Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let's [Write] About Sex

Art by Deanna Staffo, found at the Baltimore City Paper

Disclaimer: if you don't want to read about the craft of writing erotica, come back next week. These posts will not themselves be pornographic.

So, last night was my superbly awesome Grub Street class, "Go Deeper, Baby: Writing Meaningful Erotica" with instructor Sue Williams. I'm going to make this a 2-part post, so that I can just share some lovely quotes from the experts today, and we can chat more tomorrow.

"Erotica is art and/or literature that arouses, or seeks to arouse, the reader."

"The more loved and understood our characters are, the more they encourage self-acceptance and reflection in our readers. And that's meaningful, baby."

"Meaningful sex does not have to be clean and pure."

"Desire is often more arousing than sex itself."

You don't have to be doing it to write about it: "Consider how many overweight, chain-smoking, clumsy reporters cover sports with complete devotion. No one asks them if they are great athletes, or if they have even the smallest interest in physical fitness."

"Real sex is compelling to read about because the participants are so utterly vulnerable. We are all, when the time comes to get naked, terribly excited and frightened and hopeful and doubtful, usually at the same time. You mustn't abandon your lovers in their time of need. You mustn't make of them naked playthings with rubbery parts. You must love them, wholly and without shame, as they go about their human business."

And a poem from Susie Bright's How to Write a Dirty Story:

There is no such thing as a person without an erotic story.
I don’t mean a tall tale, or a punch line, or a story about the one who got away.
I’m talking about our personal erotic history, what you might call our “sexual philosophy.”
Take a look at your own erotic story,
and you’ll see that it’s a motion picture of everything about you that is creative;
the risks you’d be willing to take,
the weightless depth of your imagination,
your attraction to the truth,
and the things that would make you go blind.

Anything you disagree with? Anything you care to add? Come back tomorrow for some more thoughts on crafting erotica, and two lovely writing prompts.

And please don't forget to enter my contest. The winner gets my amazing fudge recipe AND a lovely SIGNED chapbook of flash fiction and essays on writing by Steve Almond -- yes, the very one quoted above. You know you want it.


  1. Whoa! You totally pulled me in. When I saw that art and post title I was catapulted back to a dream I had last night--and, NO, we are so not going there. What was eye-opening as I read your post was the dream, sexy as it was, wasn't about sex but creativity. I'm feeling energized to play my game with that kind of passion now. Thank you.

  2. I admire those who can write it. I'm rather pure when it comes to such scenes.

  3. Great quotes. I'm currently embarking on writing my first erotic romance and it's, by far, the most challenging thing I've written. So much goes into making sure the scenes carry emotional impact, move the plot forward, and avoid the tab A slot B trap. I look forward to tomorrow's post.

  4. I'm in same boat as Roni. Sent a romance paranormal short story to a publisher who has asked for two fulls out of it instead, and they want it erotica. I didn't think twice about trying it, but it's hard to not get caught in a=b=c thing with sex scenes. I'm working on it...

  5. As a general rule of thumb, I'd probably never write an entire novel under the genre of erotica, but I'm sure there will be at least a few scenes at which characters in my novel will be dealing with erotic circusmstances. I've had trouble writing about it in the past, mostly because the words used to describe the body sound very 'un-literary' if that makes any sense. So, when I re-read what I've written, it feels unbelievable or comical or just plain crude. I'm sure it would help to read more of those types of scenes to get an idea of how it can be more believable, but I'm too busy reading what I want instead.

  6. I don't shy away from sex in my work, but I tend to prefer going at it obliquely, and making it as effing hot as possible without indulging in words like "throbbing" and "thrusting." Basically any word that begins with "th."


  7. I like scenes that carry the desire along and build up the tension...the tension is more interesting to me than the release. Plus, I can't stand cheesy words.

    That is not, in any way shape or form, to say that I agree with Simon, because I don't. Never! Viva La Nemesis!

  8. i love this quote:

    "Desire is often more arousing than sex itself."

  9. That's an old post but I'm glad I found it. I totally agree with Scathing Reviewer.