| ON WRITING EROTIC LITERATURE
Updated: November 3, 2002
Why am I writing this? Actually, from very selfish reasons. I
love good erotic literature and, in my opinion, there isn't enough
of it available. A lot of the stuff that's posted isn't exactly
my cup of tea. And that's OK; it takes a lot of different kinks
to make up a society. But even among those who share my kink, too
much of the writing I've found seems to be ineffective. I often
start reading a with an attractive header and/or a great
introductory set up, and then it gets ruined by poor plot
development, characterizations, style, etc. So my selfish reason
for writing this is to encourage more and better porn for me to
I get a certain kick out of writing and rereading my own porn.
But as any writer of erotic fiction knows, that gets super
fast. Reading your own work lacks the punch which comes from not
knowing what's going to happen next. No. I want to read
effective erotic writing by others. What do I mean by
"effective"? If it keeps my interest and makes my dick stand up,
it's effective. OK? If it bores me and makes me want to turn to
something else, it isn't. And if this little essay can help
produce more effective erotic literature. Great.
- - - - -
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: To paraphrase Dennis Miller: 'This is just
my opinion. I could be wrong.' I'm not trying to set down
immortal truths here. This is all, ALL, just my opinion. Take it
or leave it. If it helps, Wonderful. If not, move on. I really
want to emphasize this. This is all just my take on the matter.
Too many advice givers, of all sorts, lay down their ideas as if
they are handing down sacred truths from on high. I'm satisfied
if I can just find my way out of bed each morning.
NOTE II: This is all written from a male perspective. My male
perspective. Having spent my whole life being male, this is what
I know. Women writers can suitably modify this essay to suit
NOTE III: I attempted to present a kind of survey of basic issues
below, but in no way is this little essay comprehensive. It's more
like a collection of bright ideas and pet peeves. I'll probably
keep tinkering with it as time goes on until I lose interest or
drop dead. But I'm not trying to create an 'everything you'll
ever want to know about writing' essay. This is more a limited
set of elements relating to erotic writing. If you want to learn
about writing in general, there are far better sources. This
essay assumes you can write and want to know more about how to
write to titillate.
NOTE IV: This is a work in process. And I suppose it will always
be such. I'm a hopeless tinkerer and never completely satisfied
with anything I write. Hence, I expect I'll continue to tinker
with this essay as time goes on and continually repost the
'improved' version until I'm dead or otherwise lose interest. At
the moment this essay is still in a rather draft-like state. I've
actually updated this once and added some material since I first
wrote the previous sentence. Nevertheless, I'm not happy with the
level of polish, so let's still call this a draft, OK? As I said
before, the basic material is here, so I decided to go ahead and
post it for whatever educational value it might have. That is, if
there is anyone out there who might benefit from reading what I've
written so far, why deny them the benefit. And if there are those
who feel I should have waited until the piece was more complete,
they don't have to read it. Carpe Carp (Seize the Fish).
- - - - -
What follows is a brief discussion of what I consider the key
elements in writing effective erotic literature. These elements,
in the order I'll discuss them, are: Your Goals, Writing Style,
Your Kink, Plot, Characters, Exaggeration, Pain, Technical
Aspects, Learning, and The Writing Process.
If you have serious literary ambitions, you ought to be writing
serious literature. Lay off the porn. If you've got serious
literary ambitions and like to write porn for recreation. Fine.
Just remember to lay off the serious literary stuff when you're
writing your porn. They make a lousy combination and it's
tremendously hard to find an audience for it. 'Serious' readers
are often offended by overt sexuality in literature. And readers
of porn are often bored to tears by too much 'junk' in their
And speaking of 'porn,' I've often heard a distinction made
between 'Erotic Literature' and 'Pornography.' According to some,
Erotic Literature involves the artful and sexual telling of a
story, whereas Pornography is mere, carnal description designed to
be sexually stimulating.
But I don't buy this distinction. Any fabricated is
fiction. Fiction designed to titillate is Erotic Fiction. Mere,
crude sexual description is piss-poor fiction. 'Pornography' is
just a term used by those who disapprove of Erotic Fiction to
somehow denigrate the art form.
