There are three things I value in erotic writing, and I try to keep them in sight as goals, and work to achieve them.
There’s a sort of proverb among classical music conductors, “If you want a piece of music to sound faster, play it slower.”
The proverb means that classical music orchestral scores, if they’re worth playing at all, are full of little details that are passed over, undetectable, when you play it quickly, but that emerge and become part of the line, a more ornate line, if the music is played slow enough for the details to emerge.
Erotica is like classical music, if it’s any good, too. It moves slowly, and in detail. In one example, I wrote about a man and woman meeting in a kitchen, where he intends to interview her about a violent gang she once belonged too. They realise that they are sexually interested in each other, and that they are both kinky in complementary ways. At that stage they know that eventually they’re going to go upstairs to her bedroom.
But they spend at least 100 pages in the kitchen, discovering each other, slowly getting more and more excited, before they finally leave that room.
That’s because I’m interested in the erotic details of his and her reactions to the other, and the decisions that they have to make before they are committed to do something. By then they know that if they act on their desire it’s going to change both of their lives.
For example, at one moment she puts her jersey over his head – she’s wearing nothing underneath it – and he admires her breasts, of course, but he also becomes fascinated by the pattern made by the sunlight shining through the weave and dappling her skin.
Erotic writing is a kind of poetry. The words should carry more than their usual weight of meaning. At the same time, of course, it should never sound “poetic”. You try for the art that conceals art, but reveals truth. And hotness. Well, I don’t know what you do. I mean, “I try.”
The second thing I like about my best erotic writing, and that I always aim for, is “no inflatable darlings”. I’ll talk about what I mean by that, this time next week.