On the Art of Erotica
So, this is something different. I get lots and lots of requests from erotic writers who want me to comment on their stories. I thought I’d write a series, a little at a time, and maybe invite other experienced authors to add their own perspectives, either directly in this post, as comments, or as cross posts. I want to say though that I don’t consider myself an authority. I don’t think that I have any more to share than the authors I write with – Ximena, Raziel or Blue Eyed Vagabond (or the many other erotic bloggers). We all have our own unique talents. Having written hundreds of erotic stories, I just wanted to share some of what I’ve discovered and, maybe, learned. None of what follows is intended to be the final word.
The Sex Scene
When one first begins writing erotica, the excitement of describing sex — its noises, words and motion — is almost as good as sex itself. There’s the fear, the guilt, the rush and the desire to do it again. Just writing those words is a riveting transgression. The enthusiastic beginner wants to lay it all out. Writing erotica is a kind of masturbation — figuratively and, perhaps, literally. If the writer isn’t aroused by what they write, then it’s unlikely that the reader will be aroused. With that in mind, the first erotic stories are like fucking a first girlfriend or boyfriend. Everything is larger than life — faster, louder and messier. Anything like subtlety is buried in the Oxford English Dictionary. To the beginning eroticist, the bigger and louder the descriptions, the hotter it’s going to be: In literature as it is on earth.
Act I: The Hot Lunch Note
It had been a long day at work. My wife left me a hot note in my lunchbox. All the other guys have always been jealous of my wife.
When I got home she was already in her crotchless red silk panties and G+ lacy bra. She was hot and ready for me. By the time I got her to the bedroom my 9 inch rod was ready for her cuntal sheath. She wiggled her ass when I bent her over the bed. I yanked her long blonde hair and slapped her ass until she screamed for me to fuck her.
She looked back at me on her hands and knees.“Huh! Huh! Oh God! Hunh!” I brought her to the edge of orgasm. “Come in my pussy!” she screamed incoherently.
I regulated my thrusts as she begged me to make her come.
“Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Fuck! Fuck me! PLEEEAAAASE fuck me!” she begged. I knew exactly what she wanted but now I wanted to make sure she felt my rigid baby maker filling her soaking channel.
Then I knew I was ready. I shoved her head down into the mattress and rammed my nine plus inches into her until she screamed in orgasm.
Another work-day done!
So, that’s a lot (if not most) of what you’ll find online in a microcosm. Definitely the kind of stuff overheated (mostly guys I think) write. Things you’ll notice:
First, the woman has almost nothing to do in this story. Her only job is to make the guy look good. She’s the enabler of his lust. He’s a virtuoso. He’s irresistible. He makes his woman orgasm with flawless control and timing.
Second, there’s no sense of smell, no touch, no taste — just sound and site. This is somebody writing his own “pornography” (and pornography will always do it better).
Third, there’s always the temptation to throw in the expostulations. This is nearly always the mark of the beginner who thinks they can turn on the reader if only they crank the volume high enough (think all-caps). This might work for horny, drunk and drugged college students in a frat house, but erotic literature doesn’t work this way. The inexperienced writer will get the inexperienced reader, but that’s about as far as it will go.
Fourth. Euphemisms. I can’t even remember them all, and I’ve seen some incredibly creative ones — the kind that make one burst out laughing. “Cuntal sheath” is a long-standing favorite. The motive behind this writing is animalistic. That is, beginners and dilettantes think that the more raw and obscene their language, the more stunningly visceral will be the reader’s response. The problem is that this is a cheap shortcut that inevitably short-circuits. Conveying the raw,visceral, animalistic joy of sex takes work. It’s not done through clichéd and contrived euphemisms.
Fifth, there’s always the reference to the size of cocks and breasts. When bra sizes and the precise dimension of the cock are provided, you know you’re dealing with a beginner. These too are shortcuts. It hardly takes a psychologist to recognize the correlation between a writer’s need for sex and the size of the tits and cock (or she) describes in the story.
