Saturday, 8 February 2014

Quality or Content?

I had a thought

No, it wasn't about that.

It wasn't about that either, but it does have something to do with it.

The thought was about what makes classic writing - the quality of the writing, or the content?

We've all seen success stories where relatively poorly written works make millions and become hugely popular, but that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about are the works where the quality or writing is excellent, but the content is not 'weighty'.

In particular I'm talking about erotica.

I have read books in the category of erotica where the quality of writing is extremely good. There are those that deserve to be called 'classics' in that they are worth being and remaining popular for a long time, and have important things to say.

Such novels are not, however, likely to be seen on a reading list or in a book club. Why not? I've been involved in plenty of book clubs where we're discussed  books on controversial subjects, many having received critical acclaim. I have to admit I found many of them boring as hell. I'm a storyteller and find it difficult to enthuse about technically perfect use of language. I'm far more interested in what is being said than how it's being said.

I'm learning a lot about the use of language as I go on and am becoming more interested in its technical use. This has led me to see the intrinsic value in some of the erotica I read. What is it about sex that instantly reduces the value of the work that depicts it?

We can look at nudes on the wall and appreciate brushwork, yet we can't read a passage describing people loving one another and appreciate the perfect positioning of punctuation, or the exemplary choice of words to describe the sensations experienced by the characters?

Writers of erotica are often not seen as 'proper writers/' and elicit smirks everywhere. They're not 'real' writers. Why not? They're amazingly skilled. Finding the perfect words to describe love, and acts of love, are just as difficult and need just as much skill as finding the perfect words to describe war, terror, abuse, courage, overcoming difficulties and any of the other things people consider to be worthy and 'weighty' subjects.

I don't have any answers or suggestions. As I said, it was just a thought I thought I'd share.

Any ideas?


  1. Don't let the small minds of the so called "experts" fool you. I, for one, will read just about anything, as long as the story is well written and the words make sense. You, and others who's blogs I follow, are REAL writers and deserve all the respect that comes with that. Never allow anyone to make you believe otherwise.

    1. Thank you, honey. It's not that anyone was making me believe otherwise, it was just I was thinking about a writers group I'm joining and their definitions of classics and quality writing and I wondered why so many people are so sniffy about erotica, and in particular, equate it with poor writing.

  2. I love that you brought this up because Erotica and to some extent romance novels are considered "taboo" reading material simply because of the sexual nature of the work.

    I've been reading erotica and romance novels (on blogs, and sites like Literotica as well as printed and e-books.) and I DEFINITELY appreciate it when the work has a nice plot, kick-ass characters, really whitty dialogue and a nice cover (cuz face it, who doesn't love a nice cover? ;-)

    It does take a lot of skill as a writer and a good imagination to not make an erotic work....cheesy or corny or just down right painful; and I've read a few of those.

    I think that we (people) should be able to read and discuss sexuality, erotica, romance in a positive and open-minded way without judgement or shame. I think that's part of the issue in this society. We are constantly bombarded with sex in some way, shape, or form but it's "taboo" to speak or read about it openly.

    It's stifling really. It's a part of our nature to be sexual. I think that it's sad because so many people struggle with sexuality, sex, romance, love, inter-personal relationships, etc... and feel that they can't talk about it freely. It's made to be this shameful thing that people judge you about .....why?

    lol I'm getting long winded but I do feel passionately about this. I definitely agree with you and Kathy that you are REAL writers that have really fantastic stories.

    Honestly, can you really have a fully formed character or person without sexuality/sex coming up?

    I also think it's great that a lot of the erotica/romance I read has a positive message attached to it. Faithfulness, commitment, love, compromise, acceptance, non-judgement, freedom. . . there are so many. Granted you do have the stories that get into some of the "darker" sides of sexuality but everyone has a choice in what they read/do.

    I have great respect and admiration for authors of all types (I particularly enjoy erotica and romance lol). I tried writing at one point and I realize how difficult it is and how much work and effort go into creating these works of art.

    So THANK YOU for sharing creating and sharing your work. I truly appreciate and enjoy it :-)

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, and I totally agree with you about the way sex in general is treated by society, as something shameful and taboo, No wonder so many people, especially young people, have issues with their sexuality.

  3. lol All that long post and I didn't address the real question lol. I think you have to have a combination of good content and good writing.

    Balance, I think, is key. In terms of longevity and it turning into a classic. (Not that all classics are well written or have great content because I have run across a few that I do not feel were particularly enlightening. Of course, that is also subject to personal opinion. . . oh well

    1. I agree it's all about balance, and of course there is the personal taste of the reader, but considering a book a 'classic' or worthy of discussion within a 'serious' discussion group is something different and I'm guessing it's pretension.

  4. I think I like my old college mentor's definition and opinion of erotica best:

    "It's only erotica if it gets you hot - otherwise it needs a rewrite." - Allen Ginsberg

    1. Love it, and I totally agree. (nearly wrote titally agree. Wouldn't that be a fantastic typo)

  5. In America, we are still, despite centuries, still influenced by our puritanical ancestors. Remember all that hype over Shades of Gray? It was mild compared to some of the other erotica I've read. I think if some of the erotica was submitted to mainstream romance groups, some of it might get published. I have read a lot of hardcore sex in mainstream romance.