The sexual act is mechanical, repetitive and boring for a reader. How does the writer provide his readers with the excitement they desire?
The writer of erotica faces one major problem, and it is based on the genre he has chosen to write in. If erotica is literature designed to evoke sexual desire then each encounter between characters must more or less culminate with some kind of sexual encounter and this is where the problem lies. No matter how extensive his vocabulary, or fertile his imagination, sexual coupling is limited in the number of ways it can be described and ultimately will become boring.
There are a variety of ways to overcome this. If one assumes that major sexual activity takes place once in each chapter within a book of twenty chapters, one is looking at describing twenty couplings, and this is a hard call. For the purposes of this exercise we are assuming that the novel is about the continuing sexual relationship between two people only, so that activity with other partners is precluded.
The first port of call, as for many jaded couples, is to vary the positions in which the carnal activity is performed. But as the mechanics of coupling are limited this does not extend the scope for descriptive writing greatly.
Secondly, the venue for the encounter can be varied and again this has a parallel in real life as long-term married couples attempt to add some spice to their love life. Every room in the house is a possible location before more outré places are attempted, but do remember that most authorities frown on public fornication.
Another option is to create a secondary story by having the participants indulge in role play and there is huge scope here as the possible combinations are endless. There are classics such as the duchess and the chauffeur, but the adventurous couple will veer towards the spaceman and the alien or the android and the scientist.
The most interesting facet of human sexual experience, however, is where social intercourse becomes sexual. At some point during their interaction the two characters must take their relationship beyond the merely civil and it is how this occurs, this flirting, which is fascinating. By playing with this concept the writer of erotica can delay the inevitable coupling by playing with the reader and teasing them. In modern western society, a man who makes his intentions over-plain will almost certainly not be successful in winning the fair maiden, and by the same token Mr Faint-Heart has no prospect of success if he fails to get his message across. Between these two is a no-man’s land where the writer can frolic, offering chat-up lines or a tiny glimpse of forbidden flesh, building up the emotional pressure within the reader. By using this method, this literary foreplay, the writer of erotica delivers a much more satisfying experience than simply describing the conjunction of two bodies.
Ultimately, erotica is not suited to the novel form. Because it may lead to tedium, erotica is much more suited to the short story than the novel. Erotic classics such as Fanny Hill (Penguin Classics, 1986) are rare whereas collections such as Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers) are much more common. Changing characters and plot would seem to be the ideal method of retaining reader interest. This would seem to be the true prescription for the ennui that repeated writing of erotica may engender.