The critical point here is that the design, purpose, goal of
Erotic Fiction is to sexually stimulate. You want to turn your
readers on. You want to make their dicks hard or their pussies
wet (and in the case of hermaphrodites - both).
In my opinion, the artful telling of a which surrounds, sets
up, and enhances well-conceived and well-written sexual
description is the heart and soul of good Erotic Literature. You
want your writing to achieve the goal of inflaming your readers'
passions. You are trying to take a reader who is already in the
mood for sex (or would like to be) and get them as horny as
possible. This is what I mean when I say you want your to
be really effective.
[If you've got some other goal in mind, then you probably ought to
tone down the crude language and graphic sexual descriptions and
try to sell your work to the general literary market.]
So how do you write "Effective Porn."
Elaborate graphic descriptions of sex scenes without the proper
background and development tend to be boring. The thing that
makes sex sexy has to do with setting the mood. To a
metaphor, graphic sex without background is intercourse without
Foreplay without intercourse is much sexier. I.e., a well
developed background with credible empathetic characters and an
engaging plot can be extremely arousing even if it does not
include much if any actual sex. Some of Deirdre's work falls into
this category. So do most main-stream books and with
highly erotic elements.
Again, in my opinion, a good balance between foreplay and
intercourse is the sexiest and most arousing choice of all. Good
characters, a good story, good writing, good descriptions, leading
up to well written sex scenes. It doesn't get any better than
Have you ever actually licked a pussy? Do you really know how to
bring pleasure to a woman? If not, how in the hell do you hope to
When I read yet another dull description of some guy with a huge
dick, plunging it into some gal's hot and then his balls
churn until he discharges his huge load and bathes her steaming
pussy in cum, I think that either the author (a) knows very little
about sex or (b) can't write. Is that all there is to it? It
sounds like the description of a well oiled servo-mechanism.
Great erotic fiction requires honest and original observation and
effective creative description. If you need more help in
understanding this concept, read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig and pay careful attention when he
talks about how to write.
Here is an exercise for writers of erotic fiction:
The next time you're making love, pay attention. Do it with
enough light so you can see what's going on. If you don't like
bright lights (I don't) then try a single candle. It sets a fine
mood and, once your eyes get adjusted, provides plenty of light
for this exercise.
Now take mental notes. And really look at your lover. What's
actually happening. You've got at least five senses. Use them
all and think about them. How does your lover smell? What smells
and where? What do you like? What don't you like? How does she
taste? How does her skin feel to your hands, your chest, your
cheek, your lips. Listen to the noises she makes. Not just the
grunts and groans but the sound of her body, the little squishes
and creaks. Listen to the sound of the bed, or the sofa, or the
kitchen table - whatever your pleasure. And, of course, pay
attention to what you're looking at. The color of her skin and
how and where it changes during love making. The arrangement of
her hair. The way she uses her hands. How she holds her legs.
Get right down between her legs and take a really good look at her
pussy. I don't mean examine it clinically during sex. That will
break the mood. But do look at what your doing. And when you're
licking her, really pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and
reactions. How does her clit feel to your tongue? How about the
hair on your fingers? What about the feel of her legs on your
What turns you on? Why? What turns you off. Think about it.
And then be sure to include it in your next writing project. If
there is nothing in your head concerning the details of the sexual
experience, nothing is going to leak out onto the page as you're
writing. If there is a wealth of detail in your head concerning
sexual pleasure but you keep it to yourself, your readers will not
be able to share it with you. It's only when you have something
to say and actually say it that the magic starts to happen.
A strong, self-aware knowledge base, and strong writing skills.
These are the foundation of great erotic description. Beyond
that, your writing style is your own. It's not my purpose here to
try to get you to change it.
