Online Learning Blog

Ten Tips on Writing Erotica, Not Porn

Published on 18th December 2014 by Diana Nadin

Erotica is a popular genre whether you’re writing short stories, novellas or full-length novels. The success of Fifty Shades of Grey has proved that! So, if you don’t blush easily, here are some tips that might just set you off down the primrose path to fame and fortune:

1. Don’t confuse erotica with pornography. The latter usually provides graphic descriptions of the nuts and bolts of sex. Erotica, on the other hand, is much more cerebral, dealing with the magic of sexual passion.

2. You can’t get by with just a series of sexual encounters. You need to come up with a proper, gripping plot. It’s just as important as in any other genre if you are to keep your reader hooked.

3. You need a proper balance between fantasy and credibility. Are a couple – however infatuated – going to rip off their clothes in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket in the middle of the afternoon? Is a middle-aged, over-weight, balding librarian really going to be a babe-magnet, fighting women off at every turn?

4. You need the right setting – a sexually charged location. It has to be exotic, intriguing or glamorous – penthouse apartments, a millionaire’s yacht or a Victorian boudoir. Avoid squalor – the majority of readers are not turned on by public toilets.

5. Power is an aphrodisiac. Can there by any other reason why so many women seem to be attracted to ugly politicians and statesmen? Alternatively, think about the dynamic where one character has absolute power over another – the willing sex slave.

6. This is one genre where historical settings are still in demand. Consider the license that masqued balls, country house parties and the Victorian master-servant relationship provide. Think of the clothing your characters might wear (or enjoy taking off) – basques, corsetes, riding breeches!

7. Get the mood right and take especial care with the language you use when describing behaviour and body parts. If you are too polite the story will sound twee; if you are too graphic it will be seedy. Try to strike a balance. And remember, a good erotic tale doesn’t need swearing and sexual insults.

8. Writing erotica isn’t an easy option. In fact, it’s one of the most demanding genres. You need to be able to creative atmosphere, tension and sexual frisson to make it work.

9. This is one of the few areas where using a pen-name is acceptable. Many well-known authors write erotica under a pseudonym.

10. And finally… know the taboos. Most outlets for erotica are fairly liberal but you must do your market research as thoroughly as you would for any other genre. Most magazines/ezines will have guidelines and many will not countenance incest, under-age sex, bestiality, necrophilia or extreme violence. Although, gay or lesbian sex and mild bondage/SM are usually acceptable.