I hope you’ll all excuse some of the brashness I’ll be using in this post, as I’ve become somewhat frustrated with the current standards of erotica-writing. Let me begin by saying there are TONS of great writers out there with some amazing work going out on a regular basis. With that said, when I first came out into the erotica genre, I was very happy with what I was finding. There was a website I got all my stories from(very small site, only a handful of stories compared to Literotica or LushStories), but every time I read a story, I was always bewitched by the situations contained within, and lost myself in the elegant stories that made me blush. It was because those stories were so well done, it inspired me to try and write a few myself, and aspire to the same quality.
I wrote some good ones, and some bad ones, but all of them helped me reach the level I’ve reached now, and I continue to try and improve myself today. Recently, things have changed, and standards have been lowered quite a bit. I don’t want to blame Wattpad, but… I blame Wattpad. Although it’s a nice idea, it does have it’s flaws, including having an age restriction as low as thirteen for all genres. Along with that comes the need to give praise, even if it’s not that good. Otherwise, giving any sort of criticism is frowned upon, or just dejected if it happens to be constructive.
However, this is my domain you are in now, and I will say what I have to say here. The new generation of erotica writers have a lot to learn if they want to ever want to be taken seriously. I say this, not as a hater, but as someone who began right where they did, but didn’t have the luxuries of Wattpad and Fanfiction.com to give me immediate gratification. If you don’t believe me, just go see for yourself.
But it doesn’t stop there either. I recently joined an erotica group on the Whisper app to try and connect with other writers and readers, hoping to expand my circle. Not only is my circle roughly the same size, but I feel like I was hanging my hook in the wrong part of the lake. The majority of whispers I see in that group vary from people asking to have a story given/written for them in the PM chat on the spot, to guys advertising their stories exclusively for women, and a few rate requests. Every story I managed to read from users all had some things in common: very short, written in first and second person, multiple perspectives, and way too straightforward. I’m gonna be the asshole for a moment and just say what I really feel: that’s not erotica, that’s just cheap sexting.
Ok, I’m very sorry for the ranting, but I’ve just had my whiskey.
Now, instead of sitting here complaining about it all night, I’m going to do the right thing, and try to give a few constructive tips to help improve your stories(if you happen to be one of these struggling writers). I can’t say for sure how many tips I’ll be able to give you as I write this, but I’ll be as thorough as I can.
1. NEVER do the laundry list!!
You’ve probably seen me mention this a few times in earlier posts, but in case you don’t know, this is the laundry list:
Hi, my name is Michelle and I’m 22 years old. I have long, brown hair and blue eyes, I’m about 5’4″ and very petite with 32D breasts…
And so on and so forth. Listen, I understand the need to make sure the reader has a clear visual of the situation for the sake of accuracy, but it hinders more than it helps. Readers have an imagination too, and erotica is about playing with the reader’s imagination. Rather than describe the exact details of your characters in the first couple sentences like they’re writing a dating profile, maybe try to allude to it instead. Mention certain details as they become necessary, and try not to be extremely specific. Maybe bring up the fact your character is at the beach, before letting me know they’re wearing a bikini. It would make more sense then.
Also, numbers can play a terrible role in description. Even if most descriptors involve the use of numbers, you can make it easier to read either by writing ‘eight’ instead of ‘8’, or remove them altogether, and use different types of description. Saying a woman has a 32D chest is pretty exact, but also compels me to go onto google to see exactly what 32D looks like. It’s so much easier, and paints a better picture in your reader’s mind if you say something like, ‘The top was pretty loose, but she filled it in pretty well. She often had to adjust herself, making sure the top button didn’t suddenly pop off.’ Now, doesn’t that sound a lot better than ’32D’? You can use this kind of descriptive power to create an image that isn’t specific, but allows the reader to dream up their own perfect version of your character.
The laundry list may not always be a deal-breaker, but most readers will click away once they read that. Even if the rest of your story is awesome.
2.Originality through new situations.
It’s entirely understandable, and I’m not going to give you grief, because I also did this when I first got started writing. Certain things happen all the time, and it helps to practice by writing about simple situations. But if you really want to make an impression, you’ll need to do more than write about a boyfriend and girlfriend having sex, or two people meeting, then going back to someone’s house to have sex. Even if there are no new styles of erotica plots to go with, there are still millions of ways your interactions can play out.
