guess that living in your own imagination for weeks on end can give one very odd personality quirks.

What is at the top of your list of pet peeves?

Eh… The last time I listed my top pet peeve I practically started a riot. I’m not all that sure if I really want to go through that again. Here’s something lower on the list…

People who tell me that smoking is bad for me. Please… At 42, one would assume I know that already.

I started smoking when I was 34, (yes it was a deliberate choice,) and believe it or not, I started writing only weeks after my first cigarette. Now that I have my entire career riding on my cigarettes, I am not about to stop any time soon. Hopefully, by the time I’m forced to stop, most likely when I’m in my 80’s or 90’s, I’ll have enough books out to support me, because I’ll probably stop writing too.

Am I worried about lung cancer? Nope. My whole family smokes - heavily - all the way back to my great-great grandparents, and no one has ever come down with it. (Good genes I guess.) We have had the occasional relation come down with emphysema, but that doesn’t kick in until they’re in their late 80’s. I figure, as late as I started, I’ll probably never have to quit.

If you were stranded on a desert island what are two things you wouldn’t be able to survive without? 

My laptop and my cigarettes. Everything else is optional.

Is there one thing about you that your fans would find surprising? 

Everyone is always surprised that I am so short. I tell people that I’m only four-foot, nine, but it doesn’t really sink in until they see this little fierce little goth person all in black, staring up at them from below their heart. Oh, and my hair really does reach the bottom of my butt. 

What do you find sexy in a man? 

His BRAIN. I’ll take an interesting conversation about human nature with a geeky professor over small talk with a hunk any day. If the professor wears glasses and a suit…? He’d better watch out because it’s entirely possible that I’ll jump him in the nearest dark alley and have my wicked way with him. Intelligence seriously flips my switch.

What sound do you love to hear?

The soothing sound of the wind in the trees.

What sound do you hate the most?

The telephone ringing. It makes me jump in my chair every time.

© Mireya Orsini – Just Erotic Romance Reviews, Issue #107.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romance?

Science Fiction and/or Fantasy
and ... Romance?
-----Original Message-----
How many pages are too many to wait for the hero/heroine to meet for the first time in a Sci-fi Romance? Are 50 pages or three chapters too long? Don’t you have to do a set up to show the worlds before they meet?
-- A Sci-Fi Romantic
Any time you market a book as a "Romance" no matter the sub-genre, (SF, Fantasy, Suspense, but most especially Erotic Romance,) the Romantic Couple should meet by the end of the first chapter, roughly 2500 words in.

Why so soon?

"57% of new books are not read to completion. Most readers do not get past PAGE 18 in a book they have purchased."-- Jerrold Jenkins

This means you only have 18 pages, (4500 words) to grab your reader, an agent, or an editor, and interest them enough to Keep Reading.
  • When writing a Romance you have to get the reader interested in the heroine, AND the hero by page 18.
  • If you're writing a Romantic Suspense, a Romantic Fantasy, or Romantic Sci-Fi, you have to get the reader interested in the heroine, the hero AND the plot by page 18.
  • If you're writing an Erotic Romance of ANY sub-genre you have to get the reader interested in the heroine, the hero, the plot, AND the sex by page 18.
"Does establishing my couple early really matter to the readers?"
While there ARE Romance publishers that will let you take longer to establish your couple and their setting, if you’re writing a Romance your reader EXPECTS to be grabbed and their attention held by your romantic couple BEFORE the 18th page. That's why they're reading your book -- for the Romance. Everything else is gravy.
-----Original Message-----
…I just finished a book today that took 30+ pages to get the hero and heroine together, it was filled with back-story about the heroine, things that could have been worked into the narrative at a later point. I honestly wouldn't have finished it except I had doctors appointments and no other unread books. I'd have missed a good read too.
-- A Romance Reader
-----Original Message-----
…I have a rather short attention span. Only when I'm forced by circumstances beyond my control will I finish a book that doesn't grab me right away.
-- Another Romance Reader

Of particular concern here is...
Establishing the setting of a Sci-Fi universe.
-- Setting up a world isn’t like setting a stage. You don’t need to show every single thing in place before the actors walk on. All you need are the immediate surroundings with an occasional stray thought to elucidate what's being viewed, or used. Fantasy & Sci-Fi thrive on ACTION, therefore, instead of Info-Dumping at the beginning, sprinkle your set up in while something is happening…

The opening lines from LOST STAR – (Coming Soon to Loose Id)
“Look you rusting pile of antique junk! I’m trying to save your ass here! Let me in!” Aubrey grabbed his throat, gasping for breath, and choked. The air on the freighter’s sub-engineering deck was thick and foul with smoke from melted metal and fused wiring. “Morris! Are you listening to me?” He slammed his bruised fist against the control console, nearly knocking over the small light he’d rigged. Most of the lights had gone out in the first hit from the marauders. He didn’t want to think about how close they had come to losing all life-support too.

