Erotic Fiction writers: Some questions

I know there’s a few erotic fiction writers here on the boards, and now I’ve got some free time over the holidays I’m trying to learn a bit more about different writing styles and genres and I figured that erotic fiction is as good a place as any to start. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, if I might beg your indulgences to help clarify a few things.

  1. Where do you get your ideas from? Do you base them on things you’ve actually tried yourself, things you’ve heard your friends talk about, or just stuff you’ve thought up yourself?

  2. Is there a particular “style” you lean towards? For example, do you prefer to use “creative” (or “poetical”) terms, or do you prefer a more… unvarnished approach?

  3. What got you into it in the first place?

  4. What do you get out of it it? (ie, is it purely personal enjoyment, or do you enjoy getting the feedback from readers?)

  5. Do you think the “best” erotic fiction comes from male or female authors?

Thanks in advance for what I hope will be an enlightening and entertaining discussion!

I’ll weigh in with #5, although I’ve never successfully written smut:

Women. They are less aware of porn conventions, which makes their work more interesting and varied. They take male readers out of their comfort zones, which is hot hot HOT.

I get my ideas mostly from my reading. I do erotica works that parallel the non-erotic stuff I’ve read. Thus, the background to my novel Karg is set in a universe with a lot of influence from Vernor Vinge and Ian Banks, though the most influential writer on me for Karg was John Norman. Siren7 is a romance written with the male interest in strong sexual content. The Final Veil is heavily influenced by John D. McDonald’s detective novels. Etc.

I don’t consciously use poetic terms or unvarnished terms, I use terms that most accurately and powerfully describes the activities of my characters, and most importantly, their emotional responses to it. I do eschew the “gushing juices everywhere” approach with it’s near constant succession of mind-bending orgasms. I try to build the progression of a sex scene, letting it climax, so to speak, at its own pace, in a naturalistic way. I try to write sex scenes that accurately and powerfully describing sexual experiences, to get some honest human feeling into it instead of going by the numbers. Do I succeed? Not for me to say, really.

The really cool thing about erotic fiction is that it is a wide-open field. Unlike pornography, which requires the writer to follow very narrowly constructed guidelines. You can do erotic fiction any way you like and if people buy it, you’re in business.

Wrote a story on Usenet called “The Crucifux” a la John Norman’s Gor novels, just for shits and giggles, and people were going “more! more! more!” So I gave them more.

I like to think I write erotica fiction that breaks ground. I don’t make all that much money at it, so I guess it’s fair to say i do it for my personal pleasure. Not really my sexual pleasure … it’s tons of fun thinking up those scenes, but it’s not the same thing as sex.

Y’know what? I don’t read much erotic fiction. After you’ve read a story for the 15th time in the course of writing it, you don’t have a lot of extra interest left over for somebody else’s stuff. Plus, most of what I HAVE read is very badly done, no matter what the gender of the author. People may well say the same of my stuff, and that’s OK. Like I said, I write it mostly for my own pleasure.

You’re welcome.

  1. Mine is usually a combination of things I’ve done and fantasies I have. Sometimes I write about things I’ve done in the past that I may have only done once or twice and kinda wish I could do again.

  2. I like a “realistic fiction” approach. I don’t want it to be super fantasy, it could never happen, porn style writing and I don’t want it to be all poetic and sappy. Real. I want my readers to be able to see it. Not everything I write is stuff I’ll share online, but I still do it.

  3. A very long dry spell and writer’s block. When I get stuck, I’ll crank out a story and get the … uh … creative juices flowing.

  4. I used to use the erotica to pick up girls, actually. I’d write sexy stories, share them with bi-curious women, and get them all worked up. I’ve used it to turn on men, too. I had a few relationships that started online and involved online chatting and sharing. I also had a long-distance relationship, so I’d write erotic stories and send them to him. Now I write it because I enjoy it. It’s fun. It turns me on.

  5. Usually female. They’re more in tune with the nuances of lovemaking. Men are a hump and pump kind of story telling, as if porn were put to words. Erotica tells a story, has nuance and detail. It’s not just a snapshot of sex. However, if I want something that’s just sex, well, men tend to write that pretty well. Women are more about the set up, and the actual sex writing doesn’t take up as much of the story.

1) Where do you get your ideas from? Do you base them on things you’ve actually tried yourself, things you’ve heard your friends talk about, or just stuff you’ve thought up yourself?

Mostly things I’ve either done and enjoyed, wished I was doing at the moment, would like to do but haven’t, and enjoy fantasising about but wouldn’t do in real life.

