A Few Good Series
What makes good erotica tick? Well, we might reply, what makes you tick? Erotica, surely more than any other art form or genre, depends upon meeting the audience's peculiar interests, quirks, obsessions-- kinks, let's go ahead and call them. Even the most liberal-minded lesbian, for example, can hardly be expected to sit around reading straight erotica all day . . . Unless of course, she reads it for the hot chicks. Or because she finds all that straight sex hot in a way . . . Or she's curious--or nostalgic; or (horrors!) bi!
And yet, we can observe some features that distinguish quality erotica from the run-of-the-mill. Perhaps the greatest critical hurdle to overcome is the admission that good hot erotica doesn't always necessarily coincide with the canons of good taste in "literature" proper. Erotica, like pulp or noir fiction, gets into the dirt of human nature, the places where stereotypes swagger. That's not always the case, of course, but where would erotica be if it weren't populated with strutting bad boys (or bois), shamelessly wanton housewives, homely wallflowers, lies, videotape . . . Yeah, these things even make it into Faulkner occasionally, but still--
I think pretty much anybody will agree that their favorite erotica achieves a certain level of intensity-- the author doesn't seem to be just going through the motions, or haphazardly tossing the stock ingredients in the air. Certain things get dwelt on with relish: the hem of a skirt, the height of those heels, or the magic thought of "training", or how that special someone really needs to come out of his/her "shell". And of course by "special someone" I may really be saying "that uptight little prude who will be crawling on this floor wearing my collar and entertaining all my cackling, mocking, lustful friends", etc. etc.
Perhaps "obsession" doesn't sound like a very scientific sort of criteria. But isn't King Lear a work driven by obsession? Or Rembrandt's "Descent from the Cross"? Or Jane Eyre? When the artist is driven on by the frenzy of the Muses (most people would say "their inner demons", but that sounds so impolite, doesn't it?), it shows in the seams.
Just as too much "literary fiction" today seems driven by the slender obsession with facile word play (is word play really a worthy goal to obsess over?), so too there is too much erotica that just isn't felt deeply. Again, in this case "felt" doesn't necessarily mean the author has a loving regard for his/her characters (though erotica should never preclude that-- and it may, after all, be a great help for reader and writer alike), but it should at least mean a certain intensity of regard for the paces they are being put through.
Personally I don't feel that physical description comes easily to me as a writer, nor do I necessarily put a premium on it in what I read (though it's certainly welcome-- unless it's like, say, those hideous interchapters in The Grapes of Wrath or something!). But, whether the space limned by the writer is internal or external, the best erotica should give you a sense of place-- let's say it has a specificity to it, so that in reading you are put into a kind of palpable confinement with the character; even if she's sauntering down the street free as a bird, you're stuck there at her hip. Even when I just mentally recall my favorite erotica, I feel like I can sense this: that feeling of being on my knees like she was, or of awakening a changed (sluttier, natch) person, no longer a good girl, just like that heroine. And so forth.
These are some of the literotica series that have done these things for me, and I feel it's deserving to give them a more formal salute than can be encompassed by a comments section notice. In responding to what thrills and delights me in them I am, of course, revealing something of my own ambitions as a writer, and a sense of what makes me tick as a reader. These are some of the stories that have done me good, and I want to return the favor.
In no particular order:
I. "The Vanilla Test" by koala011860091
This is my point-of-reference for how a literotica series can end as satisfyingly as it begins.
It won't do for me to be making the introductions that are koala's privilege, but let me say that it revolves around two very fun and engaging young women, who have a bit of a dare going between them. It's fair to say that two girls with a bet are always enough to excite curiosity. If they are also truly fun and engaging-- as these two are-- then my sympathies are assured.
Erotic feng-shui is of enormous importance in erotica. Have you ever had the experience of reading an erotic novel where, let's say, in chapter 7 the heroine has fiveway sex with a mixed-gender group of lusty pirates without qualm and then, in chapter 8, Captain Suchanspruce is about to put his pinky up her bottom and suddenly it's all: "No, not that!!! The forbidden intrusion?! How can I ever look my parents in the face again? I'll no longer be a good Christian woman or be eligible as a fit mother, ever!!!!" And you're like: dude, you just pulled a five way, and now you're balking at a little anal?
And, btw, how does a fiveway really go off without some anal being involved anyhow? I mean, talk about underutilizing resources . . .
Well, "The Vanilla Test" is a model of healthy erotic feng-shui. Events fall into a logical progression. No events in the narrative "jump the shark" or otherwise jar. Each episode is, on its own, hot and satisfying, without in any way jostling upon the next round of events in such a way as to make you say: "well, considering what she got up to LAST time, I don't know what the big excitement is now!" Or even, conversely: "well, now that she's doing this I'll never be interested again in what she was doing THEN!" No no no. "The Vanilla Test" keeps everything humming along at just the right level-- which is to say, hot.
