Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turn-ons and Turn-offs

By Kirsten Scott

A few weeks ago, I sent a draft of a short story I was working on to my critique partner. It was my first attempt at erotica, so I was curious what she'd thought of my efforts. Overall, she was enthusiastic, but she had a really strong reaction to a particular word I'd used. It started with "c" and ended with "t" and she absolutely hated it. Couldn't I use a different word? Something that started with "p" perhaps?

Now unfortunately, my reaction to the "p" word was almost as strong as her reaction to the "c" word. It completely turns me off. To me, that word sounds silly and adolescent boy-ish. Not a bit sexy. I'm not entirely happy with the "c" word-I understand there are those, like my CP, who find it jarring and violent, something a man would use but a woman would not. But I like it better than some of my alternatives.

Of course, we've all got our little turn-ons and turn-offs, from individual words to overall story-lines. I love stories about the "last of the line," the orphan who must be found because s/he alone can save the world. My favorite of this kind is Dragonflight, the fabulous Anne McCaffery book. I love a good romance where the heroine is mistreated by the hero, who will later have to make it up to her in any number of ways (try Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesean, if you're like me!)

As for turn-offs...well, I tried to think of some, but the truth is, I can enjoy almost any tried and true plot line, if it's written well. Amnesia, twins, Cinderella, marriage of convenience, you name it, I've enjoyed it. Oh wait--I thought of one! Unhappy endings. I absolutely refuse to read them. I guess that's why I stick to the romance section. ;-)

So what about you? What are your turn-ons and turn-offs? It can be a word or an entire genre--dish the dirt!


Trish Milburn said...

Well, I have to admit that I don't like either the "c" or the "p" word. :)

As for types of stories, I love stories where the heroine triumphs over great adversity to find true love and a good life. And I'm a fan of the second-chances type of stories. I'm not a fan of gratuitous sex scenes. I'm fine with sex scenes, even really steamy ones, IF they fit the story at that point and aren't just stuck in because the author thought she needed a sex scene in the book by that point.

MaryF said...

I agree with Trish - I hate the C word, and don't care for the P word.

Caren Crane said...

In Kirsten's defense, I have to say that while I don't personally enjoy the "c" word, I expect to see it in erotica. As well as other words I don't use or generally hear in real life. But, they are common in the subgenre, so they don't bother me.

What does bother me? A few years back, I read a single title romance (not erotica), where we were treated to a detailed description of the bulging veins on a man's member, as well as beads of sweat on his nether regions. Now, I could have gone all decade without reading that. Obviously, it had impact, because I still remember it - but not in a good way. I remember how unsexy it was to me.

If, however, it had been erotica I was reading rather than romance, I think it would have been okay. Not enjoyable to me, perhaps, but expected. As it was, it violated my expectations.

So, Kirsten, I say leave your word of choice and don't sweat the CP's comments. It's erotica and I think your readers will be fine with it. Reader expectations!

Aunty Cindy said...

ROFLOL, Kirsten over your topic and picture!

Gotta agree about the "p" word, makes me think of adolescent boys. And while the "c" word isn't much better to me, as Caren points out (WELCOME HOME, Caren!) this is erotica and those word choices fit the sub-genre. Hmmm, maybe we need to get Teacher Jo in here to lecture us about diction.

Buffie said...

As a reader, I really don't like to see either word. Of course, I haven't ventured into erotica much. I have only read one anthology and it was a bit much for me. To me, those words seem crude for a love story. But as you mentioned in your blog, if the story is written well, anything works!

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL Kirsten on the "c" and the "p" and the photo!

If it's erotica, I expect to see anything from "c" to "p" to "xyz" but frankly, I agree with you on the "p" word. I'd rather see the "c" word as long as it's in context and not used as a....oh, boy, this conversation is getting tricky!! LOL. You get my drift!

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, interesting post! Like you, I don't get turned off a plotline unless the writing is bad.

One thing that is a turn-off, though, is a wimpy heroine. You know, the sort of woman whose only function is to love the tortured hero no matter how awful he is to her. Not keen on them.

Not keen on any of the choices for the female genitals. I do expect the c word in erotica but I still don't think it's all that realistic for most women to use it when you're writing from her point of view. It just doesn't seem natural to me a lot of the time. Still, you have to call it something in erotica, don't you? Perhaps you can coin a new term? Kirsten, your mission, should you choose to accept it...

Kirsten said...

Trish, Mary, and buffie, I can completely see why you don't like either word. And it wasn't until I'd read more erotica that I became comfortable using them myself. It's definitely all about context--remember, I'm the Bandita who blushes when she reads the love scenes, so I know how you feel!

Caren--it's great to have you back (especially when I'm at work all day and can't post, and you come to my defense!)! And that description that turned you off has such an incredible ICK factor, I can't believe any editor let it get out the door! Beads of sweat? Ewwww!!

Cindy and Kate, thanks for laughing at my weak attempt at humor. Where's Anna C when you need her to crack a real pun?

Christine, I would love to come up with a new word-that's a fantastic quest for me! But it might take some time. I'll have to check back in with you on this one. ;-)

thanks for commenting, everyone! Maybe I'll get inspired by Christine and save us all from the c's and the p's and come up with something much, much better.

MaryF said...

Beads of SWEAT?? EWWWWW!!!!

Truth is, I don't read erotica much, but I've read a couple I didn't THINK were erotica, and there it is!