15 April 2015

Writing Erotica: Leaving Out the Parts People Skip

About writing, Elmore Leonard famously said: "I try to leave out the parts that people skip." As far as writing advice goes, that's about as good as it gets. It depends on the person, though. When I was a kid, I loved The Hobbit, but found the lyrics and poems boring, so I skipped them. When I read it now as an adult, those are some of my favorite parts. In literary fiction and genre fiction, people say they often skip sex scenes.Why anyone would consciously purchase erotica and then skip the sex scenes is beyond me. When I read erotica, I tend to skip stuff that's not a sex scene.

When I write my own stories, I'm keenly aware of this and try to keep the parts between sex scenes short and, most of all, too interesting to skip. I have no idea if I'm succeeding, but I'm trying. Exposition is the worst culprit, and yet some is necessary. Thank goodness I write paranormal erotica, where a bit of choice info dumping is expected and there are ways to do it well. I geek out on the lore of my made-up world and I love to give readers glimpses of that world.

Important conversations between characters are another way to hopefully not be too boring. I try to make dialogue juicy, revealing of character, and not "on the nose." I try to make important things happen during conversations: someone gets hurt and storms off, a character learns something devastating or enlightening. Or I try to have some other action during the conversation take place that moves everything forward. At the very least, one of the characters can be lusting after another, which is fun to write. Especially if that character is constrained by circumstances and cannot act on that lust.

How about you? What parts do you tend to skip? In your own writing, how do you try to make your stories un-skippable?

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