Writing Erotica

I'm sure that this article may evince a few snickers, but this is a field that my writing has been delving into for awhile. The comic script that I've spoken of in my Writer's Journal talked in length about my comic script TRUST, which was for an adult erotica title. I felt that this was a topic I should discuss a bit. I want to offer up some advice for other writers who may want to try out this genre.

First, I'd like to clarify a difference in definition: erotica isn't the same thing as pornography. I just read a piece on the two in which the writer said the difference was: "... one has been deemed socially acceptable, the other not.".

From a societal perspective, that works, but there's more. Anyone can write pornography, good or bad. That involves just writing about sexual activities. Erotica, on the other hand, may sometimes not even include actual sexual acts; moreso it sets a mood, an atmosphere of excitement.

When I wrote TRUST, the first thing I decided was that I didn't want to write the equivalent of a porn film. To me, that would make for pretty dull reading. Instead, I did what any writer would do for the 'typical' story: developed strong characters, a plot for the story, and so on.

Here are some guidelines for making a story erotic, even without actual sex:

1.  Description: Moreso than with any other type of fiction, erotica needs strong descriptions of what the senses reveal: sound, smell, touch, sight... not even necessarily during sexual acts, either.

Sometimes, even the description of all the sensations brought on by eating a piece of fruit, when well written, can be an erotic experience.

2.  Thoughts: What is going through a character's mind can heighten the electrical charge of your scenes. Not "God, this is hot!" Perhaps a character is thinking about something completely different from what they are doing.

I've read a story in which the protagonist had a very vivid dream about sailing. The descriptions of what they imagined (again, descriptions from all the senses works here) provided a very charged experience because of the vividness of the portrayal.

One thing that many of us find difficult is to write the actual acts involved. I definitely had trouble with those scenes in TRUST. In fact, they were the last scenes that I wrote. It's hard to avoid sounding too clinical or too juvenile. That's something you'd have to discover a method to on your own. It does definitely need a happy medium...

©1998 by Jeff Boman

Last updated Aug 8, 1998

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