It Ain't Literaturebyfishgullet©
What is the difference between a good story and a bad one? With so many different preferences and perversions percolating among the aficionados of this site, what one person enjoys another may detest. The best erotica is not the sex, but how the story of sex.
Many works that would have been good stories have been sabotaged by poor grammar. On one hand grammar is little more than an arbitrary set of rules of how words should be combined and notated. On the other hand grammar is the best and most flexible system for communicating your ideas: these rules make your thoughts accessible to strangers who do not know the inflections of your speech, your regional dialect, or your idiosyncrasies. Grammar is only a skill and although there are many rules, grammar is a task for craftsmen, not a gift for artists.
Grammar has no inherent mystery or hidden tricks – it is just learning the skill sets. Learn to spell, learn the difference between dependent and independent clauses, and nail down the rules of comma usage. Only after these rules are applied accurately will the reader be able to understand the quality of your thoughts and story. No one has a clue what you are saying without good grammar
The quality – after grammar that is the crux of the dilemma that the writer faces. The stories on this site are not the high literature that draws the attention of self-appointed cultural elites and few, if any, are complaining. Good writing does not have to be high literature. Erotica can be a part of the best literature in the world and pornography can be the worst, but do not make the mistake of assuming that high literature is always or even necessarily the best. (I think some of the grand literature is obtuse, obscure, and often just plain boring.) The best writing is the stories and essays that move you, that push you to think and feel and imagine what you have never considered before.
If I may make a generalization, most of the writing on this site is dedicated to "getting your rocks off." Unless designated as non-erotic, you and I already know that in any given story, someone is going to have an orgasm, which means that we already know the climax of the story. Ooo, bad pun. Not a bad endeavor in and of itself (I enjoy it), but it is also true that sex is just one element among many of the human condition.
The stories may be about sex but without other elements of human life, the stories fall flat. Sex scenes without any context may be great for horny teenagers and hard up social conservatives who must hide their proclivities behind the façade of their anti-pornography crusade, but such scenes lack the other crucial elements that are necessary for good storytelling for the rest of us. As one critic quipped, "These stories are a limp dick."
Many writers presented on this site fail to grasp the conclusion of Master and Johnson's research that the most important sexual organ is the brain. Yes, the brain is key and not the cock, pussy, ass, breast, leg, big toe or even the precocious earlobe. Unless the brain is incorporated into the seduction, the rest of the body does not respond. Consider the small truth that creatures without brains do not have sex, they engage in mitosis.
So pervasive is this need to stimulate the brain for sex, that the collective human mind will look anywhere and everywhere for stimulants. Individuals have made fetishes out of every object found on face of the earth, hence the phrase used above "getting your rocks off." The human form is not always enough and thus we invent stories, purchase toys, and use our imagination to find eroticism in whatever we have at hand. Wood, rope, office buildings, cigars, clothes, music and water, are just a smidgen of the objects one can find in the stories here that hold or add to some trigger of lust. I would not be surprised that there is some Eskimo out in the artic wilderness who finds walrus farts humorously erotic (and I can't wait to read that story).
A good story is one that stimulates the brain, not just the crotch. Human beings are by definition curious. We want to know why the protagonist is acting in this manner or how the circumstances came about or even why should we care about what happens. We already know the orgasm, a really good one no doubt, will be forthcoming. This imagining is more than adding adjectives and adverbs, this is the material that gives a story weight and depth. When human beings interact a tension exists between the players, and it is within this tension that the attraction between the players grows and develops – for good or for bad. If there is no tension, then there is no story worth telling, no matter how long the orgasm is.
After reading many stories, a pattern of formula plots and redundancy emerges. Sad though it seems to admit it, there really is a finite number of ways to achieve orgasm. The difference between a bad story and a good one is the other elements of the human condition that are activated in the course of achieving pleasure. The human condition is all of the passions, emotions, rationalizations, hopes, failures, musings and strivings that are part of human existence. To move from loneliness to love is one of the most popular dynamics of the human soul or from remorse to forgiveness, or lust to love just to name a few of the positive ones. The negative dynamics like violence to revenge, or power to corruption are all the more compelling – if the writer can pull it off convincingly. Sex may be redundant and repetitive, but all of these other parts of our lives are limitless possibilities.
Many commentators condescendingly conclude that the writer must have new and original ideas to make a good story or essay. Even more, these same commentators claim that each piece of writing must include many new ideas, some magical number of more than one. (Of course if all the critics on the sidelines are saying the same thing, they are failing to acknowledge their own lack of creativity.) "New," "original" and "creative" are stumbling blocks, false deities if you will. All of these words such as "new," "original" and "creative" should describe the act of the writer looking at the same damn things that everyone else does, but describing them in his own unique words, his own self-contained view.
When the writer uses everyone else's words, clichés and phrases, he is just pulling pieces from previous stories and recombining them into another story. That is not writing, that is mental masturbation. Many who wrestle with writing original works explain the difficulty of trying to find the right word or phrase in any given sentence as "trying to fit a square peg in a round hole." Everyone struggles and most of us will go through several drafts until a polished piece emerges. Ernest Hemmingway reportedly quipped that the beauty of text emerges in the eleventh draft! And neither you nor I are Ernest Hemmingway.
If you want to write works of fiction, erotic or otherwise, then be prepared to sweat and slave over a text and be willing to put in the hours and days that are necessary to polish a story. The pious editor who closes the book of Ecclesiastes warns:
"Slow down, my son, and be warned
The making of many books is without limit
And much investigation is wearying of the flesh."