My three rules for a hot story
Guest Post By Paris Rivera
If you take a few shapes – a line here, a circle there – and place them in a certain order, you may find that certain changes occur in the brains and bodies of those who examine these shapes.
That, I suppose, is the magic of erotica. By arranging these things we call ‘letters’ in the right order, you can bring a lot of pleasure – and even physiological changes – to the reader.
But getting those letters in the right order is not all that easy!
If it were just a case of describing sex between two (or more!) people, then every other person would be able to sell thousands of erotica books.
Which raises the age-old question: what is it that makes a story sexy!
Well, that’s obviously a very personal question. You know what they say: different strokes for different folks!
But I’ll tell you a few things that I think make for a sexy story. I’ve published more than 60 http://parisrivera1.wordpress.com/ books of lesbian erotica, and and now two audiobooks, which incidentally are fabulous fun to do. (There are some wonderful – and superfriendly – narrators out there!)
So let me give you my three ‘rules’ for a sexy story. This would pretty much apply across the board – it doesn’t have to be lesbian erotica.
Number 1: Build the Tension. There has to be something that stands in the way of just ripping our clothes off and getting straight down to it.. How interesting would we find Romeo and Juliet if the Capulets and the Montagues went out for pizza every Friday night?! These obstacles to love – or lust – obviously don’t have to take the form of gang warfare. It might just be two people who drawn to each other but constrained by a public train (as in my story Strangers on a Train). Or it might be a meeting between a sexy college professor and one of her students (If You Say So, Professor).
Another thing that might set people apart – and ramp up the erotic tension – is an age difference. I find the dynamic between a woman of, say, 35 and another of around 20 is incredibly sexy. Don’t ask me why! If you want to pay for my ‘shrink’ sessions, I’ll give you a proper answer!
Another element of tension might come when a married woman is tempted to try a ‘first time’ with another woman, as in my story A Second Awakening. Will she? Won’t she? Should she? Shouldn’t she? We kind of know which way it’s going to go (this is erotica, after all). But the tension is still important.
I think the importance of erotic tension is part of why stories with a ‘taboo’ are so popular. I personally don’t get into some of the really ‘taboo’ areas, but I know a lot of people do.
So let me get to rule number two: Do the Dance. This is related to building the tension, but I love it when two characters talk playfully and teasingly, dancing around the idea, the possibility, of a seduction. Sometimes the ‘upper-hand’ can change in mid-story: to me, this is more interesting than a piece where someone is clearly ‘domme’ and someone clearly ‘sub’. A good example is my story Your Bath is Ready, Madame, where the French maid gets to play at being in charge while the Englishwoman who has hired her for a massage humbly and teasingly searches for the ‘soap’. Since the French girl is fully clothed and in the bath at the time, the erotic tension is pretty intense. A fabulous example of an erotic bath scene (and a bit of an age difference as well) is Madeleine Stone’s very arousing and pleasingly literary novel Tangled.
Another example of ‘the dance’ is my ‘mile high’ story, Unfasten Your Belts. As the story unfolds, a sexy businesswoman with a confident manner and a husky voice is suggesting to Julie, a young student just dumped by her boyfriend, that a bit of massage might help to relax her during the flight. Julie is reluctant but Samantha persists:
The wine arrived and they both sipped thirstily. Samantha turned to Julie once more: “But why not, dear? Why not give it a go?”
“Well, for a start it’s a public plane.”
“That’s true, but as far as I’m aware there’s no law against a shoulder massage.”
“Oh, a shoulder massage, I see!”
Samantha gave a smile that she hoped was alluring: “Why, what were YOU thinking?!”
The fun – and the heat – of the scene comes partly from Julie’s resistance to the idea of a massage, and the fact that at some deep level she is deeply intrigued and her imagination is actually running riot!
That brings me to rule number three for making a sexy scene: You gotta care for the characters. (And that means that, at some level, they’ve probably got to care for each other). We don’t have to be too ambitious or pretentions here: writing erotica is not like writing War and Peace! But if you cannot identify with the emotions and passions of the people in a story, it will probably leave you pretty cold. That’s also where the dance comes in: I like it when characters can show their humor. And I think it’s sexy when one character conspicuously cares for another: it might be a massage; looking after them when they’re sick; letting them sleep (Gym Crush); helping them get over someone; putting them at ease; helping them to learn; whatever. To me, that’s sexy.
Call me weird, but erotica can be nice. While Fifty Shades did clearly create some characters that were compelling for very large numbers of people, my approach is a very long way from the weird ‘torture chamber’ in E. L. James’s blockbuster.
And that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?