It’s weird that I’ve written a fair amount of erotica, but very little kink erotica. I’m pretty damn kinky and I’ve been in the BDSM scene for a pretty long time so it’s a little weird that I’ve mostly published vanilla stories. So I’m working on changing that. My greatest strength as an artist seems to be exposing the most vulnerable parts of me and it’s time I brought that into my erotica. BUT FIRST I thought I’d read some popular kink erotica to see what people like and what I did and did not like about it. I downloaded the two most popular kink erotica stories on Amazon, one I loved and one I was so bored with I couldn’t push myself into reading more than three chapters (which is, somehow, how long the first sex scene took.)
I’ll be honest, I’ve read *some* of the really well known kink erotica and I have hated most of it, to the point where I couldn’t finish it. I’ve read parts of Venus in Furs, The Story of O, 120 Days of Sodom, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, and 50 Shades of Grey. I finished none of them, mostly for the reasons I’ll list below but sometimes it was just because I didn’t like the writing or didn’t share the writer’s kinks. I read all of The Story of the Eye but I’m still not convinced that it was meant to be sexy. Conversely, I’ve read the Kushiel’s Dart series about a million times and always love it. I’ve also had my share of pantsfeelings while reading Steven King novels so… maybe I’m just weird.
There really is no accounting for taste when it comes to kink. Kinks are super specialized and what one person finds incredibly sexy, another person will find gross or boring or just plain odd. So take everything I say in this post with a grain of salt. I have tried to stay away from judging specific kinks and, rather, tried to stick to criticizing writing tropes that bug the hell out of me.
Hurting People Who Don’t Like to Be Hurt: There’s a LOT of erotica out there that involves inflicting pain on people who aren’t masochists. Why? Seriously, WHY?
You know that, as a writer, you totally get to choose whether or not your character is a masochist, right? Like, literally everything about them is something you get to make up, so why would you make up something that makes them not enjoy the ostensibly erotic acts you will have them engage in? Maybe this is just not a kink I am into. Maybe I am breaking my own rule and judging someone’s kink. But… most of the kinksters I know prefer it when their partner likes the things they do to them. Actually, that’s true of most of the *people* I know. So why is this such a common trope? I think it turns up in every classic BDSM novel I mentioned not having finished and maybe that’s why I didn’t finish them. It really creeps me out. It also seems to always end in the bottom inexplicably loving it anyway. I just don’t get it. I’ve had scenes that were about pushing myself and taking more pain than is enjoyable and they were good, they were cathartic, but they weren’t sexy. The only way they ended in orgasm is if my top switched over to something that *did* get me off.
How many vanilla erotica stories have the narrative thread of “The sex was terrible and painful and I hated every moment but then I orgasmed anyway so yay?” My guess is zero many. In most vanilla stories two people want to have sex with each other, they overcome whatever obstacles are in their way and then they fuck and it’s great and everyone comes. Hooray! So I would really like if that was more common in kink stories. If you want to play with competing sensations (Dom is doing two things, one feels good, one feels bad, the confusion and conflict is sexy!) or conflicting feelings about something that feels good (I shouldn’t like this but I do! Why am I like this?! the confusion and conflict is sexy!) go for that! That would be a really interesting, and probably sexy, story!
Two dimensional characters: She’s submissive so she must be mousey, sweet, quiet and innocent, not too sure of herself, low on self esteem, right? He’s dominant so he’s always in control, confident, arrogant, brooding, cold, and probably has a troubled past, right?
This trope is so over used and boring it just makes me want to punch things whenever I read it. One of the things I LOVED about The Invitation was that both of the characters are cocky but thrown off their game a little because they’re SO into each other. The sub is confident and slutty and just happens to like getting thrown around a bit during sex. One of the things that keeps me reading Kushiel’s Dart again and again is that the characters have layers. Phedra absolutely loves pain but her feelings about her masochism change in relation to her different partners and situations. It should go without saying that your characters shouldn’t be cookie cutter stereotypes but here I am, saying it anyway.
Staying on the subject of character…..
The Tortured Past: Oh My God can we please stop this trope right now PLEASE? Not everyone who survived abuse is kinky. Not everyone who survives abuse is some broken winged bird that needs to be healed by the love of a good person. People who survive abuse are exponentially more likely to be abused again or become abusers themselves. That’s not sexy, it’s tragic. Can you write erotica with characters who have been abused? Yes, totally, but you *really* need to know and understand the issue and treat it with sensitivity and make it important to the story, not use it as a catchall kinky origin story. Think twice about having a kinky origin story at all. There are people who can trace their kinks back to early experiences but those experiences are rarely exotic; they were turned on by a comic book or a tv show, their dad was distant, their parents got divorced, their first crush pulled their pigtails on the playground. But more often than not, they just like what they like and don’t really know why. Some people just like feet. Let them just like feet.
Dubious Consent: If dubious consent is your kink, that’s fine but I want to address the very shady definition of consent in much of the kink erotica I’ve read. I see a lot of lip service paid to consent in these stories. Lord Blackpants McDommlydom makes a big speech about consent and how the sub is always in control and here is your safeword yadda yadda but this is usually preceded or followed by them saying or thinking something to the effect of “I will make her like what I like” or “I will push your limits, I will break your limits, you will have no limits with me!” Which kinda defeats the point, ya know?
I know we’re supposed to think that Lord Dommlydom is such a good dom that his sub will just magically love everything he does to her but come on. Corporal instruments don’t turn into magical orgasm sticks in the right hands. They just don’t. The right hands can make an implement feel *better* than the wrong hands. Well trained hands certainly make an implement *safer* than untrained hands. But if you don’t like caning, you don’t like it.
Conveniently Lord Dommypants is never into anything all that freaky. He likes spanking. He likes mild bondage. He likes anal and some light corporal. Who doesn’t, amiright? (yes, I know plenty of people don’t like those things) But life isn’t that simple. People’s kinks don’t always match up perfectly. In fact, they usually don’t match *perfectly.* Kinks are as individual as the people that have them. That’s totally fine and not an impediment to awesome kinky sex.
What if you show consent rather than telling it? What if your sub says “um… could you maybe not pee on me?” and your Dom says “Sure, there are plenty of other sexy things we can do!” or maybe your Dom says “You don’t seem to be into this flogger, would you like to try the cane instead?” Or even just having your Dom say “Do you like that? Good! Here’s more of it!” would go a long way toward establishing what consent actually looks like.
Boring Kink: Ok, spanking, corporal and anal aren’t boring. They’re great! They’re really really fun. There’s a reason they’re so popular. But the world of BDSM is SO MUCH MORE than spanking and maybe kinky erotica can branch out a little. Maybe it has and those stories haven’t hit the mainstream yet. Or maybe they won’t because of the very unique and intimate nature of BDSM erotica, but I would love to see more fetish cross pollination in erotica. Broaden your horizons! Learn about new fetishes, delve deeper into the world of rope bondage, figure out why someone would be turned on by giants or chloroform or dinosaurs or whatever. BDSM is a big world, write the hell out of it.
That said, I would love to read more current kink erotica. Read any good porn lately? Put your recommendations in the comments!