I loved Angela’s post yesterday about Barbara Carrellas’s sexuality/spirituality workshop. In fact, she reminded me of the sheer amounts of women who read and enjoy gay male erotica. (Check out articles and discussions on this, if you’re interested). In fact, there are whole presses who claim that their gay male erotica regularly sells to female readers. It seems that the same goes for gay male porn. And then we have the common notion, as Angela reminded us below, that it is common for heterosexual men to be aroused by women having sex with women. So what does all this suggest about sexual desire?
As an erotic writer and erotic writing instructor, I have my own theory: Desire is hot. Period.
This is why I often ask my writing students whether they’re writing from inside their characters, regardless of what their sexual or gender identity might be. A talented erotic writer will enter a character’s sexuality so fully that they feel their sheer longing. And then, such writers can get turned on by their character’s desires — their vulnerability, sensations, power, compulsions… It’s the same if you’re writing non-erotic fiction. When a good writer is creating a character who longs to become a lawyer, the writer doesn’t have to long to be a lawyer in real life. But they do have to tap their character’s desire. Empathy is key.
That’s why, in my erotic writing seminars, the first task demonstrates that desire is what makes a scene hot. To hell with body parts! This is about feeling compelled, smitten, thrust into a mindset we can barely control. That is what makes a scene hot. That is what makes a scene human.
I come across a lot of erotica that focuses more on body parts and inner sensations than it does on actual desire. And I never find it as hot. Besides, if there isn’t a story behind the erotic scene, with high stakes, crushing needs, and characters that feel real, how will we ever buy the sexiness?
Sure, you can read Nabakov’s Lolita just for the sex scenes. But why on earth would you want to? You, hopefully, are not the sort of person who would seduce a real-life underage girl…yet Humbert Humbert’s longing is compelling, and the reader, if they are brave enough, can connect to his longing.
So if you find a writer (or filmmaker, or actor, or artist etc.) who has the guts to enter their character’s longing so deeply that you, as a reader, feel it too, please get them to send us their work!
Because baby, we want the real thing.