Sex is a powerful lure be it in real life, written stories, or in video formats. It is one of the effective tools for advertising, catching a lot of the desired attention. From elegant pin-ups to the distasteful, vulgar ads, from a subtle to an open presence, this element is present all around us. Literature is no exception. Sensual context, even detailed erotic scenes are a part of literature since its dawn.
However, erotica is a double-edged weapon. Including it into your work may rise it to the new heights of quality, or bury it into the depths of trash.
One of the biggest mistakes is using it as a mere page filler. Let us face the truth, sex is, in its essence, the same thing over, and over. No matter the amount of invention or diverse vocabulary you use in these scenes, you will only end up with a tedious repetition. Throwing in paragraphs containing erotica without a greater purpose can easily make the reader disappointed. To avoid this, erotica should serve as a puissant, yet not over-used spice for something else, more complex and important.
Erotica can make the reader alert and curious, fully invested in the text. A welcome with such undertow can be a tool with the same power as seeing the protagonists stumble upon a dead decaying corpse, or arriving to a burning house.
Just imagine. You are holding a new book. New title, new picture on the cover, maybe even the name of the author is new to you. In contrast with your favorite and cherished titles in your library, little you know what to expect of this stranger in your hand. You open the book and your eyes caress the first page. BAM! An erotic scene jumps from the letters into your imagination. The book goes straight into the shopping basket. Or is slammed back on the shelf.
Or the story unfolds at a good pace, the main characters are introduced and you have a feeling you know them. You start to feel comfortable in this new fictional world when, suddenly, an erotic scene appears, featuring a new character. The surprising erotic scene reveals this new character possesses some crucial information or is involved in some political affair touching the main protagonists, or there is some other new information that is seared into your memory thanks to the support of the erotica.
Even if you visit a new location, a small sensual detail like a nameless character sitting beside a grand fountain giving the main character a short meaningful glance may embed the new place in your mind. You may not even realize that the masterful description of the buildings, flora, and fauna, combined with dialogues tackle the right spot. Or you can be confronted with an open, even vulgar picture of prostitutes in the streets.
Development of a Character
There is the ordinary sex and there are very specific occasions in life that give the intercourse a special meaning. Both can be comfortably used for showing a significant change of a character during the course of the story.
The usual process that takes place in the marital bedroom gets disturbed by a discovery of a proof of infidelity and the character must react in some way. The consequent change of this character is well-grounded in the initial scene where the conflict began and the readers can relate. Or a briefly described erotic scene marked as ordinary can enhance the overall safe, familiar and comfortable atmosphere, giving the reader a momentary feeling of calmness right before something turns the tables in the character’s life.
At the moment the sex scene leaves the safe harbor of ordinary and erotica appears in a special, peculiar moment, even bigger impact the character needs to process appears. Did a couple decide to conceive a child? Did two people who were separated from each other for a long time finally meet again? Is it the first intimate moment? Or is it rape? All these examples carrying an extra emotional punch can be used to highlight parts of the novel. The readers can thus relate to the characters as such scenes can stir memories, or trigger contemplating. An intimate moment treated with in a sensible way can provide an opportunity to develop empathy. Violence with sexual context is shocking and gives the scene power to disgust, or horrify.
Characters suffering a form of abuse where sex is included may even serve as a means of education, forcing the readers to face issues that are problematic in real life. At the same time, sexual life seen through the eyes of responsible characters may serve as an example worth to follow.
Moving the Plot
Not only the individual characters but also the plot as a whole can be pushed forward by the spice well-known as erotica. An event changing the course of the events in the story. These instances should be planned and written with great care, as exaggerated, sloppy, or forced erotica can damage the work quite well. It is a sensitive topic and if the readers find themselves bored or puzzled the writer loses the points in an instant since plot advancement is one of the most important aspects that give the literary work quality.
Once again, the possibilities are many. Erotica can shake the world of the characters in a form of adultery that starts fireworks of action and consequences, it can trigger a political affair, start or end a journey … Just remember, do not overuse.