How I Could Enjoy Literoticabydiggypop©
Ever since I discovered the Internet, and specifically Wikipedia, I've been unable to restrain my compulsion to seek out large amounts of useless information on whatever subject happens to catch my fancy at any given moment. One of the many, many topics I have an odd curiosity about is porn versions of so-called 'straight' entertainment.
I had already been privy to the fact that a porn actress going by the name Krysti Myst had done an entire series of films in which she went by the name, 'Buffy' and the thought suddenly popped into my head, "I bet Wikipedia will know if one of those films is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer parody!"
Well, it turned out they had an entire page devoted to erotic versions of Buffy (a page which no longer exists, by the way), and one of them, improbably enough, was a story on Literotica entitled, "Buffy the She-Male Vampire Slayer." How could I resist? Of course, any time information like that gets posted on Wikipedia, it will almost certainly be tagged for failure to meet notability criteria, which is a shame, because the mere existence of a story with such a title I found damn entertaining, and therefore notable.
I should add that I have always enjoyed written erotica as soon as I was aware of it. For a bookworm like me, it was almost inevitable that my first exposure to explicit sexual material would be in the form of the written word. After all, even Playboy was behind the counter and strictly for adults, and my parent's taste in magazines leaned towards Reader's Digest and Christianity Today (although they've loosened up a lot, to be fair).
So I go to the site, and I read the story. And it is erotic, and I do enjoy it...at first. But it goes on for a while, and it starts to dawn on me that it really doesn't feel like I'm in the universe of Buffy taken a sexual twist. It feels like I'm reading a long, drawn-out series of sexual episodes (some degrading) that uses the names of characters from one of my favorite TV shows to tell a rather bizarre narrative that has neither the humor nor the layers of metaphor I look for from Buffy.
To be fair, I really had no expectations whatsoever until Buffy, newly granted male genitalia (she also keeps her female parts) thanks to her encounter with a demon, thinks to herself, "Now's the time for me to take advantage of Willow's long-term crush on me!" and then goes in search of her friend. Part of me really wanted to see (or read) that happen. But it was pretty obvious, given the number of chapters in the story, that if that occurred, it would be a long, convoluted journey.
I had never really been a peruser of fan fiction, although I was aware of its existence, and I was struck by the disclaimer in the 'Celebrities' section that the stories in said section constituted parodies of the copyrighted works and thus were not copyright violations. An evil idea began to dawn on me...
My first attempt at submission of material to this site was basically unsuccessful. One of the many twisted erotic fantasies I have formulated and indulged in (mentally, I mean) over the years is one based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. For some reason, the idea of turning a girl into a blueberry has an extreme erotic charge to it. The turning blue, the swelling, the squeezing her out -- I have always wished someone would recreate this scene and sexualize it, with an adult actress of course.
With this in mind, I proceeded to write a version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in which each of the naughty children is ensnared, not in a series of traps, but in a series of sexual initiations. Of course, since this site has a strict policy about no one under 18 being involved in sexual situations (except when the editors aren't paying attention, of course) a magic spell to raise them to the proper age was necessary.
Usually, when inspiration hits me, it's more a downpour than a trickle. So at the same time, another idea hit. Use the same premise as my Wonka idea, but set it in Narnia. I had just read a number of scathing criticisms of the Narnia series, and the idea of sending them to a realm where they are confronted by truly grown up things like drugs and sex seemed a lot more moral than drafting them to fight a war, the avoidance of which is after all what had drawn the Pevensie children to that blasted house in the countryside in the first place.
While I planned the Wonka parody as a completed story, it seemed best to write the Narnia series in short chapters, as it was a longer and more involved storyline. Which is how, only three quarters of the way through writing "Charlie and the Other Factory" I submitted the first of my Narnia chapters.
