Writing erotic stories
When looking for something to stimulate the imagination and put some fire in the loins, there may be times when pictures of naked people having sex just don't do it for you. If you're the kind of person with a good imagination and a literary turn of mind, putting your fantasies down on paper can be exciting and fulfilling. The end result may be something you want to publish to the world, show a companion, or just keep for your own amusement. In this article, we hope to clarify your reasons for writing, help you match writing style to intent, and give some handy pointers that will guide your work and help you avoid classic blunders. Why are you writing?
You might be looking to write an epic tale of lust, a carefully crafted love story, or a highbrow philosophical treatise on the interplay between religion, sex, and self-actualization. More likely, you're just looking to explore one of your fantasies in more concrete detail, come up with new fantasies, or get yourself really really excited. You might be writing for yourself, a lover, Penthouse Magazine, or the BDSM Underground of Madison, Wisconsin (sorry to narc on you, guys). No piece of advice is going to work for everyone, but much of what follows should be pretty broadly applicable.
Know Thy Audience
If you're writing for yourself, pretty much anything goes. If you don't care much for plot, you don't need it. If you don't care about your spelling, you needn't worry about that either. If you get off on seeing page after page of "slut slut slut slut slut slut", then get copying and pasting.
Even so, you might derive some pleasure and benefit from expanding your style and experimenting with new ideas.
If you're looking for a wider market, what market is that? You'll most likely end up publishing it on a website that takes a wide variety of submissions from a wide variety of people. Even though a wide variety of people may end up reading your story, that doesn't mean you have to cater to all of them. If you're writing a fantasy about anal sex, there's no use trying to cater to the people who find the concept gross. When it comes to subject matter, the story itself will define its audience. If you write a story that only appeals to people who like leather, have a foot fetish, and have an unhealthy obsession with Sarah Michelle Geller, then you can simply claim that was your target audience all along.
The same thing goes for things like plot, characterization, and all the other things that make or break stories in most every other genre. Some people just want your story to cut through the character development and thought-provoking social commentary, so they can get to the groping and grinding. If you want to write a story with an actual plot, you never intended to appeal to that group of people in the first place. So, do you want to write for a specific group? Or simply write the story you want to write, and let it find its own audience? That much is up to you.
Proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation are not up to you. You should consider them absolute necessities if your work will be read by strangers, because a great many readers are turned off by problematic prose. For the picky, reading over even a minor gaffe is like putting a big speedbump on the highway to Hornyville. Others may be more forgiving; some might not even notice. But nobody ever complains that a story's spelling is "just too damn good." Running the story through a spell checker is a good start, but don't let it lull you into a falls cents of sick your it tee.
One other common thread among many amateur stories--which I consider absurd--is the apparent belief that men have calibrated eyeballs, and are able to precisely gauge a woman's bra size and measurements with a single look. As in, "I introduced myself to the new aerobics instructor. She was a 115 lb. blonde bombshell, 34, 24, 36, with these enormous DD breasts." What is this guy, a carnival worker? Most people can't even nail down someone's height to the inch. In reality, a woman looking at herself in the mirror will probably have to break out the measuring tape just to gauge herself that accurately. Also, given that most people don't have calibrated eyeballs, this description doesn't do much to help them form a mental picture. Usually a line like that is the first tipoff that it might be a really bad story.
Every story starts with an idea. It might be a single image that catches your fancy, like the vision of a cheerleader stripping off her uniform after a long, sweaty practice. Or it might be a fantasy you've been mulling for years. You may have characters already selected, or you might have to invent people to suit the upcoming roles.
The important thing is to actively visualize the idea, exploring it in detail. It's possible that you'll enjoy this stage so much that you never get around to actually writing the story. Doesn't matter. Just toy with it. Add and remove characters. Switch roles. Change the weather, the lighting, the mood. Move the location. Swap characters for ones with totally different personality traits. Find something that works for you.
A good idea can often be summed up in a single sentence, like, "Woman new to her job is eager to please her handsome boss," or "Me, the Russian Gymnastics Team, and the vat of YooHoo." If it gets much more complicated than that, it's time to move on to the next stage. If you're stuck for ideas, try reading some of the stories that are already out there, and see what elements tickle your fancy.
Plot, Conflict, and Characterization
Sometimes your stories can be entirely about the sex, but it's frequently more satisfying to place the sexual encounters within a larger context. If you're writing an encounter between a Japanese samurai and a skilled geisha, you don't need to trace their ancestries back fifteen generations or explain the tea ceremony in lengthy detail. But you may want to give at least a hint of their roles in society and the actions and decisions that brought them together. Most important, you should want to give your readers a glimpse into the minds of the people living the story.