Sixth, nothing happens. There’s no plot. The story above can be applied to most Penthouse letters (which are just wordier versions of this story). The problem is that the guy is turned on and so is the woman. They both want sex and have it. Big deal. This kind of sex is great sex in real life, but it’s not the stuff of erotic literature. Real life sex makes dull erotic literature and a sex life of erotic literature would be exhausting in real life. Erotic literature has to be about more than two characters who want to have sex.
In either case, once those first impulses — the virgin sex of the first erotic story — have been sated by a half-dozen more, sobriety usually begins to take hold. If it doesn’t then you’re not writing, you’re masturbating. The writer begins to think that erotica, like sex, isn’t just about thrusting and orgasm (good as that is) but maybe something more.
Proviso: I have noticed that this can be truer for men than woman writers. In my experience, and only in the most general sense, men and women sometimes seem to approach the same endpoint from opposite ends. Men, when they first write erotica, tend to write loud and testosterone soaked sex scenes in which the stunned women are subjected to one orgasm after another. In their erotic stories, men are finally the masters of their sexual universe. They. Are. Gods. Women, on the other hand, tend to write furtively. Their characters skittishly touch each other’s strange, electric fur with blushing and chaste words. It seems to be easier for women to move from that first furtive shyness to a more robust eroticism than for men to downshift their congo drums.
ACT II: The Hot Lunch Note
“So, do you want to repeat what you wrote in that note?” he asked. He’d just gotten home.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” his wife answered. She was busily cleaning the kitchen counter.
“No, I don’t.”
“That’s funny, because the note was in my lunch box and it was your writing.”
‘Look, it’s late. Do you want to help make dinner?”
Like hell he did. He loudly dropped his lunchbox on the kitchen table, spun around it, and turned his wife around, her stomach pressed against the countertop. He yanked her head back by the hair, and kicked her legs apart. “Get your hands on the countertop, flat and don’t move them from there. Her breathes were flighty and she struggled to see what his other hand did, but he forcefully held her head back.
“What am I going to find if I stick my fingers between your thighs?”
“I don’t know wha –” She inhaled sharply and rose to her toes, her brow creasing.
“What? No panties? Your fucking soaked.”
‘I don’t know what yo–” She groaned and rose to her toes, mouth open as the words stopped in her mouth.
“The higher up I go, the wetter you are. What’s the matter. Did I marry a slut? Are you humping my fingers?”
“I didn’t –”
“What’s this smell?” He lifted his pussy-filmed fingers to her nose, slick and webbed with moisture. She tried to turn her head away. “That doesn’t smell lemony fresh to me?” She turned her head again. “What does this smell like? Tell me.” His fingers moved down, behind her, between her thighs, and she rose to the balls of her feet again.
“Like a dripping slut,” she gasped.
“Say the words. Say what you wrote in my lunchbox or I won’t stop.”
She moaned, turned her toes inward, her ass out, and twisted on his fingers. “I want — suck — suck your –”
“What? Suck what?”
“That’s not what you wrote.”
“And where do you want it little girl?”
He pulled her head back, bent and took her nipple between his teeth, through the fabric of her top.
She rose to her toes and sputtered. “Pussy! Pussy! Oh fuck! Cunt! Put your –” She inhaled and groaned. “Put your cock in my cunt! My cunt. Mine! Fill my cunt! Fill your slut’s little cunt with — with –”
She turned red as a beat. Her nipple throbbed, hard and angry under her top, a breath away from his teeth and rough stubble. “With jizm. Your boy-jizm.”
He turned and bent her over the table. “Like this?”
“Like — on my hands — on my hands and knees — like a dog — bitch in heat — doggystyle,” she panted.
He took her by the hair and forced her to her hands and knees. He lifted her skirt, aimed and then she grunted and whined. He fucked her — hard, straight, masculine thrusts. Her hands slipped forward each time on the smooth and slippery linoleum floor. “What else did you write?”
“Please –” She hiccuped with orgasm. “I’m ready for your jizm in my cunt — my cuntal sheath. The girl is ready for your boy jizm.”
He tugged on her hair and growled in her ear.“You’re a foul-mouthed little slut.”
“I’m such a foul-mouthed little slut,” she shuddered.
He bent her back double. He possessively licked her neck, ear, and lips; and he poured his agreement inside her.
So, this version of the story inhabits a whole different world. Let’s look at the differences.