I love me some good exhibitionism, and if "The Vanilla Test" isn't, like, the Theban Trilogy of Exhibitionism well, you're just too vanilla to get it.
II. "Page's Training" by Pearls_Inside
This is a series with a lustrously rococo kind of ambience to it. It's very focused on the responses of our heroine, Page, whose new job finds her quite swiftly subsumed in a world of submissive eroticism. It's a series that neither strives for some kind of gritty "realism", nor yet tosses all the markers of reality aside. You might think of it as psychological realism about a young woman whose external reality is such that it's very permissible, and even inevitable, for her to find herself in a feverishly erotic BDSM relationship.
All of which is to say: it's full of hot, kinky explicitness, yet we experience it through the romantic tremors of a heroine who is both very open and very sweet.
It's this combination of factors that makes "Page's Training" quite unique, and hard to pin down. I might describe it as the kind of kinky erotica that fans of romantica could get into: an "erotic romance" that genuinely honors both sides of that equation-- though this is, quite thoroughly, a smoldering saga about sexual training.
Of course, as soon as I say that, everyone's going to think that I romanticize hardcore kink too much. Well, just read it okay? This is really a rare bird, and I'm treasuring it. I think others will too . . . .
III. "It's Rude to Stare" by PerilEyes
Shopping mall exhibitionism is almost a genre unto itself nowadays. The mall has so much potential for showing off (isn't that why all those elderly people try to mow you down as they speed walk over you in front of Macy's?), so erotica is bound to walk around in one.
Yet such stories often come to grief. By definition almost, these stories defy the way today's shopping malls are heavily-policed and monitored to assure the busy shoppers an almost Disney-like (casino-like?) experience of unruffled entombment in consumptive bliss. There are only so many times you can march your submissive through the food court on a leash with a pair of piss-soaked boy shorts stuffed down her mouth before you start to wonder when a sales associate on her lunch hour is going to bother to text security about this. No, really.
Now, we want our little fantasies in our stories, but we have to play it just a bit cool, right? Just a teeny teeny bit . . . PerilEyes gets it right.
"It's Rude to Stare" gives us the goods, turning the shopping mall into an erotic funhouse of horrors for our unwitting heroine without ravishing our credulity. There are times when you might expect security to take an interest, sure; but then, it wouldn't be mall erotica if there weren't. And what with Hot Topic and Abercrombie & Fitch, I suppose the mall security manual must have some guidelines for allowing a little crazy behavior, eh? Like when . . . .
Better still, "It's Rude to Stare" is an excursion into the inner emotional turmoils of our pliable, all-too-arousable heroine. The choices inflicted upon her are judiciously picked adjustments that transform Clarissa, before her own gaze and ours, into a memorable erotic heroine. It's a series that explores that tremulous ground where external presentation and innermost identity stretch and flex together in a humming, erotic throb.
IV. "Is This Turning Me On?" by NCER
This is a quite new series, with (as of this writing) just two entries so far, but already it rises above the landscape like the imposing form of the Tower of Babel.
I'll say only that the author has clearly invested some real thought and energy into this project, and that it's very psychological in a devious, almost "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" kind of way. There is some keen, clear-eyed dissection of the way squeaky-clean religious girls are raised to think perhaps a bit too highly of themselves, and at the same time, to be overripe for a fall when thrown into the hands of a clever-minded lecher (one who knows how to sweet-talk old ladies into thinking he's a very harmless and eligible sort of young bachelor, of course!).
Oh, and did I mention that it's very possible for said young gentlemen to talk squeaky-clean good girls into some outrageously ill-advised bad behavior? Uhm, yeah, that too . . . .
You want the proof? Read the story.
V. The Collected Works of AdelaideNurse
The stories by member AdelaideNurse are all (as of this writing) about the same character, purportedly a thinly-veiled persona for the authoress herself.
Well, that could be true or then again maybe not! There are authorial insertions which tells us that the stories are almost true, with a few nudges into fiction. But then these stories of wild exhibitionism and exploration are so very down and dirty-- could they be only the result of a few nudges? Or perhaps very very many?
I've no idea, but the stories themselves are blissfully Dionysian romps, with a "turn it up to 11" aesthetic that's quite delirious. Outside the realm of stories that deal with space aliens or some such, you're not likely to see so much consensual nastiness. These are not things I would want to really get up to necessarily-- even some fictional heroines might balk at a few of them!-- but they make for a very entertaining read. I would certainly recommend them to writers, as an example of how amped-up transgressive larks can be written. For readers, they may be a bit like watching "The Fifth Element": AdelaideNurse gives us something analogous to that candy-hued world of cartoonish, over-the-top whimsy. Perhaps in real life the author is in a convent by now-- but I am grateful for these stories of irrepressible sinfulness, and would always be ready for another.
