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Setting as Character in Erotica


You have a hot character or two. You have an awesome plot with a surprising and touching ending, and some absolutely sizzling sex scenes! You are nearly there in writing a story or book deserving a 5-star review, but so far, it's only a 4. Lots of your competitors' stories have sizzling hot sex scenes, believable characters, and great plots. And after a while, in my own humble opinion, these stories start sounding the same. The plot and the characters are well drawn, they hang together nicely, but something is missing. One way to push it to the top of the scale is to make it a tearjerker, but that's not my point here. I suggest that you use all the tools at your disposal, and be subtle when you manipulate your readers. An important tool to do this is the setting of your story.

Now setting is a bit like salt: a little goes a long way. Believe me, I've made that mistake. I speak from experience. That's why I recommend the Goldie Locks approach. You know: not too much, not too little, just... enough.

The setting in which your characters act out their erotic and romantic trysts is just as important in immersing your readers in the story as giving just the right hints of what the characters look like, and how they act. Setting is definitely a hidden character. Think about it: a guy and a girl meeting in a crowded, neon light-drenched supermarket will act just a bit differently towards each other than they might were they to meet on a winding trail, sunlight peaking through the tree canopy in the mountains. In the supermarket, even if they acknowledge each other, they might barely nod as they push their carts around the aisles. Packages of frozen peas are not sexy, and Johnson's baby oil is a bit over the top and clichéd. In the woods, soft shadows playing across their faces, they might stop and exchange some chitchat about the trail, drink some water, get to know each other in a more relaxed way.

The couples playing games relaxing in the privacy of their own home will act differently than the couple exploring a sex club for the first time. Setting affects our mood: it can comfort or menace, it can encourage playfulness or suspicion, exploration or introversion. Think about how you feel when you wake up on a sunny day in an old timey wood cabin on the banks of a lake, birds chirping outside your window, as opposed to in the same wood cabin set on top of a peak in a lightning storm, thunderbolts echoing off the other mountain peaks. Weather is a great reflector of mood, and setting can affect whether your characters will choose to do one thing or another: be introverted or extroverted, reflectively quiet or boisterously outgoing.

I was once camping with friends on the bank of a beautiful mountain lake, enjoying the serenity of the place. One of us had brought his wife and three-year old kid. As we were falling asleep, a biker in a tent next to our tents in the campground started banging his girlfriends -- yes, at least two of them. Loudly! Let's just say we all felt like we were right there with them. Or they with us. I need to turn that one into a story some day. But I digress...

Dwelling too much on the setting can easily distract from the story -- in one of my stories I got rather carried away describing a scuba diving trip because I wanted to give readers who'd never been diving a feel for what it's like. I went overboard, so to speak. Less is more. A little bit goes a long way. Doling it out in teaspoon quantities and then sprinkling more throughout the story, as needed, is the way to go. Some of the best writers of thrillers and spy novels, for example Raymond Chandler or John Le Carré or Len Deighton, are masters at using setting as a character in the story. Their settings can be gray and murky and smoky, and so realistic you can smell the cigarettes on the fingers of a shady character or the sex in the air at a club where a burn is in progress. They use setting to service the plot. I meant, to further the plot!

In her novel Out of Africa one of my favorite writers, Isak Dinesen, described her coffee plantation in the African wilderness so well that I could hear the rustle of the wind through the tall savannah grass and dream I was there, sharing gin and tonics with her and her other guests on the porch of her house. She was truly poetic in her descriptions. But those same descriptions would be much too distracting in a thriller or mystery novel, or in many erotic stories. I would skip right over them to get to the good parts instead of savoring them, rolling them on my tongue like a piece of slow-melting hard candy.

So choose your setting wisely, describe it sparingly, but make it vivid. And let the characters loose to have their sex and eat it, too. Cake! I meant cake!

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bylegerdemer© 3 comments/ 6274 views/ 7 favorites
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by Anonymous

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by PurplePlunger09/04/18

I think that you've highlighted the esensuals

Nice description of what's required. Thank you

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