My general recommendation to all erotic writers is to be true to
your kink. If it doesn't excite you to write, it probably won't
excite anyone else to read. I get the feeling from some of the
stuff I've read that the author felt compelled to pander to
someone else's erotic fantasy or expectations when they were
Bullshit! Write to please yourself and let those who share your
kink, share the enjoyment of reading your stories. Not only will
this lead to better writing, but hopefully you'll establish your
reputation and develop an audience of those who share and
appreciate your kink. And this can lead to some nice leads.
Since I've started posting my writing, I've received a lot of fan
Email and occasionally someone sends me or tells me about some
other or writer they think I might like. About 50% of the
time they're right. And this has been a much better percentage
than my random search for erotic which suit my tastes.
I don't have a lot of specific recommendations to offer concerning
plot. The major joy of reading someone else's erotic writing is
being taken on a ride through their plot development. The problem
with rereading your own writing is that you know what to expect.
You have lost the element of surprise before you even begin. So
telling you how to structure your plots in any specific,
predictable way, is I think counterproductive. It's something
like sex and the Coolidge Effect. It's nice to have sex with an
old and familiar partner. But it is much more erotic to have sex
with someone new. That element of discovering the unknown makes
the experience ever so much more enjoyable. I suspect this need
is the most important cause of marital infidelity. The desire for
new sex partners seems to be deeply ingrained into our genes. I'd
bet that even those who don't cheat on their partners - at least
the vast majority of them - feel the desire to do so on occasion.
On the other hand, there are some general suggestions which might
help writers in thinking about plots for erotic literature. The
main one is to always remember the effect you are trying to
achieve. You're not writing a mystery; you're not writing a
thriller; you're not writing a comedy. You're writing erotic
literature (if you're not, this entire essay isn't intended for
you). So your goal isn't to mystify, thrill, or humor. Your goal
is to titillate.
Anything which contributes toward that goal is good. Anything
which detracts or sidetracks your readers is bad.
Confusion is bad. So avoid confusing your readers. Try to be
consistent with your plot and make it reasonably plausible. As
with the discussion about exaggeration below, you can the
limits here but once you tread past some invisible boundary (which
will vary from reader to reader), they cease to be titillated and
instead become frustrated, bored, angry, etc.
Tension is good. So generally try to include some. The whole
physiological basis of eroticism is sex. And the fundamental goal
of sex is climax. An orgasm is itself the release of pent up
tension. Consider, for example, these two passages/descriptions:
The got off the bus and started to head home. She
was almost there when a stepped out of nowhere,
cupped his hand over her mouth, and dragged her into a
dark alley. She could feel his other hand come up and
grasp her breast.
The stepped off of the bus and again cursed the
city for not yet fixing the broken street lights. She
hated having to walk the last half block in the
semi-darkness. This wasn't the best of neighborhoods.
As she moved off into the gloom she also cursed herself
for the perverse thrill she felt at the possibility she
might be grabbed and raped. She hated herself for even
having this fantasy, much less for having masturbated
to it so often. The click of her heels on the damp
pavement echoed along the street. She felt her heart
racing. And then she stopped suddenly and listened
intently. The echos had changed. Were those extra
footsteps? She didn't know whether to run or to
scream. Then it was too late.
Which is more erotic? In the first there is some actual sexual
contact. None in the second. But which sets you up to expect the
most from the encounter you are about to read? The difference is
Mystery and suspense are optional in Erotic Writing. They are one
way, but certainly not the only way, of creating tension. Just be
sure your mystery and suspense are contributing to your ultimate
erotic goal and not competing with it.
As far as physical descriptions are concerned, I would again
recommend you write to your personal taste. You'll do better if
you emphasize what you like. You'll write with more passion.
You might want to decide what each character represents (and this
is definitely optional). I.e., the you really want to screw;
a dangerous dude; a temptress; the ultimate ass-hole boss, etc.
Write them that way. Stereotypical characters in a serious novel
are boring. But stereotypical characters in an erotic novel can
be just fine. Interesting characterization and novelty for its
own sake aren't the point and can get in the way of your goal.
