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24 August 2006 @ 07:01 pm
Emotional Attachment & Smutty Fic  
We discussed this on IM last night, and thought it was worth throwing out for conversation.  My musing is such: I've bought and read some of those 'erotica anthologies', and for the most part, they bore me to tears. So I've been wondering if there's a component of having an attachment to a character that adds to the enjoyment of such fic. As in: I find I enjoy 'adult' fanfic with a character I know and care about more than the 'professional' sorts of stories found in published anthologies. With many of those, it's virtually nameless and faceless and I just don't care enough about the participants for the story to be satisfying on any level.  Obviously, there are exceptions. but generally speaking that seems to be the pattern.

Thoughts?

And here's hoping the other participants of last night's conversation share their thoughts.

 
 
Music Box: Pirates of the Caribbean - He's A Pirate
 
 
 
100% Running With Scissors: weslyriaviridian on August 25th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC)
You know, I think that's likely?

For example, I am bored to TEARS reading 99% of smut out there, even within the fandoms that I read, UNLESS it is a pairing that I really and truly feel for and wanted to see happen in canon. If it DID happen in canon, then there's usually got to be some unsatisfied aspect of it that makes me seek out fic, otherwise I think "eh, why read it when the show already did it?"

And I rarely, RARELY write smut myself unless the pairing really really moves me to. I cannot read smut for smut's sake. It's only interesting if I adore the characters and I believe they have genuine tension there that needs to be fulfilled.
dracschick: Dracula-Phantom universe icondracschick on August 25th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
Writing a sex scene is like writing a death scene.......
there should be a good reason for both to be written.
I end up writing a lot of sexy stuff too....... - dracschick on August 25th, 2006 04:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
dracschick: victorianwomenneedsextoodracschick on August 25th, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
Nope, I feel the same way............
1. Not enough backstory to make you care about the characters in the anthologies.

2. I don't like the way some smutty stuff is written these days. I also don't enjoy reading as many four letter words in the anthologies. In my writing, I try to artfully write around that but still keep it erotic.
black_op on August 25th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
Art imitates life...
sexual activity interests us most as participants or witnesses when it is 'so wrong' or 'so right'. If you are at the club and a friend points to two people you don't know and says they just had sex your reactions include 'why should I care?' Same friend points to two people you know who you think should or shouldn't be together it is as they say 'a different story'.
Mischiefem_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 03:32 am (UTC)
I guess my question would be this: if you don't have an emotional attachment to the characters in professionally written erotica, does that make it just porn? And if you do have an attachment to the characters in say, an amateur fanfic that's a PWP, does that elevate the PWP to something more "romantic" just because you know the backstory or is it still just porn?

Where's the line of demarcation for you? For anyone? Emotional attachment? Whether or not the writer is being paid? Plot? Character development?

If it's just two people having sex, why should I care, even if I know the characters? Insert Tab A into Slot B. We're done.

For me, if erotica is to be satisfying, it must be well written and real. Even if it's a PWP, there has to be a point to it somewhere.

Take tryfanstone's "Skin Shot". It's slash. It's shameless, hot porn. But the underlying message is that with every photo described, it could be you. That some Watcher somewhere could be taking photos of you and your lover just to store them away, to be taken out and examined by countless generations of other Watchers. That you, as an Immortal, have no privacy whatsoever. And never will.

That's frightening. And outrageous. No names were mentioned in "Skin Shot". We assumed the writer was talking about Duncan and Methos but it could have been any two Immortals. And any Watcher. It was the forbidden thrill of voyeurism coupled with the inherent threat of stalking plus the nastiness of the archival of the photos that gave meaning to the story.

And that's the connection I need to find erotica satisfying. I don't "need" romance but I do need substance. And that's what's missing from most erotica/porn. No matter what you're writing, you still need to tell the story. If there's no story, why should I care?


Becca: You Know by beccadgbeccadg on August 25th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
Take tryfanstone's "Skin Shot".

