Tuesday, 19 June 2007

erotica v porn

This is a response to Daisy Dexter Dobbs Blog entry on the difference between erotica and porn, which is a fascinating read.

I have to say that I agree with Daisy’s assessment of porn – almost. She said :

These stories offer sex without the necessity of a plot, a romance or a committed relationship. Pornography is basically blatant, in-your-face sex that's unapologetically meant to titillate, without bothering to provide a quality reading experience.

It’s the first part of the first sentence that I’d disagree with. Porn does have a plot. Even if that plot is as basic as “I caught my wife cheating and I liked it so much I joined in” or “My wife was feeling old so I organised a gangbang to make her feel young again”.

For me, the difference between porn and erotica doesn’t lie in plot (although, most erotica will have stronger plots than porn for reasons I’ll show you in a sec). It lies in character.

It’s characters that make fiction worth reading or not. You could have the world’s best ever plot, twisting and turning and full of surprises, but if the characters are two-dimensional stereotypes, you’ll not have fiction worth a damn. Would Harry Potter still sell millions if JK Rowling hadn’t created a core group of thoroughly fascinating characters who have developed and changed throughout the series? Would Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels have quite the same impact if the likes of Granny Weatherwax and Commander Vimes were boring, meaningless characters that we as readers didn’t care about? The answer to both questions is no, they wouldn’t. Readers want to engage with character that they feel they know and care about.

In porn, characters don’t matter. You could happily interchange “Sally” from “My cheating Wife” with “Sophie” from “My wife’s fiftieth birthday gangbang” and you’d have essentially the same stories. It’s just like ‘visual’ porn. Take a look at any of the myriad of porn websites and you’ll see the same ‘plot’ (eg girl gets tricked into performing for the camera) played out with a different girl each time.

But with erotica (and erotic romance) the characters don’t just matter – they are essential to the direction and tone of the story. This is what I mean about erotica having stronger plots. The plot is so often determined by the actions of the characters, that if the characters are different, they will make different choices which result in a different outcome and direction of plot.

Take, for example, the characters from two of my recent stories, “Charlotte’s Secret” and “Lost & Found”.

There are three principal characters in Charlotte’s secret and even though we only see the story through the eyes of two of them, at the end we discover that all three have been keeping secrets and that all three have been doing what they think is best for themselves and the ones they love (ie, their children). But it’s Charlotte herself I want to discuss. Almost two years prior to when the story ‘starts’ Charlotte made a decision that meant put all the characters in the position where the story could take place. She chose to keep a secret and allow the man she loved to marry her sister in ignorance of the secret. It’s argued that had Charlotte not kept the secret, but told David what was happening – he would never have married Susie.

Now, in “Lost & Found”, the principal female character, Beth, would have made that other choice. She would have poured her heart out to David—fought for her man. This is because she is a totally different person—fiery, passionate and determined. Whereas Charlotte is more sedate, more thoughtful of other people’s feelings and more willing to sacrifice herself to ‘keep the peace’. Had “Charlotte’s Secret” been “Beth’s Secret” there would have been no story because Beth would never have kept the secret in the first place.

Characters in porn are merely “faceless” cocks and pussies. Porn appeals to our base urges. It has it’s place, and that place is a tool for sexual gratification. Characters in erotica are “real people”, with real emotions, facing real problems and solving them in realistic ways (most of the time). And it’s because these characters have depth and history that they react in different ways to different situations and the resultant plots are stronger and feature more conflict and resolution. And that, at the end of the day, is what good fiction, erotic or otherwise, is all about.


Monday, 18 June 2007

Monday Update

Just a quickie today – we have the auditors in the office this week and so I need to snatch a few moments when I can.

Over the weekend I made a few minor modifications to my website. I’ve updated my WIP page to reflect recent submissions and acceptances and I’ve changed the ‘titles’ on my story page – they are now in a more attractive font. I’m still having problems with one area of text on this page. It’s very annoying and I suspect I may have to delete the text/cell and redo it to get it to behave itself.

To my shame, I’ve still not added any links on my author’s page. I have a list of people to add, but as yet have not been able to get a run at it. I’ll have to make this a priority.