Characters have both physical and mental characteristics. I like
to stress the mental ones. When it comes to physical
characteristics, my bias is to provide minimize facts and maximize
impressionistic data. I avoid simply listing of physical
characteristics: height, weight, measurements, hair color, etc.
etc. I'll do so occasionally, but I don't do a lot of it. What
I will say is that a is tall, athletic, busty, etc. I like
to let my readers create their own mental image (which I think
will tend to be their own most erotic version of the character I
am creating). I think your readers will lose momentum and sexual
steam trying to visualize your character based on an elaborate
As far as mental characteristics are concerned, I think these are
much more important than physical ones when it comes to erotic
writing. Are we talking about a character that is sweet, naive,
friendly, harsh, bitchy, fearful, fearsome, self-assured, angry,
quiet, talkative, outgoing, etc. And more importantly, what is
this character's background and motivation? Are they afraid of
sex, a great lover, out to find a mate, looking for someone to
rape, terrified of homosexuality, trying to use sex to get
something else? Pick your character's characteristics to
accentuate the erotic pleasure of the situation you put them in.
It is common in my writing for a to find herself in a situation. Typically she is either straight, or has only a
slightly bi tendency. On the other hand, there is something about
lesbianism which the finds both fascinating and terrible.
Hence, as the develops, it maximizes the erotic tension of
You can often show characteristics to best effect, by
demonstrating them rather than describing them. For example:
Description: Lori was 5' 8"tall, had long hair,
with great hips and a wide sensuous mouth. She also
had a very athletic body. She found herself both
attracted to and repelled by the idea of sex with other
Demonstration. Lori was coming off of the soccer
field flushed with triumph. She had loved being head
cheerleader, but was even more pleased at becoming
a top athlete. Her height helped both as did her good
looks. took one look at her womanly shape and
the main of hair which cascaded around her
shoulders and immediately wanted to plant a kiss on
her wide sensuous mouth. Unfortunately, as far as
Lori was concerned, so did Debra Wilson. Debra was
the other star soccer player who seemed to have
designs on Lori's sexy form. Lori kept telling herself
that this was disgusting, but here was a small voice in
the back of her head that wasn't so sure.
And don't forget psychological depth and conflict. Unidimensional
characters lack erotic punch. Remember you're trying to create
tension. Again, which passage is more erotic:
Kathy watched as her roommate, Kim, pulled out a set
of fur-lined handcuffs. "Turn around," she said.
Kathy hesitated for a moment and then turned. She
felt the cuffs click onto her wrists.
Kathy always felt terribly ambivalent about authority.
She hated being dictated to, but always felt a guilty
sexual thrill when it happened. That's why she had so
much trouble sorting out her feelings about Kim who
was one of the most demanding and domineering
she had ever met. After three weeks Kathy still didn't
know whether she was more turned on or repelled by
her roommate. And now this. Kim had pressured her
into making the bet in the first place. Kathy's heart
was beating wildly as Kim held up the fir-lined
handcuffs. Was she really going to let her put them on
her? Her head was filled with a whole jumble of
confused thoughts as she turned and meekly placed
her hands behind her back.
I think that letting your audience into the minds of your
character is one of the best ways of creating sexual tension.
One thing which I find helps me with writing characters is to keep
in touch with people that I see in everyday life. When I meet
some guy who annoys me, I ask myself 'why?' What is it about the
guy which is me off. His voice? His attitude? The way
he treats the teller? I try to take a mental of this and
then express this annoyance when describing some character I want
my readers to dislike.
Conversely, when I see some who catches my attention in a
sexy, favorable way, I take a similar mental snapshot. Most of my
female characters are composites of I've seen at the mall,
in restaurants, on the street . . . My character might have the
pony tail of one girl, the walk of another, the smile and
personality of a third, the voice of a fourth, etc. But I write
the character from memory, accentuating those elements which make
her sexy to me. Penny, the teacher in my novel 'Blackmailed into
Bondage' is exactly this kind of composite character.