VI. "A Formerly Shy Person" by naykedanonymous
"Anticipation is big for me" says the heroine of "A Formerly Shy Person Ch. 04." Unlike many of the good-girls-gone-wild of erotic fame, Susan is a multifaceted and believable young heroine who genuinely is shy, and is beating her path towards the "formerly" part.
This is a literate, psychologically keen saga that defies easy summary, and to try to summarize would probably injure its finely-wrought spell. Think about the "anticipation"! Suffice it to say that her activities begin as self-directed naughty explorations . . . And complications ensue . . . . Oh so delightful!
This is one of those curl-up-under-the-covers sagas, delicious and savorable as hot cocoa. Immensely pleasurable. Leave room for your hands to roam.
VII. "Be All That You Seem" by Tang88
Author Tang88 draws up his erotic worlds with an attention to detail that would gratify any sci-fi or fantasy fiction buff. Tang's stories are, in fact, often set in worlds where cyber, vampiric or other fantastic or supernatural elements proliferate. But readers who are not necessarily into those genres, or who might think they don't want them to intrude into their erotica, should nonetheless give Tang88 a look.
"Be All That You Seem" was the first series I explored from this author, and it remains my favorite, though the others are, in many ways, analogous in their appeal. In this one, some horny supernatural beings conspire to overthrow a quiet young Englishwoman's quietness and, for that matter, her sexual identity. In erotica everything can be fluid, and "Be All That You Seem" is a drawn-out portrayal of our heroine's long, subtle transformation into an unsubtle out-and-about young lesbian!
For those of us who appreciate an emphasis on all the little fetishistic markings of personal transformation--inside and out-- this is a story that delivers. It's playful, often quite humorous, and also an expressive wish-fulfillment for everyone who dreams of living a little (erm, a lot) louder.
VIII. "Switch Girl" by BittenKitten1
This is more of a tight short story in a small number of installments than an ongoing "series" (that's so far, at least!). Expertly crafted, it's the kind of taut scenario you'd expect in one of the Susie Bright anthologies. The narrator is a delightfully bad-ass domina, of a kind that makes a very believable real-life sex adventurer. Caught up in a pretty spontaneous encounter with a couple of friends, there's a tingly tension between what's "friendly" and not-so-friendly between them, as she asserts herself over them and enjoys pushing their boundaries in all the naughty ways you don't exactly expect your "friends" to do!
IX. "With Strings Attached" by maxout09
This one gives me butterflies inside. Imagine a girl who's very nice, but maybe with a few complications that she's hardly even aware of. She knows what she wants, or doesn't want. Doesn't she? Into her life arrives someone who knows what she herself wants, and also what our nice girl wants. Doesn't she? . . .
Others may balk, but for me this saga is scrumptiousness itself. Every time our Alice mentally rehearses the litany of her humiliations, I flutter. This is an intensely felt story-- so much so that, yes, there are a few POV whiplashes in the earlier parts. But never mind that; you always know what is going on, and what's going on is meltingly helpless lesbian submission in the face of potential blackmail, misunderstandings, outgrown school uniforms, magic punch, rope, leather, Hooters, room décor, harmless experimentation . . . .
If you enjoy these things, check it out. If you don't, you're not even human.
I'm not going to go for ten since there is so much goodness out there that I haven't touched on (Selena_Kitt, anyone?). And omission does not imply obliviousness! But these are all stories that have touched my own ambitions as a writer, and which traffic in the same themes, desires, and even styles that I hope my own readers can one day savor in my writings. They are all stories that have set themselves loose to roam in my imagination, and of course, Gentle Reader, they have also all aroused me!
Of the above series only "The Vanilla Test" and "Be All That You Seem" have reached what appear to be the ends of their respective trails (as of this writing). I sincerely wish all of these authors continued creativity so that we can all enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. And to whatever idle and contemplative souls may actually be reading this: if you enjoy good hot erotica, you should check these stories out. If you have enjoyed my work (such as it is) you may very well enjoy these too (even better!). And, if you do finally read these stories and authors and enjoy them as I have, please give them some encouraging feedback. I ask this for selfish reasons too: the more you join me in encouraging their work, the more likely I will be to have more of it to savor in the future.
--Not that positive feedback is a magic bullet to continued creativity: alas I know! But we can hope. And read what we have. Please do read these.