Saturday, June 06, 2020

Weekend Post

This is a re-post from eight years ago.  But bad erotic writing never goes out of style.  You'll see what I mean.


With FIFTY SHADES OF GREY such a huge sensation, erotic fiction is the zeitgeist of the day (or is it night?. Not that erotica was ever out of favor per se (I’m sure Erica Jong still outsells George Will), but now more than ever the genre is selling through the roof.

I have never written this form of literature. Not even in an AfterMASH script. Every year some organization comes out with a list of the worst sex scenes in novels and they are excruciatingly uproarious. And it’s sooo easy to fall into that trap. You try to create this turgid mood and be descriptive, but you also try to be original – find new ways to convey sexual acts. Which can lead to a passage like this:

From Ed King by David Guterson:

"In the shower, Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap. After a while he shut his eyes, and Diane, wielding her fingernails now and staring at his face, helped him out with two practiced hands, one squeezing the family jewels, the other vigorous with the soap-and-warm-water treatment. It didn't take long for the beautiful and perfect Ed King to ejaculate for the fifth time in twelve hours, while looking like Roman public-bath statuary. Then they rinsed, dried, dressed, and went to an expensive restaurant for lunch."

Yikes!  And major authors are not immune from writing truly klutzy sex scenes. The great John Updike: 

She said nothing then, her lovely mouth otherwise engaged, until he came, all over her face. She had gagged, and moved him outside her lips, rubbing his spurting glans across her cheeks and chin. He had wanted to cry out, sitting up as if jolted by electricity as the spurts, the deep throbs rooted in his asshole, continued, but he didn't know what name to call her. 'Mrs Rougement' was the name he had always known her by.

I’m not sure if I could write one of these passages without a voice in the back of my head saying, “This is the Springtime for Hitler of sex scenes.”

Erotica is definitely an art. A good sex scene can get you really aroused. More than just watching porn, written material taps into your imagination and can heighten the experience. Unfortunately, if not written well, you’re left with this.

Here are a few more samples of scenes that make me laugh, cringe, and worry I couldn’t write any better:

From Sashenka, by Simon Montefiore:

His hands pulled her dress off her shoulders and he buried his face in her neck, then her hair, scooping up between her legs. He pulled down her brassiere, cupping her breasts, sighing in bliss. 'The blue veins are divine,' he whispered. And in that moment, a lifetime of unease about this ugly feature of her body was replaced with satisfaction. He licked them, circling her nipples hungrily. Then he disappeared up her skirt.

From To Love, Honour and Betray, by Kathy Lette

I kissed his mouth ravenously, devouring his neck, earlobes, chest. He broke free with muscular ease, unhooked my bra with composed expertise, found my nipple and flicked his tongue back and forth until it went hard. His towel fell away. Sebastian's erect member was so big I mistook it for some sort of monument in the centre of a town.

And finally, from another not-too-shabby writer, Paul Theroux:

'Baby.' She took my head in both hands and guided it downward, between her fragrant thighs. 'Yoni puja - pray, pray at my portal.'  She was holding my head, murmuring 'Pray,' and I did so, beseeching her with my mouth and tongue, my licking a primitive form of language in a simple prayer. It had always worked before, a language she had taught me herself, the warm muffled tongue.


Lemuel said...

'Then, as Kinnison kissed his wife, half a million Lensed members were thrust upward in silent salute.'

Barry Traylor said...

Turgid? Now that's a double entendre. :)

Paul Gottlieb said...

To be perfectly fair, Erica Jong is a much better writer than George Will. She can not only write better erotica than George, she could also write much better Op-Eds

Steve Bailey said...

I remember a "B.C." cartoon from decades ago in which Wiley, the writer of the caveman bunch, thought he'd try to come up with something sexy. The best he could do was, "His pulse exploded as he ripped off her babushka."

Mike Bloodworth said...

He gently tapped her screen. That's all it took to light her up. This time she didn't play hard to get. His search easily took him to where he wanted to be. She was open and ready for whatever he wanted to give her. There was no force or coercion necessary. They both knew why she was there. As the anticipation grew he could no longer hold back. His fingers expertly glided back and forth. She responded in kind. She matched his entries stroke for stroke. They were in sync with each other's moves. He felt as if he was no longer in control of his actions. It was almost as if he was under the influence of some cosmic, outside force. Yet, she kept pace with him. He had been there many times before. He knew what she liked and he did his best to meet with her approval. On and on they went.
Despite his furious motions there was no fatigue. He knew that the final product was worth the exertion. They both knew they were nearing their inevitable climax. Then suddenly he pushed "publish." It was over. They both paused to cool off. She accepted his submission with delight and grace as she always did.
Admittedly, some times were better than others, but she knew he'd be back. He always comes back. And she would be ready for him with her enticing language. He signed out; going their separate ways...until the next time.


P.S. Didn't you have any photos of Natalie Wood's legs?
I'm sure you must have some in the shoebox hidden in the garage behind the can marked "dirty rags."

Anonymous said...

How do you know these passages? What sort of book club do you belong to?


Joseph Scarbrough said...

The only reason FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY was as popular as it was is simply because it was TWILIGHT porn fanfiction with the characters' names changed. It's true, look it up.

Frank Beans said...

Most erotic fiction is about as appealing as imagining your grandparents having sex. You know that they did, and that it's perfectly healthy and fine, but just, yecch. Not for my ears.

I have my own mind to make up my fantasies, but reading others' is TMI territory. There are rare exceptions, of course. But man, even my favorite comedies like FRASIER get a bit yucky when they go into the romantic lives of their characters. I'm no prude, but--well, I just don't want to think about Kelsey Grammer's dick either.

Frank Beans said...

@ Steve Bailey:

Thanks for the reference to "B.C.", an underrated comic strip that was one of my favorites too.

Robert Brauer said...

Charles Dance reading an excerpt from 50 Shades of Grey:

Glenn said...

Nothing will ever beat 'Strokin the Love Muffin' from Naked Gun 2:

"His strong manly hands probed every crevice of her silken femininity, their undulating bodies writhing in essential rhythm as he thrust his purple headed warrior into her quivering mound of love pudding."

Michael Shriro said...


I have a question not having to do with erotic scenes. There has been a lot of press about Herman Munster's speech from 1965 which is from the episode "Eddie's Nickname."

"The lesson I want you to learn is it doesn't matter what you look like. If you're tall or short; or fat or thin; or ugly or handsome - like your father - or you can be black, or yellow, or white. It doesn't matter. What does matter is the size of your heart and the strength of your character."

According to imdb, the episode was written by Richard Baer (1928-2008). Did you ever run across him in your career?

McTom said...

Oh, "Ed King" - everyone knows soap is NOT a lubricant. Every man at some point in his late youth learns that hard lesson.

Viscount Manzeppi said...

McTom said...
Oh, "Ed King" - everyone knows soap is NOT a lubricant. Every man at some point in his late youth learns that hard lesson.

No pun intended.

Ron Rettig said...

What about excerpts from "Candy" by Terry Southern? I still remember the line "Buddha nose best".

Rashad Khan said...

"I have never written this form of literature. Not even in an AfterMASH script."

Perhaps, if you had, the show would've been a hit. ;)