And before we leave the subject, let me say a few words about
dialog. Try to keep your characters in character. This isn't
just a matter of accent. This is true of their behavior and their
language as well - especially when they are the first person
narrator of the story. Think about how well educated each
character is supposed to be. Think about their biases. Try to
make sure the words which come out of their mouths ring true to
A common problem I've encountered when reading erotic fiction is
that of hearing a shy, sweet female character using the language
of a love starved marine when a sex scene came up. You
specifically created your character to be shy and sweet for a
reason, didn't you? It's supposed to heighten her sexual appeal,
isn't it? If she suddenly starts swearing like a drunken Sailor
with Tourette's Syndrome it can ruin the effect you were trying to
The important thing about characters is that when the writing is
finished, you can read through your novel from word one and know
that all of the characters work. You should be able to read
through your own piece and get a clear sense of each character
early enough so that you achieve the erotic effect you're after.
If so, great. If not, keep editing until you can.
It's common for writers to use exaggeration to try to heighten
erotic effect. A dick is longer and harder then a real
dick. are larger and firmer than real (at least
they were before the advent of enlargement surgery). But
it's performance where things really get exaggerated. A guy comes
fifteen times in as many minutes and shoots like a fire hose as he
does. A woman falls into a series of frenzied orgasms just by
looking at her.
To a large degree exaggeration is a matter of kink and taste.
Write what turns you on. For some writers it's the exaggeration
which is the kink. I think this is especially true of which involve the sudden growth of knockers on a small or
moderately breasted girl. But for goodness sake, step back, after
you've written your exaggeration and consider the effect. Your
goal in writing the exaggeration was to heighten the erotic
impact, wasn't it? So read your own work objectively. Well?
Does it? Very often, I've written an exaggerated something which
seemed like a very good idea at the moment. But upon rereading it
was clear the effect was more comic than erotic. Sometimes, the
effect was actually counter-erotic. And more often than not, the
passage was simply a dud. It just didn't work. On the other
hand, this kind of careful and objective self-appraisal, helped me
to identify when an erotic exaggeration was, in fact, working (at
least in terms of my own kink).
For every word of mine you read in print, there are probably 3-5
I've tossed out in the process of writing. And it may be my work
would be far superior if that ratio were 1:10 instead.
Credibility can be important, but erotic fiction isn't necessarily
supposed to be credible. The trick or rule here is that you don't
want incredulity to get in the way of the line. Your
exaggeration needs to accentuate your rather than competing
with it. If the exaggeration heightens the erotic pleasure for
your readers, you win. If it breaks your readers' mood because
they are suddenly thinking about the exaggeration rather than the
story, you lose.
Mind Control is an ultimate exaggeration. It can be a wonderfully
erotic device, or it can come across as just plain stupid. This
becomes clear when you consider why I call Mind Control an
In the real world we try to manipulate others into having sex with
us. We entice them by making ourselves as attractive as possible.
We say things and act in ways designed to enhance our
desirability. We give little gifts. Sometimes we beg and plead.
But (rape aside) sex requires the cooperation of a partner. In a
romantic erotic story, the attractiveness, desirability, and
persuasiveness of the protagonist can all be exaggerated. A
further exaggeration might be the introduction of an aphrodisiac
(beyond a box of chocolates, a nice dinner, flowers, or a ring).
Exaggerated still further, the most aphrodisiacs are
various mind-control drugs. These make the victim receptive and
cooperative, but are not directly linked to the mind of the
protagonist. Next come the mind-control devices such as rings,
pendents, and sophisticated electronic devices, which endow their
owners with direct mind-control powers. And then, of course, the
ultimate exaggeration of mind control is that which requires no
artificial instrumentality. But the exaggeration in all these
cases, is the ability or power of one individual to influence
another into having sex.
Any of the devices listed above can make for wonderful mind-
control stories. But you have to beware of too many exaggerations
and/or ham-handed telling. Mind control is science fiction
or fantasy. You're asking your reader to step into your dream
world. The important thing is to be clear what the rules of this
world are, set them up early and clearly, and then live with them.
Don't keep introducing more rule changes as the progresses.