*Whistles.* Wow, the description alone squicks me on a variety of levels. I'm not even sure if I can pick the worst. I might call it a toss up between "the inherent threat of stalking," and "the nastiness of the archival of the photos." Considering Duncan/Methos can squick me, but it's only a distant factor... guh. I think it does prove that along with my needing "emotional attachment" plot also matters to me, or maybe plot isn't exactly the right word, context? *Nods to self.* Yeah, I think context is better. I can enjoy plot-less romantic sex between characters I care about, and I can enjoy thoroughly unromantic sex between characters I don't much care for if I can see a point to the sex that doesn't totally squick me. ;-b
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 05:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beccadg on August 25th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 08:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beccadg on August 25th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ith: Burnithildyn on August 25th, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)

And that's the connection I need to find erotica satisfying. I don't "need" romance but I do need substance. And that's what's missing from most erotica/porn. No matter what you're writing, you still need to tell the story. If there's no story, why should I care?


Well said. Substance it a good way to put it.
Ith: Autumn Leaves Geishaithildyn on August 25th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
What is the difference between erotica and porn? Is there one? Probably depends on who you ask. Heh.

See? I'm just trying to inspire you to writing more great reading material for me today [weg]



(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 25th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 25th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Laurie odell: deviousMethoscyberducks on August 25th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
I only read smut fic with characters I am really into. I know some people who love to read certain authors and follow their writing through different characters in different fandoms - but not me. For instance, I may love Chelle's HL erotic fic, but I haven't read a single of her SGA erotic fic - though it's most likely just as well written. When a character really turns me on in a l l ways I want to read how they have sex - if not - I am just not interested.
Becca: Jean-Claude/Aeryn by beccadgbeccadg on August 25th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
I've been wondering if there's a component of having an attachment to a character that adds to the enjoyment of such fic.

*Raises hand.* For me it is definitely important that I care about the characters involved. However, there's more to it then that. I'm not sure how to explain it... I loved Anita's having sex with Jean-Claude in TKD, and Richard in BM. I care, or in Anita's case cared, about the characters in those scenes, but there was also all the history between the characters -- all the time I'd spent waiting for those moments. Anita's having sex with Micah in NiC? That was strictly a WTF? And, even the sex she had with Jean-Claude and Richard in ID, which sadly was about all I was looking forward to when I started the book, it didn't have much appeal because it was so... hollow.
Ith: Absinthe Posterithildyn on August 25th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)
It was actually my Anita post from earlier that got me thinking. Because that's the other aspect. I do care about Anita and JC, but the sex in the later books has become mind numbing for me. Like you said -- hollow.
Beccabeccadg on August 25th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
Because that's the other aspect.

*Nods.* Yeah, I'm not exactly sure how mischief5's "substance" and my "context" relate, but I do know that while there is a lot of sex in the Merry Gentry books it's different to me from the sex in the later Anita books, and it isn't all my caring about who Merry's having sex with because I definitely don't care about every person she's had sex with. It's... to me... a lot of the later ABVH sex is just there while Merry is generally doing more than having sex whether it's consolidating some part of the power she has or maneuvering for more. It's a tool Merry's using rather than something unfortunate she's doing. If that makes any sense. X_X
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 25th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beccadg on August 25th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 25th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - beccadg on August 25th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
patpat_t on August 25th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
Well for me it's real simple. I *have* to care about the characters. Even non fandom related erotica. I need a story - a reason why these two people are doing what they are doing. I need to know who *they* are - they can't just be body parts doing this and that. Which is why I can't just follow the crowd into all these other fandoms. I have to care about the characters and see them that way.
Ith: Burnithildyn on August 25th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC)
Take a sex scene written for a short story that's just sex and read it as a stand alone story, or take that same sex scene ad place it in a novel where I've gotten to know the people involved and feel like I have something invested emotionally in the story -- whether good or even bad emotions sometimes -- and I'm going to want to read choice number two.

She went that-a-way...: unamusedjinxed_wood on August 25th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
Ah yes, the difference between erotica and porn.

If I had to come up with a definition, I would say it’s related to the objectification of the characters. If the characters involved have substance and depth, even in a short story, it’s erotica. It it’s a case of insert part of body A into part of body B, then it’s porn. Just my opinion, of course.

Erotica interests me, porn doesn’t, it’s as simple as that. I love a good love scene as much as the next gal, but context and character development is a must for me. I need to be emotionally involved.

