Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

"He unveiled the softly throbbing promise of her future delight..."

Here's something that amused me – the submission guidelines for Black Lace novels. For those of you who are not British or very sheltered, Black Lace is a reputedly popular line of "erotic novels" written by and for women. No, I've never read one, nor am I planning to write one, but there's a part of me that is perpetually entertained by badfic, clichés and overblown euphemisms, and I thought there'd be something here to tickle that area (so to speak) – and indeed there is. Plus the fanfic bods amongst you might find it enlightening to see how many of these guidelines could be usefully applied to fanfic of all kinds – and not only of the smutty variety.

Highlights include:
  • We will not publish any books that begin with a weather report... or an over-description of someone waking up combined with a weather report. – if anyone's up for this as a challenge, I'd like to see your best stabs at this cliché, preferably in one overblown sentence. Go on, entertain me.
  • a woman having just split up with her 'boring' boyfriend/husband and (for some reason) taking a scented bath before embarking on a sexual adventure – ah, I now realize that what's been going wrong with my life. I'm a shower person.
  • Their notes on "What's Been Done To Death", particularly characters who are actors (particularly regional theatre) – Actors I understand, but I wasn't previously aware that backstage at the Theatre Royal Northampton was a haven of eroticism. Maybe it is, if you can clear your brain of images of Christopher Biggins.
  • Also, the 'high-flying Armani suit-wearing businesswoman in corporate espionage' is rather tired. – well, if she's at 7am breakfast meetings, carrying out 47 leveraged buyouts before lunchtime, abseiling into her rival's offices and somersaulting over their security lasers after closing time, and then shagging till dawn, it's no wonder she's a bit knackered.
  • For instance, it's ruder to take your knickers off in a supermarket than at an 'orgy' (where it is expected). – does this mean that if you write about an 'orgy' where everyone keeps their knickers on, that counts as original? And what is the difference between an 'orgy' and an orgy?
  • All the bits about euphemisms. Tee hee
  • No shrugging of 'pretty little shoulders' and heavy sighing and carrying on like a fairy princess in a children's story. – What, not even for lickle me? But I'm sooo cwute when I do that! You mean I can't do it even if I weally weally want to? Bah!!!! *pouts and sits down in a delightful yet erotic sulk*
  • Spanish lovers with names like Ramon, Juan, and Raoul – yeah, everyone knows that accountants from Wiltshire called Steve or Andy are the new Spanish lovers called Raoul.
  • Avoid obsessive attention to the details of genital anatomy at the expense of thought / dialogue / action. – Now there's a piece of sterling advice for every novelist. God only knows, Jane Austen's work improved massively when she listened to it.

Actually, what I liked most of all was the insight into another field of publishing – as a non-fiction editor in real life, I often get bogged down with all sorts of obscure topics and wish I could be working on something more exciting, but this goes to show that editing wall-to-wall sex is almost as dull and disheartening as editing books about 16th-century Turkish ceramics. I also love the fact that my firm's house style sheet has headings like "Capitalization" and "Use of Ellipses", while they have "A Word About Body Piercing" and "Realistic Orgasms". I must say, I am wondering about surreptitiously changing ours now and seeing how long it takes anyone to notice...
Tags: literature, sounds a bit rude
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