Stories have happy endings. They also have snappy opening lines, the introduction of some characters, a crisis and it resolution and then the happy ending. If that sounds like a recipe for a soap opera, then that is because it is one. I also imagine that this is the kind of thing that gets taught in creative writing classes, which is why I have always avoided them like the plague.
The 'My Lady Grotesque' series that I have contributed to Literotica and which I may come back to with more episodes, has received almost entirely positive responses, mostly from male readers I suspect (some of them are anonymous and anonymous never discloses his/her gender), for they are very male point of view stories.
They have little in the way of story. All I do is put them together and leave them to get on with it. The focus is overwhelmingly on the erotic activities that the characters indulge in. In each story, I introduce a new character and let them get down to it with 'Lady' and 'The Adventurer.' I say 'characters', but they are all completely one dimensional, and I wrote them like that deliberately. The flatness of the characters was deliberate, because I wanted to focus on two characters, and a few others, purely in terms of their erotic adventures together.
The stories are about their erotic adventuring and describe in detail their sexual activities, and the more off the mainstream, the more I enjoyed writing the detailed descriptions. And it is in describing the sex that you can be inventive with language and image, but don't go too far. There is no subject on earth about which it is so easy to write badly. I once saw Anthony Burgess in a TV interview, talking about D. H. Lawrence, and Burgess argued that no one has been able to describe orgasm. I agree with him. The best word for it is 'come' and everyone knows what that feels like.
At the same time, I hope that the lingering descriptions of their bodies and parts of their bodies and what they are doing with them reflect on the characters, because they are concerned with every detail of what they do, because they are first and foremost erotic aesthetes, for whom sex is spectacle and display; pleasure without responsibility. And as such, they are people who are very aware of their own bodies and the body's potential for pleasure.
This is why story and other detail are kept to a minimum. It does not matter what kind of car 'Lady' drives, or whether she prefers tea or coffee with her breakfast. It does not matter what job 'The Adventurer' does. That they desire each other is never directly explained; they just do; and enough of the why of it comes out in the stories. They exist only in as much as they have sex with each other and they share a common pursuit of erotic adventuring and experimentation. There is nothing those two and their friends would not do in search of the next great experience.
Where did the characters come from? 'The Adventurer' is a version of myself; as I once was, for a while, though of course a very partial and incomplete version. 'Lady' is based on a woman I saw at a cinema shortly before I wrote the first of the stories. In that woman at the cinema a great many fantasies and memories of past experiences of mine coalesced with present desire and I wished that I could have approached her and picked her up; and she was there for the taking, but I am attached now and those adventuring days are over. And what I was unable to have, I wrote about instead.
At the same time, she is also all of the mature and overdone women I have ever seen. To me there is something glorious about them, in their refusal to be old, and at the same time something sad in the acceptance Lady has of getting old and the knowledge of what beautiful things she is losing; most of all herself. Sex is life-affirming, and she does it to remind herself that she is still alive. The knowledge and the acceptance are the dark underside of the stories and all good stories need that darkness, or at least a hint towards it, to give them substance and reality.
One thing that was striking about the feedback I received for those stories was that no one thought it a strange or perverted taste to find a woman of advanced years, who dressed and behaved like a decadent seventeen year old, erotically exciting and highly desirable; as 'The Adventurer' does. And that is encouraging, because it underlines the point that media stereotypes of beauty and sexiness are not what a great many people find either beautiful or sexy. One commenter even said that readers should not expect a 60 year old woman to be lithe and toned from decades in the gym and look 50. That is exactly what I meant. The great part of Lady's desirability is in the attitude she has to her decaying body.
Before I move on, I will make one more remark about the characters in my 'Lady' stories. The spirit of them and the scenarios are based on swinging experiences I had ten or twelve or so years ago with a number of middle aged and late middle aged couples. What interested me about these people, who were all very nice and very 'normal' and well adjusted was how relaxed an attitude they had to sex and swinging. They could handle it and they were mostly experienced at it, and the fact that they were so relaxed about it was because they had faced up to the reasons within themselves why they wanted to do it; and they had been honest with themselves. And I quickly learned that I enjoyed having sex with women twenty or thirty years older than I was then and I even found it comfortable for their husbands to be watching or joining in.
Sex can be cathartic and liberating, but it is never only those things. Again, the darker underside should be at least implied through allusion or the refusal of happy and too easy closure. The only closure is death, and of course, sex and death are close relations. If you don't believe me, read Freud, read Bataille.
