Tips For Writing Erotica

There is a great deal of erotica out there these days, and Fifty Shades has broken down some of the mental barriers people had about reading erotica and fetish. Whether you are writing romantic , mystery, fetish or paranormal erotica, the same basic principles apply.

How many stories tread the well worn paths of hackneyed plots? You know the ones. The plumber who seduces the middle-aged housewife, the delivery guy who delivers more than a parcel, the secretary and her manager on the office desk. Boring! Sorry, but I lose interest very quickly if the plot is too obvious. So try and think outside of the box, or even throw the box away.

For example. I was working to a call for submissions on the theme of ‘Sex At Work’. So, rather than the office or the plumber, I decided my place of work would be a zoo and the characters two of the keepers. Surprised? That doesn’t sound like the setting for erotica, does it? But my story ‘Tropical Paradise’ had my couple  getting together for clandestine meetings in the steamy, romantic setting of the tropical house in the zoo after hours. Birds copulated above my couple, amongst palm like trees and gorgeous tropical flowers. It was duly accepted for the collection Xcite published, was used as the lead story and inspired the cover for their five story collection and titled Tropical Paradise. It has had great reviews.

(If you want to find alternative sources for Sex at Work and Tropical Paradise, check out the ‘Our Publications‘ page on this blog.)

So try and find your own, unique take on a theme. Readers will thank you for it.

Another common mistake writers make it to tell you what is happening. Show, don’t tell the reader. Your goal is to fuel their imaginations, especially in the field of erotica. They want to go on a journey, escape real life and do stuff in their heads they can’t do or get in reality. If you tell them what is happening, there is no room for them to imagine. For example:

‘She was very excited.’

OK, you’ve told them she’s excited. But can they feel it? How about this instead?

‘She gasped. Her heart pulsed wildly, her eyes widened and her skin tingled as she lay there.’

Are you with her now? Can you empathise with her? If you can, you’re in the story, living it with her. Which is as it should be.

OK, you have a setting that’s fresh and exciting, maybe even surprising.  You show the reader what’s going on. But who are these people inhabiting your story? They must have personality. Although you may not actually describe them in detail, you must know who they are to write their narrative successfully. Have an idea how old they are, how much experience they’ve had, where they are from and are they characters the reader can have some empathy with?

It is not enough that they have supermodel looks. By the way, most of your readers are probably not gorgeous (and know it), don’t have perfect bodies and probably are riddled with insecurities, as most of us are. When they read, they want to be in that wonderful fantasy world where everything is fantastic. They will fill in the looks of their characters to suit themselves with little encouragement. So keep descriptions of looks brief, and give a hint of personality through their narrative.

Keep the pages turning. What does that for you? Usually for me, it boils down to action and suspense. What will happen next? If the plot is hot, I will want to know, so I’ll keep reading. Also, if I don’t care about the characters, I won’t care what happens to them, and I’ll put the book down. You obviously don’t want this to happen. So give your readers characters they can identify with or love or hate. They key thing is that the reader cares about them.

Example: Amanda is thirty-four. She’s not new to sex, and she’s not new to her particular fetish. Which is being tied up, blindfolded, teased and given forced orgasms. She’s a woman with a sense of humour, a job in retail and a partner who loves to see her struggle when they play their games. He’s a sweetie. Really very gentle, but when they play he takes on a role and sounds quite menacing. But you don’t have to tell the reader all that. Let the story and their characters unfold. If you know your characters, like you know your friends, they will come to life. Having an ‘edge’ to one of your characters (like Amanda’s partner in play mode) helps to add that sense of suspense. If you’re not sure what he/she will do next you’ll have to keep reading to find out, won’t you?

Now, how did you start your story? Are there pages of preamble, long descriptions of place and time, preparation and other not-too-relevant details? Why not dive straight in, making the reader want to know more. Your character might already be tied to the bed, sweating and shaking and waiting. What for? What will happen to her? These are the page turning questions your reader will want to know the answers to. If you can grab them in that first sentence or paragraph, all you have to do then is deliver the answers in an exciting way.

