I’ve talked about a bunch of stuff that’s ancillary to the process of writing, but anyone who’s seen me at conventions knows that I’m much more interested in talking about the writing itself, so let me fix this disparity. I want to talk to you guys about one of the biggest problems I see with most adult furry fiction. I’ve spoken about this before, and I’ve had a good amount of discussion and dissection of my opinions. I think at this point I’m ready to get all of my thoughts down in a more comprehensive manner, so without further preamble, let me introduce you to…
The Mind Game
First, since this isn’t regularly discussed, I feel this needs an introduction. Just to set the scene, I’m going to state an assumption that, while it seems obvious, I’ve been argued on: One of the primary purposes of erotic fiction is to arouse and stimulate the reader. Depending on the thrust of your story, it may not be the only primary purpose, but if you’re not intending to arouse the reader, I’m going to argue that it’s not ‘erotic fiction’ at all, but simply a story that contains some explicit content. Good with that out of the way, I’m going to propose to you that The Mind Game is your most potent tool for arousing and stimulating your readers. Most of you probably already use this subconsciously, but just like any technique or tool, the better you consciously understand it, the more expertly you can use it.
In short, The Mind Game states that the mechanics, position, and physical action in a sex scene are only important when they serve to create and right mental and emotional reaction from your characters. Like with a lot of writing techniques, this means you need to think about your scenes backwards: Decide what reaction from your characters is the hottest, then engineer the setting, props, scene, and positioning to achieve that reaction with the least description of mechanics possible.
When you first read it out, this seems counter-intuitive and a bit wrong. A lot of authors really rebel against the idea of minimalism in description. Especially in sci-fi (my chosen genre of expertise) entire reputations can be made with detailed descriptions of otherworldly and alien experiences. Let me draw attention to two of the words I just used there, though: “Otherworldly” and “Alien”. Detailed description is the most important when what you’re describing is not familiar to the reader. When your readers can clearly imagine your characters, it’s actually to your detriment to spend too much time in description.
In fact, this applies doubly so to erotic scenes. Remember that you and your reader have the same goal in mind. You want to stimulate them, and they want to be stimulated. Because your reader wants to be aroused by what you’re writing, your most effective tool is actually your reader’s imagination. Let me emphasize that: Nothing you write will be as hot on the page as the scenes your readers are imagining while they read it. This is a double edged sword, though, because imagination is a stubborn horse. You’ll only ever be able to generally guide it in the right direction. No matter how hard you try, people’s imaginations will add in things and remove them where what you wrote doesn’t exactly agree with their own personal tastes.
Don’t fight it. Use it. If you accept that the best you can do is guide your reader to the general region of hotness, then you can rely on their imagination to fill in the details you don’t specify. Even more, those details they fill in will be custom tailored to the reader to make that scene as hot as possible. The more of this you do, the more details your reader will fill in, and the hotter it will be to them. In fact, when you take this idea to its logical conclusion, you’re really just building the skeletal structure of a hot scene, with all of the meaty bits actually being filled in by the readers themselves.
“But Kandrel,” I hear you cry, “All you’ve actually told is what not to write. This isn’t useful!” I disagree. I’m actually of the opinion that this is what separates a writer from an author. A skilled writer knows what to write, while a skilled author knows what not to. This doesn’t apply solely to erotic scenes. Using your reader’s imagination is important in every genre. But you do have a point. I’ve told you what to take out of your erotic prose, so I guess I should tell you what to put back in.
Remember, at the beginning of this, I stated that the reaction of your characters is what’s most important? I’d suggest that when you remove all those flowery descriptions of the explicit, squishy bits, that you replace them instead with reactions from your characters. Those are how you inform your reader that they should (or, in some cases, should not) find what’s going on hot. Want to know the magic secret? If, through your characters, you tell your reader that they should find something hot, many readers will find it hot even if what’s happening in the scene isn’t to their tastes. Again, let me emphasize that: If your readers are emotionally invested in your characters, and you make it clear that your characters are aroused, your reader will be aroused. This is independent of kinks, independent of sexual orientation and preference. That’s right, my fluffy keyboard-pounders. You can get your straight readers off to a gay scene.
No, I’m not going to say this happens every time, nor does it work for everyone with every story. What I’m saying is that by using your characters reactions and emotions to subconsciously inform your reader what they should be feeling at that time, both you and your reader are more likely to achieve your original goal: to get your reader off.
Of course, it’s never so simple as following step a, b, and c to hot-town. Just like any other part of the art of writing, this takes practice and artistry to do right. I can’t tell you exactly what to do, because it will change from scene to scene, and from story to story. So instead of telling you specifically what to do, I’m going to tell you what to think. These are the questions you should be constantly asking yourself: How does this make my character feel? What does this make my character think? How can I show what this is doing to my character? How can my character react to this in a way that shows the effect of what’s happening an a clear, concise way? Those questions should take priority over mere mechanics. Yes, it’s hot to know when position changes, but it’s significantly hotter to know how that change in position hits all kinds of new and interesting spots when character’s lover gives a good hump. Yes, having sex in a shower is hot, but I really want to know how your character feels about having the hot water cascading down through their pelt while it’s all happening.
This may mean a big change to the way that you think about writing sex scenes, but before you ignore my advice and go back to your step-by-step description of the physical action, let me challenge you to try this. Even if you don’t keep it, and even if you don’t post it or share it, try it. I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Don’t expect to get it perfect the first time, but even inexpertly done I think you’ll notice a big difference in the ‘hotness’ of your scenes.
I hope this helps, guys. Please, give me some feedback here! Do you find this useful? Do you disagree with my opinions? Does this not work for you? I’d love to hear back. As always, love from the fox, and keep writing.