Take a moment and consider this plot often used by new writers: a girl likes a guy who has a really nice body, but is too embarrassed to say anything to him. Later, the guy comes up to her instead, and wants to know if she likes him. The two then go on to have sex in her room. Think about that situation for a moment, and tell me how often that situation actually happens, just like that. Picture this happening to you and (insert other person you know), and tell me if that would actually happen if it was you two playing that out. I’m going to guess the guy doesn’t have a perfect body, and the woman doesn’t have huge tits. Nor do I think you and the other person would just go on and fuck simply for the asking.
Certain things happen only under the right conditions, at the right time, and when the right people are involved. Give your characters motivation to act in a certain way to a certain situation. Create a character with personality traits that would allow them to get in a particular situation. If it helps, base your characters and stories on actual events in your life, or those of people you know.
3. Mixing Genres.
Now, this is a bit of an advanced tactic in erotica writing, but one that is very effective for drawing the attention of readers. Just about anywhere you look, you’ll find erotica websites filing every story it gets under one genre. If you click the link labelled ‘Lesbian’, *poof!* you’ll get every lesbian story that site has to offer. For the amateur writer, this may look like you’ll need to write a lesbian story if you want it to be featured in that lesbian section. Well, you can, but you don’t have to; and I recommend the latter.
Just because stories are filed under one kind of genre, doesn’t mean you’re limited to writing just in that genre. Mixing other elements can create more depth, and a much more engaging storyline. Instead of just writing about a lesbian interaction, why not go as far as to write about a lesbian’s first time bdsm/femdom experience. If you’re feeling really bold, use some extreme genre mixing, like a lesbian/alien/impregnation. Seriously, that kind of stuff exists! And people go for that kind of stuff!
4. Engaging sexual encounters.
When you imagine how sex would be narrated, what comes to mind? Do you imagine a description of sexual organs, their size, the state of their arousal, and their actions vis a vis intercourse? Perhaps you would describe the speed of intercourse, how hard the thrusting is, or that climactic moment of orgasm? These are all very good descriptors of sexual intercourse, but is that really all there is? Oh, absolutely not; there’s so much more going on than that.
If you want to create a sex scene that places the reader in the story, then you need to create a stronger illustration. One piece of advice I received on this is to use the five senses. A man caresses a woman’s skin. Now tell me, does her skin feel soft, is it smooth, does she have any imperfections your character overlooks, does anything feel big, or small, or hard? When you have sex, you usually notice a woman’s perfume, or a guy’s musk, or just a clean scent. Sex itself also has it’s own odor in the room, from a combination of sweat and other sexual secretions. Speaking of secretions, guys and ladies go down on their partner all the time, and those naughty bits have their own flavors as well.
Sex is also a full-body experience, and is not limited to the penis, vagina, breasts, and sometimes anus. A lot goes on you may not be fully aware of. A woman’s breasts get slightly bigger, and her nipples harden when aroused. Skin takes on a redness around the neck and chest immediately following orgasm. Your back and limbs will sometimes move involuntarily as a result of stimulation. Understanding your anatomy, and how it can respond during sex, can help broaden the scope of what’s happening in your scene.
It would also help tremendously to prevent overuse of certain words to describe certain parts or actions. Sticking to words like cock, dick, pussy, cunt, jizz, cum, fuck, pound, tits, and clit might turn some people off instead. There’s a myriad of ways you can describe these parts, or these actions, without needing to be so overly vulgar. Although, sometimes a bit of vulgarity can help at certain points in the scene, but should still be used sparingly. Take a bit of time, and research other terms or descriptors for these.
5. Creating a fantasy.
Erotica exists to allow us to either dream up, or live through, romantic and erotic situations each of us may not be able to experience otherwise due to circumstances outside of our control. That’s why it’s important to create something compelling, and outside the scope of things that happen all the time. As I mentioned in point 2, some things won’t happen unless the right people are in the right circumstances to make things happen. Just as important as the backstory, is the plot that follows that situation. This can work for you in one of two ways: creating the solution, or creating circumstances.
