Writing smut right
Writing erotica isn’t as easy as whipping together an article about a topic you happen to know a lot about. Like this one for example.
You have to worry about plot, story, and worst of all — convincing dialogue.
Erotica doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take effort to get right.
People are reading this type of content because they want to achieve one or more goals.
- They want to be turned on
- They want to feel less lonely
- They want to feel like they relate to people better
- They want to feel younger, happier, or more excited
- Regular storylines feel too limited, and they want full expression without rules
Plus a lot more.
There are a lot of reasons why people read erotica, and that reason isn’t just because they’re sinners or they’re immoral.
I see regular people on their way to work reading erotica on the subway every day.
People are invested in what we write, so the potential for a writer is limitless.
So if you want to get into this game, it’s time to shift your headspace and write for success.
People want to read this content, but do you want to provide it for them?
It’s not just sex
The people who are reading your book are looking to be immersed in another world.
Because of this, I’ve personally found that the closer an erotic book resembles the real world, the less successful it has performed.
People aren’t reading your content because they want a slightly more raunchy version of their own lives. They want to be entirely transported away.
Because of this, I’ve seen a lot more success for writers who branch out into science fiction and fantasy.
Books that go back in time, or into the future. Vampires, werewolves, aliens, it’s all good.
Whatever world you build, commit to it and follow the rules.
If your characters exist on another planet, make sure that planet can sustain life.
Build yourself a seperate Word document that features all the important details of your planet.
Make sure that if your characters hike into the wilderness to have sex, they can find a stream nearby afterwards to have a drink and discover something that advances the story.
By far the most critical feedback I’ve had over the years has been that characters don’t drink water enough.
Readers have never complained that their back would have hurt from the horrifying sex position I described.
Rather, they’ll notice that the character has gone 8 hours between meals and that this level of food/sex ratio would be too taxing.
They’ll even become concerned for characters that reoccur across multiple books.
I tend to put my characters through hell. They go to prison, get flogged, and suffer all manor of trials before they’re eventually rescued by the hero.
I’ve always got to keep in mind whether the character has had a drink, or if the prison is running on a believable schedule.
If your book reads like a crappy porno with no attention to detail, you’ll accrue zero fanbase.
Why would they care to read on?
If there’s been no world building, there’s nowhere for the characters to believably start having sex in the middle of a fountain during a thunderstorm.
Nothing is worse than real sex
Have you ever noticed how unrealistic sex is depicted in movies?
The couple finishes a couple seconds after the camera cuts to them, then he just rolls off and onto the bed.
She gets up and puts on some panties, they exchange some witty dialogue.
Her makeup is unchanged, her hair is delightfully teased. He’s able to lie in completely mess-free sheets, she’s able to immediately get fully dressed. No one needs to shower, no one even needs a tissue.
I believe that the majority of the time, there’s nothing so unromantic as actual sex.
The sights, the smells, the sound effects. It’s ok if you’re never going to see this person again, but it’s like a horror movie when you have to sleep next to this person when it’s all over.
Not to mention the god-awful mess you’ve left behind.
Occasionally in movies they’ll shower together right after having sex.
Let’s not pretend you don’t hate this person right after sex. The last place you want to be is with this person, stuck in a shower cubicle.
Movies don’t follow reality, and neither should you
Your job isn’t to remind the reader that sex sucks, your job is to sell the fantasy that sex is other-worldly.
In the worlds we build, sex never hurts your back.
There’s no mess, there’s no fuss.
Neither party needs to prepare parts of their body ahead of time, or check for potential issues.
There’s no douching, and (unless your book is particularly kinky) there aren’t any “times of the month”.
Sex should achieve a goal in the story. It should reward the characters for strides they’ve made either personally or physically.
It should come as a triumph moment, or as a way to kick start a turn of events.
It should be fun, exciting, and realistic in an absolutely not at all realistic way.
By that I mean it should resemble the kind of sex that exists in our minds, the kind of sex that porn-stars pretend their having.
Penetration feels good, things go super deep, rails break off the shower wall super easily.
The extreme cold doesn’t freeze you, things don’t stop working while underwater, even fire doesn’t burn you.
It should feel rough, raw, and deserved. The environment and laws of physics are your play-things.
Have characters holding other characters in the air and against impossible objects. Experiment a lot! And have fun with it.
Make sure you can see it in your imagination. If it doesn’t work in your mind, it won’t work for the reader either.
Don’t try to write what you hope the reader will enjoy.
Write the story you would love to have read if you had found your own book.
Make sure you can imagine and enjoy the acts being depicted in your book.
Some writers can find themselves getting carried away. Even in a fantasy world, I’d stay out of ikky territory.
The world of Ikk
Even in fiction, I’d stay out of stories that stray into the world of forced or underage sex.
Even a story about a character having sex with someone who’s asleep isn’t a great idea, even though some readers may request it. (It’s a big fantasy for some).
Stories like these attract a certain fanbase that you don’t really want, while alienating the fanbase you do want.
A big risk is that the act being committed in your book actually happened to one of your readers. This could set off really negative reactions for this person, when your original goal was excitement and good feelings.
Set yourself rules right at the beginning, then follow those rules.
Build a universe that’s completely free within the confines of your own limitations, and make sure to pay attention to the details.
If you manage all that, you may just have a best-selling series on your hands.