Well, it got rejected, and although the wording of the response was a bit muddled, it seemed clear that magic spells may be all right for plunging children into scenes of bloody combat, but it simply wasn't enough of a smokescreen for Literotica to allow me to initiate Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter into the ways of sex. Even though there are erotic versions of The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland that have somehow made their way on the site, it seemed churlish to argue.
Fast forward several months, and my girlfriend noticed that I never seemed to write any more. Now, I have two novels that I've started and need to finish, but I really felt I needed a fresh start at writing. If nothing else, this site has an utter lack of pretension, and I decided to give another shot to an idea I had back when my dreams of writing scandalous versions of beloved childhood tales had been shattered.
Or, to put it better, set on the back burner. In my heart of hearts, I know if I wanted to set up my very own site with my very own dirty scribblings, I could. I would also be completely on my own in terms of generating an audience. And I would have to take ownership in a way a site like this one allows me to avoid.
Just like plenty of writers in the sixties and seventies wrote stories for pornographic publications that they didn't include on their resumes when submitting stories to the New Yorker, or even Playboy, I can write a story for this site and dismiss it as a harmless piece of fluff that has no real bearing on anything more ambitious I might do.
So I came up with the idea for an erotic version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is derivative enough of the original that I wouldn't want to chance attempting serious publication for money, which is usually when the lawyers show up. But it is still enough of its own work to provide me a great deal of enjoyment in writing it, and I hope others equal enjoyment in reading it.
I tried specifically to match much of the tone of the original, while also creating new characters and trying for a more thorough portrayal of the inner life of each character as appropriate. Unfortunately, there's not much I can do about Ford; he's a pretty shallow character regardless.
And then, out of the blue, another idea occurred to me. It came to me from a variety of places, some crazier than others. One of my regrets is that the religion I was raised in was a very conservative, fundamentalist form of Christianity, and it took me quite a while to get over the idea that sex before marriage is a moral breach comparable with lying or stealing or even striking someone in anger. It has influenced me throughout much of my life, so why not a story?
I also have read interesting speculations about colonies such as Jonestown in Guyana, everything from "It was a CIA plot" to "It was a Vatican plot" (Yes, I know; that one's completely nuts) and find the subject fascinating. The initial ideas I had months ago of "Let's find ways to initiate all these innocents into sex" suddenly had an acceptable (by Literotica's standards) setting. A young man thinks he is going to a Bible summer camp to learn how to be a better Christian. But the people running the camp have a darker agenda. And so the Not Bible Camp series has been born.
It's definitely a slow burner: The main character is deliberately being manipulated to feel higher and higher degrees of sexual arousal and frustration and only his relative naivete and his own immersion in a belief system that specifically retards his sexual development make this manipulation possible. It definitely isn't an excuse to write a bunch of graphic sex scenes, unlike The Erotic Hitchhiker.
And so I am currently writing two stories on this site, one as light and fluffy as I can make it, the other I can even conceive of reworking and publishing for real, without a hint of embarrassment. And that leads me to a potentially thorny topic: the state of writing on this site, and what I think would improve it.
I have seen more than one story on this site start with the disclaimer that the author wrote it for the sheer pleasure of it, and that therefore they wanted no comments on such things as spelling and grammar errors. Certainly I can't fault anyone who simply writes for the sheer pleasure of it, and to be fair, I can usually tell within a paragraph or two if the writing is to my taste or will simply irritate me. Generally when that disclaimer is in place, I seldom bother.
Let me reiterate that it doesn't irritate me that someone would write heedless of care or skill, or that they would choose to do so in such a public format. After all, this site isn't run blindly. If the admins of this site do or don't see fit to publish any story, it doesn't harm me, as long as I get relative clarity regarding what I submit (i.e. will they or won't they publish it, and why).
And I get why someone would choose to do that. Obviously they get pleasure from writing, however hastily, and they like other people telling them THEY got pleasure. They are still risking negative feedback, but the disclaimer makes it relatively unlikely, unless someone particularly cranky and/or offended comes along, and those comments are always discounted.
