Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Terrance Aldon Shaw Likes How To Write And Sell Erotica

This is ultra-cool!  The very fun Terrance Aldon Shaw - on his Erotica For The Big Brain site - has this very flattering, and thoughtful, review of my book, How To Write And Sell Erotica.

Here's a taste (for the rest click here)

M. Christian’s How to Write and Sell Erotica is a collection of short essays drawn from his regular blog postings on the ERWA website. As one might expect from their origins in the blogosphere, the style of these pieces is personal, pithily opinionated and, at times charmingly irreverent; informal but always informative. Topics are wide ranging, touching on numerous issues of concern to established and aspiring writers of genre (i.e. non-literary) erotica. I especially like Christian’s definition of erotica as works that “do not blink” when it comes time to describe sexual activity—a healthy counterweight to the sort of prissy detachment on display in Benedict’s book. His repeated observation that, in our society, if you cut off somebody’s head “you get an R rating; if you show someone giving head, you get an NC-17” is right on the money in addition to being funny as hell because it’s so maddeningly true. I find moving his suggestion that, perhaps, someday society will achieve such a level of enlightenment, frankness and maturity that erotica will disappear as a separate genre—would that it could be so in our lifetime. Like Bright, Christian does his share of cheerleading, offering encouragement and inspiration, though usually with a healthy dose of realism and a plea to maintain a set of realistic expectations. There are so many marvelous quotable passages in these essays I find it hard to choose only one; so updating the ancient practice of sortilegium for the Age of the E-Reader, here’s one at random:
One more thing you could do [by writing erotica] is help people. We don’t like sex in this country. Sure, we sell beer and cars with it, but we don’t like it. We’re scared of it. Living in this world with anything that’s not beer and car commercial sexuality can be a very frightening and lonely experience. Too many people feel that they are alone, or that what they like to do sexually is wrong, sinful or sick. Now, I’m not talking about violent or abusive sexual feelings, but rather am interest in something that harms no one and that other people have discovered to be harmless or even beneficial. If you treat what you’re writing about with respect, care and understanding, you could reach out to someone somewhere and help them understand and maybe even get through their bad feelings about their sexuality—bad feelings, by the way, that maybe have been dished out by the lazy and ignorant for way too long. 
As with any book of this type, readers will not always agree with the author on every point—and that’s as it should be. For instance, I don't agree with Christian--or Stephen King for that matter--who argue that a writer should never resort to a thesaurus. (As the compiler of The Erotic Writer's Thesaurus on this site, you can bet I disagree!) Nor does Christian like the idea of constantly “changing up” descriptive words in a text, especially where bodily parts are concerned. Others may be horrified, recalling nightmare critique sessions in creative writing class where they were admonished to avoid repetition and parallelism like the plague. Christian could have a point, although his tone may be a tad too ex-cathedra not to wrinkle a few noses, I remain skeptically neutral on this particular issue, while Christian is happy to inform his readers that he never got much out of those creative  writing courses. He also doesn’t particularly like being reviewed—“shut up!” I think were his exact words. All I can say is; tough titties, dude; the book is recommended, so suck on it!

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