I didn’t do any writing this weekend – I spent most of it with my son, which was very nice. Although, he does insist that he want’s to go “asside” even though it’s pouring with rain. Needless to say, I have to find ways to distract him. Mr. Potato Head usually works well.

I've also started a blog group for authors of erotica at myspace. Anyone who dabbles in erotica is welcome to join

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Public Performance

The setting has been called unpleasant and grubby and people have said that the unflushed toilets, graphitised walls and piss covered floors are a turn off, but I’ve also been told that it’s hot, hot, hot and that the characters seem very real.

“Public Performance” has been accepted for publication at Ruthie’s club, subject to the usual editing process, etc.

Here’s my initial teaser (although I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have to re-write this).

It’s Kenny’s twenty-first birthday party and his sexy, sultry, flirty girlfriend is putting on a show to remind him just how lucky he is. But when her flirting goes too far, Kenny loses his rag and the whole club stops to watch. But will the young lovers make it up and will Kenny get his hands on his special birthday treat?

And here’s a very brief extract that shows just how grubby and unpleasant the story really is.

He couldn’t face going into the packed dance hall where everyone would be staring at him. Instead, he went into the gents’ toilet. As nightclub toilets went, it wasn’t that bad. The floor was wet and muddy, and it reeked of stale urine, but there wasn’t anything nasty on the walls. He kicked open the nearest unoccupied cubicle and went inside.

“Fucking hell!” The smell hit him like a hammer. He looked in the bowl. “Fucking wanker! Bastard! Shit! Fuck man, how hard is it to flush the fucking bog!” He yanked the handle and, as the offending material flushed away, he abandoned the cubicle for one at the other end of the row. At least whoever had used this one last had the decency to clean up.

He locked the door and put the toilet seat down. He didn’t know how long he sat with his head in his hands, trying to gather his thoughts. He was more than a little drunk and found it hard to concentrate. He read the adverts scribbled on the wall—“For a good hard fuck, call Lucie on 07897 789546”. He wondered if she was the same Lucie he lived with—he didn’t recognise the number, but she had recently changed her phone. He read another. “I love to give blow jobs. Call Frank on 07775 216573”. That number he did recognise and he wouldn’t be calling it anytime soon. He shuddered at the thought of Frank sucking his cock.


It’s Thursday. Nearly another whole week out of the way and another week where I’ve not achieved even close to half the things I wanted to get done. No website updates, hardly any blogging done, hardly any blogging read, and I can’t even blame Football Manager 2005 because I haven’t been playing that either. And it’s not like I’ve been snowed under at work, because I haven’t.

I don’t think the weather helps – it’s muggy and humid and hot and sticky and yet there’s almost no sun. We did manage to sit in the beer garden at the back of the pub across the road yesterday lunchtime to enjoy fish and chips and a pint, but that’s about it. Headache weather the girls in the office call it. They’re not wrong – I’m getting through Nurofen like nobody’s business.

Still, life goes on. I believe I now have a finished draft of “Private Party”. I’ll go over it once more today before submission. It topped out at nearly 4500 words and now has a stronger opening than before and more of the ‘inner voice’ during the sex scene, which the fishies at the tank told me they quite liked. I just hope I haven’t over done it. Short extract follows below.

I’ve also managed to follow up one of my outstanding submissions. “Public Performance” has been accepted by Ruthie’s Club. I’ll let you know the date for publication when I have it.

I haven’t heard from Phaze yet about “Charlotte’s Secret”. I know it’s only been ten days, but I’m forever an optimist. Its not on my calendar to follow up for another few days, but damn it, I’m an impatient bastard at times. On this occasion, however, I’ll have to wait.

From “Private Party”

Paul and Jack spent the evening trying out cheesy chat-up lines and collecting kisses from the female students. Jack pushed it too far with one of them and got a vodka and Coke thrown over his crotch. While Jack nipped back to his room to change his jeans, Paul started on the tequila. Paul and tequila had a history—to say they didn’t get along particularly well was an understatement of titanic proportions. “Mortal enemies” would be a better description. Normally, he didn’t touch the stuff, but Angela and two of her friends were slamming and they invited him to join in.

