This is one of my favorite blog posts of this last year. And damned if it isn't accurate as hell. From Notes in a Darkened Room wwwaaaaaayyyyy back in June:
Secrets Of Erotica...Revealed!
"The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting."
Yes, in this one-time-only post, I, Michael O'Mahony, bestselling author of such self-help books as "But It Looks Nothing Like A Fucking Flower!": How To Write Descriptive Prose About The Female Genitalia, and Why Everyone Laughs When You Call It Admiral Winky, have gathered my considerable knowledge of writing dirty stories into one, easy-to-read package so that you, my readers, can go away and write the kind of erotica that will ruin underwear all over the world.
Before we start, please feel free to browse my recent forays into filth and depravity; A Conspiracy Of One, Collect Call To An Unknown Lover, Tomorrow, Five Minutes Alone, Rain, and Fitz And Me.
All done with those? Still want to be a master/mistress of the erotic arts? Marvellous. If words be the food of love, read on...
Be Able To Write In The First Place
If you can't string simple words together in a coherent fashion, you will never be an erotic writer. Brutal but true. While erotica is a much-maligned genre that is rarely taken seriously by the mainstream, it still requires a certain degree of talent to become respected and read in the field, even if your hardcore audience does consist of men in dirty raincoats who buy books with glossy covers that depict impossibly beautiful women pouting seductively whilst writhing amongst silk bedsheets.
Understand Your Genre And Your Audience
There are many different varieties of erotica, and not all of them are literary. On the internet for example, The Alt.Sex.Stories Text Repository (Adult Site) contains a veritable blizzard of strange, horrible, and poorly written tales in categories ranging from Non-Consensual Gay Sex to Mind Control (I wish I was kidding). ASSTR is basically a portal to the largest collection of erotic stories on the internet. I haven't read them all. I doubt I've read 1% of them. But I have seen enough and know enough to be sure that of these thousands and thousands of dirty stories, about twelve are actually any good. The reason I want you to go there is not so that you'll have a fine old time reading some awesome fiction, but to give you an understanding of just how huge and varied this genre is. If somebody somewhere has fantasised about it, you're bound to find a story that features it.
Chosen A Category? Spiffy. Now Let's Get To The Actual Writing.
Now you've chosen a Category (and those that chose vampires, vacuum cleaners, a video game character, or Mind Control can find the exit in the top right hand corner), you need to think about how you're going to write your story and what it's going to be about. In my own work, there is a huge difference between Fitz And Me (a lengthy tale with three-dimensional characters that actually attempts to tell a story and tap into the reader's emotions as well as their pants), and Rain (in which two anonymous characters engage in clumsy, passionate sex against a backdrop of rain in an empty, nameless city). The contrast, to me, is obvious. Whereas the latter story's erotic content is its centrepiece and meaning, the former uses erotic elements as a means to an end, in this case the telling of a doomed love story. These are two different approaches that attempt to make the reader feel similar emotions (though the overwhelming e-mail response to Rain suggested that it invoked a feeling of nostalgia and lost love).
So...decide what your story will be about, how long or short (approximately) it will be, and what it is you want to give your readers. If your answer to that last question was "an orgasm", then that's absolutely fine. I now plan to show you how to do this with style.
How To Write Sex
There is no right way to bring the glare of your descriptive prose to bear on sexual interaction of any kind. But there are many, many wrong ways. In my experience, and assuming the writer has talent in the first place, there is a tendency to go in one of two directions.
"Pamela screamed in ecstasy as I splattered her smiling face and jiggling tits with my thick, creamy man-custard."
This kind of thing is most commonly found in works written by males that spend too much time reading the letters page of Reader's Wives and surfing internet porn sites. Crazy as it seems, I have read work exactly like this. Erotica can be funny, but nobody wants the audience to laugh when they're not supposed to.
"Camilla gasped and clapped her hands to her heaving bosom as Robert unveiled his throbbing manhood and then reached to rend her blouse asunder."
You are a woman. You read too much Mills And Boon. Your writing would lose a battle of erotic content to a cheese sandwich. Danielle Steele sucks, and if your work reads like a sub-par attempt to copy her, then you may as well give up now.
While those two examples are still fresh in your minds, I'd like to deal, for a moment, with language. 'Man-custard', unless you're writing in character and such a colourful turn of phrase comes (no pun intended) naturally, is not an acceptable euphemism for semen. Admittedly, 'semen' is not exactly an erotic word in the first place, but surely you can do better than that. I pretty much always use 'come'. Yes, that's 'c','o','m','e'. There is no such word as 'cum'. If you attempt to use it in your erotic fiction, I will have you killed.
Acceptable Euphemisms For Penis: Cock, Dick, Prick...or any descriptive variations on the theme...it's not too difficult to write descriptive prose about the penis and its activities. There certainly isn't a need for any of the following: Bacon Bazooka, Bald Avenger, Beef Missile, Bitch Stick, Captain Howdy, Charlie Russell The One-Eyed Muscle, Dr. Cyclops, Fun Truncheon, Gash Mallet, Godzilla, Jive Sausage, Little Jesus, Meat Thermometer, Mini-Me, Mr. Giggles, Muff Mole, Optimus Prime, Piss Whistle, Pump-Action Yoghurt Rifle, Purple Avenger, Slit-Eyed Demon, Soul Pole, Spurt Reynolds, Twelve-Inch Train Of Pain...or any variation thereof.
Acceptable Euphimisms For Vagina: This one's tougher. The only really useful one is 'cunt', and some folk are deeply offended by that particular word. I rather like it myself. 'Pussy' is also widely used, but I've always thought it sounded a bit lame. Then again, it's possible it has simply been ruined for me by too many years of hardcore pornography. Either way, a good writer can see the image in his or her head and write about it without ever resorting to using any of these: Bearded Clam, Beef Jacket, Birth Cannon, Bitchcake, Camp Coochie, Cock Holster, Finger Warmer, Flesh Wallet, Four-Lipped Man-Eater, Front Butt, Fuck Hole, Garage Of Love, Gleaming Mound Of Venus, Growler, Gutted Hamster, Hairy Chequebook, Meat Curtains, Momma's Silk Purse, Ninja Slipper, Old Toothless, Panty Rabbit, Pink Palace, Snake Charmer, Wizard's Sleeve, Wookie....etc. etc.
Rely on your natural talent for writing good, sound prose, no matter how obscure the similes you may find yourself drawing on. Good erotic fiction understands the rules so that it can break them.
You Are Now Ready To Write Erotica
That's it...the end of this short but educational trip into the realm of the erotic. Go forth, my students. Go forth and write of warm skin, glistening flesh, and throbbing shafts. Fill the world with love and spectacular prose, not man-custard and beef missiles. Your readers will thank you, and so will I.