The Basics of Actually Good Erotica

So let’s give some context to this essay: I wrote this back when I was on sexstories.com (a division of XNXX.com) hence the reference to the site and its stories. We cool? Cool. Gimme five.

It’s no secret that I think a lot of erotica is crap. The great majority of it is pretty subpar, an example of poor writing that uses the inclusion of sex to excuse it from being good as opposed to enhancing the final product. It’s something that plagues my work from time to time, and I’m sure a few stories on this very site come to your mind when I mention stories that could have existed without having sex in them, that decided to have sex in them just… because.

Part of why I write erotica is to challenge myself in this way. How do I create a story that exists as a story and doesn’t need to exist as a ‘stroke story,’ but also isn’t just a normal story that just has sex inserted into it? I tried to make Being More Social, my biggest piece, the result of this thought, and to my mind, I’ve failed. A few people have, rightfully so, called out the story as being a regular young adult story with sex scenes thrown into it. While there are other schools of thought, this is a very valid criticism. So how should the very best erotic stories go about balancing their sexual content with their ability to be a story?

On a scale of 0 to 100 in writing talent, it takes about a 2 to just write sex. All you need to know about how to write sex is to know the action, then swap synonyms (so like instead of ‘he stuck his penis inside of her,’ create ‘he drilled her with his iron rod.’ Magic.) There’s a great number of stories on here that clearly learned how to write sex scenes by reading other sex stories, then swapped names and maybe if the reader is lucky, changed a few mannerisms of the characters. Worse, they might think that a character is defined by one trait (like ‘bossy,’ ‘childish’ or ‘nympho’), or maybe even just a word they use a lot, like ‘jeepers.’ The better writers make their characters less flat, by maybe daring to have more than one trait to their personality. The best understand how their traits work with or against one another, and how they relate to that person’s sex life. Making your reader hard or wet is the first step. Anyone can write, “and then he thrust hard and came inside of my pussy.” Yawn.
This is one end of the scale: making your story just about the sex. Maybe if you’re really good at writing the sex scenes, you’ll get a lot of viewers that come to your story looking to get off. Then after they’ve finished, they’ll close the tab in shame and get on with their lives. If that’s your end goal, you don’t need my pretentious opinion. You do you, space ranger. I’m sure you’re great at what you do, as long as you’re anything unlike fbailey or blueheatt. But if you want to dare to take your work to the next level and dare to say, “I want to do more than make people climax with my writing,” you need to think deeply about the end of the scale you’re on and how you can approach the middle.

If you’re anything like me, you lean a little too close to the other end of the scale: caring too little about the sex. Maybe you hate sex but still want to use this site as an outlet for your writing, you cheeky devil you. Maybe you started as a sex story but can’t escape the buildup cycle you’ve created. Maybe it started as a sex story but you got so engrossed in your characters that you want to develop them instead of making them fuck. All of those are noble but remember your audience. You need substance to your work before you can get away with that. You’re posting on a sex story website. If you think you’re above writing actual sex, the ratings will determine whether that’s true or not. If you get bad reviews for your stories (say, <80%), that says something. Figure out what that says, because it’s not that these guys ‘just don’t get the value of good stories.’
If you’re very clever, you’ll realize that at this point the hidden message is that you need to have a decent amount of sex but more importantly you have to justify it in your stories. A clever strategy is to base your stories in non-reality. The less believable your sex story is, the more obscene stuff you can get away with, and by extension, the more sex you can put in the story without your story seeming stupid (this works only as a general rule, this doesn’t apply to all situations). This ideology behind sex stories can be done poorly (anything DrogoTime wrote involving genies), done in a mediocre way (mypenname3000 and his story The Devil’s Pact), or in a really well-written way (Pandora, better known as PanTheWriter on this site). In these stories, the premise is already absurd, so having more sex than normal situations is accepted because in our world we already don’t have genies, mind control and demons, so a little extra fantasy won’t kill us.

Now I understand entirely that the whole point of these stories is to fantasize. I don’t know about you all but I read and write erotica to escape the reality of my shitty, lonely existence. I would hope that we all can draw a line between the fantasy and reality and enjoy it as just that. It’s the only way I’m not totally grossed out with how popular incest is on this site (not trying to knock those who enjoy it, go nuts. I just feel like it’s the grossest thing ever). However, it has to be said that for many of your potential viewers, the closer it draws a comparison to their own lives while still being fantasy, the more invested they’ll be in it. Back when I was still writing Being More Social on this site, I used to get these awesome messages from people saying how they felt like Adam did in high school, how this one situation reminded them of themselves, how they wished they met a girl like Nicole. That was engagement. People were engaged in my story, as they are with many of the more memorable stories of this site. That’s hugely important for erotica writing. When was the last time you went back to an erotic story that was written poorly and didn’t remind you of you, but still had good sex? Weirdly enough, probably never. People are more drawn in to the stories than anything. Porn makes the initial impression but the story is what gets you continued viewers. Even though I don’t like his writing style all that much, people like Sage of the Forlorn Path understand this really well. Their reality is balanced with their inclusion of sex.