“Beat all three of us and I’ll snog you,” she offered.

Paul was never one to turn down a challenge anyway, but this time the prize on offer was definitely worth having. He tried to act cool, gulped down his nerves and said, “And if one of you beat me?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ll think of something, won’t we girls? Best two out of three?”

“Okay, you’re on.”

Three glasses of the evil fire-water later, Paul and Angela were sitting on her bed, four rooms down from his, and he was cleaning her tonsils with his tongue. She tasted as good as he had imagined—like strawberries and vanilla ice-cream sprinkled with cinnamon. He had one hand on the back of her head and fondled her boobs with the other. When they eventually came up for air, all Paul could do to sit and stare.

Say something clever, said the voice in his head that had been drinking orange juice all night. This might be your only chance. Say something witty. Make it memorable.

“Angela, you’re fucking gorgeous, you know?”

Is that the best you could come up with? Fucking hell, I’m putting in for a transfer.

Angela stared back at him, her eyes twinkling like sapphires. She shook her head and her black hair fell around her shoulders. “You really think so?”

I can’t believe this. Worst line you’ve ever used with and it might actually work. Don’t fuck this up!

“God, yeah. You’re fucking top drawer.”

Angela’s smile widened. “I thought gentlemen preferred blondes?”

Careful. Careful. “Oh, they do.” Fuck! You’ve fucked it up, moron! “But I’m no gentleman.” Ohhh, good save

“That’s good. ‘Cause I’m no lady, either.” She threw herself at him, locking her lips to his. This time it was Paul’s tonsils that required cleaning. The little fella in his boxers sprang to life—at least brewer’s droop wasn’t going to be a problem.

Monday, 11 June 2007

I've been Phished

Last week I received an e-mail from Halifax Plc, one of the UK’s leading banks. It looked very official, even had the company number and registered office listed. The gist of the message was :

Halifax Online Banking Security Department has been receiving complaints from our customers for unauthorised uses of the Halifax Online Banking accounts. As a result we are temporarily shutting down some selected Halifax Online Banking Accounts perceived vulnerable to this, pending till the time we carry out proper verification by the account owner. Halifax Online Banking is committed to ensure the safeguard of each customer personal information, making sure only authorised individuals have access to their accounts

There was a link to click on to reactivate my account. Interestingly, this came to one of my Marc Nobbs e-mail addresses, which I wouldn’t consider using for online banking since it would be very difficult for Marc Nobbs to provide ID to open an account (what with not being real and everything). Added to that, the man behind the nym has never so much as set foot in a Halifax branch, let alone had an account with them.

Here is my, rather restrained, reply :

Dear Halifax,
Not only is Marc Nobbs a pseudonym used by myself to write erotic fiction - I don't even back with Halifax under my real name. In fact, I've never had an account with Halifax, or indeed with any of your subsidiaries.
If you are going to Phish, at least check you're doing it to,
a)real people and
b) Halifax customers.
I expect an apology forthwith,

Many Thanks,
Marc Nobbs.

Funnily enough, I haven’t had a reply yet.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Google Ads

I’ve been using Googlemail and the message system at myspace for a while now and something just struck me. They scan the contents of the messages to place ‘appropriate’ adverts. And it’s unnerving sometimes how accurate they are to what you’re talking about.

Does anyone else find this disconerting? Or is it just me? Is Big Googrther really watching our every move? If I type, “Google is the bastard child of the devil”, will they send the thought police after me?

Gotta go, I think I hear someone trying to break down the door…

Clueless Men

This morning I jotted down a ‘roadmap’ for a new story idea. I wanted to capture it before is ran away out of reach. And after I’d finished, I thought, hmmm, the twins are a bit devious and scheming, but my male character is a little bit clueless.

That got me thinking – I’ve written a lot of ‘clueless’ men in recent years. Go back to “Reunion”. In that story, Matt was just sort of swept along with events. He reacts to things going on around him rather than being in control. Even in the sex parts it’s Kelly who seems to dominate (not the right word). She’s the one who decides when, where and how they ‘do it’.

