Monday, April 11, 2016

How to Become a Good Erotica Writer

I see and get this question a lot.

And it is both an easy and a difficult answer.

I’ve seen a lot of great advice on how to be a writer, but here’s mine:

Specifically, if you want to be a good erotica/romance writer, read erotica and romance. A lot of it. A diverse amount of it. Read female writers. Read male writers. Read stories by white authors and by authors of color. Read stories by trans and queer writers. Read stories featuring straight, gay, bisexual, poly, and all kinds of other relationships. Read stories featuring kinks and fetishes that turn you on. Read stories featuring activities that don’t turn you on. Seek out stories about fantasies you’d never have been able to think of on your own.

Don’t listen to the people who tell you erotica/ romance stories aren’t real writing. Aren’t real stories. Of course they are. They are important and vital. Everyone in history has been touched by and has experienced in some way love and sex. Those things are inextricably bound to our lives. Hell, every person in existence owes their lives to those things in one way or another. Erotica and romance stories are humanity’s way of exploring that ubiquitous aspect. To delve deep in our psyche and society and speak honestly about the things we want and need. What is more real than that?

Whenever anyone says that they don’t like erotica or romance genres, I instantly become skeptical. Those are huge, vast, and highly diverse genres filled with vast and highly diverse stories, voices, and styles. It’s a little like people who say they don’t like horror or sci-fi or mystery stories or hip-hop or pop or classical music. It instantly makes me think you haven’t tried enough of it, if you feel like you can dismiss an entire genre without finding anything that appeals to you. Particularly with how all genres often bend and blend together. How authors are becoming less content being contained within a singular genre. If you haven’t found anything you like, it always makes me wonder how hard you looked.

Speaking of which, don’t forget to read other genres too. A lot of other genres. Learn how plot construction works across different types of stories. How characters work. How language works.

Read about relationships. Scour advice columns. Devour psychology texts. Listen to the people around you. Discover how the sexual landscape of the world works. How it’s changed over time. How it is still evolving. Learn how consent and communication work. Uncover people’s joys and insecurities around sex and love.

Explore the difference between fantasies and the unreal. Understand the power of words. Understand how when you string words into stories, you create magic. Powerful magic. That has the ability to touch and change people.

And remember that a story, erotic, romantic, or not, is a story first. Your story should have plot. It should thrive on conflict and change. Your characters should have motivations and development and growth. They should be fundamentally different at the end of your story than they were at the beginning.

Always be sure that your story’s climax is more than your character’s orgasm.

Then write.

Write a lot.

Find your voice. Find aspects of other voices that you like, other authors and performers whose way with words speak to you. Write like them. Write like all of them. Keep doing that until the combination of them and you alchemically forms your own voice. Then hone it. Own it. Write until you no longer hear the pastiche of all the other voices and feel your words as your own. Then try writing in a different voice. In a lot of different ones. Just to see what happens. See how it affects—how it helps you hear—your own voice.

Then get other people, whose opinions you trust, to read your stuff. Give them permission to feel and think whatever they want about it. Encourage them to find things in your work for you to improve. There are always things to work on in a story. Always.

Then work on your story.

A lot.

Always try to get better. Never stop trying to improve.

Then read some more.

Then write some more.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It is a long and never-ending process, but this is the only way I know how to write. 

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