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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
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The Time is Write
The Beautiful People
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Synopsis: the Necessary Evil
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Feedback Whine

2007 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
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An Apology to Salespeople

Get All Worked Up
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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

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin

Good Sex: A Physics Lesson

Sex reminds me very much of physics. You start out with what you know, what you have seen and felt and touched, but after a remarkably short time, you realized that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of possible sexual acts that, by virtue of lacking a penis, I cannot engage in, not to mention others that simply aren't to my tastes. Still, as a writer, I have access to all of them, but my understanding even of the ones I know and enjoy is incomplete.

Unfortunately, the more information I have, the less I understand. Sex can be reduced to a series of hormonal responses, beginning with basic physical attraction and ending with the post-orgasm oxytocin rush, but that doesn't explain things like furries. There is no possible hormonal explanation for people dressing up like stuffed animals, and the psychological explanations are nothing more than guesswork.

For every evolutionary justification for every specific sexual proclivity, there is an equal and opposite behavior and corresponding explanation, a peculiarity I've puzzled over more than once. We're not the sort of critter that mates once every year or so because the urge is so overwhelming we can't help it. We're not Bonobo chimps, either, who seem to use sex as a form of communication and community bonding, and it's not just that we fall somewhere in between, it's that we span the entire range. There isn't much that we don't do.

Whatever flips that strange switch between our ears, it's not the acts themselves or even the physiological response. The easy answer is context, but I'm not sure that covers it. I have enjoyed some objectively boring things very much because they were done with the right person at the right time, but that opens the question of what makes this person and this time right?

Even though almost everyone has experienced "right", it's a remarkably difficult idea to quantify. I can always default to "being in love", but there again, you're on pretty thin ice. I've been in love more than once and it was different every time, so trying to write about being in love is like trying to write about the Horsehead Nebula.

You'll give the reader a reason to remember it if they've ever seen it, but you won't accurately describe it.

Even worse, it's possible to have good sex without being in love.

Simple affection can do the trick, or raw physical attraction, never mind things like pity, grief or even anger. "Right", it turns out, has so many permutations that attempting to boil it all down to one combination of factors is a complete waste of time.

This is a good thing, for both lovers and writers, because it means we have an endless playground to explore. You can start with what's familiar, yes, but what happens if you do this thing with someone you're very fond of but not completely insane about? Or what about if you do it outdoors, or maybe in the bathroom at someone else's wedding? Half-dressed instead of undressed? For that matter, how little clothing can you remove and still fuck? Is it possible to have really good sex without any physical contact at all?

It has turned me into a skeptic, because every time someone starts bragging about good sex, I start thinking, "Oh yeah? So what made it good anyway? What were you doing, exactly? Why were you doing it, and with whom?" The phrase "good sex" is no longer enough, but even borderline voyeuristic questions don't produce satisfying answers.

I've drawn on my own memory, but that doesn't really help much. It's not that I haven't had good sex, it's that memory itself is a peculiar thing. I know that some of the occasions that come immediately to mind weren't the best sex I had with that person. They aren't necessarily the worst, either, they're just memorable for another reason, although come to think of it, many of those reasons had to do with telephones or pets. I guess humor sticks in much the same way as passion.

In fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of a single external feature, even something as culturally loaded as dick size, that contributes significantly how good sex is. Religion? Nope. Coolness? Nope.

Height? Nope. Weight? Nope. Things like hotness seem pretty simple on the surface, but are really open to heated and endless debate. Even disability isn't a major contributing factor unless one's partner is absolutely fixated on an act that isn't possible. There's no physical profile of a good lover.

There's no psychological profile, either. You'd think that selfish, narcissistic, sociopathic or otherwise unpleasant people would be bad in bed, but anyone who has been burned in love can attest that this isn't the case. Just because one cylinder isn't firing doesn't mean that all of them aren't. The reverse is also true. Just because someone is relatively sane doesn't mean they're going to be good in bed, especially if their preferences don't match up with yours.

And yes, while people have their preferences, those range all over the map. Someone with a fetish, a true fetish rather than a strong fondness for something, may not be able to get off at all in the absence of the object they're fixed on. Others are game for almost everything. Some people have acts they don't like and can't be coaxed into. It grosses them out, and that's that.

Even bodies respond differently. On some women, stimulation of the G-spot triggers powerful orgasms. On others, it stimulations a powerful urge to pee. Still others can't tell the difference between the G-spot and any other spot on the vaginal wall. This means that G-spot stimulation is no more the sexual Holy Grail than prostate stimulation, to which men have similar mixed responses.

I've been accused more than once of overexamining things to the point where all of the magic is gone, but where sex is concerned, the more I take it apart, the more magical it becomes. The same is true of physics, and it's not that I know all that much about physics, it's that I know just enough to know that the deeper into it you get, the weirder the universe becomes.

Sex is the same way. What, exactly, constitutes good sex? What's required to make sex good? What are its component parts? How are those parts held together? How do they interact? There are days when I feel like I'm staring at the output of a radio telescope, trying to decipher signals from stars so distant that they'll twinkle in the night sky long after they're dead, which brings me to the final question. Why do I bother?

I really wish I knew. My fascination for this stuff is yet another one of life's great mysteries, but I'm glad for it because I'm in forever in pursuit of ideas. Being able to expand beyond my own, personal horizons is extremely useful if I'm going to come up with new material.

I also have to continue to write the same old stuff in new ways. Sure I could use vocabulary to spice things up, but once you get from hard cock to throbbing manhood to quivering love saber, you've gone from erotic to absurd. I can try to inject increasing levels of kink, but that gets absurd after a while, too. Music is sexy; music stands are painful.

Still, the line between sexy and painful is pretty damned thin. Some out there would even argue that there was no line at all, that a music stand, properly applied, could be pretty hot, which of course just sends me off on yet another wild goose chase. Could I, maybe, write a story about that?

Really, good sex is a bit like antimatter in the sense that it's not something you can look at directly. We don't even know for sure what it's made of, although we can take some pretty good guesses. Good sex reveals itself primarily through the effects on participants, or maybe in the fact that too many things wouldn't be nearly as easy to explain without it, but the fact that we can't measure it directly doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Every time I pull up a blank Word document, I begin yet another exploration of what constitutes good sex. At the end of the day, I usually know a bit more about what it looks like, but not because I've seen it face to face. It's because in examining the things around it, I begin to better understand what it looks like and how it's shaped, as well as the strange, complex role it plays in our lives. Good sex may be one of the least quantifiable forces in the universe, but it's hard to explain the evolution and structure of life without it.

Ann Regentin
February 2007

© 2007 Ann Regentin. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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