But it’s only about sex….
Anyone who writes erotica, any kind of erotica, has probably heard this at least once. And what other function is there for stories that are mostly filled with characters having sex, then to titillate the reader? An interesting plot? Or perhaps complex characterisation? Nah. It’s porn, only in words, so you can imagine the pictures all by yourself.
To be honest, I think that’s utter nonsense. Yes, there are many stories with cookie-cutter characters, performing sexual acts that follow an extremely familiar scenario. Those characters are nothing more than functioning, be it often far above average attractive, bodies without much inner thought or complexity. And that’s okay, because many readers enjoy such stories in any of the popular genres.
But does that mean a story that has the sexual encounters between two, or more, individuals at its very heart, must be superficial and about nothing but what it says on the cover?
Why should it? Sex is as legitimate a means of telling about a character’s doubts, weaknesses and struggles as any other method. Feelings and thoughts about sex are simply part of the human psyche and of course, writers are bound to feel inspired by that.
Acts, and that include sexual ones, only get deeper meaning if we get to know the character(s) a little better through those acts. It’s remarkably easy to write dull erotica, but it isn’t an unavoidable part of the genre.
In reality, sex is often enough motivated by something else than lust, love and romance. It can also be about duty, familiarity, being a good sport, proving you’re not gay, who’s in charge, economics, getting it over and done with, curiosity and countless reasons more.
And sooner or later a writer will tell a story…
So, only about sex…?