What Do You Want From Erotic Writing?

What do you want from your erotica? This is not solely about whether you want graphic descriptions of all the squelchy details or a little light romance with a hint of gentle fondling, although that is always useful to know. It is about whether you want to be engaged as a reader.

I do, I want writers to bring their characters to life so I feel some empathy with them as they send erotic shivers through me.

A lot of writers write about sex so there is a lot of competition for readers. A story that tells me A goes out, meets B, they fuck, the end, is not going to grab my attention even if the sex is kinky, in an odd place and with a football team watching.

To me, this is a description, not a story. OK, so maybe that is what some readers want, but then they can pull up a video on their phone which is quicker, easier and probably more graphic than reading about it.

To persuade readers to choose the written word over the visual we writers need to grab you, the reader. We have to offer you something a video or still picture cannot.

It’s called a USP (Unique Selling Point (or proposition)). Writers have several of these at their disposal.

Characters and their motivation

Creating a character in a few words and describing something of their motivation is not easy for writers. This is especially difficult in short fiction, it is a lot to get into 150 to 500 words and tell the story as well. But we humans are clever, we can read a lot from people’s actions, the way they speak as well as what they say.

Writers – Make your characters say and do things that are part of the story, but suggest their feelings and motivation.

I recently read a story where the female narrator had just gone down on a woman when a man appears in the room. It really was sexy writing and the curious motivations of the male and female secondary characters were beautifully alluded to and woven into the story by their actions and dialogue. Then it lost me as the narrator’s reasoning for allowing the, as yet unseen, man to have sex with her could be summed up as, ‘might as well’.

There was a wonderful opportunity here to engage me as the reader in the excitement of experiencing the unknown, taking a risk in the pursuit of pleasure, or doing something new, which leads me to the next point.

A story is about change

In a story, something needs to change. This was hammered home to me by several of my tutors during my creative writing degree course. This can be circumstances, the world is saved, the protagonists become rich, go to jail or the characters experience a change in outlook, feelings or the way they think.

In my stories, The Voyeur in the Room and The Voyeur Takes Control (available on Medium.com) the female narrator changes from (spoiler alert) a meek divorcee into a bisexual dom. (I am not quoting these as examples of great literature but because it’s only me who suffers the comments if you disagree). None of these changes are told, hopefully, you, the reader perceive this from her dialogue and sexual antics.

The story arc

Remember Kipling’s mantra, “I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who. (Poetry.com) This is usually applied to journalism but is valid fiction as well.

Fortunately, sex has its own simple story arc. There is the exposition, where, when and who, followed by a trigger, why, which leads to rising action, what, a climax, decreasing action and a wrap up (The Narrative Arc).

Here’s my recipe. Mix together where, when and who plus a dollop of why and heat, when simmering add the rest of the why and bring to a frantic boil using what. Allow to cool, decorate and serve.

The question here is how much detail do you like as a reader? Do you want to know what his cock felt like the smell of her pussy, the taste of his cum? Or do you want to know what it felt like, the characters’ emotions? Or all of the above?

I usually write about the first but give more prominence to the second. My books, The Iron Tongue of Midnight and The Bookshop contain quite graphic sex within, what I hope, is a good story that builds engaging characters. The Donnington Chronicles is more of a BDSM sex romp.

In my latest short story, Riding Natasha I decided to get more graphic.

Let me know

As writers, we can go anywhere and do anything on a pitifully small budget that probably would not fund ten seconds of a porno movie. We can take you, the reader, inside our characters’ heads to experience their thoughts, feelings and emotions without the need for actors.

I want my stories to engage you as a reader, to make you care about (or even hate), my characters. I want to give you some understanding of their motivations and tell you a story, but will not forget to add the kinky sex.


Footnote: This article is based on my own opinions but draws on comments by my tutors during a creative writing degree course and ideas from one of my favourite books on writing, How to Write a Short Story (And Think About It) by Robert Graham.

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2 thoughts on “What Do You Want From Erotic Writing?”

  1. Emotions, yes for sure. However, I find the erotica that I sample to be bland and using expected language in a repetitive fashion. For me, I need excitement and that is achieved by unusual metaphors, sensory descriptors, a sense of playfulness and softness. I might call this a melody and harmony approach. After being riled up by this, I do like to see the usual “cock”, “pussy”, “cum” and similar words worked into the narrative–perhaps to be called a percussive passage. I think the idea of using music as a metaphor here is important because sex is largely non-verbal and to translate it into prose requires the use of poetic rhythm and musicality.

    Reply
    • I agree. The rhythm of language is so important in any piece of writing. It is what makes me want to come back and read it again. Unfortunately, honing the rhythm takes time and much erotica is written for ‘single use’ consumption; to give the reader instant gratification before they, and the writer, move on. I like the idea of using music as a metaphor. I am continually searching for new metaphors, descriptions and ways to express feelings in my writing. Thank you for your constructive comments

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