As for the Anita books, Unlike other people here, I didn’t read them in strict order because I only started reading them a couple of years ago and all the books weren’t available to me at the time. Impatient woman that I am, I just thought ‘Oh, I’ll just skip those few and read the last two’

Ooops

What the hell happened to the plot? Fine, Anita, you’re cursed with need for sex ;-) But does every single encounter have to be written in such loving detail to the detriment of an actual plot. Hasn’t this author heard of ellipses? Doesn’t she know that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing?

Having said all this, there is such a thing as an exception to the rule. For me, that fanfic author is nautibitz, who writes’ Spuffy’porn with such a light handed touch and sense of humour, I can’t help myself!
Ith: From Hellithildyn on August 25th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, there's always exceptions to everything. Thankfully :)

What the hell happened to the plot? Fine, Anita, you’re cursed with need for sex ;-) But does every single encounter have to be written in such loving detail to the detriment of an actual plot. Hasn’t this author heard of ellipses? Doesn’t she know that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing?

Oh! You nailed it! That's exactly it. I've told my boss after loaning him the latest books in the series that if you removed all the sex, you'd maybe have a novella left, if that. So if you want to give me all that sex, you need to give me some bones, some foundation, some plot! I know she can do it, she's proved that with the earlier books.
(no subject) - beccadg on August 25th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
captnofmyheartcaptnofmyheart on August 25th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
A fanfic friend asked me once what I thought of the erotica that is so prevalent in fanfic and I told her that before I wrote it myself, I would have to complete a checklist to make sure that I got in all the perfunctory details...because really, thats what it all seems to be: very formulaic. All one has to do is switch the characters' faces. The rest of it is mind-numbingly the same.

In the fanfic my friend Jo and I have been writing weve been very deliberate in implying what happens, rather than explicit. The closest we came to doing an actual sex scene, both of us demured to euphamism. Which is fine by me. And we've tried to have our characters NOT do the same thing as the others, such as deliberately waiting.

I think you are right though - I have read some wonderful fanfic with sex scenes that were wonderfully done, but because I didnt have an emotional attachment to them, I wasnt as interested or as impressed as I was by the writers for a character that I responded to before in the Original Work.

Sorry that I missed last night's IM conversation. I would have enjoyed that! I managed to erase my MSN IM connection and havent had a chance to hook it back up.

Talk to you soon!
Carene: proncarenejeans on August 25th, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
I've been reading far too much mainstream erotica lately, and like you, I'm bored to tears by most of it. With very, very few exceptions.

I'd compare a lot of erotica/porn to science fiction "space opera," where there's a lot of fancy futuristic spaceships and robots and exotic planets and aliens with odd foreheads -- and a story peopled with cardboard characters. Erotica has a lot of naughty sex practices, forbidden liaisons, sparkly costumes and aliens with odd foreheads (okay, I've been reading some Ellora's Cave books) -- and cardboard characters.

The Act is more important than the people Doing It, it seems.

Also, there are no men in it. 8-)

There's also something… vaguely squicky about it. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I just feel, well, dirty after reading through Your Basic Erotica Anthology. And not in a good way, either! Seems like there's a lot of, I dunno, meanness in it? A mean-spirited undercurrent? A sort of Battle of the Sexes skirmishing going on? The most *obvious* squicky plot device is the one I mentioned in my post -- a wife gets "revenge" on her husband by sleeping with his mistress or the baby sitter he's been sleeping with. I read those and think, WTF, do I care about these people? They're idiots.

Sometimes it's not just a matter of not caring about the characters, but a matter of *actively disliking* them.

OTOH, I *have* read and liked sexy fanfic in fandoms I've known nothing about -- and aside from the fact that the stories were *really* good 8-), I think it's because the writer's love of the characters comes through in the story, whether or not *I* love them (yet).

(Must think about this more: how does this work?)

I really want to sort of study published erotica to figure out why I find them so dissatisfying, but it's a hard row to hoe. 8-) The stuff is irritating, but unfortunately not irritating enough to keep me awake.
Ith: Methos - Book=Hotithildyn on August 25th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
I like your space opera comparison. Yes, I keep trying to think more about it as well. I just think of new slants on it all and have to start thinking again.