But occasionally someone will say they do appreciate constructive criticism, and occasionally I will even give what I feel is exactly that. I only do that if I really think the writer in question has the capacity to improve. If I haven't been able to last through two paragraphs, not only is it unfair to criticize, it seems futile. And my unwillingness to read a given story usually isn't simply due to mistakes. They can be like grains of sand, irritating but usually not derailing the impact of the story.
No, for me, what truly sinks most stories on this site are a lack of focus and a lack of conviction. Again, for many on this site, the attention to detail that I value in writing is anathema to the ends they seek from this type of writing. And that's OK. I'm not trying to stop anyone from writing whatever they damn please; like I said, I can generally detect if something isn't to my taste within a couple of paragraphs. And if I lose interest halfway in? Well the story must have had something worthwhile to keep me going that far, so no hard feelings. (Well, that's another reason to stop reading...)
I'm writing to those people that draw me in so far but no farther. Who surprise me with concise detailed descriptions, and yet still leave me bogged down in the forest of their words. Who seem to think a paragraph summing up the protagonist's past is an acceptable substitute for portraying their subject's inner life. And lastly, anyone who has heard but doesn't quite grasp the significance of "Show, don't tell."
So here are my handy-dandy tips on How to write better for Literotica or anyone else. My advice is to take any one of these tips and play with it. Don't think of them as rules: it's not that kind of game. Imagine if you were a magician and someone said, "If you cross your eyes when you cast the teleportation spell, you can get there an hour before you left;" wouldn't you at least try it out? Then, if you decide you don't want to jump back in time, you don't have to. But isn't it nice to know you can?
Step 1. Know what you're writing
This isn't the same as writing what you know. Although this is WAY too simplistic, there are basically two types of stories I see on Literotica. Or rather, there are two types of stories I'm addressing in this essay. The first type is essentially erotic fantasy. This genre has gotten little respect over the years, partly because of where the majority of it has been presented: in the pages of pornographic magazines.
The classic erotic fantasy is written in the form of a letter. If the phrase "I never thought I'd be one of the people who write in to your magazine," sounds familiar, then you are familiar with the form. The primary function of this type of writing is to present a sexual scenario, similar to the scenes that appear in serial pornographic films, such as the Barely Legal series. Occasionally someone will attempt a longer form, similar to 'classic' films like Deep Throat or Behind the Green Door, which attempt to string several scenes together in the form of a story, no matter how disjointed.
The point of these pieces is to present sexual episodes, not to introduce us to complex characters or convey a message. It's fine to include humor, incidental details, evocative descriptions and sharp dialogue to these stories as long as you remember the cardinal rule: if it isn't contributing to the final, climactic scene, which should always be sexual and should always be the most explicit, steamy firecracker of a scene in the entire story, than it doesn't belong.
A general rule is that historical detail, biographical detail, etc should be as brief as possible. If you can fit it all in the opening paragraph, so much the better. This goes for any detail that isn't specifically heightening the erotic appeal of the story.
For example, three paragraphs about how one's ex-wife took the kids in the divorce and the heartbreak that resulted in doesn't really belong in this kind of story. An eighteen year old girl talking about how she used to practice kissing on her pillow and how she looked at her dad's Playboy to see if her breasts were big enough, now you're talking.
Please note, just because I'm using examples that appeal more to heterosexual males, don't think they can't apply to less mainstream erotica. Your own gut is the best guide. If a page-long description of how your character cried themself to sleep every night for a month heightens the arousal factor of the story for you, then go for it. But a lot of the time, details like this appear because people want to pretend they're writing another kind of story.
The other kind of story is, in essence, all the other stories that exist. It's the stories that appear in Analog and Asimov's, Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock's, Twilight Zone, Playboy, New Yorker and Harpers'. It's a story, with the only difference being that it's just a little more explicit sexually than you might find in those magazines, or even a lot more.