Another area where exaggeration gets in the way is in orgy scenes.
Many writers start telling a wonderful erotic story. Then they
get a few scenes into the piece and seem to run out of ideas. But
instead of bringing the to a dignified close and starting
another they introduce more characters. Not one at a time - that
would merely be a retelling of the same story, with variations -
they bring them in en mass. It starts out with a and a guy.
Then a and a girl. So far, so good. Then all three. OK.
Then the and two guys, then the two and another
girl. Oy. Eventually we reach the party scene with sixteen
girls, five guys, and a goat. And only the stands out as a
clearly identifiable character. To my way of thinking an orgy
scene would be the most difficult kind of erotic fiction to write
successfully (where successful means keeping the erotic interest
of the reader to a maximum). So I'd recommend, especially to the
novice writer, avoid Too Much, Too Many, Too Complex.
And this is the general rule for all exaggeration. Keep it subtle
and semi-credible (unless of course a 98" bust happens to be your
kink). Use exaggeration to enhance the erotic effect, but don't
let it take over. This rule applies equally well to body shapes
and sizes, physical prowess, and your characters behaviors and
For some writers, pain is the kink. A lot of erotic literature
involves torture and death for it's own sake. I can't really
speak to that. It's not a kink I share. But I'd offer this
warning to writers, like myself, who prefer their pain as a spice
rather than a main course. Beware of overdoing it. If you drag
the reader off in the wrong emotional direction it can spoil the
mood completely. The reader becomes empathetic of the victim
rather than identifying with the perpetrator. In this case the
reaction is either disgust at the situation or an almost furious
desire to punish the perp. In either case, it just ain't erotic
Hence, my recommendation for pain, especially in B/D themes, is to
be sure that the victim is never too damaged or too uncomfortable.
They can be seriously lashed, they can have their body parts
pierced, they can cry out in pain. But the pain should always be,
in some sense, endurable and the victim should always be torn by
conflicting emotions which include a perverse enjoyment of their
predicament. This can be a very small element in their reactions,
but including that clearly and early in describing a pain scene
helps to keep the writing on the erotic track. Here again, you
need to be true to your kink.
I used to have a friend, and Email pen pal from another country,
who practically gloried in his poor spelling and grammar. English
was his first language, so that wasn't his problem. He just wrote
as he thought and never bothered to go back and correct spelling,
punctuation, or grammar.
The result was at best ambiguity. At least once or twice in EVERY
message there would be something that I could interpret in one of
several ways. Worse then that, his writing style led to
confusion. More often then ambiguity were thoughts and ideas I
couldn't understand at all. And worst, it led to disinterest. I
quickly grew tired of picking my way through his messages and
putting so much effort into trying to understand them. We no
longer correspond and I'm sure this is an important reason why.
This isn't a matter of English Teachers or grades or even
reputation. It's a matter of effect. The goal/effect of good
erotic writing is to get the reader excited. Spelling errors,
typos and, bad grammar are all like speed bumps and potholes in
the literary road. One or two are distracting, but you can drive
around them. A road full of them is a pain in the ass to drive,
regardless of how nice the scenery. It slows you down and makes
you think about the road rather than your surroundings.
I'm assuming that you want folks to read and enjoy your work. So
why make it hard for them? Why cause them to lose their train of
thought and the mood of your scene because they stumble over a
typographical error or a misspelled word? In today's world of
spelling and grammatical checkers there is hardly any excuse for
it. If you're going to go to all of the trouble to write, go to
the extra trouble to write well. Make it easy to read. It helps
to know that the more often you do this, the easier it gets.
HOWEVER, this does not mean you should be a slave to the rules of
grammar. Mark Twain once said, "It's a good idea to obey all the
rules when you're just so you'll have the strength to break
them when you're old." I'd say it's a good idea to learn most of
the rules and conventions of good grammar just so you'll
understand how and when to break them when you are writing.
So how and when should you break the rules of grammar? As far as
I'm concerned it's a matter of art and effect. Huh? Let me
explain. . .