I don't have any insight into the 'no men in it' aspect, since m/m just doesn't push any of my buttons. But somewhat related to reading sexy fanfic in uncharted waters.... Recently, I read a f/f fic (which does push my buttons in certain cases) that was Firefly, Zoe/River. At first I was, Zoe & River?!?!?! What the? But, I liked the authour's other fic, and I was curious :) Now, I am very familiar with the fandom, though I don't read the fic, but the pairing was something I didn't think I could wrap my brain around. Turned out it was a lovely fic, and I was very glad I took the chance to read it.

If I had a point, I can't recall what it is. More pondering is scheduled, I think :)
Carenecarenejeans on August 26th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
don't have any insight into the 'no men in it' aspect, since m/m just doesn't push any of my buttons.

Well, here I mean no there are no men even in *het* stories, which would kind of undermine the point of heterosexual, right? 8-) All het stories all the time don't have to be perfectly balanced between m/f, but as it is, the genre as a whole is way too lopsided in the direction of women's bodies/feelings/etc. I want more men in my het fic! Dammit!!! 8-)

F/F of course, is another thing entirely. That's best served with no men in it. 8-)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 26th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - carenejeans on August 28th, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 28th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - carenejeans on August 28th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 29th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Becca: Fic Dragon from ariestessbeccadg on August 25th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
I'd compare a lot of erotica/porn to science fiction "space opera... The Act is more important than the people Doing It, it seems.

*Nods.* I think you've got something there. "Space opera" I am a junky for unlike the erotica/porn, and I'm not necessarily into it for the characters or plot. It's nice if they're good, but not essential. I'm into it for the, "fancy futuristic spaceships and robots and exotic planets and aliens with odd foreheads." I imagine the people that are into the erotica/porn where the Act is more important are reading it for that.

Sometimes it's not just a matter of not caring about the characters, but a matter of *actively disliking* them.

There's only so much even a story with good substance can do to over come my disliking the characters doin' it.

I think it's because the writer's love of the characters comes through in the story, whether or not *I* love them (yet).

*Nods.* The ability of people to "borrow" other people's love of characters is kind of what I was talking about to mischief5 when I told her, "You didn't get Pirates until the recommendations of friends had gotten you emotionally invested." She "borrowed" her friends' love of the movie to get into it.
Mischief: Sillyem_kellesvig on August 26th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
Actually, the only reason I bought "Pirates" was to get Ith, Ducky, Kim and Jenni off my back.

"I hate Johnny Depp."

"You'll love Pirates!"

"I. Hate. Johnny. Depp."

"Oh, please? It's so funny!"

"Shaddup already."

"There's this one scene..."

"Grrrr!"

"Just buy it and you'll see!"

"Will you shut up if I buy it?"

"Will you watch it?"

"Yes. Fine. Whatever."

Then I had to eat crow and listen to the chorus of "I told you so's" when it turned out that I did love it. Sheesh. I haven't given in to peer pressure since junior high.

VBEG.
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 26th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - em_kellesvig on August 26th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ithildyn on August 26th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ekaterinn: not an addict (by carmendove)ekaterinn on August 25th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
I do agree - it's the characters I'm interested in, and of course, with visual mediums, it's easier to imagine sex scenes with a firm grasp of what they look like. I would also suggest that this is why most of the people writing fanfiction (and particularly het and slash sexual fanfic) tend to be female - we want that connection more than we want just the plain sex. Course, I could be totally off-base...
DarthHelloKitty: Methos WTFdarthhellokitty on August 25th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
I think I may be the freak in the room here... I frequently read slash in fandoms where I have no interest in the show, or even ACTIVELY DISLIKE the show, because it's hot. The writer is good enough to make a good enough story, with exciting enough sex, that even though I'm not INTO those guys, it's enjoyable to read.

As for pro erotica - that varies big time, almost as much as pro mystery or pro science fiction or whatever. There are the 90% of writers/material that are utter crap (to me), and then there are the 10% who are brilliant. Patrick Califia does it for me every time - possibly because he comes up with things that surprise me - while the "Best Erotica" series tends to be kind of boring and same-y to me.
Ith: Methos - Sketchithildyn on August 28th, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
Well, there are times when I don't care either, I admit[g] I don't think you're a freak, BTW. Everyone is different, and thank goodness for it!