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A father's realization of his love for his daughter.

"Don't ever use bad grammar and don't ever give physical measurements" also fall flat in fiction in the realm of establishment of character through dialogue and/or narration.

I don't think many Pulitzer Prizes for fiction have been awarded to authors following staid writing formulas, and trend-setting best-sellers do just that-they set trends. They stand the expected on its head and flout the "don'ts," and they stand out because they do this well and get away with it.

So, on to what I think are the major elements of constructing good literary erotica.

First and foremost is that the work needs to have a complete storyline. Anything trying to be more than a vignette needs a storyline, so this is both basic and nothing special for writing literary fiction. The work needs a beginning (a starting place), middle (change of some sort), and end (some sort of resolution-or purposeful nonresolution, if that's the discernible point of the story). When you apply this to literary fiction, though, you would earn extra points by skewing this formula without violating the need to have all three elements. Literary fiction often starts in the middle and catches up with whatever necessary beginning there is as you go along (which, actually, is what is currently popular to do with any story). And, it's also trendy to start at the end and then move to either the middle or the beginning. This mix-up is often used frequently in literary fiction because it's hard to do well-which means it's also something to try if you want what you write here to be considered literary erotica.

You'd think that in erotica characters were very important, but, in fact, erotica writers often give them short shrift. There's actually a good reason to do this. If you want the reader to identify with the character getting pleasure out of whatever happens in the story, you have a good excuse to cut description of the protagonist to the minimum to allow the reader to identify more easily (which is also a good reason to use the first person voice). But in literary fiction, taking the time and effort to deliver fully developed characters is very important. You can get around this conundrum in literary erotica by keeping the physical description of the protagonist minimal (while expanding on what the protagonist feels and thinks) but developing the other characters really well (but in a balanced way-it's not good to provide details that have no relevance to the story. The important elements should all be balanced really well in literary erotica-which is hard, but you have to do the hard well to be writing literary erotica).

The last (and least, I think) basic element of a good story and entry point to good literary erotica is providing a rich sense of setting/time. The setting and time period are nice to have for good, basic stories-and, of course, you need to give some sense of that in any well-written story. But a well-developed time period and setting are earmarks of literary fiction, and thus of literary erotica.

To get all of these basics in, of course, you are usually talking longer than shorter-but there has been superior short literary fiction-so that's just another challenge for a great writer. In any event, if you throw in unnecessary padding, you may be in the realm of literary, but you are draining away your grasp on "good." Everything you put into a story should serve that story directly-if only to provide indirection.

These are the basics, I think, that should be there in a story (for anything more than a vignette, really). Moving into the realm of literary erotica, though, I think literary erotic includes considerable amounts in pleasing/surprising combinations of four elements: sexual heat, humor/pathos, surprise, and human condition profundity.

Literotica does have a section on the nonerotic, and there certainly can be literary fiction that is nonerotic, but, sorry, literary erotica requires sexual heat.

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