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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
Writing Sex and Erotica 
8th-Jun-2014 05:06 pm
Some notes from the MinnSpec meeting, "Writing Sex and Erotica."

Think about what effect you're going for before you write. Porn v. erotica v. erotic romance v. sex scene in something else. For porn, a lot of it is using keywords that create a stimulus response for those who are used to that input.

Sexual tension is a very important part--the tension caused by unsuccessful/almost moments helps readers get invested.

Sex can be the action of the story, or the goal, or the conflict.

There is 1) the sex that happens, and 2) the sex that is happening in a person's head. Is the act an act, or is it an act *and* a commitment of some type?

Writing markets change really fast. Don't bother buying a book about it. Try the Erotic Readers and Writers Association (ERA).

Check Circlet Press guidelines for things they've really seen too often! http://www.circlet.com/?page_id=11

For long-form erotica, write it and try to self-publish, but don't put too much skin on the cover or Amazon will hide it.

The temptation is to do something "really different," but this leads to really alien and/or squickworthy. Try to keep relatable to at least some portion of your audience.

See Scarleteen website as a good example of what works in sex.

"Elements of Arousal" [edit to fix title] is a great resource, if you can get ahold of a copy of this out-of-print book. Also recommended, "How To Write and Sell Erotica," by M. Christian.

Note that many people are using "open" pseudonyms, just so that you can tell which genre a particular book they're writing is.

"She's a real person, I mean she's a real female person, but she's a real person!"

Consider mouthfeel (speaking) versus mindfeel (reading in your head) when you're writing, in order to get the effect you want. Consider what words you use. You may want to avoid using words that are also common cursewords, either because of personal comfort or saleability.

Be aware of what people have associated with written sex scenes, so you know what you do and do not want! I.e., "Oh, god!" is a bit cliche.

Make sure vocabulary is consistent with the character.

If you're writing a disabled character, don't pick the obvious disability all the time.

If the phrase is "how do you people do X," and that's your starting point, you haven't done your research yet.

And as always, read a lot, especially things that are outside your comfort zone or things that are recommended but not popular.

Allromanceebooks is a good place to distribute through.

For selling short stories yourself, it might be of advantage to package as 3+ stories. Otherwise people will expect it to be free. Also keep covers reasonably discreet if selling on Amazon, to keep from getting delisted.
9th-Jun-2014 04:06 am (UTC)
Are you sure the title is is "Elements of Erotica"? There's the "Elements of Arousal" book by Lars Eighner that's been highly recommended as "if you don't mind that it's about gay erotica it's a great book about how to write effective scenes in general that applies much more widely than just erotica" by people such as Pat Kight.

Tracking it down is not that difficult; there's an expurgated (non-explicit) revision of it online on Lars's website (which unfortunately still seems to be a work-in-progress with some of the later chapters unfinished), and although his links to the original seem to be broken, the original is available at archive.org although you have to fiddle a bit to follow the links since it wasn't all crawled at the same time.

Edited at 2014-06-09 04:09 am (UTC)
9th-Jun-2014 04:13 am (UTC)
You're right! That's the one.
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