Awesome People

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Writing Smut



I’m going to tell you a little secret.  For the past month or so, I have been writing a dirty book, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  It’s also something I’ve attempted sporadically in the past, but never quite past the stage of having a vague idea and writing a page or two. Discipline has never been one of my strong suits. This time, I have actually made some progress, with a fairly complete outline of the first third of the book, a fairly engaging protagonist, with a distinctive voice (if I do say so myself), several chapters completed, and a good idea of how it will end. 
"Why a dirty book?" you may ask.  Good question. I’ve asked myself that question.  There was a time in my life when I was a very enthusiastic consumer of pornography. I still have nothing against porn, believe me, but over the years I’ve found that I’m mostly just bored by it. I still love looking at beautiful, young flesh, of course, but for the most part, watching the actual act, the old in and out, has become tiresome.  Even the best porn, and it’s hard to say what that is anymore, leaves me cold.  I acknowledge that this may be all because I’m getting old, and I’ve seen it all before.  But how do I explain that written porn, mere words on paper, or an electronic devise, can still get my full attention.  It’s true, and no doubt too much information, that a well-written dirty story can get me off every time, which can not be said about the average suck and fuck video.  

Written porn had a golden age from the late sixties to the early nineties when a person who knew where to look could find smut of the highest quality, some with real literary value- not that literary value was the objective.  This all came to a head with the publication of John Preston’s Flesh and the Word anthologies, starting in 1994; three volumes of prime, boner-inducing gay smut, published by a major publisher.  As is often the case, Flesh and the Word and its two sequels gave mainstream recognition to a phenomena that was just about to come crashing down.  One might blame the advent of the Internet. I do. Whatever the reason, in the twenty (!) years since then, the magazines that used to give professional writers of smut an outlet have disappeared, the small publishers such as Allyson, which catered to an exclusively queer clientele are gone, imprints such as Bad Boy, which reprinted classic gay pulp fiction, shuttered, and the gay pulp novels themselves have ceased to exist. 




What do we have instead?  The Internet.  And in my humble opinion, the Internet has not proven to be a worthy successor to the printed word.  Yes, there is a lot of man-on-man erotica to be found on e-booksellers like Amazon.  Some of the golden age smut is now available in electronic format, although not enough of it, and there are still men writing good male erotica.  Matthew Rettenmund, he of Boy Culture, the novel and the website, has recently e-published a delightful collection of short stories, delightfully and bluntly entitled Young and Horny.  But you’ll find that about ninety per cent of the man-on-man erotica being offered by Amazon is written by women who don’t seem to have the slightest idea of homosexual men get up to in bed.  They are women writing for women, which I do not begrudge them, but the male bodice rippers they produce have nothing to say to me.  

There is also, as I’m sure you are aware, a plethora of amateur smut on the internet, most of it offered entirely for free, but most of it is so poorly written that it is a chore to slog through the first few sentences.  Not that it’s all bad.  I’ve spent some very productive evenings at Nifty.org.  But mostly, to quote Liz Lemon, “Blergh.”
Now that I’ve taken matters into my own hands, I’ve learned something.  Basically this:  writing hot stories is not easy.  I want my book to be sexy, exciting, funny, full of adventure and hot action. In my mind, the story is awesome.  I’m sure you would love the story in my mind.  Putting that awesome story into words is difficult.  I am trying to avoid too much self-editing in my first draft, but that’s almost impossible. Every time I reread my words I find clichés, awkward sentence structures, repetitive wording, odd punctuation- pretty much everything I don’t like to see in other people’s writing.  Also, I start way too many sentences with “so,” “and,” and “but.”  Let’s not talk about spelling. Knowing me, I will stumble through draft after draft before I am happy with the thing, and can allow it to sneak out into the public, where it will no doubt be ignored by the entire world. I’m not fooling myself that I will become the Stephen King of gay smut.  I would be happy if I made something that I like, and that will make a few people happy and, I hope, horny.  Not sure it will ever happen, but I try, my friends, I try.

3 comments:

DSAReboot said...

As someone who has written and published over 60 short stories of gay erotica, please don't think of them as "dirty" stories! Crafted right, you still have to have characters that readers care about, characters that grow, and more than just a series of sex scenes. KUDOS to you and continue writing; I gave up writing erotica a few years ago, but what's out there still brings me some royalties ... and man, over the years was it THE best way to vent some frustrations, in more ways than one!

Vera said...

But I love dirty stories. The dirtier the better. I also like real characters, interesting situations,and sex that makes sense, but damn, I like it to be dirty!

bufs said...

If they're honest, who doesn't like a dirty story? Well-written ones particularly. And the smuttier the better.

As for editing, in my limited (okay, pretty much nonexistent) experience, it does suck. Taken to excess (the way I roll) it ultimately brings writing to a screeching halt. I guess that's why, if acknowledgements are to be believed, successful authors heap such effusive praise on their editors.

Anyway, hats off to you, Vera. Writing surely isn't easy, nor for the faint of heart. I admire anyone with the discipline even to try. And I don't doubt for a minute that you will find success.

Good luck and write on!