Now you’ve sorted out your setting, who your characters are and what they are experiencing, you write your story. It starts in an attention grabbing way, and when you’re finished you’re pleased it’s turned out well. Next you’ll need to edit it. Is there stuff in there that is telling rather than showing? Fix it. Is there a boring paragraph or page that doesn’t add anything to the story? Does it slow the reader down or bore them? Remove it. Can you improve any of the narrative? Do it. Then put it away for a week and don’t read it.

Then comes the last stage in the process. Re-read very carefully. Check again for all the points above. If you’re happy with the content, you’ll want to check spelling. Don’t just rely on spell check. It won’t tell you if you have used the wrong spelling or word for the context. So if you meant frigid and wrote fridge, or wrote bean and meant been, it will be missed by spell check. Then check for punctuation. Are speech marks in the right place? Are commas used correctly? If you’re not good at this it’s worth drafting in someone with a good knowledge of English and a keen eye, because it will put off a lot of readers if you publish with lots of mistakes.

Remember, it’s better to hold back from submission or publication until you are sure you have the best story you can write. I hope I’ve been able to help a little in your achievement of that goal.

– Velvet Tripp

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If creative writing is your thing, there are plenty of more detailed ‘how-to’ guides around. You could look at Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Basics of Creative Writing, or Neil Gaiman’s eight rules, or find any of dozens of other sources from around the internet. They’re general guides about writing fiction but they apply to erotica just as they do to any other fiction. Or you could take the plunge and read M Christian’s guide, How to Write and Sell Erotica.

Jackie Adshead. Erotic Artist Interview

Witch

Jackie Adshead is an artist with a great interest in erotic art. We wanted to know more about her, and are convinced you will too. Her work is intriguing, very individual and beautiful. There is plenty more of it on her own website, which we’re sure you’ll want to visit once you’ve read her answers to my questions.

To start with, what is your artistic background?
I’ve spent all my life painting pictures. I’ve never stopped since I first picked up a crayon as a toddler, and I had my first commission at the age of 13 for my history teacher at school, but the artwork has changed a bit since then! So I’ve always had the talent to paint within me, but I like a challenge, and love to be creative so for that reason I am probably unusual in that I will paint any subject matter, I don’t limit myself to just painting flowers, or animals, or landscapes, or people, or to a certain style. I love to paint in watercolours, pastels, acrylics or oils, and draw in pencil or ink. And do surreal, abstract, fantasy, as well as representational art. I am a painter rather than an illustrator in that I try to catch the essence and feel of the subject rather than a totally true representation. My artwork is softer than stark reality, accentuating the good bits, and lessening the bad bits. I am different to most artists in that I prefer commissions than exhibition work as I feel I have more empathy with my clients because we’ve discussed a special piece of art that they want me to create just for them.

How long have you been involved in erotic art?
About twelve years ago I started attending life drawing classes like most artists do, and I quickly realised how difficult it is, because if you draw a tree, it doesn’t matter if the trunk is a little too wide, or if one of the branches is too long, but it does if it’s a human body, the measurements have to be right, and the arms and legs need to look like they are all connected to the body and that the head sits on the shoulders. I found it very helpful for teaching me to look properly at a subject, but after a few weeks of being at the life drawing sessions and looking at the work I’d done, I wondered how I could make it look more interesting and life-like from the stilted poses that the model was in and I realised that it’s what I was leaving out that made the picture far more interesting, as it leaves more to the imagination. I didn’t need to draw all of the body of the person infront of me, for anyone looking at it to know that they had legs, or a back, I just captured where the light touched the body and found that anyone looking at it much preferred it as their brain was filling in the parts their eyes couldn’t see and it made it erotic because of that. And it evolved from there. Plus, wonderfully, I found that I got far better feedback for my erotic art than I ever did for the landscapes!

What started your interest in erotic art?
I can never get excited looking at a painting of a vase of flowers, as all you will ever see is the flowers no matter how well they are depicted so I’ve always preferred figurative art and the interaction between people. Life drawing though wasn’t enough of a challenge for me so the reason I started doing erotic art is because it’s the most difficult art to create I think; it has soft nuances, its challenging, and what I need to capture is that certain something, the essence, that will make the viewer feel erotic when they look at it. And that is such a subtle thing to do, and is something that may be different in all of us. And the vase of flowers would look far more interesting if the petals were made up of naked women, or entwined lovers!

