As a writer of both erotic fiction and erotic memoir, the lines between the two can often become blurred. All memoir, even though it is ‘true’ is tweaked and filtered to fit a coherent narrative and while it may be truth it is a subjective truth. Certainly with erotic experiences; we may be feeling something completely different to how other participants remember the encounter.
Fiction, of course is ‘made up’ yet most writers whether consciously or unconsciously write from the ground of their own experiences and knowledge. Certainly when writing sex scenes, which is why it’s often especially difficult to write an erotic scene from the perspective of another gender! In fact in my upcoming writing guide, ‘Passionate Plots’, published by Compass Books early 2014, I include a writing exercise that uses memory to craft a sex scene for writers new to the genre (see below to have a go at this exercise). Our own experiences are always a good starting point when it comes to writing erotic scenes. The beauty of fiction however is the reader doesn’t know which experiences are or aren’t your own. Of course, if you’re writing good fiction then the reader will be too immersed in the characters to think of the author at all. You can let your imagination go where it pleases. I recently wrote an erotic scene involving a cowboy. Although I used my own sexual experiences as a springboard, creativity took over from there, as – unfortunately – I have yet to frolic in a stable with a cowboy! I love writing paranormal and historical erotic romance in particular as I can take real flights of fancy.
When it comes to writing memoir, it’s a very different process. As the writer you’re constrained to a certain degree by the facts as you see them, and this leads to a spiralling inwards rather than a creative leap –digging down right into your own dreams and memories and feelings. Although I found writing my memoir ‘Wicked Games’ (Random House, 2013) a cathartic process, it was also an unsettling one that left me feeling vulnerable. There’s no hiding behind your characters when you are in fact the character. It’s tempting to gloss over the most revealing parts, but that often takes away from the intensity of the scene.
Erotic memoir is very popular at the moment, although as a genre it’s nothing new; in fact we get our word ‘pornography’ from the Ancient Greek ‘pornographia’ which means the ‘writings of prostitutes’ referring to memoirs that popular courtesans of the period often wrote to entice future clients – and probably, in time honoured girl talk tradition, share with each other too. Anais Nin’s erotic memoirs became literary classics, in stark contrast to today’s somewhat patronising ‘mommy porn’ labels.
Erotica as a genre is so enduring because all of us to some degree like stories and like sex. Put them together and you’re onto a winner. Erotic memoir, as distinct from its fictional counterpart, is I believe so popular because it gives us the forbidden feeling of delving into someone else’s most personal thoughts and deeds. It’s almost an act of voyeurism, and that’s partly what makes it so hot for the reader and sometimes unsettling for the writer; it’s like inviting the world into your bedroom. Of course as the writer you can pick and choose what to include, but leave too much out and it will feel inauthentic to the reader. Include everything, and you feel as though you’re walking around naked.…
You can read the rest of this post at bestselling erotic romance author KD Grace’s blog www.kdgrace.co.uk