|Of Geese and Ganders, Baits and Switches|
|Written by Amanda Gannon|
|Tuesday, 31 January 2012 04:30|
Not a fucking fish
Something that has occurred to me as I'm plotting my next work, something that might go here, or which I might send to an actual erotica publisher: I'm going to be going back and forth, in this one, between sadistic and painful sex that is quasi-consensual at best, to affectionate and totally consensual (and still occasionally a little kinky) sex. And it occurred to me how very few dedicatedly erotic/pornographic books I have seen that take this tack.
Once you go down the rabbit hole, the reasoning goes, it's Wonderland all the way. Once you go full on pirate-abduction three-way bisexual ravishing, you can't go back to shy kissing and "May I please touch your boobs?"
It ties in with the idea that one has to keep upping the ante; rising action, and all that. And those are, of course, important principles to keep in mind when writing. They work.
But I don't think it's a matter of prematurely putting the cat back in the bag, as it were. I don't think that a tender, heartfelt, slightly awkward sex scene is necessarily a step back in terms of action, or down in terms of tension.
I think scenes like that serve to remind us of the norm that the other scenes deviate from. I think that's important. And I think it is important for the characters to have something like a normal sex life at least some of the time to keep the reader grounded in a narrative that feels believable, and to help keep the reader interested in, invested in, the characters' status quo.
Furthermore, it is a simple thing to reveal your viewpoint character's sexual history, as point of view renders the reader privy to whatever thoughts you choose to put into the character's mind. A good narrative, however, has a number of interesting non-viewpoint characters who will share in the plot -- by which I mean hot, nasty sex -- and we are somewhat hampered in a story heavy with pretty freaky sexual practices by not having an easy connection to those characters' thoughts. So comparatively not-freaky sex scenes do serve to show us what is normal for the other important characters in the story.
Also, a character who begins sexually naive and is thrown straightaway down the rabbit hole of belt-strappings and buttsex starts things off unbalanced, and without some regular-type sex somewhere the reader and character both are going to be fumbling around wondering just what the hell normal even means in this story. So much of the thrust of so many bondage-y D/S stories revolves around being unwilling, to some degree. That's great and all, but if we never get a chance to see what the character wants, if the character never gets a chance to figure that out, we're missing some important and, I think, interesting pieces of the puzzle.
But I can't shake the notion that if I want this book to find a place, the place it deserves – on every shelf! – I need to focus it more. Pare away what does not need to be there, what won't appeal to my intended audience. And there's the rub. What's the audience for this? Not-kinky folks, who will presumably have little interest in a kink-driven narrative? Or kinky folks, who are presumably jaded and may have little interest in the subtleties of sex with no D/S or S/M overtones?
I think that's an unfair division, really. I support a more rounded approach to the type of sexual content on offer in any given chapter, just as I believe that dividing narratives up into straight romance/erotica/porn and gay romance/erotica/porn is wrong, and that a lot of people do want to see more variety in their sexy reading material. That's the market I want to appeal to.
But conventional wisdom does not agree with my ideas about the flexibility of erotica readers' tastes, and looking at what gets published – and publisher's guidelines – would seem to indicate that they don't agree, either. It is a smaller group. Targeting a popular niche in your chosen genre and hitting it with all you have is a good way to get noticed, build a name. You'd think writing stuff that isn't as easy to pin down, that isn't as focused on one kind of sex and one orientation, would broaden your audience, but it isn't necessarily so. That stuff has wide appeal, I absolutely believe it does, but it is hell on earth to market, especially when you are doing all your PR and marketing yourself. How do you sell it when you don't know what to call it?
My work – and Paul's – has always suffered from a sort of barnacle-goosiness, has always been neither fish nor fowl. We've always had a hard time finding a home for it: too long, too kinky, not hetero enough, not enough romance, too much plot, and so on. And so we made a home for it here, hoping that people would respond.
This book . . . I suppose I will have to carve out a place for it, a place where there currently isn't anything. Which is kind of what we're doing all around. We do have a name for it now. Adventurotica.
Now's the part where we get to live up to that!
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2012 05:45|