Tag Archives: recommendations

Sex in Flash Fiction: Sources & Resources

Black and white photograph of a woman in a black dress wearing white glovesAs promised, here is a list of presentation sources, resources, links, recommendations and examples of sex in flash fiction. Basically, this is everything that wouldn’t fit on a PowerPoint slide, plus two bonus prompts. (ooh!)

I’ll post the full presentation in the next few days, but in the meantime, here are some rabbit holes to fall down.

Presentation Sources:

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Fielded. Tara L. Masih. Rose Metal Press, 2009.

Adrea Kore’s Guest Post on Flash Fiction. F. Dot Leonora, October 7, 2016.

“Short and Sweet: Reading and Writing Flash Fiction” by Amanda Christy Brown & Katherine Schulten. The New York Times, October, 3, 2013.

‘”Flash Fiction: What’s It All About?” by Becky Such. The Review Review, 2015.

Example Credits:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2015. (p. 114) –> Word Choice.

420 Characters by Lou Beach. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. (p. 77) –> Details

Delta of Venus by Anais Nin. Harcourt Brace Jovanavich, 1977. –> Pacing and Rhythm

“A Love Story in 18 Words” by Malin James. People. Sex. Culture. February, 2017. –> Negative Space

“Mine” by Szilvia Molnar. Quick Fiction. (Out of Print). –>Imagery

Additional Resources:

On Implication by Malin James

Tell Me a (Very Short) Story: On Plot in Flash Fiction by Malin James

What You Owe the Reader by Malin James

Stories in Your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction by David Gaffney

Why Write Erotic Fiction by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Flash Fiction: A List of Resources at The Review Review

FlashFiction.Net: For Readers, Writers, Editors, Publishers & Fans of (Short) Short Fiction

Recommendations & Examples:

F. Dot Leonora’s Friday Flash Meme (erotic flash fiction)

Remittance Girl

Adrea Kore

Dirty Little Numbers, ed. by Lana Fox & Angela Taveres. Go Deeper Press, 2013.

The Big Book of Orgasmsed. Rachel Kramer Bussel. Cleis Press, 2013.

The Big Book of Submissioned. Rachel Kramer Bussel. Cleis Press, 2014.

Gotta Have It, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel. Cleis Press, 2012.

Sudden Fiction, ed Robert Shapard & James Thomas. Gibbs Smith, 1983.

Bonus Prompts!

  • Write a piece of erotic flash fiction, no longer than 500 words, about a mundane item of clothing. No corsets, knickers or ball gags. Think trainers and pajama pants. The challenge is to make something not sexy, sexy in as few words as possible. Added points if that sexiness gives the story resonance.

 

  • Take a tired, done-to-death trope, like the big bad alpha or the simpering sub, and turn it on it’s head. Twist the lens. Find something fresh and erotic in a scenario you’ve basically read to death.

ps – If you write or post anything based on these prompts, let me know – I’d love to read it.

The Goblin Market

A pre-raphaelite painting of a woman holding a pomegranate for The Goblin Market by Malin James

“Proserpine” or Jane Morris & the Pomegranate by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1847)

I’ve been sick the past few days, which has given me an unusual amount of time for listless thinking and wool gathering. In and amongst the drift of fairly useless thoughts came the realization that, for me, there are two kinds of erotic reading – stories that focus on sex, and stories that achieve a raw, nearly sexual intimacy, despite the absence (or near absence) of sex.

The first sort of reading is pretty obvious. It’s best characterized by stories like this and this. In fact, a lot of what I write for this site would fall into that category. The other kind of eroticism is harder to qualify, but it shows up in pieces like this, as well as in many of my non-erotic stories, which is why they’re often read with a sexual undercurrent, even when there’s no sex in them.

Instead of being expressed in an overtly sexual way, the intimacy in those stories comes out as a sort of shared ache – a sympathy between characters that is, hopefully, transferred to the reader. That affinity triggers something like an erotic response, one that’s subtly sexual and emotionally intimate. The latent sexuality in that response is what comprises the second sort of eroticism – one that’s emotionally sexual and not obvious in the text, but simmering beneath it.

“Goblin Market”, by Christina Rossetti, drips with limpid, super sensual imagery and includes a final scene that could be a portrait of sexual ecstasy, except it isn’t. The ecstasy isn’t sexual. It’s the culmination of devotion, sacrifice, and love between two sisters whose affinity is so strong it pushes their bond to lover-like levels of intimacy while remaining uncompromisingly platonic.

How Rossetti managed to blend the sensual with the sisterly is a bit of a mystery to me, even now. There’s nothing concrete that I can point to in the poem, no line on a map marking the territory between sexuality and emotionality, but it exists all the same, which is why I think of that shared territory as the goblin market. The goblin market in narrative creates a tension that works on the reader without any conscious effect, yet you put the book down feeling lush and keenly aware, like Persephone when she finally gives in and eats the pomegranate’s seeds.

For me, one author achieves the goblin market better than anyone else. If you read anything by Angela Carter you’ll feel it, but it’s especially effective in her collection, The Bloody Chamber, which I’ve pushed mentioned before. The title story is fantastic I’ve already fangirled all over it so I’ll focus on a different story from the same collection – “The Tiger’s Bride”.

“The Tiger’s Bride” is one of the sexiest stories I’ve ever read, yet it contains no sex.  What it does have is massive amounts of emotionally charged intimacy unpinning a story in which masks and identities are stripped away. It isn’t until a tacit understanding is reached between the tiger and his captive that a shared ache develops, but when it does, it makes something that should have been ghastly, (the tiger licks her human skin away, revealing golden fur), unbelievably erotic.

The narrator’s affinity for her captor can’t be expressed in words (he speaks in low growls, translated by a simian valet), which is just as well. It’s the silence of their understanding that transforms what could have been yet another variation on “Beauty and the Beast” into a story steeped in animal sexuality. Its lack of obvious eroticism heightens, pretty fantastically, the latent eroticism of the text.

I’m finding more and more that I need this second, more subtle, emotional component for the erotic aspects of a story to work for me. While I still love straight up filth, it doesn’t tend to stay with me. It’s the stories that weave tapestries of sex and emotional intimacy that I come back to again and again, whether they’re called erotica or something else.

This shift in my reading is something relatively new. While I appreciated the goblin market from an intellectual perspective when I was younger, it never touched me the way that raw sex did. Now it’s quite the opposite. It would be easy to say that this shift is the result of getting older, but I suspect it has less to with age and more to do with me. I’ve always had an emotional intensity that I was never completely comfortable with, especially in conjunction with sex. I suspect that my growing attraction to stories steeped in this kind of emotional sexuality is, more than anything else, a sign that I’m finally comfortable with my own goblin market.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite goblin market stories, along with links to where you can find them (some for free!). And if  you have any books you love for this kind of read, tweet me or leave them in the comments!

POETRY:

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti

COLLECTIONS:

Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen – “The Invincible Slave Owners” and “The Heroine”

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter – “The Tiger’s Bride” and “The Bloody Chamber” (and most of the others, to be honest).

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor (The first story is a really subtle, really sexy adaptation of Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”).

The Lure of Dangerous Women by Shanna Germain

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue

NOVELS:

Atonement & The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (I fangirled the film here. And to be fair, there is fairly explicit sex in this book, but its punch lies in the emotional intensity behind it).

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Angels and Insects & The Game by A.S. Byatt

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch

The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy by Nick Bantock

The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox (courtesy of Tamsin Flowers, who was lovely enough to give me a copy!)