There’s a certain knack to writing erotica. A lot of people write a mechanical piece, insert tab A into slot B (or C or D) with a lot of grunting and shoving of anatomy. That’s not erotica – and in some cases it doesn’t even get to porn. Strong erotica requires the same writing skills as any other piece. It is not the bastard step child of the writing world as some would have you believe. A published romance writer I know once quipped that the hardest thing she’d ever tried to write was a pure erotic piece.
Sexuality: You must be relatively comfortable with both your own and your characters to write decent erotica. That does not require you to have done everything you character has done. You can be happily married to your first partner. I know one writer of romance with an erotic bent and some pure erotica who is self defined as A-Sexual: neither wanting, nor requiring, a personal sexual relationship. Because she can understand the desire others have, she can give that to her characters.
If your character is a virgin he/she will react differently to a sexual situation than a jaded hooker. A bisexual who leans more heavily to guys is in a sexual situation with a gal will not respond like the bisexual who’s more into women. Homophobic heterosexual female, wantonly gay man, closet lesbian, do anything and anybody M2F non-surgical transsexual you have to know who your characters are sexually.
Know the fetish you’re writing as well. I write rope bondage. I know it. I understand the appeal of it. I don’t write S&M because I don’t understand the appeal of that. Domination, I get. Pain, I don’t get. Does that mean you can’t write in a sexual fetish you don’t have? No. But you have to understand it. You have to research it – there are cue words and situations in fetish fiction that don’t appear anywhere else. Example: handcuff fetish. The work is not about the ultimate sexual act. You must sexualize the restraints. Maybe half the piece will focus on describing the handcuffs and the characters reaction to the handcuffs.
Sensuality: You have to pay a great deal of attention within erotica to all five of the senses. The richer the description the more delectable your piece will be. To that end, forgo numbers. I, and the reader, could care less if your heroin has a 34DD chest. In writing that’s a speed bump: two thumps of your brain and you’ve put it behind you.
If the writer takes time to really describe that person, the reader will connect better. Tell me why I should care and more importantly why the characters care. I’ve read works that pushed the boundaries of my “squick” factor which were incredibly hot. Why? Because the author got me quickly and entirely into the head of the character who cared about that fetish. They wove that tapestry so richly that I moved past my own personal issues and got into it.
You will have to get familiar with the names both proper and vulgar for all sections of anatomy. Whether you use them or not is a personal choice. It becomes painfully obvious in a work when a writer is avoiding the use of slang identifiers and hiding behind the proper nouns. There are words we all end up using or not using… that’s preference. But to make erotica work you have to be get comfortable using multiple terms for male and female anatomy. Be careful because the line between sensual and silly can be one word.
Sensuality pervades everything in erotica. Like pixels in a computer photo the more filled in the richer the color, the more lifelike the expressions, the more pleasant overall the image becomes. That means if a guy’s pulling it out, you need to describe what he looks like. No two people look the same. No two people react the same to how someone looks.
Emotions: Erotica is porn without emotions. This is my opinion of course, but reader and reviewer comments seem to back up my less than empirically tested theory. They like the pieces where the writer lets them into the character’s head. If I don’t know why someone is doing something, I’m not going to care about them. It’ll be just stroke fic.
The reader has to get into the characters head. Why does he/she want this person, this act, at this moment? What is special about this situation? Does the character like sex? Emotions are the spices in an erotic dish. They take a work to the next level.
Show Don’t Tell: This is the same for all writing, but particularly important in Erotica. It is the only way to bring out the true richness of erotic writing. Bland, broad statements leave you flat. In order to pick up all the topics above, you have to become a master of Showing not Telling.
If what you write is:
Alessia nervously glanced at the man seated next to her, worrying what people would think
then you’ve missed a chance to speak to her desire, wants and needs.
Alessia glanced at the man seated next to her. The three day growth of stubble and black leather jacket sent a thrill from her shoulders to her hips. Subtle hints of motor oil mixed with spicy cologne and wormed under her skin. Bad Boy, it screamed to her. James Dean and Johnnie Depp and a thousand screen stars… all unapproachable. No bad boy would want Miss Mouse. She wiggled in her seat trying to catch a glimpse of him without being obvious. He couldn’t know she was looking. Only bad girls stared at guys.
If you want, try this erotic writing exercise: in three paragraphs, describe someone enjoying eating a chocolate covered strawberry. You have to use all three paragraphs. Taste, touch, smell, sight and sound all must be included. Then go back and write it from the point of view of someone who hates chocolate covered strawberries, and then from angry, sad, etc. You quickly will find that it only takes one or two words to completely skew the thrust of the work. As with sex, there are only so many physical actions involved in eating a strawberry.
That’s the quick and dirty of it.