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On "Plausibility"

August 11, 2012
Posted at 2:23 pm

There's been a discussion on another board I'm on concerning the importance of "plausibility" in a story. On the one hand, there's the theory that it's fantasy, and all the normal rules that apply to fiction fly out the window; the only thing that matters is whether the rules are consistent within that universe. So guys have monster penises, women have huge bosoms and insatiable sex drives, and all that matters is that two people lust for each other and presto! You've got all the plot and plausibility you need. In this happy universe, people don't need protection from STDs and pregnancy.

Then there's the theory (which I share) that the more grounded a story is in real life, with people with real-life bodies and sexual responses in plausible circumstances, the better the story is. That's the kind of erotica that always turned me on most. It's also the erotica that's hardest to write, and hardest to find. And it's that challenge that I tried to meet.

My latest work, The Dorm Mother, was that sort of exercise. I took an implausible premise -- that a woman would have two thousand lovers in a twenty-five year period -- and put her in a situation where that scenario could actually play out in the real world. I gave her normal sexual responses for a woman (pleasurable experiences sometimes unaccompanied by orgasms) and the normal range of penises for her to play with. She uses condoms, and the condoms sometimes break with the expected consequence of pregnancies. And significantly, she's in a very happy marriage that offers her everything in the way of support but nothing in the way of sex, which is (I suspect) the norm among older couples now. In every way I could, I tried to anchor the story in the real world, where my character might actually be somebody you might meet...or somebody you might actually know.

As it happens, the story didn't do as well in the ratings as I'd expected. I'm not overly concerned about that, because it did what I wanted it to do, and those who took the time to comment on it seemed to be grateful that I "kept it real," and those are the people I wrote the story for. I'll continue to write this sort of story for you. Thanks, folks, for letting me know what you thought.