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Can You Write Porn? - Part I
by Katy Terrega

Book Excerpt - It's A Dirty Job...Writing Porn For Fun and Profit By Katy Terrega

Despite the common assumption that porn is simplistic enough for anyone to write, not everyone is suited to this particular genre. 

Porn is not for those uncomfortable with it's graphic nature and it's most certainly not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. A genre totally unto itself, porn demands an uncommonly open mind and a willingness to experiment. While erotica can and often does have undertones of romance and love - common themes for a lot of writers - porn just as often does not. Porn writers are, depending on your source, either scraping the bottom of their most base perversions or accessing the highest levels of their imaginations. Either way, those with closed minds need not apply.

But even for those with admittedly open minds, there are still a few prerequisites for the successful writing of porn. Ask yourself these questions: Do you like to read it? Can you handle the prejudices and preconceptions inherent in the genre? Are you enough of a free-thinker to be able to create stories out of fantasies that you may have previously deemed too shocking? Answer in the affirmative to any of the above and you may well have what it takes to tackle this exciting but very specific market. 

Just like other narrowly defined markets (think romance or science fiction), your chances of being able to write porn are much better if it's something that you already enjoy reading. For example, while researching the craft of romance writing I found that the prevailing advice was to read not just a few current and past romances but dozens or more. Along with the caveat that if just the thought of undertaking such a chore was daunting, then perhaps romance writing was not the job for you. At first I have to admit that I was rather taken aback by such advice, mainly because the thought of reading dozens of romances didn't particularly appeal to me. Aw, come on, couldn't I read just a few and pick up the basics? 

Well, sure, but only if I was willing to settle for being a poor to mediocre romance writer. Fact is, if you want to be better than that, if you want to actually be good at what you do (or have any fun at it), you had better enjoy it. I happen to love reading porn. It also happens to be extremely easy for me to write. Mere coincidence? I think not. It might be stating the obvious to say that if you've rarely looked at or read porn, it's probably not going to work for you. 

Of course, simply liking it may not be enough. Porn writers also have to sometimes deal with the more controversial aspects to the writing/reading of porn. Like, what will the neighbors/family/boss think? There are plenty of societal as well as moral implications peculiar to this genre. For some people the distinctions are clear, porn is either okay or it's not (and I pretty much have to figure that if you're reading this book you fall into the former category). For the rest of society, there are plenty of murky areas. 

Yes, there are those people that are relatively porn-neutral; those who don't tend to buy the stuff but acknowledge its place as a benign entity in others' lives. My husband falls into this category. Until I came along and, um, forced him to read my stories, he could count on one hand the number of times he'd perused smut magazines. Not that he disliked them or thought them to be bad, he simply wasn't interested. 

But he happens to be the exception, the vast majority of people seem to fall into two extreme categories: There's the porn-friendly crowd, which ranges from the adamant, fist-shaking, first-amendment-rights-declaring pornographer to the sleaze-ball down the street to the parent of three who rather guiltily stows his or her collection in the top drawer of the dresser. These kind of people may be surprised when they learn what you do, or intrigued or even downright interested, but they likely won't judge you too harshly.

Then of course there's the porn-haters, although they, too, can range from the religious picketer of porn shops to the self-righteous do-gooder down the street to the disapproving businessman who's never read a sentence of the stuff but still wouldn't be caught dead peering at a Playboy. I tend to avoid these kind of folk in general, but you never know. Is the father of my child's playmate a free-thinker or a card carrying anti-pornographer? More for the sake of my kids than anything else, I'm not about to share my profession with him just to try and find out, thank you very much.

Unfortunately for the porn writer, there are many people out there who think that pornography is evil, or at least very, very bad. These often harsh opinions and attitudes are part of what you, if you choose to take porn on, are going to have to deal with. There are those who will think less of, or at least differently about you, knowing that you participate in such a venture. It can be frustrating having a career that you can't talk about to your neighbors, your friends or your children. Can you live with the secrecy, the occasional deception? Can you live with the fact that you will be judged, sometimes positively, oftentimes harshly? 

And speaking of harsh, there are plenty of writers out there who take a pretty dim view of pornography. Many of them don't accept my own personal assessment that porn is a legitimate form of writing. I've found, when dealing with self-proclaimed real writers, that I'm sometimes treated as though I participated in other, shall we say, less legal sexual professions. 

I've often felt like an errant and out of favor stepchild when communicating with published as well as unpublished mainstream writers.

There've been several who have suddenly and without explanation disappeared from my life after they've discovered what form my writing takes. And I've had more than a little trouble getting my book reviewed by some of the more literary venues.

Even when I do finally make it into their realm, the reception has often been less than welcoming. In one negative review, the reviewer didn't actually find fault with the quality of the book or the writing. She did however talk dismissively of one who would "whore (their) writing talent to the porn industry." It was quite clear how entirely unacceptable this genre was to her and her ilk. 

In the end, writing porn is probably not going to win you any awards or kudos unless you tackle literary erotica. There, if you're really good, you may find a place among the vaulted. But down here in the trenches, it's just us lowly porn writers.

Sign up for Katy's free bi-weekly e-newsletter for fledgling as well as professional writers. Read the current issue here, or send any email to 
Newsletter@KatyTerrega.com to receive your first issue. Katy's publishing credits include Playgirl, Score and Hustler and she's the author of It's A Dirty Job...Writing Porn for Fun and Profit. Includes Paying Markets!.

 

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