Reality is a big part of it. I don’t want to read your story about how a nerd bangs his way to the top of the high school food chain unless that nerd is crafty or supernatural shit was involved. Otherwise, I frankly won’t care, although the premise isn’t bad because it’s a universal concept that a lot of readers can understand. That’s another part of it: Interest. If your story is realistic but still has a well proportioned amount of sex, I’m still not going to care if the meat of the story is about how Herbert is doing his fucknig taxes or something. I don’t care how much sex Herbert is having, that story doesn’t interest me. What about your story grabs your viewers? The unpopular kid growing up is a common theme. Or getting the girl you pined after for a long time. Even if it’s your fucking sister. I hate incest stories, but you know what, as long as you write their relationship well, you don’t need my approval, so go ahead. Sharing a Room with Sis comes to mind when it comes to those sorts of stories. The writer manages, with brevity to boot, to create a realistic scenario (check number one) where a brother and sister get closer, and have a realistic amount of sex. But he also manages to make their own personalities unique from each other, and their interactions make them feel like real people (check number two). Compare this to My Sis is Irresistible. Wooden dialogue, two girl characters where the only clear separation of character is the fact that one is his sister and the other is a slut (remember what I said before about one personality trait?), and no interesting interactions besides when one is blowing the other. You probably haven’t heard of this story. You know why? Because it’s forgettable and if it didn’t have sex, it would be boring.

That’s the biggest challenge to you as a budding erotica author. Would your stories be interesting, or at least have the potential to be, if your stories didn’t have sex scenes? Is something else there? Even if your story is based around the pursuing of sex, let’s just say you replaced every sex scene with ‘they boned, yo.’ Is there still a plot? If not, there may not be a reason for your reader to stick around after they bust that nut, and odds are if you read this far, you don’t want that.

Do me a huge favor. Don’t make your eventual sex story a power fantasy. Please, just don’t. It’s a poor supplement to story and I’m so tired of the entire plot of every erotica every 2-bit Johnny and his freaking grandma could write in their sleep being just that the lead male is so attractive he overpowers women. Barely any of these stories are remembered. My theory as to why is that deep down, we all know how stupid this is. PanTheWriter gets away with this because of the added interest in the supernatural, plus… he’s a good writer. There’s a story that’s really popular right now called Staying Close to My Sister and Mom. What’s the conflict in the story? There literally isn’t one. What’s the plot? Dude gets the girl, notably his sister (personal ‘bleh’ moment). Like… immediately. Very little backstory, very little character development. Then he gets his mom, also basically instantly. Why? I dunno, they’re slutty. Brilliant. This story throws around the phrase ‘because he’s the alpha male’ a lot, and not only is this just stupid, I also think this is highly worrying. I started reading porn stories when I was like 8. I had the fortune of being introduced to well-written stories *rooted in reality* early on. The idea of a guy winning over girls because they’re magnetically attracted to them is boring and not a good way to write a story, but it may also give very easily influenced young’uns (because let’s face it, there will always be young’uns on this site) wrong ideas about girls. Even if they’re outliers, if you write a story about how girls will mindlessly submit to guys if their wang is long enough, there’s going to be at least one reader who entertains this as a reality. If we write girls as mindless sex machines, like, no wonder rape exists. Yes, I know, most of us are rationally-minded people, but power fantasies are supposed to be just fantasies, and even if there was no problem with them being lazy as fuck, there’s also way too many of them on this site even without mind control being a factor. Challenge yourself to write something actually good, please.

If you’re delusional enough to think I know what I’m talking about and have been taking notes on my talk about realism, interesting plot, and relatable characters, do me a favor. Next time you’re on this site to jack off or flick the bean or whatever, look at these stories as stories, not just escapism. Do you like what you’re reading? Do you have a favorite author? Why are they your favorite? What kind of thing can you do to be that author, or to be unique like them? And I’m not talking about fucking colloquialisms. Nothing kills the mood quite like a girl in your story saying freaking, ‘cunny.’ Who the fuck says ‘cunny’?! Even if it’s a young girl saying it in your story, that just sounds so strange that it takes me right out of the mood. Everybody likes different things but you want to balance what you want to be unique (characters are good to make unique as a starter) and what you want to make more universal and relatable (the theme of your story [like ‘underdog becomes the hero’ or ‘unattractive guy finally wins the girl’] and the terminology of sex are good here). Even though not everyone thinks ‘pussy’ is sexy, it’s safer than god damn ‘cunny.’ Don’t get me wrong, flowery language is cool as long as you don’t go all Jack Kerouac. ‘Pulsating rod of manliness’ is, I’m sure, more sexy than ‘penis.’ ‘Her beautiful pink flower of love, quivering and wet for me’ is probably more sexy than ‘dat pussay’ but don’t look at me, I’ve never taken a writing class.

I’d like to get more specific than this but that would lead me to direct people how to write like me, not how to write well. I don’t want that. I want to see how unique voices can contribute to this great site. Those themes I’ve described here are a great starting point, and I would love to see more great writers of creative, interesting stories here, but from here, a lot of what budding sex story writers need to learn, they can only teach themselves. I also believe that everyone reading this has the ability to create great stories, sex stories or otherwise. The most important first step is to give it a go. If you have, great. If you don’t want to, also great. That said, if you’re a writer here or even plan to, feel free to leave a comment below so I can check out your works in the future. I’d love to see what kind of stories your minds can create, especially if you take these ideas into account. Even if you disagree with me, things like how real your story is and how interesting your story is are fundamental. If you ignore these things, you either are lucky/innately talented or your story is going to suck. It would be cool if your stories didn’t suck. So go write one of the most sexy, interesting, gripping stories. I can’t wait to read them.

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