Too Much Sex?

Here’s a question I’ve been pondering. Can there be too much sex in an erotic story? I almost feel silly talking about gratuitous content in a work of erotica, but there it is.

Woman of the Mountain, was criticized by one reviewer as having too much sex. I saw the reviewer’s point. Since the novel takes place in a world where sex is literally a connection to divinity, the rampant coupling potentially cheapened the sacrament. Woman went on to win an Eppie for best erotica in 2008, but if I were to rewrite it today, I might well remove a steamy page or two.

The easy answer to my question is “an erotic story should have at least as much sex as the story requires.” Many of my tales are, one way or another, about sex. The erotic scenes are central to the story so it’s easy enough to tie the heat and the plot together. In a short story, it’s easier to find the right level of sex, but novels are harder. I’m in the process right now of weaving the 52+ chapters of my blog serial, Woman of His Dreams, into a  novel, so the question has been circling around my brain as I restructure the story. On the blog, I felt like there should be at least a little sex in each chapter, but in a 57,000 word novel, the frequent fucking becomes choppy. Of course. I’m also finding other challenges turning a serial into a novel—pacing, balancing two viewpoints, and such. The process has been educational, though it’s taking longer than I had intended. I’m hoping to have it to a publisher this summer. If you want to read the raw material, with sex in every sequence, it’s all still here.

One unique facet of my chosen genre makes my question even harder to answer. Many readers of erotica read for at least two purposes. Some erotica readers read more for the stories than for prurient interest, but some readers are primarily looking for the kicks that hot, explicit scenes provide. Too little sex in a story definitely risks turning off the reader seeking wank material, while too much may annoy one who reads more for story. Of course, most readers appreciate both elements so, as long as the story justifies the sex, the balance is not too difficult to maintain. For me the ideal approach is to make the sex fit the tale but don’t hold back.

Finally, in erotica, much like horror fiction, I think the best effects are those that are created in a reader’s mind by leaving things unsaid in the prose, which makes the balance between explicitness and ellipsis even more important. Over the five years I’ve been writing, I’ve tried to strike a balance between too much and too little, but I’m sure I sometimes still get the mix wrong. I suppose if I had to condense my experience down into simple advice for a beginning erotica author, I would say, “write just as much sex into the story as you need and then add just a little more.”  

A Tale of a Modern Succubus

I just got word that my short story “The Sorcerer’s Catch” will be published by Cleis in the anthology Seductress: Tales of Immortal Desire, edited by the delightful D.L. King. It’s always gratifying to have a story selected for a book from Cleis, but I am especially happy to see this story going to print.

“The Sorcerer’s Catch” is one of a series of stories that I’ve written over the years that tell the adventures of a succubus named Anastasia. Ana’s tale didn’t start out as a series, but I find myself returning to the character every so often. The very first tale I sold to a print anthology – “Understudy” in Lust at First Bite (recently reprinted in Germany!) – was an Ana tale. Others include “Last Kiss” in Slip of the Lip, a lovely free e-book edited by Remittance Girl and still available here, and “The Blood of Dreams,” which is included in my collection from Renaissance eBooks, Darkness and Delight.

In most of Ana’s stories, she is more of a muse or a catalyst — the inspiration for dark, vampiric dreams in “Understudy” and “The Blood of Dreams,” and a messenger of peaceful transition in “Last Kiss”. This latest story however features her as a main character and is the first time I have really touched on her past and her nature, a background I hope will feed many tales in the future.

Ana is not your typical succubus; she’s a modern girl who came into her full power right around 1900. Apart from the usual succubus mischief, arousing and gratifying sleepers, she also lives in a world of externalized dreams, the theater, movies, radio, all the visions and nightmares that defined   the 20th Century and that continue to haunt us today. Someday I would love to compile her history as an episodic novel, and who knows, maybe I will…

Here’s a short excerpt from “The Sorcerer’s Catch.”  Look for the complete anthology in October 2012!

Excerpt “The Sorcerer’s Catch”
Copyright 2012 Angela Caperton
All right reserved.


Now I have you,” the young man in the black robe said.

He spoke the truth. Anastasia was pinned within the magic circle drawn in red paint around the man’s bed, trapped as securely as the least devil in the hands of Faust himself.

The magician – the first conjurer she had met in the 21st Century — had drawn his circle tightly enough that Ana could not move off the bed even a single step, so she knelt there on red silk sheets, trying to look demure. She had approached his bed gowned in smoke and when he had sprung his trap, bringing her out of dreams and into his world, the smoke solidified into black lace, draping her ivory skin like alluring spider webs that left her all but naked before his direct gaze.  

She covered her breasts, gratified by the disappointment in his eyes. He was very young, no more than twenty-five years old. Was he powerful in his magic or just lucky?

“What shall I call you?” she asked him, trying not sound surly.

“Adam.” She had hoped he would be stupid enough to tell her his real name, but she knew at once that he had given a false one.

“What do you want of me, Adam?”  The name would suffice for now.  It said something about him that he chose that name.  “What must I do to be free again?”

“First, Anastasia, you will teach me,” he said. From within his robe, he produced four golden chains, delicate things, like jewelry, but she sensed the inscriptions on the links, binding runes that would cage her.

He looped her wrists and ankles, pulled tight and spread her face-up on the crimson sheets.  He touched her with strong firm hands, spoke words of protection as he worked, careful, as though he might be fearful of releasing some demon inside her.

No, she conceded as he finished forcing her legs well apart, he was not stupid.

When Adam finished his work, he had bound her to the four posts of the bed and she lay helpless before him. The situation was not unpleasant, even though she faced the direst sort of danger.

“Teach you what?” she asked, tugging the unyielding chains, testing them.

He watched for a moment then reached down to part her robe of webs, baring her breasts and belly and the little wisp of lacy shadow that covered her pussy.

“Carnal knowledge,” he replied formally. “Teach me all things, both lawful and forbidden.”

#

He had called her by her favorite name, Anastasia, a name she had taken from the dream of a Bolshevik soldier long ago. The man had guarded the Romanoff family in Ipatiev’s house and, days later, after the soldier had helped to kill the girl, he dreamed about her. His guilt and obsession had drawn the attention of a bored succubus. It had heralded a new beginning for Ana, awakened her to the dawning century and the grand dreams of men and women with plans to remake the world.

When the whims of dreamers demanded another name, she would take one, to seduce and entice, but Anastasia had become the name she called herself for almost a hundred years.

And now this young wizard, this barely grown man, had summoned her by her name, in the voice of rituals unspoken in three generations, drawn her with the rich lure of her own curiosity. She had descended into his dream and his magic circle had closed like a foothold trap. Now she lay bound to his bed.

“Wait,” she breathed as he reached for the wisp of her panties.

Copyright 2012 Angela Caperton. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.