Sculptors, Composers, Artists, Directors, Scientists, and of
course Writers - virtually anyone engaged in a creative activity
- employ lots of feedback during the creative process. The
sculptor has an idea and starts to mold a lump of clay. She steps
back and looks at what she's done. Then she moves up and does
something else. Back and forth, forth and back. From idea to
object to observation until the work reaches a point at which the
sculptor is satisfied. It may not represent her original idea
exactly. In fact, it may not represent her original idea at all.
But during the creative process there is an interplay between the
work in process and the mind of the artist. Once the artist is
satisfied, the work is completed. And not before.
As a writer of erotic literature you are an artist. Words are
your medium. Don't freeze up in looking for some kind of
unobtainable perfection. Once you have an idea, slap it down on
paper. But then step back and read it. How does it make you
feel? How does it read? Are you happy with it? If it's your
first draft, the answer will almost certainly be no. So tinker
with it. Notice I didn't say 'fix it.' When you say, 'fix it' it
implies there is some correct wording you need to discover. I say
'tinker with it' to emphasize that you change the words around,
cut words, add words, change them around some more, and only quit
when you're happy with what you've created. That is your art.
Your goal is to make your writing work. Do that and anything you
do is acceptable. Fail to do that, and it won't matter how well
you word your excuses.
As long as you are achieving the effect you want (or are perhaps
happy with an effect you didn't originally set out to achieve) and
you are being true to your own writing, you can live by any rules
you want. In my case, I almost always try to follow the rules of
spelling. I've yet to find a passage where intentional
mis-spelling helps me to achieve my goal. [With the obvious
exception of dialog when you're trying to create the effect of an
accent.] So if you find a mis-spelled word in one of my stories,
it's almost certainly an error. Sentence fragments, however, are
another matter completely. I love sentence fragments. Sometimes
writing a full grammatical sentence just doesn't have the same
punch as a good sentence fragment. [Fer Real Dude!] My writing is
full of "ungrammatical" constructions, but it's almost certain I
intended it that way. And if my writing does what it's supposed
to do, as you read over the passage you don't notice the grammar.
Unless, that is, you are specifically looking for it. And a
pedantic reader who is specifically looking for grammar isn't my
target audience in the first place.
I can summarize my feelings about grammar by suggesting that
writers of erotic try to write the way they speak, as much
as possible. This, of course, must be modified for the printed
word. We don't actually write exactly as we speak. But good
erotic literature often has that quality of reading as if you are
hearing the being told rather than reading what someone
wrote about it.
While I not trying to lay down too many specific rules, I would
recommend that authors avoid second person narrative in erotic
literature. I've yet to read a where it works. [Although I
have read a few where it almost works.] I think it's best reserved
for writing technical manuals and providing directions. ("Now you
pick up your #3 socket wrench and tighten bolt X which you'll see
illustrated in diagram 43.")
For me, one of the most valuable, interesting, and fun aspects of
writing erotic literature is the learning process. Each time you
put your pen to paper (metaphorically speaking; most writers
today, I suspect, put fingers to keyboard) you learn. You learn
what works and (if you're honest with yourself) you learn what
But perhaps the greatest aid to learning is reading the erotic
writing of others. IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT: Not all
erotic writing is good. So don't be overly impressed with the
technical quality of something you read. That is, don't let
yourself be swayed by how clever it is, or how fancy the language,
or how developed the plot. Remember your goal: to titillate.
And remember your kink. When you read something that really makes
you hot, save it. Then reread it several times, slowly and
carefully. Ask yourself WHERE in the do I get most turned
on. And then ask yourself WHY? Why is it making me hot? And
HOW? How is the writer making this happen? Is it the plot, or
the characters, or the situation, or the description, or the
Once you've identified something that seems to work, try to
incorporate it into your own writing. And again, be honest with
yourself. Learn what works. And learn what doesn't.
The Writing Process
I've got almost nothing to say concerning the writing process.
