The Beautiful Experiment

by | November 30, 2013 | General | 4 comments

By K D Grace

I was bored. My flight had been delayed.
I’d already been traveling forever, and I’d reached that point at which I was
too tired to read, too tired to concentrate on writing, too tired to sit still
without being twitchy. I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want to eat. I just
wanted to be done travelling. That’s when I began The Beautiful Experiment. I
was seated off one of the main concourses, which was a constant hive of
activity, of people coming and going, popping in and out of shops and scurrying
to make tight connections. It was the ideal place to people watch. But with a
twist. I decided to watch the masses to see just how many truly beautiful people
I could spot.

Okay, I know everyone has a slightly
different ideal when it comes to beauty, but we all know it when we see it. We
all know that look that turns heads, that look that makes us want to stare, to
take in all that loveliness just a little longer. I didn’t care if the real
lookers were men or women. I mean if we’re honest, we look at both, whether we
admire it, want it or envy it. So I sat and I watched. … and I watched … and I
watched. Since that time I’ve carried out my little experiment in pubs, in
museums, on the tube, in busy parks, and the results are always the same. There
just aren’t that many real stunners out there!

I was struck by that fact in the airport
that day, so I decided to add another dimension to my experiment. I decided to
look for people who were interesting. It didn’t necessarily have to be their
looks that were interesting, it could just as easily be their behaviour, their
dress, something, anything that made them worth a surreptitious stare. And wow!
Being delayed in an airport suddenly became a fascinating grist mill for story
ideas and intriguing speculation.

I’ve carried out this experiment lots of
time now, and the results are always the same. There are very few stunners out
there, and even when I spot one, even when I find myself sneaking glances at a
beautiful person, my eyes, and my attention, can always be drawn away by the
interesting people.

In erotica and, in particular erotic
romance, the characters are usually voluptuous, sculpted beauties and broad shouldered,
wash-boarded hunks. It’s fantasy after all. But how long can a story focus the
reader’s attention on washboard abs or perfect tits? Descriptions give us a handle.
Descriptions are like the label on a file. They might attract us to the file,
but if the file is empty, it won’t hold our attention. It’s what makes the
described beautiful person interesting that makes the story.

In our genre, sex is a large part of
what makes our beautiful people intriguing; how they think about sex, their
kinks, their quirks, their neuroses, their baggage – all of those things make
the fact that our beautiful people are interesting way more important than the
fact that they’re beautiful.  Add to that
some seriously delicious consequences for that sex, some chaos and mayhem, a
few character flaws that catch us off our guard, that draw us in and voila! A
gripping story is born!

Perfection in a story, in characters, is
the equivalent of a literary air brushing. No flaws = no story; no rough spots
= nothing to hold our attention. Our characters’ beauty is only their handle.
Their flaws and their intriguing quirks are what catapult us into the plot,
what make us want to stay on for more than just a look-see and to dig a little
deeper, to really know those characters and become emotionally involved with

Last night on the tube in London, I
tried my little experiment again, just to make sure. More data is always a good
idea, and good science has to be repeatable, doesn’t it? Taking into account my
own preferences and prejudices, the results were the same. I can remember a
half a dozen really interesting people, people I could very easily write a
story about. There wasn’t a single stunner among them, which leads me to the
conclusion that we’re more interesting in our flaws than in our perfections.
We’re more interesting in our experiences and the way they manifest than in the
static beauty of the moment. It also excites me to think that I’m surrounded by
interesting people all the time. A story is never farther away than the next
intriguing person. Is this an ordinary-looking person’s version of sour grapes?
I don’t think so; I hope not. Truth is there’s an astonishing transformation
that takes place in the company of truly interesting people. Before long, right
before my eyes, those truly intriguing people become the beautiful people.
There’s always a story in that.

KD Grace

Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, K D Grace believes Freud was right. It really IS all about sex — sex and love – and that is an absolute writer’s playground.

When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening or walking. Her creativity is directly proportional to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She loves mythology, which inspires many of her stories. She enjoys time in the gym, where she’s having a mad affair with a pair of kettle bells. She loves reading and watching birds, and she loves anything that gets her outdoors.

KD’s novels and other works are published by Totally Bound, SourceBooks, Accent Press, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, and others. She also writes romance under the name Grace Marshall.

K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include, The Initiation of Ms Holly, Fulfilling the Contract, To Rome with Lust, and The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Witches trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether, and Elemental Fire, are now also available.

K D Grace also writes hot romance as Grace Marshall. An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis, The Exhibition and Interviewing Wade are all available.


  1. Kathleen Bradean

    It must be a sign of maturity (not a sensible shoes level maturity though) when we start looking past the surface of people. Most writers I know are ordinary looking people, but they give the best conversation (once you pry them out of their shells). Imagine how fascinating other people are. Beautiful is a matter of luck. Interesting has to be cultivated.

    • KD Grace

      Thank you for your comment, Kathleen. I'm always surprised by what lies beneath the surface and how it got there. I'm also surprised by the way peoples' appearence change once you get to know them. Beautiful IS a matter of luck, and interesting DOES have to be cultivated, and the eye of the beholder is much sharper once that interesting part is accessed.

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    "There wasn’t a single stunner among them, which leads me to the conclusion that we’re more interesting in our flaws than in our perfections."

    This is an important insight, K.D.

    The people who attract me (including in a sexual sense) are not usually particularly beautiful, by societal standards. There's just something that draws the eye and the mind, perhaps the sense of delicious secrets just waiting to be shared.

    Also, I find beauty in diversity. I'd much rather read or write a story in which the characters have varied body types, ethnicities, personalities, because even in the real world, I don't want to have to choose!

    • KD Grace

      Thanks for the comment, Lisabet. I don't often go into a lot of detail in describing the main characters in my novels because I've always felt that their looks are much less relevant than their story, and their story, who they are inside is what ultimately shapes their looks to the rest of the characters.

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