My 'An Unexpected Meeting' stories are based on one situation I was in and a couple I knew as swinging partners, though they were not in fact my neighbours, and I never knew them before, during or after our swinging encounters, other than as a late fifties couple who I met at a nudist club and had sex with the wife while her husband watched, took photographs and sometimes joined in. And it was a very happy set up, while it lasted. But there is also a darker underside to breaking boundaries and taboos, and swingers negotiate with those; sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The people I met had done it successfully and were having a lot of fun that they could handle.
The story I have written for this site that I like most is 'Leggy Lola', because I think it raises an issue that is 'problematic'; the sexualities of disabled people, and the ethics of desiring them as that affects able bodied people who find amputees erotically exciting; as do the men Lola has sex with in her role as an escort. And I also think it succeeds in raising that issue without being didactic or preachy. I chose an ambiguous ending, with Lola saying something about her 'relationship' with Stephen that is ultimately evasive, and I thus avoided a happy ending. I also avoided getting too deeply into the ethics of the situation, and I was surprised that no one who read the story picked up on that. I'm not sure if I'm pleased or disappointed that no one has.
The story of Lola came from two different story ideas. I wanted to write a story about a disabled woman and her dealing with the relationship between her sexuality and her disability, and I also wanted to write a story about a prostitute. I could not find what I thought was an interesting way of writing either of them, until one day I suddenly had the idea of combining them. The interest in writing a story about a prostitute came from my own interest in prostitutes, and the idea to write a story about an amputee woman came from seeing pornographic images of amputee women on a website. What struck me about those images was that if a woman is attractive, limbs or no limbs; she is attractive, but at the same time it is impossible to ignore that fact that she is an amputee. And I wondered why can't that in some way be erotically interesting?
The story I least like among my contributions to Literotica is 'Late Spring Interlude.' I dislike it because it is dishonest. I wrote it to appeal to as wide a number of readers as possible, and it worked. It is thus calculated and not seeking to identify or explore something that I think is interesting about erotic life and erotic possibilities. The only vaguely redeeming feature of 'Late Spring Interlude' in my eyes is that it has an ambiguous ending. The rest of it is formulaic and manipulative trash. It remains one of my highest scoring stories in the voting. I am very glad that it is not the highest.
I have one happy ending story that I like: 'Every Woman is Desirable.' I knew that if a made a half decent job of writing it, it would get a good response; and from larger ladies and those who love them. What makes it different from 'Late Spring Interlude' is that it is honest. It is based on a real experience of my own, though adapted to the needs of the story, and the climatic scene is something I did, to the surprise and delight of the lovely lady with whom I shared that experience. That story has a happy ending because that is the ending that naturally follows the story that comes before it.
The types of stories I like to read on Literotica are the less self-consciously 'writerly' ones. I much prefer and I am much more aroused by, stories that get to the (erotic) point as quickly as the story in question allows, and I always enjoy rawness in the writing more than the studied and the rule-following. Snappy opening lines, a few stereotypical characters and a crisis and a cheap and easy resolution soap opera plot with a bit of sex thrown in to justify posting the piece to an erotic fiction site turns me off completely. Save that for the creative writing class, or better still, write non-erotic fiction. A story does not have to have a plot (see Joyce's Ulysses), characters do not have to have great depth (see the complete novels of Charles Dickens), and stories do not have to have happy endings (see Anna Karenina); and especially not easy, unearned and sentimental ones. However, if you want to win competitions, stick to the creative writing class formulas.
Write for yourself, above all, and some readers will like what you write, and what they will like most about what you write, is its honesty, and its refusal to pull the usual levers to get the cheap and easy effects. And write the way you want to: the story will tell you how it wants to be written, so listen to the voice in your head telling you.
So what I am asking for in erotic writing? Make it real; though that does not mean that it has to be based on experience. None of my stories is a straight narrative of something that actually happened, though all of them have their origin in something I have done or someone I have met or something I have desired.
Never include any storyline or even any tiny detail that is not in some way contributing to an 'explanation' why the people in the story are having sexual relations with each other.
Remember that happy situations and troubled situations with easy and unconvincing happy endings don't make for good story material. Where is the problem? Where is the tension? Where are the questions? Ask yourself a simple and at the same time very difficult question: what is sex about?
What should be in a story? Well, obviously, some kind of erotic situation or a series of erotic situations. Beyond that, there should be nothing that is not contributing to the centre piece of the story, which is the sex. In choosing place, make the place say something about the characters and the kind of sex that they have and why they are having it. Only introduce a plot line if it leads up to the sex and in some way throws light on why the sex is being had.
Avoid at all costs a storyline that is really no more than a vehicle for sex scenes. The story needs to carry the sex, but it needs to be closely related with it. Everything that happens in the story, everything that the characters say, think and do, should be explaining enough of who they are and what they are, to explain why they are having sex with each other.
