What makes good erotica?

Writing erotica is a lot harder (pardon the pun) that a lot of people think it is. For one thing, erotic writing isn’t just about putting Tab A in Slot B. Nor is it just about pornographically zooming in on a wet pussy or a pulsing cock (although these cinematic moves can certainly be used for effect).

Hot lips (photo by Flickr user ShellyS)

So what makes an erotic story hot?

Here are 3 quick and dirty tips to heat up your erotic fiction:

  1. Use the right words. I recently read an erotic short story in which the female lead described her male counterpart’s genitalia as “peen.” Sorry, but unless you’re five years old, this is NOT the right word for a nice, juicy cock you’d be delighted to fuck. (And if this kind of language makes you cover your eyes, you’re definitely too young to be reading this post.) Figure out which words are TURN-ONS and which are definite TURN-OFFS, and use them accordingly. Other no-no’s: sopping pussy, throbbing member, ham wallet, cave of wonders, beaver cleaver, purple headed womb broom, hairy axe wound, spamjavelin (thanks for those last four from @alexbleachwrite).
  2. Know your audience. As noted in #1, language matters. So if you’re talking about panties, you should be aiming at an audience of men, whereas women tend to prefer terms like g-string, thong or boy-shorts. Men tend to view the term “panties” as a one-size-fits-all sexy replacement for “underwear,” whereas women are more likely to associate it with frilly little-girl undergarments. Context makes all the difference, so be sure you’ve got your audience in mind!
  3. Create believable characters. This is, of course, easier said than done, but erotica readers are just as invested in your plot and characters as any other readers would be. Unfortunately, some people seem to think that genre writing, including erotic writing, means you can skimp on traditional storytelling building blocks, like creating engaging characters. The reality? Erotica with cardboard characters is just as easy to toss aside as its literary counterparts, so make with the character development and show us exactly why we should care that Mistress X wants to seduce Random Boy Z.

Good erotica isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not something you can whip out in an hour.

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