When it comes to writing erotica, imagination is everything. Not because you have to be able to come up with a ton of elaborate or kinky scenes, but because you have to be able to embue your characters with emotion even when writing a scene that you yourself might not find erotic or sexy. Because emotion is what takes a sex scene from the realm of ‘just sex’ to something truly erotic.
Erotica is, and has been a complete genre on its own for decades. A genre that not only encompasses literary stories, but photography and art as well. There doesn’t have to be sex involved to make something erotic. It’s all about feelings elicited. It seems easy for people to look at a photograph and say it’s erotic, even when there is not overt or explicit sex, yet for some reason when a book or story is called erotic, or erotica, it’s expected to be completely about sex.
I’ve taught a lot of workshops and been part of a lot of discussions where authors of all levels ask what makes a story erotic? Is it how quickly the characters get naked? Is it the number of sex scenes? Or wait no, it’s how Kinky the sex is, right? How far you can push the envelope.
In my opinion, none of those things matter when it comes to making a story erotic. One of the most erotic scenes I can remember writing wasn’t even a sex scene! The characters never touched, it was all about eye contact, and what that character felt in that instant of connection. In real life, kinky sex, or plenty of sex, is no fun if your partner doesn’t know what they’re doing, so why should sex in books be any differnt? It doesn’t matter how much sex is in a story, or how edgy, kinky, imaginative it is, if the author doesn’t know what they are doing.
By definition something is erotic when it tends to arouse sexual desire or excitement. What arouses a person varies, therefor, what’s erotic to one person may not be erotic to another. It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round, and all kinds to buy enough books to keep a writer employed. So that means, fantasies of all kinds should be explored, unless you’re looking to fit into a niche market of some kind (Like BDSM, Gay/Lesbian, Menage, etc.)
So how does an author make a scene erotic to the majority of readers? By embuing it with emotion.
Now, that doesn’t mean the characters have to love each other. Heck, they don’t even need to like each other. They do have to be aroused by each other though. Passion, tension, excitement, anticipation, anger, even shame or pain…when intensified all feelings become emotions- don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking just because love isn’t involved that there is no emotion. It’s up to you, the author, to make it clear that the characters are into whatever it is that they are doing, that whatever they are feeling is is a turn on for them, and then you have to get that across to the reader. It doesn’t matter if it’s a look, a touch, or a full on head banging-whip cracking sex scene, you have to make the reader believe the characters are feeling it. If you do that, then the reader will find the story erotic.
Whether you want to write erotic fiction, or just want to make a particular scene in your story erotic, always remember that emotion is way more important than how wild, or edgy, or flexible, your characters are. Now, do me a favor….without thinking too hard, answer this question in the comments.
What is the most erotic scene you can remember from a book, movie or TV show?
Now for more questions…..yes, you can think for these ones. Why did you find it erotic? What made it so hot? Was it the good looking actor/actress? Was it the sex act itself? Maybe the story line that built up to that scene (ie: the tension/anticipation) ? Or the emotional breakthrough that might’ve happened during the scene? What was it that made that scene stick in your memory as erotic?