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Old 04-13-2017, 01:03 AM   #1
Monster_slayer
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Detail, language and story (NC/R category)

A general question or two for other readers of erotica.

1) Do you prefer more or less explicit detail in the depictions of the actual sex acts, or are the character's reactions more important?

2) Do you prefer more of the characters' inner thoughts, or do you prefer to stay outside looking in?

3) Character dev and story... does it just get in the way, or can it add to the story? Do you rate down a story and move on if it has too much non-sexual storyline?

4) What makes you rate a story down? It doesn't turn you on, or you think it's badly written... or it goes somewhere you don't like or didn't expect or that you don't feel fits into the category it's in?

I've kept sex out of most of my 'normal' books, but I'm getting increasingly interested in writing erotica as a means of expressing the darkest sides of the character types I work with. I'm very interested in exploring power and control as well as sexual self-awareness.

But if you want to write for an audience, you can't just write for yourself, and while I've read books that I felt were stunning in every respect and that get high ratings on Amazon, on Literotica I see stories rated very highly that just confuse me.

I can present my work in a bunch of different ways, and still struggling with getting that balance of elements right.

So I'm very curious to know what works for other people. Clearly, everyone's different, but I've seen some illuminating comments and feedback on others' work that leads me to think I can get some valuable insight here. :-)

Thanks,

M_S
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Old 04-13-2017, 01:17 AM   #2
CyranoJ
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For my money, so to speak:

1) I don't feel it's necessary to choose between characters' reactions and explicit sexual detail. I love them both, but for maximum effectiveness each should always be serving the other. It's like an action scene in a movie: the action is best when it reveals something about the characters, and the characters come out better the more vivid the action is. Same thing with sex.

2) I'm a big fan of exploring the characters' psyches. It's a component of "character reaction" from Q1. This is something that often differentiates amateur male writers in the NC/R category, for whom it's all about brute male power fantasy, and competent-or-better female writers, who have a grasp on the psychic elements (inner conflict, transgression, guilt, shame, humiliation, degradation, and erotic responses to same) that frequently puts the men to shame. I've tried to learn from that and to bring some level of complexity to male characters' inner worlds and reactions as well... although that said, I have no illusions about being anywhere near as good at it as the female writers I'm learning from.

3) It depends. I'm big on character dev and story personally. But a story can be equally hot if it treats these things in a minimal, focused way. I don't typically care for stories in which there is no discernible story to speak of or where there are no "characters" so much as Types.

4) I don't typically rate stories down. Too much petty gamesmanship and trolling surrounds that on Literotica. If something impresses me I give it high marks, otherwise I don't bother.

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-13-2017, 02:39 AM   #3
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Thank you for taking the time to answer in detail... really appreciated.

It really is an art form, and I feel very clumsy at it, but I think like most people who submit here, I really want to put something across that will reach people enough that they'll enjoy it, or at least get something out of it.

It's hard for me to get into the minds of other readers, as in the 'real world' people around me don't discuss this much. You certainly can't hand your porn to your friends and ask what they think. I mean, you can, and I've tried, but for some reason it made them really uncomfortable. :-P
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Old 04-13-2017, 06:14 AM   #4
electricblue66
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All of the above.

You are trying to define an "ideal" reader, but you can't do that. There is no such person. All of the things you note above will please one person and turn the next right off.

This topic comes up repeatedly here, and the answers are always the same - no writer will please all readers so it's a waste of time trying. Which then leads on to: write what YOU want to write, and you will find readers.
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Old 04-13-2017, 07:27 AM   #5
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What electricblue66 said is 100% true. Try to write something that turns YOU on. It will come off as more honest and more passionate than trying to please some imaginary audience with things you may not even find arousing. If you rigorously try to avoid anything that might turn some people off, you will end up not turning anybody on. Including yourself.

Don't think of the audience as some unified mass that can be pleased by a formula. Think of them as inviduals with their own little fetishes and turnoffs. Just tell your own stories and you'll eventually find someone who's moved by same things you are, guaranteed.