What inspires your erotic art?
I love the interaction between lovers of both sexes, straight, bi or gay. I love the muscular bodies of fit men, and I love drawing women, as I believe all women can look attractive regardless of their age, race, or body size. I love seeing and drawing the curves of women and agree with many people that a naked woman is the ultimate piece of art.
I love it when someone contacts me and wants me to paint their passionate desires for something or someone that makes them feel excited.
I’ve always loved the dramatic strong light and darks of Caravaggio’s work and found it immensely inspirational, and use that powerful effect in my white on black erotic drawings.

What are the most important aspects of erotic art for you?
Painting other people and making them look good and feel good about themselves and their bodies. Making people feel empowered through the paintings I’ve done of them. Capturing the essence of a person and putting it into the painting. Knowing that the art I do is therapeutic and life changing in some cases.

There’s a lot of controversy about the difference (or not) between porn and erotica. How would you differentiate between erotic art and pornographic art?
Pornographic art leaves nothing to the imagination – it’s all there in stark sexual detail.
Erotic art is the sensual, and the suggestive which is far more sexy when you wonder what is going to happen in a minute…… what has that person done beforehand to now be in that position and place and time, and what are they going to do next? Or if there is more than one person in the picture then it makes it a little easier to imagine – so just think what a whole orgy could produce!!!! But I can draw an image where the woman in it is fully clothed and make it erotic just because of the look on her face or where one hand is carefully placed.

Are there messages in the art you produce?
There is always a message in art – even if it’s only a celebration of a simple subject matter. But, other than that, I love painting secrets and incorporating them in my artwork. I’ve painted erotic landscapes when the client has asked me to paint a typical scene but with an erotic couple hidden within the painting so that people viewing it wouldn’t know unless they looked closer or had it pointed out to them. And also I was commissioned to do a painting for a woman who wanted an erotic picture to hang over her bed that her four year old son wouldn’t recognise as anything other than a landscape. She wanted me to paint an erotic landscape where the couple are actually the geography of the land. And to innocent eyes, this picture is nothing more than a view of Lands End. But to less innocent people, it is far more than that. You can see the man and the woman within the picture, and you can see that they are having sex. It is both truly erotic, and an innocent landscape, and I loved the challenge of creating it for her!
But as well as that I love hiding the subject matter within my art too – like my collection of “Fantasy Fannies”- which are erotic feminine paintings that just look like brightly colourful abstract shapes, but are actually a very intimate picture although most people looking at it wouldn’t have a clue – which makes it the ultimate conversation piece as far as I am concerned! They are portraits but not the traditional ones of the women’s faces. They are currently hanging on walls in America, and England, and a woman contacted me from New Zealand in raptures over them and the empowerment they stood for. I love the fact they are affecting women worldwide. I painted one for a woman in Canada whose young step-son described it as “the sky diving picture”, because that was what it looked like to him. I just have visions of him looking at it in a few years time and thinking “Oh, that’s not sky diving at all!!!!!”
And I like to hide secret messages within my art too – like when I was asked to do a painting for a couple from London of a particular village in Southern France that they had visited a lot, and I suggested that they might like their initials hidden within the buildings itself. They loved that idea, as it made it far more personal to them, but I knew we were going to have a problem, as did they when I mentioned it. So, I had to just put in just their initials, and not the “and” part – since otherwise it would have spelt out “M & S” or better still “S & M”!

Where do you see this type of art going in the future?
I think more and more people are plucking up courage and willing to pose for an erotic artist, and I know that people like to see what they look like through another person’s eyes, and I know I have been good therapy to some of the people who I have drawn, because they’ve told me so, with emotion in their voices. So I think it will become more main stream, although some people are still worried what their family or neighbours might think if they see an erotic picture on their wall even though we all look at erotica and love it and know others do too.

Do you have any advice for aspiring erotic artists?
Follow your passion, and try to touch people’s hearts and hope that they feel more enriched through how you depict them. Leave something to the imagination. But most importantly try to bring pleasure to people through your art.

Thank you Jackie. We look forward to seeing much more of your work.

