August 31, 2014

Talking Shop: How to Write Lesbian Fiction

Suggestions for Those Considering the Genre

***THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON SAVVY AUTHORS BLOG DURING MY LOTUS PETALS BLOG TOUR, JULY 26, 2014***

 

 It should be noted the following set of suggestions are guiding principles I have developed in my own approach to lesbian fiction. They are not necessarily a universal philosophy for all writers. I certainly don't have the market cornered and I don't pretend to know the only "right" way. However, I do believe these are some very good tips.

(NSFW Images Under the Cut)

 

 1. Recognize that lesbian romantic fiction is really just romantic fiction.

 

Til Death Do Us Part
Santodomingo

 

At its core, lesbian erotica is not about the difference between a penis and a vagina. It's not about women doing something outrageous or forbidden or taboo. Yes, these can be plot points, but they aren't really the 'soul' of lesbian fiction, at least in my opinion. Lesbian romance and lesbian erotica are about the same things heterosexual romance and erotica are: relationships; interaction; love, or maybe just lust, which is perfectly fine. Lesbians are just as capable as anyone else to seek out casual sex, one-night stands, or to experiment. But their stories aren't really fundamentally different than straight fiction. To help me keep this in mind, I remind myself to think of my own lesbian stories as "simply love stories" (even if they aren't necessarily about love, but just good, sexy fun.)


2. Recognize that you are not writing for Penthouse.

 
Penthouse Letters has its place, and I'll admit I do enjoy the occasional perusal of its raunchy tales. But Penthouse, Hustler, Redtube, all these sources of pornography put out a very unrealistic view of sex and sexuality. Pornography leans towards fetishizing, and that skews the genuine character of relationships. Lesbian porn is not all that characteristic of actual lesbian sex, I think: it (like a lot of mainstream porn) is highly exaggerated, and it really only has one goal. This doesn't mean that pornography has no place in writing erotica (see my next point). If you're reading this, though, I expect you are interested in more than a Penthouse Letter. So, always remember that pornography is not lesbian romance, and vice versa.


3. Take (educated) inspiration from other lesbian erotica.

 


I often take breaks while writing erotica—any subject—to "brush up" on details by watching or reading similar erotic works. If you are new to lesbian erotica or just thinking about trying your hand at it, I highly recommend a Cleiss Press anthology. One of the best ways to learn how to write any genre is to familiarize yourself with a variety of different, quality examples by others, and Cleiss always seems to have a wonderful offering. Anthologies are excellent resources because they offer many styles. Again, if you're starting out, I would advise against taking too much inspiration from porn. What you learn from porn should be purely "physical" inspiration. I don't recommend emulating any sort of "character", "plot" or "dialogue" from it. When it comes to some good inspiration in this field, though, I suggest checking out Lesbea.com.


4. Talk to women

 
Especially if you aren't a woman yourself, you must talk with women about sex. Assuming you have a conversation partner willing to discuss the subject (please don't bother a lady who doesn't feel comfortable talking about it). Ask her to describe both physical sensation as well as emotion. You can assume you understand how a certain thing feels and why it might be pleasurable, but without at least hearing some feedback from a firsthand "witness", your assumptions can be wildly off. Also, pay attention to how women talk. Again, we see a lot of erotic content
that comes straight off the script for Hot College Co-eds and Girls Gone Wild. This is not genuine, so give a thought not to how you think women are supposed to sound, but how they actually sound. Frankly, this is just good research.


5. If you don't already, start thinking of your characters as real people.

 

 
If you don't believe your characters are 'real', your readers won't believe it either. So see your gals as women at a point in time in their lives, more than characters existing solely for the duration of your sexy story. I read many, many amateur authors who
seem to start with the idea, "I need to write a hot lesbian sex scene", and try to build a story from there. Even if you're writing a short story which takes place over a single night, and the sexual content makes up most of the story, keep in mind your characters also exist outside that experience. Sex should be an organic part of a bigger story. Think of it this way: a playwright doesn't write a play, only for the excuse to design a set.

 

It is my belief that a story, no matter what genre or character or length, must be genuine. If you are interested in lesbian fiction, take the time to immerse yourself in the crafting of that story. It's not hard: most of the work lies in breaking out of any habits you think make a good erotic story, and adopting ones that make a real story. Real eroticism comes from genuine passion, and real lesbian erotica comes from real characters...not their anatomy.

2 comments:

  1. As a man who has written a lesbian romance and committed the crime of being "obviously written by a man" I welcome all the help I can get - please!

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  2. Faberge, having read "What Dreams Are Made On" -- and finding it a fine story -- my own personal thoughts on why you might have gotten that reaction are that the sexual aspect of the character's relationship may have come out-of-proportion to the emotional relationship. It -is- a short story/novella, and I find myself often making similar comments for lots of erotic short stories, both gay and straight: the "loves" story needs a little more room to unfold. As it pertains to lesbian erotica, though, it can give the impression that a male author is rushing to get to the girl-on-girl action. I'd be happy to give a more detailed analysis if you like, in private message.

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