So a couple days ago I made a blog post on purposeless elements of stories, particularly erotic stores. Firstly, thanks to those that emailed me about it and extended their thoughts on the topic. It was cool to hear your thoughts on the topic. I wanted to highlight something one particular person emailed me, which can be summarized in one question they asked me:
Does that mean anything irrelevant in a sex story is valid because it’s part of the story’s universe?
This is such a good question because in objective terms, I really don’t have an answer for this. This is ultimately subjective and up to the person. I am very confident that there are many readers out there that groan as soon as they see my name pop up as the author of a story, because that means there will be a lot less sex in a story than they want. I myself inject a lot of purposeless elements in my story. The question then becomes, when does purposeless become pointless?
Purposeless parts of a story don’t serve the story’s main idea. To use the example from a few days ago again, a story where a kid takes a pill, goes to the fair, comes home, and then suddenly gets a hormonal transformation as result of the pill… the fair really didn’t need to be there for the main idea of the story. It served no purpose to the end. So why was it there? To me, it was there to establish the main character’s cynical nature, the relationship between him and his sister, and represent the amount of time that passed so the transformation didn’t seem so sudden. This may seem like overanalysis, but this is still how I feel. Never once did I feel like groaning, “Okay, enough with the fucking fair, where’s the sex?”
I’m sure you’ve encountered stories in both of those camps before. Maybe to you, my stories exist in one of those two camps. In one camp, there are sex stories where the sex happens in an organic universe. Other events happen in these stories because these characters live for more than just their sex. You still read on because you know there will be sex eventually, or because you enjoy the non-erotic parts of these stories too. Maybe sometimes the characters will argue about pop culture or political stances in these stories, and it’ll have no effect on the plot. You still enjoy it because it’s the characters you enjoy, arguing about something irrelevant. This is purposeless, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In another camp sits pointless content. This is the stuff that makes you roll your eyes and wonder when the story will get back on track. IT doesn’t serve the plot, it doesn’t really do anything for the characters, and more importantly than anything, it doesn’t positively impact your enjoyment on the story. It’s just a seemingly random thing that the author decided to put in, often times to be clever or something. Personally I don’t mind when a writer or a director slips in a random consequenceless moment in a character’s day to give the reader or viewer a better idea of what it’s like to live as them. But sometimes it doesn’t help anything and just seems to be a timewaster. A good example of this is the movie Birdemic, which features scenes where the protagonist goes to work, and on the way to work, stops and gets gas for his car. It has no impact on the story and doesn’t show any new interactions from the character. It’s just… there. It’s pointless, and it only bores the viewer.
If you want to be a writer that features their sex stories in a complete world, as I want to be, understanding the difference between these two concepts is key. There have been times where I’d look at a scene I wrote and just think, “Well, what did this add?” and then throw it away. Pointless scenes aren’t just symptoms of a bad author or anything, and they can exist in any story. Sometimes it’s also very hard to tell your own scenes are pointless, which is another reason to get a good editor. That said, don’t let the possibility of pointless scenes keep you from felshing out a story as you see fit. Remember, ont everyone is going to see your story in the same way as your worst critic, and more often than not, wanting to explore your characters is a good thing. It keeps readers caring about your characters and makes the sex more impactful, more meaningful. And as you all know, I for one love seeing the amount of passion and dedication put into your craft. I’ll talk to you all next week.