I decided to try reading a little erotica last night. Strictly for research purposes, of course.
I’ve written here before about my difficulty in writing sex scenes for my romance novel. I’m still waffling on which direction to go: squeaky-clean or hot and heavy. While I’m more comfortable with the squeaky route, it seems as though the sexier books are more in demand. Besides, I’ve reached a point in my story where a chaste kiss just ain’t getting it done.
I’ve read my share of “naughty” books in my life; I’m not that naïve. My friends and I used to pass around worn-out copies of Wifey, Seventeen, and anything by Danielle Steele. I’ve blocked out the trauma of reading Lace and A Sensuous Woman while still in high school, but most of Destiny is still locked in my memory. Unfortunately.
My mother was addicted to those multi-generational sagas that were so popular back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and she really shouldn’t have let me borrow them. I remember lots of descriptive sex scenes with heaving bosoms and swelling manhood and a definite overuse of the verb “thrust”. Those books always seemed to have a heroine who was multi-orgasmic when deflowered, usually against her will, only to fall in love and live happily ever after with her assailant.
Those books were referred to as “Bodice-rippers.” Mom called them “Crotch-wetters.”
Classy lady, my mother.
But I had never encountered full-out erotica until recently. There is a huge market for writers of erotica, especially with all of the self-publishing options available today. If I could write a really hot piece of erotic fiction, I could get myself published and start making money with my writing almost immediately. It could be a great way to open some doors.
Or so I thought.
I bought a 99-cent erotic romance for my Nook so I could read it and see for myself what the fuss is all about. Put the kids to bed, told The Big Guy what I was going to read, and made myself a nice hot cup of Chamomile. I figured my “research” could be sort of fun.
Two pages in, I dumped the Chamomile and grabbed a beer.
By the end of the first chapter, I announced, “Screw the beer. Do we have anything stronger?”
It was the most badly-written, God-awful, amateurish piece of crap I have ever seen. It was like reading a sexual fantasy scribbled by a horny seventh grader hiding under his bed with a notebook, flashlight, and box of tissue.
I couldn’t even focus on the action in the story. I was too focused on the almost complete lack of punctuation and the fact that the story kept switching from past to present tense. I kept finding plot holes and bad characterization, poor sentence structure and physically impossible contortions that weren’t sexually appealing at all. Instead of getting turned on, all I got was a desire to attack the book with a red pen and start proofreading the living hell out of it.
I think my eyeballs are bruised. I can’t believe I read that.
I can’t believe I paid money to read that.
With the erotica market so big right now, and the success of books like Fifty Shades of Grey, I have to wonder if the average reader has standards set so low that quality no longer matters in fiction. Are well-written books a thing of the past as long as writers can churn out a steady diet of smut?
Is it worth even trying to take the high road, or am I doomed to failure if my characters aren’t practitioners of BDSM?
There has to be a middle road between a Steeple Hill Christian novel that sings the virtues of virginity, and an Ellora’s Cave sex romp extolling the joys of double penetration with a dwarf and 7-foot mime while swinging from a trapeze under a chocolate waterfall. Is it possible to write and sell a novel with sex scenes that just involve sex . . . in a bed . . . with just two people . . . no ropes or whip crème or furry rodents?
Or is that too boring?
Maybe I should write children’s books. I’m pretty sure Dr Seuss never had this problem.