About character development and story: I, for one, prefer erotic literature to porn, because I'm not looking for pure sex. I look for stories and characters. For me, sex is way more arousing if there's a dynamic between the people doing it. I want to know why and how those two people got together. Pure sex simply doesn't do it for me. But I know a lot of people who look for sex and sex only. These people will skip ahead if they see long passages without erotic scenes.

As for the narration: I prefer stories written in first person. They are just more intimate, because you're no longer just a spectator, you are inside the character's head. I get turned on more easily if I can identify with a character and first person definitely helps. (In porn though, I generally hate POV, but maybe it's because it's almost always the guy's POV).
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Old 04-13-2017, 02:05 PM   #6
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1) Don't see how this is an either/or question, but the character's reactions are very important to me.

2) Absolutely prefere to know what's going on inside at least one character's head.

3) Yay to plot and character development!

4) When it comes to ratings, I used to be just brutally honest. Which meant I rated stories down that I thought were perfectly enjoyable, but only deserved 4 stars and not 5 (and their overall rating was 4+). These days, I don't rate stories down, unless they manage to offend me somehow.
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Old 04-13-2017, 03:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monster_slayer View Post
A general question or two for other readers of erotica.
Or four.

I gotten to the point where I only read on Lit when I'm asked to, so my answers are mostly from the point of view of an author, not a reader.

Quote:
1) Do you prefer more or less explicit detail in the depictions of the actual sex acts, or are the character's reactions more important?
As others have said, this isn't either/or. But that said, I will emphasize one or the other depending on the story, on the characters, on the category, and so on. Some readers clearly want explicit descriptions while others do not.

Quote:
2) Do you prefer more of the characters' inner thoughts, or do you prefer to stay outside looking in?
I think this is a matter of writing style. It can work either way. I normally write in a limited third person, so that you know one character's thought in detail, but have to judge other character's motivation through their words and actions.

Quote:
3) Character dev and story... does it just get in the way, or can it add to the story? Do you rate down a story and move on if it has too much non-sexual storyline?
Those are both important to me, and to some readers. I can't address readers in NC/R, but readers in some categories insist on both. I do tend to develop characters and wrap them into a story, but readers comments on some stories tell me when the story content gets in their way. ("This story is even more of a cluster fuck than the first one.") Those people aren't my target audience.

Quote:
4) What makes you rate a story down? It doesn't turn you on, or you think it's badly written... or it goes somewhere you don't like or didn't expect or that you don't feel fits into the category it's in?
I'll sometimes rate a story that I've been asked to read and usually give 5* or nothing. The voting system here is a popularity contest and so scores don't really hang on the quality of writing. I like stories that are original and have good female characters. Cliche, unrealistic characters, and stock story lines are some of the things that lower my opinion.
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Old 04-13-2017, 03:29 PM   #8
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If you're looking for average reader reactions, you would probably get more representative answers on the general board.
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Old 04-13-2017, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hylas_ View Post
When it comes to ratings, I used to be just brutally honest. Which meant I rated stories down that I thought were perfectly enjoyable, but only deserved 4 stars and not 5 (and their overall rating was 4+). These days, I don't rate stories down, unless they manage to offend me somehow.
Just because something offends you doesn't mean it's not brilliantly written - why didn't you just click out of the story sooner and not score at all? You're punishing a writer just because they don't share your tastes and you don't share theirs? What makes you the judge of everyone else's taste?

Please don't read anything of mine, just in case I offend you.
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:08 PM   #10
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^ What makes me the judge? Perhaps the fact that this site has a ratings function, making everybody the judge of everybody else's stories?

Why not "just click out of the story sooner and not score at all?" That's exactly what I do all the time. No idea where you took that from, don't accuse me of random bs please.

To clarify, I don't downvote "brilliantly written" stories because I don't share the autors tastes. What I'm saying is that I used to give bad ratings to every story I thought was badly written. Now I only give bad ratings in the rare cases of stories that I think are badly written and somehow manage to particularly piss me off.