Interesting characters can really make a story. Too many times, I've read stories where the author seemed to have thought, "Hmm, this isn't as exciting as I'd hoped. Better make her a triple-D instead of a D, and give the guy a 14-incher." But if you're really trying to grip your readers, you cannot rely on that sort of cheap "improvement." You might be laying on the superlatives, saying, "She was the most beautiful woman in the room... no, the most beautiful woman on campus... maybe even the country," and it will do nothing to help the reader form a satisfying mental image. But focus on some small detail, like the way she kept toying with her necklace, or how she hesitated for a half second before letting her bra fall to the floor, and you might just tickle the right brain cells and hook your reader for good.
The most interesting characters are generally the ones that give the appearance of being real people with real emotions, real hangups, real senses of humor, and real goals in life. It helps to integrate realistic quirks and personality traits into your characters. The risk and reward of this is that the new, more realistic characters might take over and start moving the story in a different direction than you originally intended. Don't worry. If you start wanting them to behave in a certain way, but they can't, it's a sign that your character is believable and real, and you might do well to sit back and let them do what they want.
Part of a good characterization is dialogue. Your characters don't have to have consistently witty, insightful banter, but they do have to leave the impression that they're real people. Much amateur dialogue sounds like the characters are reading from a bad script. Dialogue during sex is tricky, because when you're having really good sex, it's difficult to string two coherent words together. Still, sometimes things have to be said, and the challenge is to find a way to get the characters to say it in a believable way.
Finally, all good stories have a sense of conflict. Someone is trying to attain some goal, and that person has to overcome obstacles to achieve it. Tension builds until some--ahem--climactic event occurs, and the tension is resolved. Sounds a lot like sex, right? Simply by choosing to write an erotic story, you've practically guaranteed that one major part of the story follows this classic, timeless arc. That may be enough. But for depth, it's nice to add other elements that fit the same pattern. One easy way is to make your passionate interlude an event that resolves sexual tension between the characters. Have your characters secretly wanted each other, and been hiding their lust behind barbed insults? Was theirs a forbidden lust? Do their sexual escapades prevent the planet from blowing up with three seconds left?
Okay, that last one may end up straining your readers' credulity, and should probably only be attempted in the course of a humorous, satirical piece. The point is, raising the stakes will often add interest to the story.
Writing about sex
The sex scenes themselves are what make the stories erotic, rather than, say, Victorian period pieces. These scenes are great fun to write. The catch is, it's too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that your readers will get as big a thrill reading it as you did writing it. In fact, it's very unlikely. Bad spelling is but one of many ways to put obstructions between your reader and delicious arousal. Some demand that the characters display some actual affection for each other, and will be turned off by any exchange that shows a lack of respect between the characters. Other readers positively demand that lack of respect.
When it comes to the mechanics of sex, sometimes writers can be forgiven for slipping from straightforward reality. Not many men exist who can satisfy five women in a row, but if that's what the story demands, then feel free to stretch believability. Just don't stretch it too many directions at once.
As with anything you choose to write about, you'll come across as more authentic when you have a better understanding of the subject matter. If you have limited first-hand experience with the intricacies of sex, there are lots of articles on this site that will help you fake it admirably. Reading stories can also be helpful, but be warned: Sometimes the people writing the stories are even more clueless than you. If a detail sounds wrong, double-check it. If a detail sounds wrong to a reader, it may ruin your credibility and cause the reader to go elsewhere.
Before you send your story out into the world, take some time away from it. Then read it over again, keeping your original goals for the story in mind. Which scenes and details further those goals? Which ones interfere with them? Be ready to be merciless. If you have someone you can trust to assess the story for you, run it by them as well.
Repeat this process as many times as necessary before you're satisfied with the story.
Publishing Your Work
There are lots of forums for publishing erotic stories on the Internet. Get familiar with them before you submit, because they may have guidelines about quality and subject matter that your story doesn't meet. If so, submitting simply wastes your time and theirs. If you don't see an "Incest" category, and none of the stories on the site contain incestuous elements, chances are they're not going to publish your father/daughter fantasy. Many sites will put age requirements on the characters in your story to avoid legal liability.
If you're looking to improve your erotic stories, find a site that allows readers to leave feedback. Some of it will be mean-spirited, some of it will be from born-again Christians trying to save you from the depths of Hell. You'll have to sort through the cruft to find the comments that you should actually take to heart.
If you're looking to get paid for your stories, my only piece of advice is to avoid publishing anything but "practice" stories on the web. Publishers won't often pay for material that's been published elsewhere.