Equally, every detail should be doing its work and earning its keep; if it isn't, cross it out. I give an example from one of my 'Lady' stories. Lady lives in villa on the outskirts of some unspecified city somewhere. I have no idea which city, and it doesn't matter. All that is disclosed about the villa is that it is expensively decorated. This Lady is wealthy. In the third or fourth story, I can't remember which; I decided that some description of the living room, where almost all of the sex takes places, would be a good idea. They always do it on the sofa, this being the living room, so the sofa was the thing to describe. It was the central object of the scene. How should the sofa be? It's obvious; it should have leopard skin covers, for what other style would a lady like her favour?
Once I had introduced that detail, and thereby revealing a little more of Lady's character, through her tastes in interior décor, I had to do something else with it, so she tells the Adventurer that many of her friends have leaked cum on that sofa and invites him to cum on it, which he does, with her assistance. None of this is at all profound, but pulls things together and gives the story unity. Showing and telling, as they say. It would have been far less effective to have just said of Lady; here's an older woman who really should know better, and whose is herself as tacky and cheap as a leopard skin sofa. And to me at last, what redeems her is that she knows this about herself, and she embraces absolutely her voracious and often outlandish erotic appetites and lives them all.
Most of all, remember that sex is never only about sex. Let's use the 'Loving Wives' MMF threesome example, as it seems to be a theme that upsets some readers. A couple decide that they want to introduce a third person into their erotic life; a man. Why do they want to do that? Is it the man or the woman who suggests it first? How does their partner react initially?
Let's say it's the woman and her husband is not keen. How is he going to feel? Jealous, most probably? Why would his wife want another man? Why would she want two men at once? How come he has never before suspected that she harboured such desires? Why did she hide them? Why has she felt bold enough now to raise the idea? How are they going to get from this impasse to a situation where it happens? And after they have, what effect will it have had? And in resolving the story, if the ending is to be that it 'helped' their marriage in some way, which it could, then the ending needs to show why.
Or try the opposite scenario, in which the husband suggests it. Why does he want to watch another man fucking his wife? Personally I wouldn't! And I say that as someone who has had sex with other men's wives while they watched. Why was I happy to do that, but would not want to watch my wife with another man? Well, that's another story, which would focus on the psychology and motivations of the third man. Freud would say it was the unconscious desire to re-live the moment when you first became aware that your parents have an erotic life. But let's keep Freud out of it; or let's not, because Uncle Sigmund is always very much present on the Literotica site; just look at he number of submissions to the 'Incest/Taboo' category, and take note of their popularity too.
Would our imaginary husband want to simply watch his wife with another man, or would he want to join in too. Would he want to have sex with the man too? And here's the question that interests me most; what would the wife think about her husband's desire to watch her with another man? Would it make her feel powerful; would she find it strange or even distasteful?
And afterwards, what would they have learned about themselves, inwardly; and what would they guess about each other's private thoughts about what they had done? Speculation on that would make for a more interesting ending than some banal remarks about how marriage affirming it all was. Swinging is an exciting game for those who wish to play it, but part of the excitement is in the risks and dangers of where it might go and what one might learn about one self and one's partner from it.
It's much more interesting to end with a scene that shows that whilst both partners find some fulfilment in the experience, they also found that it asked them questions that they did not have simple or untroubling answers to; and which lead them to further revelations about themselves that might lead them to question things more. The solving of a 'problem' does not mean that we all live happily ever after; it means we find ourselves in a new situation where new problems arise and ask new questions of us.
Erotic desire can take us sometimes to places and states that we don't feel comfortable with, and which may be disturbing, but as long as we are desiring things that it is not illegal to desire, the best think to do is think it through and then if we still want to, live that experience. Sex and sexuality are at the centre of what we are as human beings, and a good story takes us to that, rather than offering some cheap and banal escapist fantasy.
So; happy endings? Domestic sex is fine; a husband and wife, just the two of them can have an erotic life that is about their love for each other, and that can be a fascinating topic for erotic fiction, but avoid, avoid, avoid domesticated sex: sex is simple, sex is complicated; sex is consoling, sex is frightening; sex is challenging, sex is affirming; sex is reassuring, sex is dangerous; but don't make it boring by not explaining in a story what it is about for the people in the story, and don't tack on an unearned happy ending. You will make your readers think more if you don't. A good piece of erotic writing challenges the mind, as well as stimulating the senses. After all, don't they say that the mind is the most powerful of all sexual organs? And moreover, without it there would not be any erotic fiction.