In the first “Ladz”story, Gavin is utterly clueless. He shoots off in his pants when Laura strips in front of him for Christ’s sake. And in the second “Ladz”story, Jake is just out for a day in London and is bewitched by this girl on the train.

Charlotte’s Secret” is perhaps the exception that proves the ‘rule’. In that story, David appears at first to be weak willed and reactionary, but he’s actually as cold and calculating and controlling as his wife. Though ultimately his is proven not to know everything and events get away from him.

In “Lost and Found”, Chris is swept along on Beth’s ride. He’s very much the passenger on this journey.

And so it is with stories I’ve recently finished or am in the process of writing. In “Public Performance”, Kenny is quite frankly, a bit of a moron. Harry, from “Six-thirty sleeper to Paris” is similarly bewitched by a beautiful woman until he no longer has any control of his situation. In “The Method”, the main conflict in the story comes from the germ of doubt in the reader’s mind that Chloe is deceiving Adam.

So, the question has to be – is it me? What does my portrayal of male characters say about me, if anything? Or is it my portrayal of strong, confident yet vulnerable women that says more? I not entirely sure I want answers to those questions to be honest.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Submissions Update

Over the weekend I received back the edits for “Six-Thirty Sleeper to Paris” from Nat at Ruthie’s. I’ve got to say that I’m impressed – that’s about the quickest I’ve ever had a set of edits back. And they’re not to shabby either. I was expecting some issues with the French in the story, but for the most part it’s been fine. There have been two notes from Nat about the French and one translation from French to English – but most of his notes were about the plot or slight inconsistencies with the characters. All good if it makes the story better.

The issues with the French are the interesting ones to me. He asked to change “Faites-vous aiment?” to “Do you like it?”, which I can understand. It’s not ‘common’ French, by which I mean it’s not something I’d expect most English speakers to know and it’s also an important point in the story. Second, “Les chaussures du merde.” Literally this is “The Shoes of Shit” although my wife tells me this is how the French would say “Shit shoes.” In fact, she says that in French pretty much anything can be “Du merde.” Either way, I’ve changed it to “J’ai mal à mes pieds. Les chaussures sont merde” meaning “My feet ache. These shoes are shit.” Which I think reads better anyway.

The final one is my use of the word “pluke”, which doesn’t show up in the on-line dictionaries, but which my wife uses all the time. It refers to the lowest of the low, the real dregs of society. I asked her about it and it turns out it’s a regional thing – used a lot in the north of France but not so much elsewhere. My character is a Parisian, so I’ve switched to con, meaning idiot but equally derogatory.

I don’t have a date for the publication of the story yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to post it here.

Also this weekend I heard from Alessia Brio over at Phaze. She’s editing an anthology that I’d submitted “Charlotte’s Secret” to. It was “coming together for the cure” with all proceeds going to breast cancer research. I knew I was pushing it when I submitted, because “Charlotte’s Secret” is at the very top of the word limit for the anotho (just over it in fact). A few weeks ago, when I followed up the sub, Alessia asked if I’d mind submitting the story for regular publication at Phaze if she passed it over for the antho. I said that of course I wouldn’t mind. In fact, I’d be delighted. This weekend she confirmed that she is passing over the story, in favour a greater number of shorter stories – which makes sense to me – and that she has put the story forward for regular publication. I’ve no idea how long it will take to get a decision either way, but I’ll keep you informed here.

Sunday, 3 June 2007


I’ve made a few changes to my websitethat you may like to look at. I’ve added details of all my published stories and works in progress. I’ve not been able to add links to them all yet – that’s next on the list – but it does look nice.

I’ve also changed the colour of the linked text from a dark purple to a light blue. It was hard to read before on my dark background.

I had hoped to add links to other authors etc this weekend, but ran out of time – my son just won’t seem to leave me alone at weekends, not that I’m complaining.

Take a look. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and I’m still on the lookout for any other authors who’d like their website/myspace linked to. Just drop me a message and I’ll add you when I get around to doing that page.


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