First, even though the woman is the submissive in this story, just as in the first story, we know she’s in on the game. She’s making decisions. She’s as much in control of the story as he is. Even though she’s being fucked from behind, just as in the first story, the reader senses her personality, her playfulness. As a writer (and a male), ask yourself whether you want your female to be a victim of the narrative or an equal partner?
Second, I made an effort to include smell, even if just once. In a longer story, I would have tried to include more. At the head of every story your write, list the five senses. When you’re done writing, see if you’ve left out any of the senses. If you have, make the effort to include whatever you left out. The more attention you give to the five senses, the more concrete and real your story will feel.
Third. Unlike in the first story, there are no written expostulations. You don’t need them, though there’s no reason not to include a little something if it’s done sparingly and for a specific reason. The reader, if your story is compelling, will do a better job imagining the sound effects that you will do by trying to write them out. Bottom line: Trust the reader.
Euphemisms. I threw “cuntal sheath” into this story too, but I think it works in a way that, unlike the first story, isn’t gratuitous. An erotic writer shouldn’t shy away from words like cock, cunt, quim, pussy, etc… I’ve even read that we should never use the word penis; but I think there’s a time and place for every dirty word. I love them all. It’s okay to use ‘cock’ or ‘pussy’ through the entirety of the story, except for that one passage where quim will be like an almost errant finger unexpectedly slipping inside a woman.
Fifth, there’s not a single reference to the woman’s bra size or the size of the man’s cock. That said, a recent discovery of ancient Egyptian/Greek erotica (apparently the most popular literature at the time) begins with the following:
Oh, I’m terribly on fire. Uh oh, it’s thick and big as a roof beam. I’m burning, I’m on fire. I’m terribly on fire. A stream runs over me, do you understand?
You can hear the discussion of this passage and where it was found here.It’s at 17 minutes, but the first 17 minutes are pretty cool too.
The point is that we’re just the same as our Egyptian forebears. Our women, three and four thousand years ago, were as in love with a cock as thick and big as a roof beam as our women today. It’s just in us — in our erotic human nature. I real life? Not always. In erotic literature, the big cock is symbolic. One of the best ways to tip the reader off, that the cock she’s getting is huge (or just right), is to describe what the character does when she gets it. There again, you’re trusting the reader’s imagination (and that’s always going to be hotter and more compelling than what you write). Show. Don’t tell. Show what a woman does when she takes a big cock. If you’re a woman writing erotica, this is when you capture the man’s imagination. Describe what she’s feeling. Let the man into the woman’s erotic experience. Likewise, if you’re a man writing, let the woman into your erotic experience. Let her know what it does to you when she reacts with that first thrust, what she feels like, and how the tightness feels.
Sixth (and this is the biggest difference between the second version and the first) there is erotic tension. Erotic tension is nothing more than good scene writing. You’re creating tension between two or more characters. Like dissonance in music, the audience will want the dissonance to be resolved. In the latter story, the dissonance is the delicious refusal of the woman to acknowledge what she’s written and the sexual tension that builds between her and her husband as a result of her erotic game. In the first story there’s no tension between the characters. There’s no dissonance. There’s no game.
Another way of writing erotica, one that I’ve been increasingly experimenting with (and used in the second version) is to not even mention or describe the meeting of cock and pussy. In a sense, it’s erotic literature’s version of Hollywood porn.
Sometimes there’s nothing like raw pornography. But, all else being equal, my own opinion is that Hollywood “porn” is always more erotic and more of a turn on at its best than any pornography. The director of the Hollywood movie wants to convey the sexual excitement of the scene (to turn on the audience) just as much as the pornographer, but the Hollywood director can’t video a cock sliding in and out of a pussy. How does he or she convey the excitement? She does it through dialog, through body language — hands, eyes, toes, fingers, knees, legs — and by context. This is what you want to do as an erotic writer. In the second story, I never actually described his fingers going into his wife’s pussy, I only described her reaction to that feeling. I personally find the implication to be more erotic than the explicit alternative. Again, it’s showing rather than telling. Similarly, I also never explicitly described the moment of penetration. I wrote the following:
He lifted her skirt, aimed and then she grunted and whined.
