The Soul-Crushing Torture of a 1-Star Review

When reading and writing, and especially when the story gets erotic, I am most comfortable when in the head of a female protagonist. Also, when reading erotic stories, I much prefer to read female authors – which is not to say men can’t write erotic stories well, because I have read some excellent stuff, but as a general rule male authors too often focus on the action and on body dimensions. Female authors are, generally, more focused on the sensual and emotional aspects of the story.

I like a touch of poetry and sensuality in the stories I read and write. I like to believe that I – a man – can write female characters in a way that seems realistic. If I can’t do that, then everything I’ve ever written is worthless.

I have over the past two years received a number of reviews and comments that have been generally positive about my writing – and I am hugely grateful for all of these – as well as reviews that have been quite negative. As a rule, I am so pathetically grateful to get any reviews that even a 1-star review is welcome, however saddening.

The latest review I have received is by far the worst yet, and it has left me wounded and depressed.

This is a typical MALE attempting to write female sexual content yet again. I really wish that when a HE “THINKS” they can write from a female perspective, that at least they would get descriptions of some kind written in a way that is true to form.

Ouch! Seriously? I’m that bad? Oh, but that hurts.

I don’t plan to deconstruct the whole review, but there’s one point I’d like to pick up on:

Your choice of certain female anatomy descriptions are crude. Again… choose words that females connect with and not those that a man would say to his buddies at a bar. … Perhaps if the author was to get the opinion of other female writers/editors and smooth out the sexual content so that at least it wouldn’t make me or other female readers cringe…

Crude anatomical descriptors? That alienate female readers? This is not good… but what exactly are these words? Let me play the counting game:

Word #Uses
(Ch. 1 only)
cock 18 2 7
shaft 1 0 1
dick 0 1 0
penis 0 1 0
pussy 14 0 9
cunt 0 2 0
vulva 1 0 0
labia 2 0 1
clitoris 2 0 2
tunnel 1 0 1
balls 0 8 0
ass 0 3 1
anal 0 1 1
gasp (*) 11 3

(*) Includes gasp, gasps and gasping.

There are also quite a lot of breasts and nipples, and fuck is used a lot, but there are no clits, boobs, tits, pricks, erections, knobs, cum or semen, or even a vagina. For an 82,000 word novel with considerable erotic content, that is not, in my opinion, a high density of crude anatomical descriptors.

Okay, ‘tunnel’, mea culpa, I can see how that’s unwise, though it didn’t occur to me at the time that this might be visualised as ‘a giant with cars driving through’. Just as it didn’t occur to me that some people visualise a ‘pussy’ as a ‘cat’ (and, by the way, here’s an interesting note about the origins of the word ‘pussy’).

I understand that many people dislike the word ‘pussy’. I also understand that there is no better alternative word, and far too many worse alternative words. I have complained in the past about erotic novels that are full of cocks, rods and shafts but strangely empty of female equivalents.

I also believe that anyone who really enjoys ‘eating pussy’ should have no difficulty with the word ‘pussy’ – maybe I’m wrong about that – and Suzie, my narrator, is quite explicit and vocal in her love of cunnilingus. Indeed, she has been giving and receiving oral sex for nearly five hundred years. Why wouldn’t she be comfortable with her own anatomy and confident in its naming?

One thing that today’s counting game has confirmed is Georgiana Derwent’s review of the book (see The Plot:Erotica Ratio):

For the first few chapters of this book, the sex was particularly in evidence, more or less to the exclusion of any other kind of plot. … I do however feel the book would have been a bit better if there was a more balanced plot:erotica ratio from the word go.

About Frank

A Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and lyrical poet with a mild obsession for vampires, succubi, goddesses and Supergirl.
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2 Responses to The Soul-Crushing Torture of a 1-Star Review

  1. Jaye McKenna says:

    *hugs* You know if you changed the way you wrote it, somebody else would complain… you can’t please ’em all, and you’ll make yourself crazy trying.

    • Frank says:

      To some extent I set out to write a book that didn’t follow any of the ‘rules’ so it’s not surprising people dislike it, but this review feels like someone pointed a canon at me and fired. Recovering slowly, though – thanks! 🙂

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