Erotica is sequestered in its literary ghetto largely by a cultural squeamish about sex. Even among otherwise mature people the topic of S-E-X—don’t say it aloud!—turns them into blushing adolescents. This creates an intrinsic thorniness in writing sexual prose—even in tales of the most vanilla carnal exertions—we won’t even broach the kinky stuff—that hamstrings the author before she even writes, “Once upon a time.” With all that going against the storyteller, it may be tempting to declare, “Fuck it—why bother with a lot of structure and character development when nobody respects the effort?” That would be understandable, would it not?
Perhaps. But perhaps instead isn’t that just an excuse to be lazy, to put in as little work as possible? No, don’t be silly! After all, most of our readers just want minimal exposition, a hot fantasy and enough florid description to stroke off a seismic orgasm, right?
Surely some readers do. Just as there are legions of “filmmakers” with cheap camcorders shooting unscripted badly-lit pimply amateurs replete with cellulite, and selling it to wankers inured to digital dreck because if its pervasiveness, there are countless hacks spewing their jackoff fantasies onto Wordpad, uploading their rough draft to Kindle and calling it “erotica.” This is akin to coating a turd with golden spray paint, mounting it on a cheap walnut base and calling it an “award.” On free sites like Fictionmania or Literotica—where the Google description reads, “porn storys updated daily”—I don’t expect any better, and I certainly won’t waste my time sifting through all the “awards” to find a genuine piece of erotic prose. (I know there’s a little good writing on those sites but not a lot.)
However, when you’re paying it should be different. Nobody who pays for erotica should settle for amateur hour, yet sadly many do because of the dearth of quality erotica in the market. Why might this be? Again we should consider the chilling effect that shame and fear might have on many skilled writers that stays their hand from publishing erotica, ceding the market to countless horny typists with no credentials beyond a C+ in high school English and an almost charming ignorance of their own mediocrity.
Do I sound cynical and vexed? I hope so. Anyone who’s wasted their money and their precious time on slovenly prose should be. Anyone who enjoys literate erotica with actual storytelling, characterization and emotional content should resent all the crap out there. Every hamfingered typist with delusions of authorhood only serves to diminish the entire genre when they presume to sell their… er, “work.”
I’ve been writing professionally (i.e. getting paid) for over a decade and only recently forayed into erotica—under a nom de plume, regrettably—and I am shocked at what I’ve seen for sale. Crap tends to find its own level in the mainstream literary market, but in the erotica world its very anonymity and undeserved cloak of shame have given harbor to those with no business selling their scratchings.
What can you do? If you’re a literate consumer of erotica the first thing you can do is demand better. If you buy from Amazon Kindle and the story sucks—you’ll know after the first page or two—get a refund or at the very least leave an honest review. If a truly bad story gets even a couple of critical reviews, sometimes the writer has enough pride (or at least sense) to pull it down for a rewrite. Conversely, if an author has crafted a hot, edgy, entertaining title, encourage him or her with a positive review, click Like and tell other readers…
Of course, since it’s erotica, that ol’ “shame” thing might slow you down. Quel dommage.
Crystal Veeyant is the pseudonym of a professional journalist and published author who writes in the mainstream, both fiction and non-fiction. Behind closed doors she loves to craft intense, graphic “literary porn” with gender transgressing characters - transsexuals, crossdressers, “shemales” and so on - that unflinching explores kinky themes such as BDSM.
Her website may be found at http://crystal-erotica.com/.