“I hear you tech-engineer.” The ship’s tired and masculine mind-voice shimmered with a touch of annoyance across the wire jacked into the back of Aubrey’s skull. “You do not have clearance for access. You are not the nav-pilot.”

Aubrey fought to calm his beating heart, not that his heart was listening. “Morris, your nav-pilot is dead. He’s dead with everyone else that was on your bridge. If you don’t let me in, we’ll be boarded, and you’ll be torn apart for scrap!”

“I am already scrap…” Crushing depression and electronic interference colored the electronic mind voice.

“I know you’re old, Fate, damn you! But you’re not dead yet!” Aubrey scrubbed a hand through what little hair he had left, nearly dislodging the jack in the back of his skull. Damned military-issue buzz-cut, freaking itched. He leaned over the panel. “Morris, please! Let me in! There isn’t anybody else with an array to talk to you and I’m not fucking ready to die yet!” His breath hitched. Fate, he hadn’t even reached the legal age to drink yet. He closed his stinging eyes and took a deep breath. “And neither are the rest of the men on this ship. If you want to die, then fine, die! But let me save the ones who want to live first!”

Anger flickered deep in the ship’s sentience. Anger that his tech engineer would even think he would allow his people to die.

Aubrey held his breath. If the ship still had a temper then there was still a chance. If he could get access to the ship’s controls, he could use the freighter’s fully functional pulse cannons to clear a hole and try for a jump. If the ship didn’t kill him with a power burst instead.
The opening lines from VICTORIOUS STAR (Loose Id Books)
First Lieutenant Victoria Stark grimaced at the image on her holographic display. “So, this is where the captain has seen fit to abandon me.” The small orbital way-station looked like a floating heap of crumbling junk that had somehow fallen together, but had yet to drift back apart. Trash and debris from wrecked ships trailed its orbiting wake. The moon it circled didn’t look much better. The surface was pocked with craters and crashed ships.

She snorted. “I’ve seen worse.” She had, but not by much. She shut down the holographic transmission and stroked the instrument panel. “I’m going to miss you, lady,” she said with sincere regret.

The lights in her cabin dimmed just a few degrees.

A slight smile curved Victoria’s lips. The Adamant would miss her too. Her ships always missed her, just as she always missed them.

A knock came at the door.

Victoria sighed. This was it; this was good-bye. “Come,” she called out.

The door opened and a white-uniformed yeoman snapped a sharp salute. “We’re ready for you, Senior Nav-Pilot Stark.” He stared at her austere black coat. “Nav-Pilot?”

“Former senior nav-pilot. They relieved me of duty, remember?” Victoria smiled grimly. “I get to wear civilian togs.” She pulled on her supple black gloves. There was no way in hell she was going to walk onto that station in a burning white, screaming target of a uniform, especially on the wrong side of the Imperial border. She wasn’t suicidal.
The opening lines from FALLEN STAR (Loose Id Books)
Fallon stared up at the deeply shadowed towering steel walls of the alley’s dead end and ground her teeth. The door that was supposed to be at the end of this alley was nowhere to be found. “Damn it all, this isn’t where I’m supposed to be!”

Most of the lights in the station’s industrial deeps had gone out, or been shot out, so it was hard to see as a rule, even with her night-sight eye augmentations. The worst part was that everything down in this steel maze of pipes and installations looked pretty damned uniform, right down to the corrosion stains. There was no telling how far off course she actually was.

She needed directions, and fast.

In three steps she reached the steel wall of the alley and a long pipe with a faded and peeling telecommunications logo. She lifted her knee and selected a slender tap from the array of small, delicate tools tucked into the battered leather of her tall boots. A swift punch with another one of her tools broke the pipe’s casing and then it was just a matter of uncoiling her hotwire, jacking the tap into the communications wires, and shoving her wire into the data port at the base of her skull.

Her internal communications program spat code into the wire.

