All right, I admit it. I'm a man who writes erotic novels for women...

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The Independent Culture
All right. I admit it. Selina Seymour is my alter ego. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, she is the author of Playing the Game. And no, it is not a Bridge Manual, it is something infinitely more racy: X-rated fiction for women.

There is an argument that I had no business writing it in the first place; that it was dishonest to pose as a woman. But these books are sexist - men aren't allowed to write them. Why? Haven't men learned anything from those legions of articles and books on how to please a woman? Are they only allowed to do it in person but not in print?

So I'm proud of the fact that Selina's synopsis passed the acid test at an editorial meeting with its unisex prose. Only my editor (female) knew that I was a man. Nobody else twigged. I, on the other hand, had already twigged something else: I couldn't do this on my own. I needed to do some research...

I started with Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. That was a mistake. It was dated and not nearly dirty enough. Further enquiries led to The Butcher by Alina Reyes. Now that was erotic - but too elliptical for my purposes.

Finally I hit upon Women on Top by Nancy Friday. Well I'm sorry, but that was just disgusting. I was shocked. Interestingly, so were most of my female friends. Anyway, I had specific instructions not to use degrading words or images and this compendium of American women's erotic daydreams made some pretty gruesome reading.

In the end, I put pen to paper and soon discovered that, for porn writers, art really does imitate life. You start with the basics and then leave the rest to imagination. The basics are soon learned. After a while, you realise that it's going to be difficult to last the pace, to fill an entire novel with sex. You will need to make the book look longer than it really is.

So here's the first lesson: PUT YOUR MOANS AND GROANS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. They take up far more space. And the words don't even have to be long. You can do a lot with "Yes". "No" - ordinarily an unpopular word in porn - is pretty handy when dispensing with virginity. And "Uh" can take up a whole paragraph.

Another basic is to have the characters interrupt each other's sentences the whole time. This is an extremely effective mechanism and, given that this new generation of erotica is required to have riveting plots, can be doubly so: you can use each scene twice. Here we are, for example, in the city boardroom discovering that Kate - being a modern heroine - has been laundering not clothes, but money:

"Charles looked at her in wide-eyed disbelief. "You mean...?" he began hesitantly.

"Yes! I..."

"Kate..."

"I was forced into it. I didn't have any choice..."

"But you say you've been doing it..."

"Yes! I know! All the time." Kate drew herself to her full height and met Charles's steely gaze. "I started to enjoy it. I loved it. And now I just can't stop myself..."

All good and well - but even better when, five minutes later, our heroic couple nip up to the bedroom. Then you can repeat the scene. Verbatim. It works a treat.

Your imagination will have been fired up by now and soon you'll be able to tackle the perennial problem of how to write about... well, it in new ways. I was flagging a bit until Kate and her new beau Rupert wandered into the tropical garden of a summer's evening. Bingo! I thought. They lost themselves for page upon page amid a positive riot of exotic vines, flowering bulbs, musky aromas, cascading waterfalls and secret places. And they discovered enough fleshy stems and fragrant petals to keep Gardener's Question Time busy for a week.

The classics, too, are an endless source of inspiration. Diana the huntress is always useful for a head-strong heroine and I did think of tangling with Medusa at one point but didn't much fancy the image that came to mind. I'm sorry to say I reverted to the hackneyed nymph. Later, one lucky couple got so carried away that they mixed their metaphors and were visited by a host of angels prior to slipping off into the arms of Morpheus. At the end, Selina too slipped off, exhausted, into retirement. I'm afraid I could no longer keep it up.

n 'Playing the Game' (X Libris, pounds 4.99)

GRAEME GRANT

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