But don't worry. Happen to not have read anything of yours so far, happy to continue to do so.
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Old 04-13-2017, 09:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hylas_ View Post
I don't rate stories down, unless they manage to offend me somehow.
Hylas, these are your words, not mine.

I made no random bullshit comment or assumption. You made an explicit statement in plain English, which I queried.

You have now clarified what you meant to say, and I accept that clarification. If you had written that in the first place I wouldn't have responded.
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Old 04-14-2017, 05:43 PM   #12
CyranoJ
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Just think how much time and energy we could save in situations like this by simply asking people what they mean instead of going off on them.

(A reminder for me as much as anyone. I know I've been guilty of it too.)
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyranoJ View Post
Just think how much time and energy we could save in situations like this by simply asking people what they mean instead of going off on them.

(A reminder for me as much as anyone. I know I've been guilty of it too.)
I suppose you're right, but I read plain English as I see it, and assume (silly me) that people write what they mean to say. I'm not a mind reader.

Words are black and white. Is it the reader makes them grey, or the writer? Both, if they are careless.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricblue66 View Post
I suppose you're right, but I read plain English as I see it, and assume (silly me) that people write what they mean to say. I'm not a mind reader.

Words are black and white. Is it the reader makes them grey, or the writer? Both, if they are careless.
Realistically, politically, socially you should ask for clarification before you launch missiles. If the clarification confirms your original read then you can go ballistic.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Combat323 View Post
If you're looking for average reader reactions, you would probably get more representative answers on the general board.
There aren't many posting to the General Board who read on Literotica. Some of them don't even know there's a story file on Literotica.
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:39 AM   #16
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I'll answer on my thoughts regarding the NC/R category as that's pretty much all I read (and write).

I feel that what sets those stories apart is the sense of risk and the pushing of boundaries. I stop reading if the set up is physical force or I don't believe the character has a true motivation to do what they are doing.

Many of the stories get way out of hand way to quickly. The fun is almost all in the build up, we all know where this is going.

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Old 04-21-2017, 03:04 AM   #17
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1. Both, definitely. In fact, the combination of detail and reaction is essential, and for me makes a more erotic experience.

2. I like to get into at least one or a few characters' heads in the story, so either first person or third person limited omniscient point of view. The single thing about other authors' stories that makes them, for me, most satisfyingly erotic is the ability to narrate what the character is experiencing inside while the exterior acts are taking place. In erotica, internal conflict is a crucial part of the story, and a big part of what may make a story "erotic" is the contrast between what's happening to a character externally and what the character is experiencing internally.

3. Character development is important, even essential, to a good story, but developing a character effectively doesn't require a prologue, or long stretches of narrative about a character's past. Character can be revealed through the character's dialogue or interactions with other characters. It can be revealed in different places in the story, rather than in one long stretch. The general rule for character development, I think, is that there should be enough of it to tell the story effectively, and no more. I'm not sure if I follow that rule as well as I believe in it.

4. I don't give bad votes to many stories, because I usually don't finish them, and I only vote on stories I finish. I do NOT vote down a story because it offends me or because I don't share the author's personal fantasy. I vote down stories when they are badly told -- really bad grammar and punctuation, bad word choice, cartoonish characters or inadequate development of the characters or plot. I also assign number votes more or less in line with the way votes are generally cast. From what I can tell, about 25% of stories (other than in Loving Wives, which is harsher) are around 4.5 or higher. So for me a "5" is, roughly, what I regard as a top 10% story. I never vote based on gamesmanship -- voting down stories just because they are competing with mine in a new story list, for example.
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Old 05-08-2017, 12:20 AM   #18
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I think sex scenes come out better when you can express the characters' emotions and reactions. It's something I can still barely do myself, I think I tend more towards picturing a porn movie in my head and describing it without going too much deeper than that. It gets the job done, but then I read other erotica stories or even allegedly true sex adventures on reddit and feel like I should be doing much better.

Also might have something to do with having an engineering background rather than an artistic one.
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