She looked down at the grimy steel floor, sweeping a gloved hand down her black skin suit. She cringed in disgust. The suit was smeared with filth and the seams were torn in a number of places. All the pipes she had crawled through and the roofs she had nearly fallen from to avoid her pursuer had really taken a toll on the once-sleek leather. It was going to cost a fortune to replace the damned thing, but she didn’t have much of a choice. She needed it for work.

“Station Master, spit it out and make it quick.” The voice was electronic and annoyed.

She grinned. “Hey, Peter, this is the Fallen Star.”

“Izzie! Where in fury have you been, wench?”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I miss you too, but right now, I’m in a jam. I need directions and quick.”

“Stand by for subliminal download.”

“Standing by.” A trickle of white noise was introduced over the line. Fallon nodded. “Receiving download; thanks, Peter.”

All too often, really good books never get finished because the reader gets distracted and puts the book down BEFORE they reach the Good Parts, the parts worth reading. This is why you really ought to hook your reader as soon as you can, preferably the first line of the first page, with an additional hook at the end of each chapter. In a Romance, that hook is traditionally the romantic couple.

However, your hook doesn’t have to be your Romantic Couple! There are other ways to hook your reader.

Milieu, Idea, Character, & Event
The OTHER Elements to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy
All stories contain four elements that can determine structure: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. While each is present in every story, there is generally one that dominates the others.
From How to Write Science-fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
(This book is available in just about every bookstore, and Amazon.)
  • Milieu – A strange, new world.
  • Idea – Questions in need of answers
  • Character – Characters with troubling human issues
  • Event - Disruptions in the world’s balance
Any one of these four can be used as the hook to keep your readers reading.

Milieu story: Milieu stories always follow the same structure: a stranger who sees things as we would see them is somehow stranded in a strange place, sees interesting things, is transformed by what he sees, and goes back home a new man. The Stranger is the viewpoint character. The Milieu is seen through his eyes, since he will be interested in, and surprised by, the same strange and marvelous (and terrible) things that surprise and interest the audience.

The character is transformed by his experiences in the strange new world, but he does not stay--and attempts to return home. Other stories are told along the way, but however much we care about those events, the closure we expect at the end of the story is the main character’s departure.

"Planet of the Apes"
The “Harry Potter” series

Idea story: These stories deal with the exploration and / or a quest for answers. Idea stories start as close to the point where a question is first raised and end soon after the question is answered. Most mysteries stories follow this structure, but a great many science fiction stories employ this structure to explore large questions about man's transformation and relationship to science and the rest of the cosmos.

The Matrix”
"2001 A Space Odyssy"

Character story: These stories show the personal transformation of a character with an internal conflict or issue. This is most often reflected by a change in their role in their community. The Character story is more about dealing internal conflicts, facing personal issues, rather than facing external conflicts, or enemies.

The story begins at the point when something happens to MAKE the character begin the process of facing a deep and troubling issue, and ends by successfully dealing with it or failing to deal with it. To complicate matters, a person's role in their community often defines, and is defined by, their relationships with others. A change in the main character’s role will change their roles too, therefore much of the plot can come from the other characters' resistance to change.

“Shaun of the Dead”
"Flowers for Algernon

Event story: These stories focus on the restoration of the proper order of the universe. The traditional Adventure tale, this is the most common, and most popular form of story. Joseph Campbell defined this as the monomyth -- the common story pattern that most myths, legends, and fairy tales follow.

Something is wrong in the fabric of the universe; the world is out of order. In the ancient tradition of the Romance (as opposed to the modern publishing category), this can include the appearance of a monster (as in Beowulf), the unnatural murder of a king by his brother (as in Hamlet), or the reappearance of a powerful ancient adversary who was thought to be dead (as in Lord of the Rings). In all cases, the "golden age" has been disrupted, and the world is in a state of flux.

The Event story ends at the point where a new order is established, or the old order is restored. The story begins, not at the point where the world becomes disordered, but rather where the character (the chosen one) becomes involved in the struggle.

“Independence Day”
"Lord of the Rings"
"Star Wars"

In Conclusion…
Any time you market a book as a "Romance" no matter the sub-genre, (SF, Fantasy, Suspense, but most especially Erotic Romance,) the Romantic Couple should meet by the end of the first chapter, roughly 2500 words in. (Yes, I'm repeating myself, but it bears repeating.)

If you are writing a Fantasy or Sci-Fi with Romantic Elements, you are free to hook your reader with something else:
  • Milieu -- Exploration of a strange, new world.
  • Idea -- The quest for Knowledge
  • Character -- The inner transformation of a character & their relationships
  • Event -- Repairing the disruption of the world’s balance
-- No matter how wonderful your world is, no matter how fantastic an idea you present, no matter how cool your characters are, no matter how perilous your world-shaking event is, you STILL have only 18 pages to catch that reader and hold them if you want them to finish your story!

