Five Things Erotica Taught Me About Writing

Erotica may (mostly) be about sex, but, like any storytelling, it’s about the writing, as well. When I sat down to try my hand at the art of the steamy sex scene and hot story, I approached it completely differently than any other writing I’ve done. To my surprise, writing erotica led to techniques that help with any writing, regardless of genre. Here are five.

1. Get to the good stuff

Though we often feel, as writers, that we must start at the beginning and end at the end, there are no stone engravings requiring it. I wrote a sex scene first, just to see if I could, and found that inspired the rest of the story. Only the finished product needs to be in order.

2. Follow the heat

Once you allow yourself the freedom to write in the order in which you’re inspired, it only makes sense to keep following the heat. If one sizzling romp inspires another, write it. If you’re working on a thriller and you can’t get the fight scene out of your head, don’t freak out about how they get to the spire on the top of the Chrysler Building or who’s flying the helicopter. Get it down (both the scene and the helicopter).

3. Don’t worry about the perfect words

Rough drafts are called “rough” for a reason. Though it’s often said, it’s difficult to spew imperfection and let it lie there. But since you’re not necessarily writing the story in the final order, you’re going to have to Frankenstein it together, anyway, so let it go.

4. Go with the flow

You may have something planned, but it’s really your characters’ scene, not yours. What you had in mind often isn’t what your characters want to do. If you feel like you have to force it, then don’t. Let your characters lead, because then the destination gets interesting.

5. Cut and paste is the best thing ever. Besides chocolate. Still a close second.

When you have all of your inspired scenes done, you’ll likely have a good idea of the shape of the story. I like to start writing the framework in a new document and then plug in the scenes as I go, rewriting and editing as necessary, smoothing along the way. For a non-planner like me, it’s almost like the most filled-in form of outlining possible.