Dark and Dangerous

Image courtesy Pando Hall Magnus

Image courtesy Pando Hall Magnus

Helga’s Post #31 — Today, I spent my time on something naughty: I buried my nose in EROTICA.

Inspiration came via email from Kobo. They recommended two new titles for me. The first, which I am looking forward to read, is Khaled Husseini’s new novel And the Mountains Echoed. If it’s as good as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, then his legions of fans, including me, will be in for a treat.

The second title Kobo recommended for me (for reasons unknown) was ‘Entwined With You’ by Erotica queen Sylvia Day. Never heard of her? Take note of her accomplishments:

#1 New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of more than a dozen award-winning novels sold in thirty-nine countries. A reader favorite across several genres, there are millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Author, has won the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, and has been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award twice.

I was intrigued. I was also in search of a topic for today’s post. So I started reading those ‘Look Inside’ freebie sample pages that Amazon offers.


When I got to the end, I sat back, trying to decide if I should take a cold shower or get seriously depressed. Or start laughing out loud. The shower would be the obvious option if I wouldn’t be a writer. Seriously depressed is not my personality, so that left ROFL (‘rolling on the floor laughing’ for people of my generation).

Because, if you are a writer in a genre other than Erotica, reading the stuff will amuse you  no end (unless you are a fan of the genre, in which case writing style is irrelevant).

Think about it. We are trained, brainwashed, indoctrinated, beaten into submission, whatever, to follow some pretty universal writing rules. Such as, ‘Show, don’t tell.’ Or ‘Avoid adjectives and adverbs’. Reason being, they are your interpretation of the facts. You, the writer, should not have to do that if you present the right facts.

We pay good money to learn that stuff. It’s drilled into us from the day we start writing fiction.

It seems though that breaking the rules is quite okay for publishers of Erotica. In no way am I passing judgment on the genre. It’s good fun to read now and then if you’re able to suspend judgment on style. But I am intrigued as to how many books are published that break those rules we’ve been taught to avoid like the plague.

Not surprisingly, men are often big supporters of their wives reading the stuff. As some Erotica websites claim, husbands may be cowering under the sheets while others are writing thank you letters to these authors who have inspired their wives to turn into veritable pussycats in bed. Or tigresses. (Shades of the the fifties and sixties?)

E L James’ Fifty Shades Trilogy has sold more copies to date than the Harry Potter series (and counting). Even people who had no previous interest in contemporary romance have jumped upon (or are thinking about it) this runaway train and delving into the naughty tale of BDSM.

Help me out here, please. What does that tell us about the book publishing industry? Or (I really, really hate to pose this question), about readers? Wished I knew. What I do know is this: If I would submit chapters of my work similar to some of the books published in the genre to my critique group, they would shoot me down without so much as an apology. Instant death. Go hide below your desk and shame on you. If you survive your justified suicide attempt, go back and fix your garbage. And re-submit again without your boisterous shit and your adjectives and adverbs, and your characters no one can relate to, because they may as well live on some distant planet.

We can’t argue with success, though. I concede that I may be naïve (privilege of a certain age). Perhaps Erotica gets a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ when it comes to writing rules. Whatever. It does make me ponder a fundamental question though, which one of my favorite bloggers I follow has raised:

‘Is publishing a book more important than writing the story I want to tell?’

Ah, oh. Not an either/or question. Because if we want to tell a story, by its nature, we want people to read it. And if it’s not published, that ain’t happening. But that’s a topic for another post. So in closing, for your titillating pleasure, here are some Erotica excerpts from Reflected In You (they refer to the same man):

– His glorious shoulder-length mane of inky black hair

– He was a testament to leashed power. There was no need for him to shout when he could get people to quake in their shoes with just a look or a tersely spoken word.

– At the ridiculous age of twenty-eight, he was one of the top twenty-five richest people in the world.

– I was positive he was the hottest man on the planet. And he kept photos of me everywhere he worked.

– He turned, pivoting gracefully to catch me with his icy blue gaze.

– Dark and Dangerous. And all mine.

– Those sculpted cheekbones and dark winged brows, the thickly lashed blue eyes, and those lips… perfectly etched to be both sensual and wicked.

