I have a first timer to my blog today, and very welcome she is to. It’s the wonderful Bel Anderson! Over to you hun!
Hi Kay, thanks so much for having me here! It’s great to be between the covers with you in the new Smut Alfresco anthology!
Today, if you don’t mind, I’d like to pick your readers’ brains – and yours too – on the subject of…
Erotic shorts and characterisation.
This is something that is on my mind a lot, mainly because I recently read a review on Amazon.com of an anthology which includes a story of mine and the person who reviewed it was complaining that the characters in most of the stories were ‘like a joke’. OK, this person didn’t like the anthology at all (fortunately their review was preceded by a very good one or I might have been really upset) but it did make me stop and think.
Now, I know everyone is looking for something slightly different from an erotic short story, but before that it hadn’t occurred to me that I needed to make a character in a four thousand word story, which consists mainly of people having sex, particularly rounded. Wrongly, perhaps, I had assumed that the main reason for reading these stories is a bit of titillation. I’m talking here about the sort of erotica you might want to read with your partner or on a saucy night in alone, not beautiful prose necessarily – just a rollicking good dirty story.
I have to admit that my characters in the story in question aren’t particularly rounded, but neither are their characters non-existent. I have a rather conceited Lord of the Manor who enjoys admiring his own, magnificent cock and feels an almost constant surging in his loins; a supposedly innocent maid who he has hand-picked to serve his needs if only she knew it; and his prim, nervous wife who comes to life amazingly once her new maid has taught her a few tricks. There is, I hope, also a moment or two of mild humour. Fine, I thought, for a short erotic tale (and so did the editor, I imagine!)
Personally, I’m not looking for complicated characterisation in a short erotic story. A novella or a novel is a different kettle of fish altogether and then, of course, we’d all be expecting believable, well-rounded characters. In a short story, there isn’t that much room to characterise fully without taking up valuable sex-space. A hint of character does for me – but maybe you don’t agree?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Bel has previously been published in anthologies by Xcite books, has recently had a story published in Smut Alfresco and has one in the upcoming Smut by the Sea Volume 2. She is working on a non-erotic novel and also an anthology of erotic stories.
You can find her blog here: http://belandersonwrites.blogspot.com and her work here:
Thanks Bel- That is a very interesting point you’ve raised, and I can imagine you’ll get a range of different answers to that question.
Personally- well, I firmly believe that whether the story is short or long, every character has to count. They have to be as rounded as the word length will allow. Obviously in a work of flash fiction this is harder to achieve, but if all you want is “wham bam thank you ma’am”, then read porn or watch a movie.
I’ve had criticism in one particular novella for a secondary character not being rounded enough. I was fairly surprised, because I really hadn’t seen her as vital enough to worry about in the grand scheme of the book- it seemed I was wrong! Not a mistake I will make again! Now I have a rule- if the character can’t be rounded, it goes!
But hey- that’s just by opinion!!! So- what do you guys think???
Do drop us a line,