2) Is there a particular “style” you lean towards? For example, do you prefer to use “creative” (or “poetical”) terms, or do you prefer a more… unvarnished approach?

Fairly unvarnished. I think poetic metaphors for sex can go terribly, terribly wrong, and there’s something about the “dirty words” that’s arousing as well.

3) What got you into it in the first place?

I wanted to read some good smut, being a young single woman, and couldn’t find any on hand that I liked. So I started writing out my fantasies.

4) What do you get out of it? (ie, is it purely personal enjoyment, or do you enjoy getting the feedback from readers?)

It’s fun to write, and it’s fun to become a better writer. It’s really fun to get paid for writing about one’s sexual fantasies. I do get a certain “personal enjoyment” from writing it, too, which is also a bonus. I really need to finish some stories and begin submitting again, though.

5) Do you think the “best” erotic fiction comes from male or female authors?

Neither. The best erotic fiction comes from the best writers in the genre, male or female. And the best erotic fiction has more to the story than just a detailed description of sex.

Stuff I thought of myself, plus whatever I think the characters would do. For example, if I’m writing a story about a vampire and a masochist, the story will probably involve bloodplay. If I’m writing a story featuring somebody who’s never had sex before, then I’ll write something more appropriate for them. I also watch a great deal of porn (for ideas about positioning), and I like to check out websites with sex toys and fetish gear for more ideas.

I think it’s very difficult to get the right balance and takes practice. For example, “penis” and “vagina” and “anus” are not sexy words to me. I have used them only when I know the character would use them. On the other hand, the more euphemistic the language, the more absurd the whole thing becomes until it’s just a huge joke. I have a group of words that I use regularly that I feel comfortable with. I also try to keep the various descriptions from getting too purple (“poetical”) by focusing on emotions, thoughts, and by appealing directly to the senses.

I like to write about, think about, and read about sex.

Money, feedback, personal enjoyment, in that order. I did start purely for personal enjoyment, but when it’s your job, you have to write whether you feel like it or not.

I honestly don’t know. It’s often difficult to tell when an author is male or female, especially in erotica and erotic romance because authors publish under different names. I know one woman who publishes as “James” because when she started, the gay publishers wouldn’t accept stuff from women. I strongly suspect that there are males publishing under feminine names right now because romance readers (where I primarily publish) are pretty skeptical of male authors.

Very educational responses! Thanks, guys!

I’ve certainly noticed the “Women are better at the set-up” aspect of erotic fiction in the examples I’ve read… there have been a couple where the set-up has been very well done, but the actual act itself is suddenly rather vaguely described or lacks intensity, for example.

Combination of the last two, having actually tried a very small amount. A great deal of detailed dirty talk with my ex-girlfriend (it was a long distance relationship) helped. Also, reading erotic fiction by others has been very helpful in terms of figuring out how to phrase things.

I’m not flowery. I feel like the less description of thoughts and Feelings you put around the actual actions, the more ‘dirty’ a story becomes, so depending on whether I want something to just be suggestive or romantic, or whether it’s meant to “appeal to the prurient interest” does make some difference.

Online fandom. There was a prevalence of it and I found that while I enjoyed reading it, the stories that existed weren’t always exactly what interested me, so I decided to create what did.

Largely personal enjoyment, since I don’t share very much of it. But sometimes the feedback helps, and it makes people happy if I’ve hit on some kink that they have.

No preference. I’ve seen the whole spectrum from ‘I need a cold shower now’ to ‘cringing/getting out brain bleach’ from both genders.

Martini, I’m glad you asked this question. I’m still learning how to write erotica, and I’ve felt rather on my own because no one else I who writes admits to doing this type of writing, so I found the others’ responses helpful.

  1. In terms of actual mechanics, most of my stories are based on things I’ve actually done. For one thing, I really don’t want to look like an idiot by giving some way-off description of some particular act. For another, well, there’s a reason why I’m writing about what I’m writing about. However, when it comes to the setting and some other details, there often is an element of fantasy, simply because true life sometimes just isn’t all that exciting.

  2. My style for this type of writing is still forming but tends towards a romanticized unvarnished, if that makes sense. For example, there are certain vulgarisms I don’t really care for, and I would not use them in the narrative, but it might make sense for a particular character to use those terms in the dialogue.

  3. I had tried writing pornography when I was younger, and quickly realized I didn’t have the talent (or frankly the experience) for it. In my early 40’s I suffered a block while working on something else, and decided this might shock me out of it. In the space of something like 2 weeks, I produced more writing (and at a respectable quality) than I had the entire previous year.

