Pseudonyms and sex scenes

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Honing the Craft
Tags: , , ,

I don’t do sex scenes.

Let me rephrase that; I don’t write sex scenes.  Sure, the characters in my stories often have sex, but I tend to skip the details.  And usually, if my characters are getting it on, it’s a good sign that Something Bad is going to happen to one or both of them.  Not that any of you armchair psychologists need extrapolate anything from that to analyse my own sex life; it’s pretty much a given that as soon as I start writing any piece of fiction, Something Bad is going to happen to somebody, sex or no sex.

This is where I pimp my book...

...and this is where I pimp someone else's.

Sometimes I cut from my characters’ first kiss straight to their post-coital “oh-my-God-what-have-I done?!?” musings, and miss out everything in between, as in Lapp Dancing and After The Storm.  Group sex occasionally gets at least a sideways mention, in Baptism and in Theft of a Servant.  In the dystopian world of Killing A Goddess, the bedroom rituals of Laura and her five Guards are broadcast to everyone – except the reader.  Sometimes I throw the Big Three – food, sex and death – into the mix and see what results, as in Baptism and Flesh Pot, but I still don’t give any descriptions of what appendages are going into which orifice.  And the poem Contact is about not wanting to have sex at all (or at least, not with the person being addressed).

I wondered recently whether I should…um…try my hand at writing erotica.  Largely in the interests of extending my skills as a writer, of course, and only slightly influenced by my pseudonymous friend Cari Silverwood, who assures me that there’s gold in them thar erotica stories.

But I couldn’t get past inventing my pen name.

You have to have a pen name if you are going to write erotica, I am told, although I’m not 100% sure why.  Perhaps it’s because erotica writers get lumped in with everyone else who sells sex, such as prostitutes and porn stars and advertising execs, and it’s just not the sort of thing one wants to be made public.  I tried using the Porn Star formula for creating my erotica writer’s pen name by combining the name of my first pet with the name of the first street I lived in, and I came up with Humpty Mountain.  So…no.  That’s not going to work.

One of my friends who writes predominantly for children said that she was considering writing her adult fiction under a pen name so that any kids who Googled her would not be accidentally led to her less suitable works.  And that made the whole pen name thing even more daunting.  I spend far too much time already trying to promote myself (including the time put into writing this blog post…), so why would I want to go and create a second Internet Me?  Why develop an alter ego that also needs nourishing?

No, I decided, it’s simply not worth it.  Into the Too Hard Basket with that idea.

But I can’t wait to see the Google search terms that lead folks in cyberspace to this blog post…

  1. Kara says:

    I am going to become a writer too if I can make good money out of what I can already do!!! just need a pseudonym and then what? 😉

  2. A J Ponder says:

    Right, firstly, let’s get this very clear – while I have been assured by reasonably prominent writers that getting a pseudonym and writing the erotica is just the thing to become successful and make money, it’s not for me. I find sex that’s not absolutely necessary for the plot boring – I can’t see the point of reading it – let alone writing it. The bedroom door is completely far enough – and one day I might even take it that far.
    Hear that. Not me.
    I am not the children’s writer Tracy is referring to.

    Having said that, the whole thing is crazy – you can write as much porn into horror as you like and nobody would bat an eyelid – but if the book is labelled “erotica” – you’ll lose your day job. Sigh.

    “I do not do sex scenes” boy am I a hundred percent with you – but – unfortunately, as my poem “sex sells” has demonstrated (almost 2 and a half times more popular than my next most popular poem) this may not be a great commercial decision.

    • So you’re not Cari Silverwood either, then? 😉 Like I always say, if money were the most important thing, then we would all be bank robbers.

      I can totally see the point of reading well-crafted erotica for those who are so inclined (I have a copy of “Three Days of Dominance” on my Kindle), but I don’t much go for gratuitous sex scenes inserted into otherwise unsexy texts. It’s a bit like stumbling into the wrong room at a party when you’re looking for the bathroom – awkward and embarrassing for all concerned. The same goes for gratuitous violence, gratuitous profanity… by all means use it if it advances the plot or is integral to the story’s ‘voice’. If not, leave it out.

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