Most interesting article on, “Erotica, Pornography and Everything In-between.”
Sex is an important part of any adult life. It’s a way to connect with the people we love, it’s a way to tap into our animalistic and more base desires, and it’s a way to live out fantasies in the privacy of our own bedrooms. But how do you write about sex? What makes a good sex scene? How much is too much, and what’s the difference between a standard sex scene, erotica and pornography? Let’s talk about sex, baby.
EROTICA, PORNOGRAPHY AND EVERYTHING IN-BETWEEN
To me, the difference between what you’d call erotica, pornography and everything else—well, they really aren’t that great. Like with anything else we write about, sex scenes are designed to provoke an emotional and physical response. And the expected response to written sex is usually arousal. That’s not always the case, of course, and we’ll get into some of the secondary reasons to write a sex scene, but for the most part when we write about sex to arouse.
I haven’t read a ton of pornography, but the writing I have glanced at seems to have one goal in mind—to get you off. It’s the same with adult films. Sure, there are adult movies “for women” that have stories, art direction, better lighting and actual plots, but for the most part, pornography is the graphic depiction of sex acts. It’s the same in books as it is in the movies. Typically, the language is simple, focused on what’s happening in an almost play-by-play manner, and the story is secondary.
Erotica is the flowery cousin to pornography, with graphic sex acts depicted in a language that is elevated. There is certainly good erotica out there– well-written stories with plots and characters– but for many people the “purple prose” is overdone, and the realistic nature can be almost laughable. Heaving bosoms and turgid erections can be anything but sexy.
What separates the sex scenes that I write, and the kind of writing that I enjoy reading, is the fact that the sex is not the entire story. You are not reading Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis for a hot shower scene; it’s just one moment in time, one aspect of a life fully lived. In my opinion, for a sex scene to work, there needs to be a fully realized world built around it. We are not reduced to our body parts—we are complicated people with needs and desires. We are damaged and we are pure. We are complex in our fetishes—and our orgasms are some of the most vulnerable and yet expressive moments of our lives. Done right, sex is intense, and it should be the same in your writing.