Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Menage or Melee?

I enjoy reading and writing ménage as a special treat and as a challenge.
Ménage can be very challenging to the reader if the writing is confusing. I once read a story by a popular author featuring multiple supernatural, male beings all with oddly forgettable names making love to one woman. I gave up trying to remember who everyone was and what color their hair was. I simply wasn’t up for it. The author hadn’t given each man a strong enough personality to stand out from the crowd. The men had gimmicks instead of personalities. The ménage simply read as “mob-rule.” I rolled all the men together in my mind because it didn’t matter at that point and finished reading the scene.

I went back later to carefully reread the scene and analyze what went wrong.

All the men were Alphas who made love the same way. All were slightly different versions of the same man, each waiting his turn to do a variation of the same thing. Worse the men didn’t relate to each other in any meaningful way that moved the plot forward and the heroine treated the men identically. It got dull fast.

This book proved that at its worse ménage becomes a mechanical, faceless endeavor that skirts the edges of slutdom or robotic customer-service and neither are any fun in an erotic-romance.  I’m glad I read it because it made me appreciate so many of the less famous authors who write wonderful ménage.

My conclusion was ménage scenes must move the plot forward. Deeper facets of each character’s personality should surface. Surprises and game-changers should occur. An author shouldn’t throw that many personalities into an intimate situation and not create an unpredictable situation on some level.

I’ve written ménage in several of my books and WIPs. Each time it’s a big learning experience and certainly one I’ve yet to master. Writing ménage can feel like a juggling act (bad pun alert) it’s hard trying to keep all those balls in the air!

Honestly, I find the emotional choreography just as challenging as the physical choreography. Sorting out the emotional choreography is the tough part.
Ideally ménage should have many layers to it. Once a writer has the characters down the choreography needs to be set. Once the physical choreography is working the emotional reactions kick in. Once the emotional reactions are firing the plot must shift gears because with erotic-romance the sexual encounters exist to move the plot forward…

Pheew! Even after all those details have been attended to, the work’s still not finished. An author has to go back to revise and revise until the scene flows and takes the reader somewhere unexpected. 

Throwing multiple partners together to get-off just isn’t enough. If the characters simply climb on each other and come in different positions it quickly becomes incredibly boring. Fiction should be dramatic.
I know this sounds crude but compared to that emotionally flat, ménage-themed book I read several years ago, I’ve seen more dynamic personalities, conflicts, desire and drama between groups of dogs mounting each other at the dog park. At least the emotional reactions at the dog park were blunt and honest and if you’re wondering what happens when too many Alphas’ gather in one spot, you can see the uneasy results first hand.

So I have several questions for both readers and writers and I would love a few comments too (please!)
Is the ménage theme a real turn on to you or a fantasy to try on just for fun?
What is it about ménage that turns you on the most?
Name the best ménage you ever read.
Is there anything about ménage that annoys you or turns you off?
What kinds of ménage would you most want to read?
Thanks for dropping by (let’s end on a group hug! lol)

Also, the book trailer for “Owned By Rome” is up for votes at “You Gotta Read Video” If you can please drop by and vote for # 18. Thank you!

PS. Happy Release Day Cerise! Cerise Deland’s new Sophisticate ménage “Hat Trick” is available today from Ellora’s Cave.


  1. For me it's all about the a reader and a writer.

  2. Kat - what a great post! A menage is very difficult to choreograph, not just the physical aspects, but the personal aspects. Every individual involved must be just individual with their own needs and desires and distinct personality. My husband says - and you'll laugh - most menages consist of - "Ok, I get the butt this time!" "No, it's my turn to have the butt, you had the butt last time!"
    It is so hard to walk that fine line between a reason for taking multiple partners vs. the slut factor.

  3. Julia-my hubby has made the same comments!!

    Kat, menage relationships are a favorite subject of mine as a reader and an author. It hits a whole bunch of 'fantasy' buttons while being a real test of an erotic author's abitlity to delve into numerous aspects of human nature.
    Mia Watts, Brynn Paulin and Bronwyn Green come to my mind as authors who expertly craft menage relationships between more than three participants!

  4. Thank you ladies for the great comments! Tessie I agree with your choices. My list is too long to post here. Julia who does get the butt? lol
    XXOO Kat

  5. You gotta line up, girl! Wait your turn!

  6. Great post, Kat. (Thx for the plug for HAT TRICK.)
    You are absolutely right about menage or more requiring a deft hand with characterization and plotting. The experience must mean something more than sex or we are reading only for titilation.
    xxoo for being so articulate about it!


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