This is an essay on writing Erotic Literature, not on how to
write. But I will say just this much, mostly to encourage novice
writers. Writing can be very tough. If you're one of those
naturally gifted types for whom writing comes naturally, more
power to you. If you're one of the rest of us, don't be
discouraged. Almost every writer I know thinks it's hard work.
The trick is to keep writing. Don't put it off. Even if you
don't think you have anything to say, sit down and start writing.
Writing is, in my experience, long periods of grinding, grinding,
grinding, punctuated with brief moments of inspiration when
everything just seems to flow. The tough part, at least for me,
is grinding out that first draft. The fun part is the editing
(especially with a good word-processing program). I love the
revising and tinkering process. And no matter how bad my first
draft, once I start tinkering, things just seem to keep getting
better and better. After all, they've got nowhere else to go. So
you've got to keep writing. Pour words on paper even if you're
not in the mood and you think you're writing shit. A few good
ideas will bleed through even the most unproductive session. But
get in the habit of writing regularly and in quantity. Then edit,
edit, edit. I've found writing the draft is what bogs you down,
and the editing and tinkering is the fun part.
The few hints which I can pass along boil down to this. And these
are not universal truths, just techniques which have worked for
me. Try them if they sound good; use them if you like them; toss
them if you don't.
(1) Keep a little note pad with you at all times,
especially at bed time. Good ideas come at the oddest
moments. Jot them down as you think of them. Plot
ideas, phrases, jokes, bits of dialog. You tell yourself
you'll write them down later, but you almost always
(2) Outline your plot before writing. Think it through,
sketch out a basic outline, set it down on paper - you
can always change it later, and THEN start writing.
(3) Write in the order of easiest to hardest. That is,
start with the bit that's clearest in your mind and
easiest to write. Then the next easiest bit, and so on.
By the time you get to the hard bits you'll be almost
finished. I learned that trick by reading Robert
Heinlein. It works.
(4) Don't let yourself get stuck. If a word won't
come, forget it and keep on moving. Type in a blank,
or a quick description of the world you're looking for.
If you get stuck on an idea, turn to an invisible friend
and say - out loud - "Just what the hell am I trying to
say here." Then tell your friend what you have in
mind. Vocalize and explain it. Then turn back to your
writing and set your explanation down as your first
(5) Edit later. Get the draft down first. Push through
it. Get it done as quickly as possible. Once you've
got a full manuscript to work with, not matter how
rough the draft, the editing is much more fun and easy.
(6) Don't be afraid to toss out stuff you've written.
Every word is not golden. Much, if not most, of it is
bullshit. Toss it out. Don't worry about saving every
phrase. It takes too much time and work to keep
track of the scattered bits. Throw it away, and if you
decide later you want it back, simply rewrite it. You'll
almost certainly make it bet 2 the second time
through and it's a lot less work than fooling with every
little discarded scrap.
My general advice is to do what works for you. A writer, writes.
Some folks like to work with pen and paper. Others prefer pencil.
Many now use a word processor. I do. But some love their manuals and Olivettis. A few writers like to use a tape recorder
to set down their ideas. I read somewhere that Charles Dickens
used to pace in his room and talk out the dialog in his works. He
spoke all the parts and tried it many different ways. Once it
sounded right to him, he'd set it down on paper. I'll bet his
neighbors thought he was nuts. It doesn't make any difference how
you do it. But the key word is PRODUCTIVITY. If you're not
productive, you're nothing. So keep on truckin'. Or in this
To go back to something I said during the discussion on writing
style. You're an artist. Create your art. But then step back
and take a good look at it. Does it work? Is it effective? If
so, good for you - post it. If not, tinker with it until it does
- then post it. If it's not working ask yourself if it's a one
story problem, or is it a common problem in all your writing. In
either case figure out what's wrong and fix it. Hopefully, this
little essay will be of help.
That's it. That's what I came to say, so I won't flog the subject
any further. Good luck and get crackin'. If your kink happens to
match mine and you've got any talent at all, I want to read your
stuff sooner rather than later.
But in any case, the world needs more high quality porn. Do your
bit. A writer writes. And the very best of luck to you.