VelvetTripp

DauntedJackie can be found at

Her website www.jackieadshead.co.uk

Her blog www.jackieadshead.co.uk/blog

Facebook www.facebook.com/jackie.adshead

http://twitter.jackieadshead.co.uk

The trouble with science fiction

It’s been a couple of months or so since my latest novel, Corporate Slave, came out and a lot’s happened in that time. In fact, bearing in mind that although it’s an erotic novel but with some science fiction elements to it, things have already happened that mean one of the key sci-fi gadgets may be in your high street stores in the next couple of years.

That’s the trouble with science fiction. You imagine something that’s ahead of the curve of current technology, and within a few months technology has already caught up with you.

Specifically, one of the things I envisaged was an Intelligent Dress – a length of material that could be worn in a variety of styles, contained a lot of computer technology built into the material, was capable of using built-in sensors to react to things like air pressure changes to anticipate a blow and change its structure to act like armour, and could change colour based on the wearer’s mood. Oh, and it would be powered from the electrical current of the wearer’s body.

When I ‘invented’ the Intelligent Dress I knew some of these things were already being worked on in various labs around the world.

The idea of the dress being powered by the electrical current in the body of the wearer was, in fact, based on the ADE651 (here’s what Wikipedia says about it), a handheld explosives detector created by a British company and sold extensively in Iraq. Unfortunately, investigations by the BBC and evaluations by other more technical sources concluded that it was, basically, useless and in the UK a fraud investigation was launched against the company’s managing director. Nonetheless bodies do carry a small electric charge and if you use a multimeter you can measure it. So the basic idea of a body-powered electronic device isn’t an impossibility. It’s just not been used to power any working devices yet, but I’m sure someone, somewhere is working on it.

Changing colour: there are a number of ‘smart materials’ already in use in different applications. There’s a list on Wikipedia. One company already makes a yarn that changes colour depending on the UV light it’s exposed to – though that wasn’t the specific reaction I had in mind.

There are also electrotextiles that change elasticity with an electric current. You can read about them here and here and there are other possibilities for such materials here which include textiles that change composition quickly in reaction to different stimuli. So the idea that a mechanism to turn a dress into armour isn’t far-fetched. It can already be done, as that last link indicates, with sheets of nanotube-coated paper. It’s just a case of detecting the threat and applying the stimulus to cause the change.

Finally, as to the computing facility built into clothing: we’ve just had grapheme announced as a material that will enable this, while using a different technology, there’s also a company CuteCircuit now marketing a ‘Twitter dress’.

So the smart idea I had in early 2012 for how clothing might become intelligent in a few decades’ time had become, by the end of 2012, something that looked like it could be introduced by, perhaps, 2014.

All of the elements I proposed already exist in some form or another in different yarns and textiles. I’m sure there are already people thinking about how to integrate these different functionalities – perhaps not for fashion purposes, but for medicine or whatever, though they’ll feed through into the clothing market quickly enough after that.

And bear in mind that if you go out clubbing in rough neighbourhoods, stab-proof fashion garments have already been on the market for quite a while…

If I write another sci-fi erotic story, which is highly likely, next time I’ll have to set my sights a little higher. A faster-than-light warp-driven spaceship, perhaps. But then NASA have already commissioned a feasibilty study. Read about it here.

What’s isn’t particularly sci-fi in the novel, though, is the sex. It’s still real, hard sex mostly informed by the tropes of BDSM and based on the idea that BDSM becomes the new ‘normal’ way to have sex. Oh wait… someone published a novel that led to widespread interest in it, didn’t they? So maybe even that’s not as radical as I’d thought when I started writing. Though some of the social and economic contexts I put it in are, I hope, unlikely to happen in my lifetime. But I’m not holding my breath about that.

One thing that does, as far as I know, remain ahead of the curve is that since ‘fucking’ as a swearword is common enough to be almost polite conversation, I found a new one. Yes, it’s a real practice. Yes, it also begins with an ‘f’ and ends in ‘-ing’. But it’s a little more… perverted. And while I haven’t heard it being used as a swearword yet, I’d lay money on overhearing people using it in casual conversation sometime in the next year or so.

The novel, again? Corporate Slave, also on Amazon UK, Smashwords and a bunch of other places. Full listings on our publications page.