When I wrote “Truth or Dare”, the situation that jumpstarted the story actually occurred to an anonymous redditor who recounted an extremely depressing situation. He really did get left out of the orgy occurring in the large shower, and felt horrible about it. I created a solution, and retold the story, but changing it to include the older blonde walking in, and devising a way to get back at her daughter, and helping the guy get the experience of his life. In other instances, I’ll write a story based on a fantasy someone shares with me. In these cases, what they want is clear, but not how it happens. In these stories, I have to come up with a set of circumstances that would result in the desired fantasy taking place.
In this endeavor, my best advice is to purchase some composition notebooks, or some other medium for keeping notes, and write a detailed summary of what your story is about. This helps you to visually see where any plot gaps might exist, as well as work as a guide for where to go next in your story. It may seem like a little extra work, but it goes a long way to ensure your story stays on track, and the words keep flowing.
6. Dynamics and Dialogue.
I nearly forgot to put this in, but it’s such an important thing to have. This relates back to when I spoke about how certain situations wouldn’t likely happen if it was you in their place. Is your character the type of person to respond positively when given the choice to engage in anonymous sex with a stranger, or someone they admire from afar? A flat character isn’t going to be very relatable, or likeable. You need someone who displays certain quirks, has a particular knowledge of certain things, or has a tendency to act a certain way. I want to understand why your character makes the choice I wouldn’t personally make.
How do you show off that personality? Through a great use of dialogue, of course. Characters aren’t always aware of what’s going on, and they can get confused, or misread the room. Dialogue can drive a story forward, and can reveal how characters appear to those around them, rather than how they appear internally. They need a sense of humor, or a snarky comeback to a rude comment, or even proficiency in convincing others to do what they want. You can keep a reader’s attention if you can convince them your characters could be real people.
How could I forget about perspective?! No, seriously, that was one of the major issues I found with new writers. They often change the perspective between two characters more often than Game of Thrones will. Perspective is not something a writer can, or should, change often. Most writers will tell the story from only one person’s perspective, and use ques and gestures to allude to the thoughts of other characters. Just like in life, things come as a surprise, and keep our interest, because we don’t know what the other person is thinking. It makes for much better tension when a secondary character reveals something organically, than for the reader to know everyone’s thoughts all the time.
Most of the time, the writer will tell the story from the woman’s perspective. But that’s rather easy to understand, given how most readers of erotica are female. It’s not a requirement to write from a female perspective, though. It can still work very well to use male perspective too.
Check out: On Female Perspective
8. Foreplay, people!
This is such an important detail when writing your sex scene. People won’t have sex at the drop of a hat, and people are not constantly horny(at least most people). There has to be a bit of touching, carefully chosen dialogue, and the unsuspecting aspect of knowing more than you let on. Take a few moments and carefully think about specific things that take you from zero to horny in seconds. Do you have some erogenous areas that get you every time, or is it a certain body part that draws your attention when it’s made bare? I’m willing to bet there’s a few things you like to do, or have done to you, before any kind of sex happens at all.
Foreplay needs to be included before sex occurs between your characters as well. They need to be built up, horned up, and brought to the edge of ‘I need your naked body, now!’
Just as you need to have foreplay to build up to your sex scene, you need the afterglow that immediately follows intercourse. There’s a few minutes right after the sex is over where the body goes through it’s cool down period. Breathing is still heavy from the huge rush of blood through the body, and recovery from the work you’ve put into achieving orgasm. There’s also subtle things, like the rush of endorphins released when you climax, and the high that follows. Muscles feel like jelly, sex organs feel tingly, and you feel very relaxed.
Personalities also change once the sex is over. I can guarantee, regular-you and horny-you have very different agendas. Once horny-you is satisfied, regular-you comes back into play, and needs a moment to assess the situation. Sometimes, regular-you regrets what you just did, and wants to leave. Other times, you’ll want to know where things go from there, or you’re just happy to be laying next to the person you’re with.
Well, I think that’s about everything I can come up with for the moment. I may do another one of these if I can think of more. I hope those of you new to erotica writing can take something away from what I’ve provided in this post. If you’re angry at me, I can only guess it’s because I’ve called you out on your cheap sexting, and you’re not willing to admit it. In that case, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I wish you luck in your endeavors.
Oh, also: If you guys ever have any ideas on topics for me to look into, you’re always free to contact me and tell me about it. I promise I’ll do my best to look into it, and provide some answers, if I can.