Morgan Hawke

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Erotic vs. Erotica - More than just Sex

-----Original Message-----
"...I don't think erotica can support an entire novel by itself, but I think it can be a very effective element in larger works.
-- N
This just begs the question: Why not?
-- Why do you think Erotica Can't support an Entire Novel?
-----Original Message-----
"... The main reason that erotica can't sustain an entire novel is the same reason that action or description or any other element can't sustain an entire novel. People want some buildup, they want rising tension and denouement and resolution and all those other fancy literary things. There has to be something more than just a related series of sex scenes. The sex scenes can be strung together like pearls on a necklace, but there still has to be a thread to hold it together."
-- N

Ah, I think I understand.
-- You're saying: 'A string of sex scenes does not a novel make'. If so, then I agree.
Erotica is not defined by
how many sex scenes a story has.
However, from what I can surmise, you see 'erotica' as merely "an element", something that decorates a story, and/or flavors it; rather like an exotic spice added to plain chicken soup, or frosting added to a cake.
This leads me to think that you build your stories first and then add erotic elements where they suit the storyline. Sex is the Results of your scenes, actions and character interactions. This also means that you could quite easily remove all the sex and still have a viable story.
That may make an erotic story -- but not Erotica.
"If you can remove the Sex from your Erotic Fiction and still have a viable story in another genre -- then you did it WRONG."
-- Edo Van Belkom
To make Erotica, the "erotic" should be the thread that holds the pearls of action, setting, and character together. Rather than being the Result of action, setting, and character, it should be the Motivation, the WHY all those actions, settings, and characters happen. In Erotica, Sex is the driving force that makes the story happen -- not something tossed in as flavoring.
Don't add Sex Scenes to the story,
Add Story to make the sex scenes happen.
Sex & Plot
People talk about 'forwarding the plot' or 'intrinsic to the plot', but not a whole lot of people talk about what those actually mean.
  • "Forwarding the plot" means: Motivational Force, nothing happens without this reason to push events into happening.
  • "Intrinsic to the plot" means: Important Element, the story needs this to fulfill its plot.
The statue 'The Maltese Falcon' is intrinsic to that story's plot. It is absolutely necessary to fullfil that story, but it's not what makes the plot happen. You could pull out that statue and replace it with just about any other object and the story wouldn't even flinch. (The interchangeble object is commonly known as a macguffin.)
The Pursuit of this object is what forwards the plot -- not the object itself.
An element 'intrinsic to the plot' can be REPLACED.
Something that 'Forwards the Plot' can NOT.
This is why I say:
-- A story with sex in it is Erotic -- but not Erotica.
It's not just Sex...
-- It's what the Sex Does.

-- If you can take out your sex scenes and replace them with another action, such as a single kiss or even an act of violence - it's 'intrinsic to the plot', but not something that 'forwards the plot'.
For example, if we make the Maltese Falcon a Maltese Dildo and every single person in possession of said object has sex with it, the story become erotic, but it still wouldn't be Erotica.
Why not?
Because the Pursuit of the Object is still the motivational factor. The plot would not actually need to change. In fact, you can still leave out the sex completely with no harm to the story's plotline what-so-ever.
On the other hand, CHANGE the Motivational Factor to the "Pursuit of the Ultimate Sexual Experience" with this object as the key to said experience, and the plot Would change, and so would ALL of the main characters -- into nymphomaniacs.
SEX becomes the Reason to chase the Maltese Dildo. In addition, the main characters would have to have sex more than once to discover that the object was the key to the "ultimate sexual experience", instantly making Sex Scenes absolutely necessary for the plot to move forward -- making the story Erotica.
You can STILL swap out the Maltese Dildo with any other object your heart desires, but as long as the reason you want it remains SEX -- it's Erotica.
In Conclusion...
Coming up with a viable reason to make sex important to a story's plot can be a tough challenge. Most stories tend to be goal-driven toward an accomplishment (save the world, save my family, escape the bad-guys...) or toward a prize, (if I do this I get the kingdom, I get the girl, I get the Maltese Falcon...)

Making sex part of a story's plot is MUCH harder. An easy way is to make sex necessary to get to their goal. However, the Best way is by making Sex the CAUSE or the RESULT of everything that happens in the story.

Morgan Hawke