Forum: Sexuality in Middle-earth

Discussing: Researching Erotica

Researching Erotica

In the "In Search of Het" forum, Dwim said, As I've said to some who've complimented me on my sex scenes, whether het or slash, writing explicit sex scenes for me is like bluffing an experienced poker player who not only has a triplet and a double (you can tell how much experience of poker I have) with nothing but a pair of twos. Lack of experience is not an absolute bar to writing a good sex scene, even a very explicit one; research and imagination can make up for a lot. That thread has gotten quite long, and I'd rather not start a new major discussion in it, so I thought I'd ask my question in a new thread. Where? If I want to know the hour of the sun sets in Minas Tirith around Midsummer or need some good ways to describe Shire ale (both questions that have come up in my current piece), I can do a quick web search for reasonable real-world equivalents (Rome and British beer respectively). If I, as a woman, need to know what a guy feels during sex so I can write erotica from the POV of a male character, I have a significantly harder job. Any web search using "sex" as a keyword is likely to turn up 95% pornography sites, something that I'd rather not expose myself to, let alone wade through. The only possible alternative I've come up with is Cosmo or other similar magazines, and I have a hard time seeing how they'd be helpful. So... if you were going to do research for an erotic piece, how would you do it? I am personally interested in where you research for an upcoming het piece, but I think this question is equally applicable (if not moreso) to slash. Marta



Re: Researching Erotica

So... if you were going to do research for an erotic piece, how would you do it? I ask my guy friends. I've written several explicit het pieces from the man's POV based on things they've said. I've also been known to let them beta the smut and point out small things that are wrong (sensations, etc.) in both het and the one slash story I ever wrote (on a dare). Kristen



Re: Researching Erotica

In my other fandom I've been to cons which have had panels with a gay man in which slash writers have got to ask as many detailed questions as they like. It was fantastically useful, I have to say The chap in question said he was initially quite nervous at facing a room full of (primarily) women, but afterwards said he would be happy to do it again, as the level of intelligent questions and good humour made the experience a pleasure. Nickey



Re: Researching Erotica

For myself: If it is not something I have experienced, I would search for fics and articles that feature the sort of thing I am looking for and start by simply trying to imagine what seems possible and/or reasonable. Then I would try to talk to someone who has experienced that, to use them as a sounding board and hopefully beta at least those sections. In many ways. perception is reality, and a medical report or fantasy fic isn't going to help as much as someone who can talk to you about an actual experience, but you still have to translate it into something your readers will find believeable and enjoyable (or appropriate in the context)



Re: Researching Erotica

A Google search for "sex" will give you tons of porn, but that's mostly visual images and therefore not much help to a writer. I recommend searching for "literary erotica" instead, since that's what you're going for. For slash research, find literary erotica by and for gay men - there are a number of Web publications, annual anthologies, etc. Erotica anthologies are easy to find at your local big chain bookstore (at least, they are at mine). Susie Bright's annual Best American Erotica series, the anthologies, etc., are all quite mainstream in terms of publication and sales even if their content can be very out there. There are tons of theme anthologies too: African-American erotica, erotica by women, erotica with SF or mystery elements, lesbian, gay, BDSM, gender-bending, etcetera, ad infinitum. Also, read the classics: Anais Nin, Henry Miller, 'The Story of O,' 'the Perfumed Garden,' the 'Kama Sutra', et cetera. It's like any other genre--read a lot, see what's being done already, borrow, steal, adapt, find your own style by practice. Experience is not as important as research and imagination.



Re: Researching Erotica

Thought I'd weigh in with a recommendation here, on where one can find inforrmation about male sexuality/erotica/foreplay and so on. The site is actually pretty well know among some slash communities, though perhaps not for LotR folk: Minotaur's guide to male erotica. Has a question and answer section, well used by a lot of slash writers, and anatomical drawings to clarify the basics for beginners. Although not everything he says I'd trust to be 100% true for all men all the time, he'll usually add that caveat on his own, and admit that there is no such thing as the universalized male sexual experience.



Re: Researching Erotica

Minotaur's is a good site to look at, although not if you are under the age of consent or have parents who disapprove of pictures and are likely to walk in on you. It is, as they say, "Not Work Safe". Also, searching "sexuality" rather than "sex" is one way of getting around the millions of porn sites. There is a difference, and if you want factual information about what happens physcially and psychologically for either sex, looking up sites that discuss sexuality is going to be more useful than looking up sites that discuss sex. From there, it's up to you to transform the more clinical descriptions into something dramatic, tender, fearful, whatever you're describing. Take it all with a grain of salt, of course, because many times, the person writing the essaya is speaking in the first person (and is usually willing to acknowledge that), but that also tells you that whatever the person describes is something that has happened to at least one person. Ergo, it could happen again, in a fictional setting, with sufficient "translation" to accommodate whatever the differences may be between the cultures that inform each person's background.



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