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'07 Authors Insider Tips

by Louisa Burton
Formatting Your Manuscript
Scams / Choosing an Agent
Pitching Your Novel...
From The Call to Published...

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
Who Is Telling This Story?
It’s Work, Not A Hobby
Where Ideas Come From

Sexy on the Page
With Shanna Germain
Plotting Erotic Fiction
Seducing Your Muse
Creating Characters...
Description, Action & Dialogue
Fucking on Paper
Ten No-Nos of Erotic Fiction
Climactic Moments: First Draft
Critique Groups
Revising Your Erotic Story
Finding the Perfect Markets...
Just Submit Already
Rejections and Acceptances

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Verb Tense Confusion
Coming Up with Story Ideas
Attend a Writers’ Conference
The Fundamentals of POV
Should I Sign That?
Etiquette for Authors
Erotica is Serious Work
No Body Writes for Free...
Shameless Self Promotions
The Myth of Writer's Block

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
The Time is Write
The Beautiful People
A Book by Any Other...
Synopsis: the Necessary Evil
Erotica or Porn?
Feedback Whine

2007 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
What's it like being a writer?
An Apology to Salespeople

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
About Secrets
The Perfect Fuck
About Choices
The Age of Consent
The Kingmaker
Kids and Sex
The Price of Beauty
The G.O.P.
All Worked Up About Hate
Real Men

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Good Sex: A Physics Lesson
Meet Frankenstein
Thoughts on the Orgasm Gap
The Very Bloody Marys
The Doomsday Erection
Online Threesome Porn

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister

The Beautiful People

"I liked your book. I just didn’t like the fact that all the characters were twenty-somethings with perfect bodies."   —Fat Joyce

The above quote, from a friend of mine called Fat Joyce, illustrated two things:

a) Fat Joyce had not properly read my book.

b) People approach erotica with the preconception that all the characters contained within a story will be physically perfect specimens of youth and desirability.

To some degree this second point contains a grain of truth. The letters pages of most men’s magazines tend to focus on physical perfection. But this is usually a device used to brush past description and move onto other narrative techniques. Within the limited space of a typical men’s magazine letter there isn’t the space to wax lyrical about a physical foible, and explain that a protagonist is sexy because of that detail rather than in spite of it.

And there are plenty of published erotic novels and short stories where all the characters could have slipped from the pseudo-reality of a fashion show catwalk.

But this doesn’t always have to be the case. As a matter of personal taste, I find erotica more stimulating when it’s populated by realistic characters who are physically imperfect and ultimately more believable.

The reason I know Fat Joyce had not properly read my novel, The Black Masque, was because the story she complained about included a central female character who went against the grain of the stereotypical erotica heroine. Instead of having the physical characteristics of catwalk desirability, this character was clinically obese and proud of her fuller feminine figure.

The novel wasn’t written as a statement either for or against the attributes of big women. The character’s shape wasn’t even supposed to be a metaphor where her generous personality matched her generous figure. I had simply wanted to explore the often overlooked eroticism of a larger lady’s physique.

Clearly Fat Joyce had missed this detail.

Not that I’m the only author to explore deviations away from the stereotypical ideals of physical perfection. Olivia Green’s short story, "Plastic Fantastic Lover," (Best Women’s Erotica ’05) includes a male antagonist with a prosthetic leg. Olivia Green (and the story’s heroine) are careful not objectify the character or his disability. And the story works on a distinct level of credibility as a "real" person intrudes on the fantasy scene of two women with one man.

Madelynne Ellis includes a heavily built character (Marianne) in her novel Dark Designs. Mingling with the foregrounded Yaoi-esque characters of Dark Designs, Marianne adds a touch of credible charm that makes the novel far more believable than if she hadn’t been there.

In Saskia Walker’s Double Dare, the hero’s closest male companion (and the romantic lead in the novel’s subplot) is credible because of his facial scars. This device makes him sympathetic, and his attractiveness all the more potent.

All of which I mention to stress the point that physical perfection is not obligatory to make erotic fiction work. In a lot of cases it can severely hamper the final story by making the characters too fantastic, and therefore unbelievable. Readers across all genres identify with characters who have believable features and flaws and this identification is the key to making characters sympathetic, credible and likable.

Not that I’m suggesting everyone should go out and write stories about one-legged chubby-chasers. I’m simply saying that not every heroine’s nose and nipples needs to be a series of perfect retroussé buttons. And not every handsome hero needs ten inches of thick pulsing meat to bring to the table.

We’re all different. And our individual standards of perfection vary across a broad scale. But when we’re writing in a genre as fantastical as erotica it’s important to include every detail that will make the work most credible.

Ashley Lister
March 2007

"The Write Stuff" © 2007 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email: Ashley Lister

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'07 Book Reviews


A for Amour / B for Bondage
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '07
Review by Ashley Lister

The Butcher, The Baker...
Review by Ashley Lister

C is for Coeds
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Perceptions by Cervo

Coming Together for the Cure
Review by Lisabet

Review by Ashley Lister

F is for Fetish
Review by Ashley Lister

Got a Minute?
Review by Ashley Lister

He's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Love on the Dark Side
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Lust: ...Fantasies for Women
Review by Ashley Lister

The Mammoth Book Vol 6
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Naughty Spanking Stories
Review by Ashley Lister

Quickies 1
Review by Angelika Devlyn

She's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Sixteen of the Best
Review by Ashley Lister


Amorous Woman
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Boss
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Burning Bright
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Call Me By Your Name
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Dark Designs
Review by Ashley Lister

Equal Opportunities
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gothic Blue
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Ashley Liste

The Lords of Satyr: Nicholas
Review by Helen E. H. Madden

Love Song of the Dominatrix
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Riding the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Silver Collar
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Ashley Lister

Suite Seventeen
Review by Ashley Lister

Sweet as Sin
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Tiffany Twisted
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Top of Her Game
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Whalebone Strict
Review by Ashley Lister

Wife Swap
Review by Gary Russell

Wings of Madness
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Historical Obsessions
Review by Erastes

Homosex: 60 Years of Gay...
Review by Erastes

Mammoth Book of New Gay...
Review by Erastes

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Iridescence:...Lesbian Erotica
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sex Guides

The Path of Service
Review by Ashley Lister

Secrets of Porn Star Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Touch Me There
Review by Ashley Lister


Concertina: An Erotic Memoir...
Review by Rob Hardy

Daddy's Girl
Review by Ashley Lister

Dirt for Art's Sake
Review by Rob Hardy

Entangled Lives
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Impotence: A Cultural History
Review by Rob Hardy

I, Goldstein: My Screwed...
Review by Rob Hardy

In Praise of the Whip
Review by Rob Hardy

Insatiable: ...Porn Star
Review by William S. Dean

Letters of a Portuguese Nun
Review by Rob Hardy

Mississippi Sissy
Review by Rob Hardy

Ron Jeremy
Review by Rob Hardy

Virgin: The Untouched...
Review by Rob Hardy

The Year of Yes
Review by Rob Hardy