Everybody fantasizes about sex. While we all may fantasize about different things, we all have these ‘stories in our head’ every now and then. Sometimes, it’s better to keep it like that. Sometimes we want to act out those fantasies. And sometimes, just sometimes, we want to write those stories down and share them. But how? How do you write a good erotic story? Below you will find 10 writing tips to write a good erotic story.
No one will demand that you will write a best seller instantaneously. But writing is like singing. Everybody can do it. There are even artists that reach a number 1 position, without really being able to sing (I won’t mention any names). And every so often there is also a bestseller that is not so well written **cough** 50 shades **cough cough** So why don’t you just give it a try? Because (repeat after me:) You can learn by doing!
Erotica is the most underestimated genre.
Every genre has its challenges. Still, too often people think it is easy to write an erotic story. Everyone has erotic fantasies, so if you write them down, you’re pretty much done. Right?
Nope. What turns you on in your head, isn’t necessarily hot to read. It takes more to make a story fascinating for the read. Also, there are a number of pitfalls and cliches that lie in wait. Too many stories have a cliche structure: man and woman meet coincidentally, for example online, they start talking, the conversation turns to the subject of sex, they meet, they have sex, and they are fucking happily ever after. It doesn’t matter how hot the fantasy is, with a story line like this, it is still boring to read.
Furthermore the language is easily worn out. There are only so many synonyms for genitals and the act, which tends to make a sex story flat and common. There’s nothing wrong with porn, but a good erotic story is more than that. Assume your reader wants more than a story to masturbate to.
10 writing tips to write a good erotic story
10. Start with the throw of the stone, not with the run-up to the throw
Many beginning authors write an erotic fantasy in chronological order and they start off with an extensive introduction to explain how the meeting, that was the reason for the sex, emerged. Leave out the entire introduction, and start with the moment that actually matters. Use flashbacks to fill in the blanks. Take a closer look at how a detective is written. It usually starts with the killing. So why don’t you start with the moment he takes off his shorts, or the moment they smoke a cigarette together.
9. Show, don’t tell
Sex is all between the ears. Give the reader some room to fill things in for him or her self. Don’t tell a story like a report of events, but show things that enable the reader to draw its own conclusions. For example, don’t just say ‘It rained‘, but rather ‘Erica was afraid her new shoes would get dirty from the puddles in the street‘. Especially with erotica there is a danger you sow too much (‘he shoved his hard cock in her wet cunt’) en leave too little to the imagination. This will take a lot of practice and being critical to your own writing. If you read your story and it seems like the story of a 6 year old telling about his day (‘we first sketched and then we went out to play and then I ate a sandwich‘) you are probably telling in stead of showing. Leave some to the imagination of the reader. Use all the senses and describe the smell of the leather cuffs, the taste of her shoes, the sound of the dripping tap, the feeling of sitting on your knees on the concrete floor. Read more about the ‘show – don’t tell’ principle.
Many erotic stories are way to sweet, to predictable and therefor not very fascinating to read. That is not caused by the events, but by a lack of friction. Monica Roos, a fellow author and co jury member of the EWA Writing Marathon, likes to say: ‘erotica must scuff‘. Add elements that give context to a story. Two people having sex is nice, but is more interesting if thise two have a history, or when someone is watching, or when something unexpected is happening. Add emotions, dilemmas, (physical) deficiencies, insecurities and plots.
A dialogue can enrich your story. You can give your characters their own voice, by giving each their own vocabulary. In a dialogue, characters can colour your story. But, keep it natural and please refrain from cries, screams and shrieks like ‘Uh, oh’, he moaned.
6. Punctuation, spelling and syntax
This is the boring part of writing: make absolutely sure that your text is flawless. Prevent writing and style errors. Often a point is better than a comma. Use the correct quotation marks. Avoid overly using ellipsis (series of dots – …) and exclamation marks. Alternate short and longer sentences. Make sure your sentences have a varied structure and don’t repeat the same words too aften. Leave your text alone for a while and then read it again. Use websites for synonyms to find alternative words for the ones you are already using. Use your spell check or have someone else edit your story. Do research.
5. Avoid cliches
There are only so many words for genitals and sexual acts. That could have you fall into the traps of cliches. Be self critical and force yourself to be more creative in your descriptions. Don’t just say ‘she tasted salty‘ if you are writing about oral sex. The taste of a vulva depends on so many things (did she just shower, or did she just run a marathon?). Your story will only stand out if it isn’t too common. Your story must appeal as much between the ears as between the legs.
4. Opening line
The opening line of a story determines whether the reader reads on, or clicks away. It must make your story worthwhile. Try to avoid starting your story with ‘I’. Sometimes it helps to just delete the entire first paragraph and start with the second one. See tip 10, above.
3. Do your research
Have your story set in a specific location, like the castle in Roissy, or the trainstation of Tilburg. Take your reader to a different world. Challenge yourself and write about situations that are not necessary auto biographic. But be absolutely sure you know what you are talking about. Chances are your reader has actually been in that location, of does have a good knowledge of that fetish. Google!
Writing is a craft that you can only master by doing. Just start. Don’t be afraid you’re not good enough. Try writing that sentence in a different order. Scrap, edit, add, mold. Start a blog where you can (anonymously) post your stories. There are different websites and fora with tips for erotic writers.
1. Be challenged
There are a number of internet meme’s for erotic writers. Those will give you a theme or an assignment on which you have to base your story. at some of these you will get feedback from other writers. Here, on NBRplaza, we have our Dutch NBRplaza Erotica Fest. By taking part in such challenges, you will be forced to go outside of your comfort zone and you will be able to develop your writing skills.