– That look conveyed how hard and deep he wanted to fuck me – which he did every chance he got – and it also afforded me a glimpse of his raw, unrelenting force of will.

– The soft rasp in his smooth cultured voice was nearly capable of making me orgasm just listening to it.

– Confronted with that breathtaking face framed by that lustrous dark hair, I felt my knees weaken just a little.

– I was pretty sure he owned a significant chunk of Manhattan.

– He was outrageously gifted in bed. And he knew it.

– The paparazzi followed his every move.

– With a soft groan he sealed his chiseled mouth over mine.

– He straightened, shrugging off his brooding sensuality and instantly capturing me with his severe intensity. So mercurial – like me.

– His luxurious living room; his private elevator; his black Bentley SUV; a quick glance at my Rolex (all in one paragraph)

– Long enough for his brow to arch over his piercing blue eyes.

– He caught me in his fierce blue gaze.

– He purred, sprawled against the seat with the predatory insouciance of a sleek panther who’d neatly trapped a mouse in his den.

Excited yet? Take a cold shower. Or ROFL. Whatever your inclination. Either way, this genre is the ticket to riches if that’s what you’re aiming for. And you won’t have to worry about adjectives and adverbs. LOL.

14 thoughts on “Dark and Dangerous

  1. I’m firmly in the ROFL group. Or wait, would that adjective better suit a description of a man? More specifically, a man in a work of Erotica? Maybe the 50 Shades gang can get away with more than those of us trying to break into other genres. But publishing something like this to pad the bank account takes a backseat to writing the stories I want to tell. 😉

    • Thanks, JM. For lots of us new writers, padding the bank account has to take a back seat if we want to stay true to our craft. Yes, the 50 Shades gang got a license to print anything, especially money.

  2. Maybe I’m just too low brow, but I have to admit I was entirely captivated by this one:

    “He purred, sprawled against the seat with the predatory insouciance of a sleek panther who’d neatly trapped a mouse in his den.”

    Perhaps I may have to do more research to see if I am capable of producing something of a similar ilk? I bet it is like a Harlequin Romance, – everyone thinks they’re easy to right, but end up harder than we think, because it is ridiculously difficult to concentrate on producing that particular writing style for an entire two hundred odd pages.
    Anyway, bravo Helga, – a flurry of comments and counting! A nice way to close out the week at 5writers.

    • You have to earn your stripes first with YA, Paula, and then the group will decide if you’re ready to switch to the low brow stuff. Hah, I had no idea you are harboring such undercover (intended) plans.

  3. omigod omigod omigod omigod! I could hardly catch my breath after reading those juicy excerpts. Not from wild desire, but from wild laughter. Almost swallowed my chewing gum! Helga, you naughty girl. You need a spanking — and I’ll bet there’s a scene with one somewhere in that book!

    • Looking forward to get to that scene, if I have the staying power. Hope the writing style doesn’t sneak into my own manuscript. If it does, please do spank me!

  4. I always wondered where purple prose had gone to die. Except it’s alive and well and multiplying like crazy, apparently. That’s the genre, Helga, and those are its rules – if you want really awful, horrible writing that’s made the author a millionaire several times over, go read men’s adventure (no, that’s not a euphemism for porn!) It’s a legit genre and it’s AWFUL! And the King of men’s adventure is Clive Cussler. The one and only thing it has going for it is that Cussler knows how to pull you in, lock his awful, horrible writing around your neck and not let you go until you get to the end of the book. Same with porn – uh, excuse me, erotica. The point is not good writing. The point is to turn the reader on, and literary, elegant and technically brilliant writing just doesn’t do it for this audience. If you want really bad stuff, google it on the internet and take a read. But I warn you – keep pens and pencils well away while you do it, because you’ll be so tempted to edit, correct and mark the dang stuff!

    • Thanks, Bev, interesting about Clive Cussler and the men’s adventure genre. It’s a bit like junk food – you know it does nothing for your body but it’s got all that salt and stuff that makes it hard to stop once you open that bag of chips with trans fats and thousands of calories. Fortunately, for readers who like good writing and a dose of Erotica, there is some really good stuff out there. I even know some unpublished writers, as do you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s