  4. What I get out of it right now is pretty much just personal enjoyment. The only other person who has seen it so far is my husband. Obviously he sees a good deal of benefit from it, especially when research is required.

  5. I find my favorite stuff comes from women, definitely. Although some of them may be men in disguise. I don’t have a cite, but I know I’ve read that while men tend to be aroused by what they see (i.e., movies or pictures), women tend to be aroused by written material, so if that is the case women would probably be better suited than men, in general at least, to writing erotic stories. (Notice the use of terms such as “tend to” and “if” and “in general.” No absolutes.)

I’m not a writer, but as a reader I see in my mind’s eye the action the writer is describing. And reading something that it just plain anatomically impossible takes me right out of the story. For instance, one writer described:

A couple engaged in mutual oral sex, aka “69”. And the writer had the woman lick the man’s testicles. While 69ing. It’s impossible! The tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth, and would have to wrap entirely around the penis and come out near the roof of the mouth and past it by several inches. The woman’s tongue would have to be able to stick at least 6" out of her mouth.

Please create an account on Storiesonline. More good stories are always needed, especially by people who have actually had sex.

Erm. Is it possible that the author assumed this happened during temporary, uh, disengagement from the, uh, object?

It’s an interesting topic because not many people will admit to doing it IRL, I agree. I’ve heard that most erotic fiction writers are women, though- perhaps because mainstream porn doesn’t necessarily appeal to them? I’m not sure.

Nope, while performing the act that made Linda Lovelace famous. We wrote back and forth to clarify this. The author (male) had assumed that this would be possible.

By the way, do any of the writers here remember the Celestial Reviews from the old newsgroup back in the 90s? For those who might not be aware, a high school English teacher named Celeste posted weekly reviews of the written erotica that had appeared in the newsgroup. She invented a tripartite score, with different grades:

Athena (technical quality)
Venus (plot & character)
Celeste (appeal to reviewer)

…on a scale from 0 to 10. This allowed her to give good grades to well-written stories that she did not find personally appealing. Pretty much anything Celeste gave 8s or better to would be worth reading. She also published her Celestial Grammar, and Advanced Celestial Grammar, both featuring “adult” examples:


A misplaced modifier is a phrase that is supposed to modify one word but is placed in the sentence in such a way that it appears to modify the wrong word. A dangling modifier is a specific type of misplaced modifier. It just dangles (hangs there), usually at the beginning of the sentence or clause. In the following
example, it logically sounds like the guy is sucking his own cock:

 * Having sucked my cock vigorously, I spread her legs and began to mount her.*

The ambiguity is removed if the sentence is written like this:

  *Having sucked my cock vigorously, she spread her legs and invited me to mount her.*

Sadly, her hobby apparently became too much like work. She was approached by a publisher to expand Celestial Grammar into a dirty textbook, but as far as I know, nothing ever came of it.

Little birds…

I will certainly consider it, and I thank you for that encouragement. And also for that mental image in your spoiler!

“I don’t do this often,” she said as the credit-card machine fell out of her purse. is another good site. (NSFW, so I won’t post a direct link.)

I’m not really sure if you meant what I wrote. I wrote what we called in the day “stroke stories” or “F**k stories”. If this is what you mean by erotic fiction, then I wrote it.

The publisher sent me a batch of books and some guidelines on what he wanted and I worked from there.

Perhaps my biggest strength as a writer is my ability to write in a variety of “styles”. At the time “creative” and “poetical” did not sell so publishers did not want that. There was a range of graphicness (no such word but it fits) that I would write in, however, depending on who was buying and what was wanted.

I was writing anything and everything at the time (SF, Westerns, war stories, romance, etc) trying to make a living and my agent knew that. He was a bit embarrassed about asking me, but he knew I needed the money. He had already contacted the publisher and sold me as an experienced writer who could produce and meet deadlines. The money was good and I said yes.

The money.

Who knows? Half the stuff I wrote (stroke stories) were published under women’s names.

I should probably clarify that I’m using the term “Erotic Literature” to cover both erotica and porn-in-words, in case anyone was wondering…

I always thought the difference was “what I like is erotica, what you like is porn”.

If the intention is sexual titillation, it’s the same no matter how well or poorly written, or how directly or obliquely the sex is presented. That said, I prefer my written porn to be well written, with characters that I can empathize with, rather than mindless fuck-bunnies. But wrapping the action in obscurity makes me think the writer is ashamed of the creative work.