(About the only magazine I'm familiar with that regularly published sexually explicit stories that was neither an erotic nor a pornographic magazine was National Lampoon, and, unsurprisingly, the majority of those were humor stories, which, again, is a mainstream genre.)
My point is, in sex fantasies, the point of the story is to lead up to a climactic sex scene, sometimes with almost no preamble, and kick it up to eleven, hopefully with the result that the reader has a release of his or her own. The point of a story is, quite frankly, dependent on each story, but everything in it still needs to contribute to its intended effect, whether surprise, an emotional epiphany, a laugh, or a resolution of a moral dilemma.
In so many of the stories I've seen on this site, a perfectly good sexual fantasy is ruined by someone who's convinced that if they just put in a bunch of stuff about the character's past and how lonely they've been and how they haven't been able to trust anybody and then present the sex scene as their resolution of all these problems, they've got a real story on their hands.
And sometimes what might be a real story if there was a careful, focused attempt to include exactly what was needed and no more, becomes derailed by pornographic detail that only serves to accentuate how little effort was taken to get the actual story down properly. So once again, I reiterate: know what you want to write, and write that. If you've managed to successfully write a hot, dripping fantasy that turns you and everyone who reads it on, you have nothing to be ashamed of, unless it's really DIRTY. Then you should probably be a little ashamed.
Note: If you ARE going to write a sexual fantasy, you could do worse than looking at the classic examples. Hustler still publishes "Hot Letters" as part of the magazine, but the ones from the 1990s to earlier exhibit a wider range and better sense of humor. Penthouse Forum is of course legendary, but they often have a self-consciously 'respectable' veneer which I personally think gets in the way of the arousal factor. Pretty much any magazine that billed itself as 'porn' in the 70s and 80s will have lots of this stuff just because they couldn't show penetration, so they made up for it with dirty stories.
Step 2 Show, don't tell.
This is one of those cliches that has a lot of truth to it, although it's almost as important to know when to disregard it. So, to put it more directly, if it's important, make it concrete; if it's trivia, abstract it or leave it out all together.
Obviously some elements of your story need to be rendered in more detail than others. A car ride in which your mother tells you you're adopted should get a few details to bring it to life. A cab ride that's changing the scene of your bachelor party from an apartment to a strip club, not so much.
As a writer, you are God. That can be a pretty heady thrill. But we westerners have gotten a little too used to the idea that God is automatically good, rather than just powerful. The, "It's true because I said so" attitude can lead to a lot of lazy writing.
Anybody can write, "Jim woke up that morning depressed." There is an attitude behind sentences like that one, one that's often unintentional. It says, "I don't really give a shit what it means to be depressed. If you want to know the meaning, look it up in the dictionary. I've already spent all the time I want to on how it feels to be my character."
Contrast that with, "Jim's eyes came open, slowly and reluctantly. He had never been so uncertain that he even wanted to get out of bed as he was that morning. He attempted to psych himself up by thinking of all the tasks he needed to perform, everything from brushing teeth to eating breakfast, but the sheer number of steps involved in getting ready for a day he didn't especially welcome made him more tired than ever."
Remember that your job is not just to create the world of your story, but to guide your readers around in it. Have empathy for both your audience and your characters.
Note: This rule has a particular application for the sex fantasy. Any time you want your readers to see a little movie in their head, you MUST provide them with detail. Paint a picture, and don't wait until the clothes are off to do it. Unless you start with them naked, in which case the reader better be able to see everything in that bedroom, or wherever else the action happens.
3. Every so often, ask: Who sees & who says?
There are a gazillion different perspectives one can write from. As authoritative as the omniscient third person is, it can rob your narrative of focus if you aren't careful.
One peculiarity of this universe is that for something to count as an observable fact, it must be observed. Now, there are a lot of things we count as facts that haven't been directly observed, but are merely extrapolated from things that have been. A needle jiggles and we say we've detected an electric charge. Another one jiggles and we say, "Ah, a seismic wave!" A tree that falls unseen may very well exist, but events in stories have to be observed by someone.