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BOOK REVIEW - SUSIE BRIGHT – HOW TO WRITE A DIRTY STORY. 2001 Fireside Books.

 

A first rate guidebook for erotica writers. Bright advises authors on how to avoid falling foul of the censors, (i.e., just do it), and sets out a series of exercises for how to lose your own inhibitions, and write erotica in different styles and contexts. The Book will appeal to writers of stories that focus just on sexual relationships, (gay, or straight) and to writers in other genres who just want their sex scenes to come across as realistic and relevant to the context of their work.

 

Bright has long served as a pioneer of erotica, and edits the best Erotica in America yearbooks, promoting many new authors and championing women’s and lesbian erotica authors in getting them noticed in a male dominated market. Her approach is a very no nonsense common-sense one and straightforward.

 

A book (any book) should not fall open at the best (smuttiest) bits, she advises. Its sex scenes should be in context with everything else written in the book. She advises reading erotica, and her book includes extracts from a number of authors, i.e., Anne Rice, Mario Puzo, etc. She is writing to people who want to write just for their own benefits and for a wide public audience.

 

She advises against clichés, and the orgasmic scream that goes on forever. She warns that use of vulgar language is legitimate but that it can get tiresome if used as an alternative to any other kind of writing. Gratuitousness just gets boring. Bright advises writers to write about what turns them on, so the book is in some ways a sex-guide in general as well as an author’s resource. She suggests masturbation exercises, and sharing our erotic poetry and fiction with our partners.

 

She is a big fan of public readings of erotic literature. She advises taking a long break between drafts in editing your work, and offers assurances that writing erotica will do no harm to your own sex life. She even talks of the groupies who she attracts to her readings for being in such a trade.

 

She shows how the media will expect the sex-novelist to be a sex expert and a sex maniac. Some are disappointed if she turns up to interviews in ordinary clothes rather than in fetish-wear rubber and latex. As to any worries about the ‘nay-sayers’, Bright’s attitude is a healthy call to ignore them, and be you, and just to get on with the writing.

Arthur Chappell

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