How to Write Erotica

A PG How-To for R-Rated Content

Erotica is a term that could describe Harlequin novels–you know, the paperbacks with a damsel draped over a set of rippling abs–or 50 Shades of Gray. While writing steamy romances and kinky scenes may seem taboo, it’s actually a pretty good way to make income as a writer, since the stories can be published fast and readers are always looking for more. Erotica can also be a fun exercise for hobby-writing, keeping your creativity moving if you’re feeling blocked on other projects.

Here are some tips on how to write erotica and how to avoid the cringe:

  • Develop your main character. Some writers recommend making the main character a very approachable, easy-to-insert-yourself-into-their-shoes, kind of person. This is why secretaries and university students are used so often–many of us can imagine having that kind of job! As such, it’s immersive for the reader to put themself in the story. Alternatively, you can develop your main character a great deal, writing a piece of literature that features lots of ‘fun’ scenes.
  • Avoid euphemisms, unless you are using poetic metaphor and are really focusing on creating a visual parallel. Quivering loins and other clichés can break immersion for the reader. Sometimes using anatomically correct terms or blunt words to describe body-parts is the best way to keep a story from becoming cringy! 
  • Keep the plot simple. There doesn’t have to be a complicated plot to make the story interesting–it can be explorative between two people’s experience with each other in one night, perhaps a one-night-stand and the two people never speak again. 
  • Include detail, but not too much. The reader needs enough details to use their imagination and follow what’s happening, but going too far might become boring and slow down the pacing of the story.
  • Use sex scenes to develop your characters. Utilize these moments to tell more of the story, keeping the readers invested in the scenes instead of including sex for its own sake (though that can be fun in moderation!)
  • Try writing from a different perspective! As a challenge for your writing skills, try writing a scene from a gender different from your own, or from a sexual preference different than your own. Remember to be respectful ❤ 
  • Is this a fan-fic or an original masterpiece? There is no wrong answer here! Fan-fiction is a great exercise in writing, taking characters that already exist that you know well, and creating a steamy moment between them. If you’re writing your own, try using your own experiences, desires, and thoughts to develop the characters.
  • Erotica can be poetic and artistically written. While the current industry has a reputation for low-quality writing that sells for the naughty scenes, intimacy can be a very beautiful thing with oneself, between two, or between more people. You could skip the ‘act’ altogether and write about the tension between two people in a moment, the build throughout an evening, the frustration when people aren’t able to be physically intimate. 
  • Remember, no one has to see it unless you want them to. Many hesitate to write about such topics because it is taboo. Remember, this can just be for you. Explore, have fun, and if you really like it and want to try to publish it, go for it. 
  • If you publish or share with friends, consider including trigger warnings at the beginning. As we become more aware of sexual assault, it is important that we start to elevate the standards of consent between characters and between the writer and author. Give your reader a chance to say, “Hm, that’s a sensitive topic for me, I’d rather not read this one.”

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