Five Tips for Writing Erotica

Needless to say these aren’t the only five things to keep in mind when writing erotica. And these five things aren’t always going to be applicable. They can be useful on many occasions, however.

1. You don’t need to show every twitch.

Concentrate on gestures that embody the most sensuality and emotion in the tone you’re going for, and choose words to match. Obviously, this will vary according to the story and the characters. For instance, if you want to portray a building romantic relationship, you might focus more on eyes and faces and tender gestures. Alternatively, there could be body positions that indicate power relationships, more violent verbs, etc.

2. Word choice matters.

Some words, and I don’t mean words for genitalia, stand out more than others. If you’re going to use one of those, make sure it’s in a place you want to emphasize. Read the line aloud to see how it falls.

3. Sentence structure matters.

There are a lot of things going on in a sex scene. The reader is trying to parse her mental picture of the setting, characterization clues, emotional cues, etc.. Make sure to point the reader towards the erotic elements in every possible aspect, so they aren’t lost in the shuffle of limbs flying around, extraneous thoughts about England, etc.. Don’t suddenly forget this is meant to be erotic.

4. Eschew perfection.

Perfection is boring. Perfect sex is boring. Remember that scene in the first Iron Man movie, in which Tony Stark and Christine Everhart fell off the bed?

5. Eschew patterns.

Don’t always follow the same pattern in sex scenes. For example, 1) kiss; 2) caress breasts; 3) intercourse. Mix it up, lots and lots. Add, subtract, change stuff around (especially if you write a lot of sex scenes). The unexpected is hot.

Need more? Check out my Writing (Erotic) Short fiction FAQ or my For Writers page. Size Does Matter might help. Or try some of these books: How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Erotica by Susie Bright; Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane; or The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers by Elizabeth Benedict.

The erotica I’ve written is listed on this page.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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2 Responses to Five Tips for Writing Erotica

  1. Elenya Lewis says:

    Wise words, well spoken. Especially about perfection. I wrote a scene where some characters tried to get it on in the back of a car and at some point my brain went “that’d be really uncomfortable” and then one of them got their foot stuck. It was a really sweet moment.

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