Plot v. Porn

There is always a question when you’re writing erotic stories. What is the proper ratio of plot to action? Is there a fixed percentage of the story that should be devoted to graphic descriptions of sexual action? How much description and exposition is enough, and how much is too much?

There doesn’t appear to be any hard and fast rule on this. Porn videos have obviously leaned in the direction of action over exposition. It used to be that porn movies needed to include a good bit of plot and non-sexual action in order to avoid being censored, just as porn magazines, while loaded with pictures of naked people having sex, also contained “scholarly” articles explaining why the things the models were doing was healthy and psychologically important to their mental health. These days, with porn more or less established as legal, there’s a lot less of that.

In 1980, a 70-minute porn feature might contain 30 minutes of people talking. Today, a same-length feature is likely to contain 60 minutes of fucking and just enough plot to get from one bed to the next.

I’m going through this calculation with my current work in progress, which will be called Memoirs of an Immortal. Because the story has to cover a span of over six millennia, there is obviously lots of space for both plot and sex. So far, there’s a good deal of both. My primary character, Zara, who also goes by Sarah, Elissa, Veronica, and a few other names between her birth in 4685 BCE and modern times, spends much of her time having sex. Being immortal, she’s also immune to the various plagues she lives through, and stopped aging at 36, remaining eternally a hot redhead (hence the pictures of hot redheads scattered through this essay).

The story naturally includes that standard “no resemblance” disclaimer, though some of the characters that appear are definitely real. They’ve just been dead long enough to be historical, so you get to mess around with them a bit more. So she gets to meet people such as Caligula, Bocaccio, Shakespeare, and others. What sort of interaction depends on the historical person, how they’re perceived, and what they’d be likely to do in a given situation.

Would she have sex with Caligula, for instance? I think she very well might, at least before he went completely nuts. With Shakespeare? Oh, no doubt, and he’d most likely write a sonnet or two about it, if not an actual erotic play. Fucking in blank verse. Not sure I’ll go there, but there is a certain temptation.

Honestly, you’re going to find plots in all of my stories. I find pure, mindless sex rather boring. Even if I’m watching some Japanese newsroom bukkake video I find that I need to come up with some sort of plot. Must there not be a reason why this ridiculous parade of men are wandering up to the anchor desk and cumming all over the newsreader? And she isn’t trying to kill them? Is it possible that aliens from Planet X have issued a threat to destroy Tokyo if this doesn’t happen? If you’ve ever watched old Japanese sci-fi movies this sort of thing might just make sense.

As for the original question, I can’t really make up my mind if there’s a magic formula for plot v. porn in an erotic story or novel. In Lust for Blood there were a number of chapters with no sex at all, and others where there wasn’t much else. Shorter works tend to have more sex as the encounters are more central to the plot.