laylah: a person wearing high boots and a sleeveless shirt lounging with a book open in hir lap (storyteller)
So last week or so I got into a conversation in a friend's online space about POV in fiction—she'd asked people to weigh in on the circumstances where they preferred first vs. third person, and what factors went into that preference. Some interesting discussion ensued about how that choice influences how much a reader identifies with (or is expected to identify with) the POV character, and when that works and when it doesn't. And in the aftermath, I had a much more specific and personal thought about how that relates to how I write and read erotica.

This is where I admit that I tend not to enjoy erotica in first person. Part of that may be just familiarity; I've spent several years in fanfiction circles in which first person was practically unheard of. But a much bigger part of it, I think, is the identification issue.

First-person narrative puts the reader squarely in the experiences of the narrator. (Sometimes this is the setup to make the reader realize sie's consuming an unreliable narrative; sometimes it's a way to unsettle the reader by making edgy content personal. The statement still holds.) Even the most limited third person isn't quite as immediately filtered through the narrator's priorities and interests.

And that trips me up in erotic fiction, because that isn't the way I fantasize. I don't want a single point of identification. I want to be picturing the charge that both (or all) parties get out of the experience. (I think this might be why Thirteen's Fancy Man stories work better for me than some first-person stuff; the narrator there has a kink for imagining what's going on in the mind of the guy he's working on.) The fantasies that play in the privacy of my own head are at least as sloppy in POV terms as they are in fluids terms. I want to be free to touch on the bottom's humiliation and the top's triumph and the physical struggles and pleasures of everyone who gets involved. I'm too much of a switch to want to be stuck in a single role in my imagination.

Obviously this is not intended to be a blanket statement about which POV is "better" for erotica—there are few arenas where YMMV more than erotic imagination. But it's certainly a thing for me to consider more carefully as I'm reading other people's work and thinking about what I can learn from them.

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