I read extensively in the various genres loosely collected under the umbrella “smut.” From flat-out porn to erotica to erotic romance to mainstream fiction with a spicy slant, it’s probably on my bedside table. Or triple-layered in my bookcases. Or piled up next to my favorite comfy chair. Or on my handheld or laptop so I can read it discreetly at work or while visiting my mom.
If you read enough of any one genre, you’re likely to develop strong likes and dislikes, and I’ve developed quite a list of porno-peeves over the years. I don’t mean particular acts or kinks that turn me off. I can quite happily read a well-written story about something I’d have absolutely no interest in trying, and even things that leave me cold, I’m willing to accept as “not my fantasy, but someone’ll love it.”
No, I’m talking annoying plot devices, clichés, and mistakes that could have been easily fixed.
In no particular order, here are a few things that make me want to toss books around, or at least curse a lot:
Gigantic Members: Okay, big cocks are delightful. Those of us who like boys at all tend to like big, meaty boy-bits, particularly in our erotic-fantasy reading. But I’ve reached the point of being tired of 12-inch, wrist-thick dicks. Which is sad, really, because this is a drool-worthy image. I just think they should be reserved for special occasions, not automatically attached to every hero. (Curiously, I find this tic most in erotic romance. You’d think it would be erotica by and for gay men, but no…while they’ll have loving descriptions of cocks, they’re usually not monsters.)
Random Boinking: This is a contextual problem. In a very short story, say a 1500-word vignette, or something along the lines of Penthouse Letters, I don’t expect a lot in the way of character development or plot or motivation, other than “two or more randy people meet and have wild sex.” If the work has more substance, like an actual story arc and characters who are more than names and “36-24-36” or “Gigantic Throbbing Tool,” I want a little more set-up than that. If two (or more) strangers fall into bed, I’d like a little motivation. Is impulsive sex normal behavior for them? If not, what’s making them take a walk on the wild side now? It doesn’t have to be Love at First Sight—it probably shouldn’t be, unless one character is psychic or something and can somehow sense this random stranger is a potential love of his/her life. It can be simple overwhelming horniness, or loneliness, or something dark and complex and sad. But you have to make me believe in it, especially if it leads the characters into behavior that’s not just wild and hot, but unsafe and reckless.
Virginal Heroines: Everyone has to start somewhere, and the journey of sexual awakening, from curious innocence to bold and horny experience, can be fascinating, especially if the author does a good job portraying the emotional arc as well as the physical one. (I’m looking forward to reading Rachel Kramer Bussel’s novel that she talks about in her April 7 post, for instance. I bet she’ll avoid the clichés.) But lately, half the erotic romances I’ve picked up, maybe more, have had inexperienced heroines. Hello? A little realism here, especially since erotica publishers won’t let us write about fifteen-year-olds.
In a historical, I’ll buy it, but you have to give me a compelling reason that our heroine, in a time period where sex had even more potentially life-altering consequences than it does now, would choose this moment, with this person, to start exploring her sexuality. And please don’t make it just something irresistibly sexy about the potential partner. An amazingly attractive hero (or other heroine, if it’s that’s kind of book) is a good start, but at this turning point of the heroine’s life, the ultimate motive needs to be hers and hers alone.
If it’s contemporary, the author faces a worse challenge. Modern adults face a lot more pressure to have sex than not to. If someone chooses to abstain, the reasons are probably deeply personal and deeply engrained and aren’t going to evaporate just because they meet someone hot. I find the virgin’s progress toward that decision easier to buy in more traditional contemporary romances where there’s a long, teasing journey to sex. In that kind of book, there’s time for the heroine to work through whatever made rollicking sexual intimacy not seem right for her at the book’s opening. Don’t show me your innocent heroine just decide she’s done being a virgin and picking someone random to teach her without some background that lets me believe she’d operate this way.
Sexism isn’t Romantic or Sexy: Speaking of peeves, where are the inexperienced heroes, the shy young men starting their erotic adventures at the hands of a more experienced woman? Certainly they seem to be a no-no in erotic romance, and I don’t see nearly as many of them as I’d like in erotic fiction in general. (Tilly? This sounds like it might be up your alley!) Is that because it’s assumed male virginity is no big deal? That men are supposed to be experienced and teach women? Yawn! Not that the teaching scenario can’t be hot, hot, hot, but I’d like to see it from the other side more often.
In the same vein, dominant alpha males can be sexy in the bedroom, but unless it's a story about a dominant/submissive relationship, where the sub explicitly consented to being bossed around, dominant posturing outside the bedroom can get annoying. Unless it leads to a fight, a realization, and incredibly hot make-up sex, possibly with role reversal.
Getting the Facts Wrong: There’s simply no excuse to get basic facts wrong with the Internet at everyone’s fingertips. Yet I can’t tell you how much “Uh, it doesn’t work like that” stuff I’ve encountered. BDSM sessions that would end in an emergency-room visit. Positions that only Cirque du Soleil acrobats could achieve.
And misplaced hymens.
Hello! If you opt to write about an inexperienced woman enjoying her first vaginal intercourse, please know where the hymen is! It’s not deep inside the vagina, no matter how many times you’ve read this in older romance novels. I swear, someone wrote a really bad deflowering scene, complete with misplaced hymen and pain and buckets of blood, back in 1977 that’s still being rehashed today in otherwise far more sophisticated books.
Unlubed Anal Sex: Do I really need to explain why this bugs me? Especially if it’s in tandem with Gigantic Cocks and Virgins? Ouch!
If it’s a dark, edgy, BDSM-oriented story where the characters decide to play at consensual non-consent and are deliberately courting pain and a certain amount of risk…fine. Might not be to my taste, but I’ll buy it from those characters. But stories where the author just seems to forget the lube? Book goes flying!
So what are your pet erotica peeves?
Monday, April 9, 2007
Posted by TeresaNoelleRoberts at 3:15 AM