Writing erotic fiction is fun but can be difficult. The steamy scenes come last, after the characters have been on a journey together and have developed a deeper connection.
For this reason, it is important that the characters are believable and the storyline is not too predictable. These vignettes are reusable imagination fodder and should elicit an emotional response from readers.
Start with the kink.
Whether they admit it or not, many readers pick up an erotica novel or short story for the pleasure of being taken on an imaginative journey. Your job as a writer is to sweep them away, and that means making your description evocative and even graphic if needed. But be careful. Tasteless or misogynistic wording can make a reader reach for something else before they’ve finished your work.
Start by thinking about your characters and their motivations for wanting to explore a particular kink. Then create an interesting external conflict that can get your characters involved in a sexual escapade, and then write an exciting romance to get them to the climax of that conflict.
Finally, add a sex scene or scenes to tie everything together. These are your big set pieces – just like big fight scenes are the set pieces of a thriller, or romantic scenes might be the set pieces in a romance. A good sex scene should be hot, passionate and arousing. It should also involve a mix of different textures, tastes and sounds.
Don’t get hung up on the length of your story.
Some people think that erotic writing is easy and only involves “sexy scenes.” But this genre can be more than just a bodice-ripper. It can be an exploration of human relationships or a way to convey the horrors of war. Or it could be a satire or political criticism. Erotic literature can even be used to explore a character’s fears and phobias.
Regardless of the genre, all good stories require hard work and imagination. Finding the right descriptive words to put the reader into the character’s skin can be challenging. Using adjectives and euphemisms for genitalia and sexual acts is fine, but too many of them will make the story seem downright silly. Also, it’s important to remember that erotic literature is not necessarily appropriate for all readers. Some publishers have guidelines that exclude rape, bestiality or anything involving children.
If you’re having trouble getting started, try reading the first page of a few bestsellers in your subgenre and taking notes on their openings. You’ll soon notice a pattern and have some ideas to start with.
Write believable characters.
One of the keys to writing erotica that rises above basement or bargain bin erotica is creating believable characters. Unlike other genres, such as mystery or thrillers, you can’t have a satisfying story without meaningful and recognizable characters.
Focusing on a character’s inner world and experiences helps to create a more empathetic experience for the reader. This includes describing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It’s important to avoid overdoing it, however, as this can be a turn off for readers. For example, if you describe a character kissing someone passionately every other paragraph, the scene is likely to be boring and stale.
A great way to hone your erotic writing skills is to join a writers’ group or an online critique community that focuses on the subgenre. Often, these groups are open-minded about sex and sexual topics and can provide valuable feedback for your work.
Don’t overdo it with sex scenes.
Erotic fiction is all about awakening sensations in the reader, but it’s harder to do than many people think. It’s important to read high-quality erotica and participate in groups for erotica writers and readers in order to learn from the best. But be careful not to fall into cliches that make a scene less effective.
A great way to avoid this is to focus on the characters’ internal states rather than the external scene. Describe their emotions in detail, what they’re thinking about, how they feel about their partner and so on. This will make the sex scenes more believable.
It’s also important to remember that a sex scene is only effective if it’s appropriate for your story and character. Don’t use it to glamorize rape or create disturbing and unwanted visuals in the mind of your reader. Keeping sex scenes short and detailed while using appealing adjectives to appeal to all five senses can help your readers get drawn into the moment. If it feels like the real thing, your reader will be more likely to swoon over your characters.
Writing erotic fiction requires some serious gumption, especially in the early stages when you’re trying to make sales and explain your work to people who may not understand it. But it can improve your writing skills in general by enhancing your descriptive abilities and making you more aware of how your characters occupy physical space. And you’ll learn how to write for impact in ways that are more likely to elicit the desired reaction from readers.
It’s also important to be realistic when it comes to sex scenes. If you use overly unrealistic or unnatural descriptions they can turn readers off and leave them feeling uncomfortable. And sex scenes need to be plausible, not just in terms of what is physically possible but also in terms of the relationship dynamics that make it believable.
Most importantly, remember that people who pick up erotic novels are looking for escapism. So transport them to a place they’d like to be – whether that’s a moonlit beach, a sumptuous hotel room or a soft rug in front of the fireplace.