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It seems like every writer
has some smart-assed answer to the age-old question: Where
do you get your ideas?
For the longest time, I played with The same
place you'd get yours from, if you tried, but it
always sounds so arrogant, so superior. So now all
I just give them a little, down-home reply: Oh, from
everywhere, I guess.
For smut writers the question is definitely more loaded
than for other genres. Do horror writers ever get
the supposition that they hack up hitchhikers in the name
of 'research'? Us merry pornographers, however, are
automatically labeled perverts in real life (or worse)
simply because we have vivid sexual imaginations.
Cut someone's head off, after all, and you only get an R
rating -- fuck them and it's XXX.
Still, I contend that story ideas for both come from the
same place, and so deserve the same respect: the
imagination. In most people, this tiny part of the
cerebral cortex is pitifully underutilized, reserved
boss-murder and secretary-fuck fantasies. For
someone who likes to write, however, it's important to
develop the imagination into a hefty piece of brain
Here's some ways to do it.
A common mistake a lot of beginning writers (smut or non)
make is to think that creativity is something holy,
untouched by outside influences. Fudge to
that. Creativity is using what's around us in a new
way, just like how every major work of art has its roots
in everything else before it. I'm not talking
plagiarism here, folks, but rather taking what's here and
twisting it in your own unique fashion.
Twisting is exactly what I preach to my smut writing
classes. Not only can playing with existing forms
in new and unique ways result in something wonderfully
unusual, but also more importantly it stretches your
imagination muscle. Before you can twist, though,
you have to stick something in your gray matter right
next to your developing imagination: mainly that it's
okay to dream.
A bit on that: Another common mistake is to think that
everything you dream or play with has to have some kind
of eventual purpose. Fudge to that, #2.
Play! Dream! Fantasize! Get CRAZY --you
don't have to use everything you dream up, you don't have
to write about everything you imagine. Just have
fun. Your imagination, after all, is just like sex
--if it's not fun you're doing it wrong. So kick
out that internal censor, and just allow yourself some
good, old-fashioned chaotic dreaming.
Okay, so you've kicked your internal critic in the balls
--so how what? Here's a game I play in my class:
name your favorite movie. Go on, do it.
Okay, so you're not a movie buff --how about a teevee
show, a book, a play, a comic book ... anything.
Pick your fave. Got it? Now imagine a sequel,
write it in your mind. You don't have to really
write it, just play with what you liked about the
original source and stretch it out. Say you love
Sunset Blvd (one of my faves), think about why you like
it (wicked black comedy), what you want to see more of
(the decadence of Hollywood), what didn't work for you,
what did, etc.
Now have fun! It doesn't have to be some great work
of art, either. Pick what you like, look at why you
like it, and then try and imagine something that
incorporates it all. Sure it's tough, but remember:
you're not going to actually do anything with it, just
dream it up. Do something like this all the
Another great technique is to watch a show or read a book
and stop somewhere in the middle --and finish it
yourself. Is your ending better? Is the
original better? Why? Maybe how you ended it
would make a better story --so take your new version and
change it, add things you like, take out what you
Many people think I'm too hard on books and movies, that
I'm too critical --but what's really going on is that, in
my mind, I'm imagining a better movie or book, what I
think would have worked better. Friends are always
kicking me in the shins when I groan in a movie, or rag
on it endlessly afterward: But it would have been so much
cooler if they'd tied in the marriage with the funeral,
so there's an echo of the loss --great
foreshadowing!i I may never use what I'd been
playing with, but every time that happens it stretches my
imagination a bit more, making it easier to really dream
when it comes time to face that blank computer screen.
This works for every genre, even smut. There's sex
all around us --obvious as well as subtle. As I've
said before, often the difference between a good erotic
story and a bad erotic story is STORY! Just a sex
scene might be interesting, but it can never be anything
beyond just 'interesting.' But telling a story,
with people ... THAT gets people's attention.
A good way of farming for smut ideas is to look where sex
is --and yet isn't. Erotica is a genre that doesn't
blink. You know what I mean: in a flick a couple
are passionately kissing and suddenly the camera pans
away to a fireplace --in other words, it blinks (a
comedian once said that he thought babies came from
charcoal). Smut, though, doesn't.
So tell me a story that doesn't blink, where the sex is
there --adding to the story, telling us about the
characters. Look at Sunset Blvd --we know that
there's sex in that movie, even if it's just ... well,
weird. If you take away the blink it becomes a sex
story, but one with a good STORY. I heartily
encourage people to use their imaginations where good
stories blink. Fight Club, for instance, has some
delightful homoerotic moments --let alone the skid row
sex with Marla. In your mind, fill in the blanks
--not just sex for sex's sake, but with a sex scene that
tells something about the character, the story, the
setting. Just like you should finish stories, add
to them --show, if just to your self, the rest of the
Do that and I can all but guarantee your sex scenes
will read more like fully realized characters being
together, versus boring cardboard cutouts.
So get out your imagination, take it for a walk, feed it
often, and -- more than anything -- play with it.
Having a hearty, healthy imagination, after all, is what
writing is really all about.
© Copyright M. Christian. All Rights Reserved
M. Christian is author of
over 100 published short stories. His work can be found
in Friction, Best Gay Erotica, Best American Erotica,
Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica 2, and
many other books and magazines. He's the editor of over
seven anthologies, including Best S/M Erotica.
You can visit M. Christian's website here: http://www.mchristian.com
Praise for M. Christian's work:
first time I read a story by M. Christian it was just an
innocent-looking submission to an erotica anthology I was
editing. It blew my socks off. In fact, it blew all of my
clothes off, and I ended up in bed. How can one writer be
so smart, stylish and seductive? I don't know, but when I
read an M. Christian story now, I find it best to just
get naked and get directly into bed. - - Cecelia Tan.