This week’s reader question focuses on how to write erotica.
I’m a guy wanting to write erotica shorts, but I’m hesitant because of the cliché that people who write erotica are constantly aroused and masturbating. I was hoping you could offer some advice. Is there a scene you think would go down well for female readers? Do females tend to suspend reality a little bit more when reading erotica and just go with the flow of the story? Or would it ruin the illusion and bring them to an abrupt halt as they think, “Hmm, I don’t like the idea of hair being pulled. It’s a bit too much now?” Any other advice for a man writing for women?
~ Writer Wannabe Will
So glad you’re thinking of venturing into the writing realm! Props to you!!
Let’s jump right into your questions! Starting with the erotica writing cliché.
Is there a cliché about folks who write erotica? I wasn’t aware of it.
But I can tell you that I’m aroused a lot. And I masturbate frequently. Especially if I’m writing erotica. I mean, if I get into writing a story, I’m often pretty worked up by the time it’s finished. My philosophy has always been that if it’s not turning me on, how can I expect it to turn someone else on?
But I had a friend who wrote erotica and she was rather sexually repressed. #shrugs
Anyway, here’s my advice:
Quit worrying about what other people think.
For real. If the worst that someone thinks about you is that you’re aroused too often and masturbate too much… well, there are much worse things you could be.
So fuck them. You do you.
Write what you want. And whack off when you want.
What’s a scene that would go down well for a female reader?
Well, that just depends on the woman. I know that sounds like a cop out answer, but it’s true. Just as much as women like different things in bed, they also like different things in their erotica.
One of the first things you learn as a writer is that you’re not for everybody. No matter how hard you try, there will be people who don’t like your style, your tone, or your voice.
And that’s okay.
Instead of writing in a way that focuses on trying to please the general audience, I encourage you to be more authentic to yourself.
Find your writing voice and use it.
And forget those who don’t like it. That doesn’t mean don’t improve your skill… we can all become stronger writers. It means don’t stop being you and putting part of that into your story because some woman somewhere on the map doesn’t like it.
Someone will always not like it.
Again, that’s okay.
What about “breaking the illusion” with something the reader dislikes?
Again, you can’t worry about that shit.
I once got feedback that a reader didn’t like that I described a nipple as a pebble. As a writer, you’re never going to please everybody. And that’s not just with sex writing. It’s writing across the board. If you want to be successful as a writer, in any niche, you must have thick skin.
I once wrote smut about a man slapping a woman in the face. Multiple times. Putting her on a wall and lifting her off the floor by the hand around her neck. None of it as abuse. All of it consensual.
All of it meant to titillate.
Believe me when I say that’s not for everyone. And for many women, as soon as his hand hits her check the first time (which, I hope, is unexpected), it TOTALLY breaks the illusion.
That’s fine. That story’s not for them.
But it is for some.
And those some fucking love it.
Erotica is fantasy, so it’s okay for it to take us out of our comfort zone. When I have stories that some may consider extreme, I warned my beta readers. And ask them to give me their honest thoughts on it.
I will say, I find readers, myself included, appreciate certain things. So in a story where things get rough, I want to see verbal consent. I want it to be about the bottom’s experience, not the top (who so many people assume is in control).
I also appreciate condom use in erotica. I know a lot of folks could care less, but I like to see it. First, because it adds some realism to the piece. Second, I like to see how writers make it work. Just like in real life, when a character stops to put a condom on, it can break the spell. When a writer can incorporate safe sex without that happening, it says a lot about their skill.
If you’re more concerned that you may say something that doesn’t sound sexy, that’s why you have beta readers. When more than one person mentions an issue with the same string of words, it needs some work, even when you think it doesn’t (remember that King says we should kill our darlings).
My advice for a man who wants to write erotica for women…
Our boobs are not like your dick.
They’re not overly sensitive. They don’t need readjusted (bras are pretty fucking tight and keep things were they’re supposed to be). They’re just there, in the same why your arm is there. We don’t think about them. We don’t touch them during the day.
Hell, we’re barely aware of them unless we’re ragging it and they ache.
Or we’re nursing and they ache.
Or our bra’s been on for too long and they ache.
Basically, we don’t think about them too much unless they ache. Sure they feel great during foreplay or when we’re fucking. But otherwise, not so much.
So don’t write about what our boobs are doing when we’re not having sex. It’s fine to mention them during sex. They can even take a primary role during sex. But outside of sex, just leave them be. If we’re on a run or at the gym or work or anywhere in between, for most of us, they’re definitely not on our mind.
One more quick thing when you write erotica…
If you haven’t actually dabbled in writing smut, start with something that turns YOU on. It’s much easier to get into writing the story when you like what’s happening.
If you’re bored, your reader will be bored.
Always remember that!
And be sure to show, not tell. If you don’t know what I mean, check out this Quora answer. Beware. It’s dirty.
So give it a shot, Will! And if more questions arise, don’t hesitate to ask!
PS: If you have a sex or relationship question, don’t hesitate to ask me! Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org!