I could have written:
He lifted her skirt, aimed and filled her pussy / penetrated her / drove himself into her/ etc…
To me, the first version is much more erotically charged because her reaction, I think, is more erotic than a close-up of penetration. The first version also brings the woman into the experience in a way that the other versions don’t.
It’s possible to not explicitly describe the sex at all. This, as I’ve said, is something I’ve been increasingly enjoying and experimenting with.
ACT III: The Hot Lunch Note
“No, he got home about two minutes ago.” She’s talking on the phone.
She’s on the bed and on her belly. “He just found me. No, I haven’t turned. He’s not saying anything. All he’s doing — all he’s doing is putting my note in front of me. Where I can see it. What did I write? I told him I’d be waiting for him in the bedroom; that I haven’t been fucked recently enough; that a wife needs to be spunked so she knows who she belongs to, so that she can feel his juices are leaking out of her a little every day.”
“I told him I’d be on my knees with my ass in the air. I told him my cunt was empty, but that it would be wet and ready by — oh fuck! — hold on — so that he could — fuck! — put it –” Her fingers grip the sheet, “–inside me.”
“I’m still –” she giggles. “Still not used to him. He goes — deep in this position. Hold on.” She reaches and braces with one hand against the head board. “Fuck. I hope you don’t mind. It’s hard — hard for me to talk when I’m in this position, when he’s — fuck! He’s pulling my hair. Hold on!” She half drops the phone as she’s lifted. Her knees are wide. Her smooth belly, just below her belly button, bulges in time with his grunts. Her fingertips reach, but just miss the sheets. Then she’s released, her ass lifted, her face in the pillow.
She blindly finds the phone.
“Sorry! Fuck. It feels so good — to just feel him like this. I want his arms around my throat. I — fuck — I want him to jam my face into the pillow. I just want — want him to be him and fuck me — fuck his little girl. He needs to fuck his girl. I so fucking want it, need him.”
Her knuckles grow white. She tries to talk but she can’t. Her toes curl and her nipples jut. She stiffens. “Oh god,” she finally breathes. “I can’t stop it. I can’t. He feels so good. I can’t –” Her mouth opens wide and she noiselessly arches and heaves. He doesn’t stop. The palm of his hand, pressing hard between her shoulder blades, another hand at the small of her back, forbids from lifting her chin or shoulders off the mattress. He’s not done yet. He’s not finished with her. Her thighs remain spread. Her ass remains lifted behind her.
“Yes,” she answers, speaking into the phone again. “I did. And I’m going to again. Oh fuck! I think he’s — Yes. I can feel him. Oh fuck, I can feel him. It’s just — I don’t know how to describe it. I can feel the twitches like, in my opening, in my abdomen, you know, in my womb.”
“What?” she asks.
“Oh totally,” she answers. “even after he leaves, I feel him, his warmth in me. I just feel loose and stretchy.” She feels his weight next to him. She turns on her side, her back to him, and presses herself against him. “I feel opened up, you know? I feel connected, not just with him, right? But like, connected with everything. Fuck,” she mewls and nuzzles back against his muscles. Her heavy arms snug round her rib cage and belly. “I love the scent of him. I love the scent of his sweat and and come between my thighs. I love the way his fingers hurt on my nipples. I love sex. I love being fucked by a man.”
So, in this last version, I really tried to avoid talking about the sex, explicitly, and yet the whole scene is nothing but sex from beginning to end. I didn’t really describe thrusting, or his cock, or her being penetrated. It’s pornography of the body, not of the cock or pussy. It’s also the polar opposite of the first story. The focus is entirely on the woman. Still, I wanted to give some sense of the man’s personality.
The erotic tension, in this last version, is in her speaking on the phone while she’s being fucked. The reader, initially, isn’t sure how it will be resolved. Will she hang up? Who is she talking to? She might even be pretending. That’s a question I deliberately leave unanswered in such a short snippet. I leave the answer to the reader’s imagination. That will arouse them far more than anything I could have suggested. When you’re writing erotica, leave a few things to the reader’s imagination. They’re like rests in music. What you don’t say or write can sometimes be the most erotically potent part of your story, and that can be the hardest trick to learn.