So, you want to write erotica. You’ve seen the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, you can see a potential goldmine waiting to be tapped and dammit, you want a slice of that sexy, sexy pie. But you need a place to start. Wonder no more (ish)! As many of you know, I freelance write for a living. Now, while I try to focus on the areas I want to go into once I get something resembling a more stable job- like film, TV, feminism, and LGBTQ issues- I write a lot of stuff just to pay the rent. This covers everything from tech reviews to travel articles to dating advice to, as you may have guessed from the title, erotica. Yup, I’ve ghostwritten erotica for about a year and a half now, and it’s been both an enlightening and unbelievably fun experience (albeit one where I had to warn my parents to check what my name was attached to before they read it, because they thought of my parents, who occasionally have a quick internet search to see what I’ve been working on recently, stumbling across some hardcore BDSM erotica that I’d written gives me the squicks). So I thought I’d share with you the stuff I’ve learnt since I started writing sexy stories.
1. Get Open Minded
As well as ghostwriting, I also create tailored stories for specific clients- sometimes they gift them to a partner as a safe way of fulfilling a fantasy, sometimes they just can’t find what they want on the internet and want someone to create it for them. And coming into close, personal contact with specific fetishes of every shape and size (literally) has made me realize that no fetish is entirely individual, and there’s almost nothing in the world that’s actually weird, just stuff that you personally don’t find a turn on. As an example, I was once working with a person who wanted me to write graphic stories about women who really needed to pee. That was it; just women with very full bladders. And I think that erotica is a really good way to explore that side of your sexuality, because you’re not hurting anyone else by reading (or writing) about it, and you get to learn your own sexuality a little bit better, which is never a bad thing. What I’m saying is that when you encounter wild sexual fetishes sitting in your inbox in the form of a work email, it takes a staggering amount to shock. So if you want to get into writing erotica, be prepared to open your mind a little- obviously, if there’s stuff that skeeves you out, be clear about it, most clients will be accommodating of that and if they’re not, fuck ’em. But if, like me, you’re interested in human sexuality outside your own, it’s a properly eye-opening experience. Be prepared to write stuff outside your personal sexual interests, and be prepared to discover some fetishes you didn’t know you had.
2. It’s A Really Inclusive Community
For whatever reason, like all freelancing work, sometimes clients don’t pay up for the stories you write for them. In these situations, I go to sites like Lushstories.com or literotica, which hosts thousands of user-generated stories from amateurs and professionals all over the world, to share my work because hey, might as well get someone off with it. And far from being a sub-pornography pond for creepers who haven’t quite got the internet connection for Redtube, I found a community of interesting, interested people, entirely open about their sexuality, and willing to offer feedback and advice on your writing. If erotica’s something you want to get into (heh), and I highly recommend giving it a go, then start out on community sites like these. Not only do they give you links that you can send to potential clients in the future, but lets you gauge what you like to write, what kind of stuff people enjoy from you, and where those two cross over.
Look, it seems like a no-brainer, but seriously now, edit the crap out of your work. It seems like the antithesis of sexiness, and it’s no evening in with my happy drawer, but there’s no point putting your writing in front of readers if it’s not looking the best it possibly can. And if, like me, you’re not used to writing extended pieces of fiction when you start out, be sure that your writing flows- take your reader by the hand and guide them through every bit of this sexual encounter, from the first kiss to the other kind of kiss. The level of detail you want to go into is entirely up to you, but cover all your bases (again, heh) and make sure the sex scenes don’t have the reader going “but I thought she was on top, or was he…wait, who’s where now?”. Because working out logistics is rarely sexy.
4. Get Descriptive
I think the big difference between porn and erotica is that erotica requires the creator to lead the reader through every aspect of the scene. In porn, we know the setting, we can see the people involved, and we can probably imagine ourselves there in a rudimentary way (if we want to). With erotica, the reader relies on the author to fill in the blanks. Avoid having basic descriptions of this went in there and then I went up there and it was so amazing and I came (EL James, I’m looking at you). Fill in the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the textures, as well as the sensation, and you’ll be looking at a scene that’s profoundly more engaging than one that simply describes a random sex act because, like all good fiction writing, you’ve got to assume your reader is here for more than just a blow-by-blow (…..heh) account of precisely what happened and order it happened in. Oh, and the one place you can step back from being overly descriptive? Body parts. Seriously, the phrase “throbbing manhood” has no place outside historical erotica, and really kind of makes it sound like you don’t know what it’s actually called.
So, go forth, blog readers, and write erotica. It’s a fun, healthy, safe way to explore your own sexuality, and even a good way to make money if you stick with it. Go write sexy things.