Monday, 18 January 2016


  1. Read. As a book doctor and writer of critiques, I am astonished by aspiring writers who claim to be too busy to read. Any good writer will be a passionate reader and will learn from the writers they admire, from how they physically set their narrative out on the page to plotting, characterisation and dialogue. On the same token, don't sneer at TV and film. Watch good dramas, movies and soaps. They are a masterclass in plot structure and realistic, character-driven dialogue.
  2. Watch and listen. What's happening outside your window, on the station platform, in the park? Eavesdrop on conversations, remember anecdotes. Keep a notebook with you, especially in the bath or by the bed, because flashes of inspiration will be forgotten if you don't write them down immediately.
  3. You are transporting your readers to a highlighted version of real life, so create interesting characters, exotic settings, glamorous clothes and delicious food. Use smell, touch, scenery, your own travels. Or discover the erotic potential in the most mundane of relationships (husbands and wives, teachers and pupils, neighbours), settings (a suburban street, an office, a shop) or encounters (an awkward family gathering, new wife meeting her stepson for the first time, a comely landlady inflaming her lodger with her full English, or a convent girl falling for one of the nuns).
  4. If it helps you, see the action unfolding as if it's on screen, and you are the director.

  • You are writing about sex. It must turn you on to be convincing but even more importantly be aware of your audience and what will turn them on. Sex with aliens or men in galoshes might not be everyone's taste, and keep it consenting and legal.
  • Discard self-consiousness. To hell with what others think. The reader is your confidante. Be honest (emotionally, if not factually) till readers writhe with recognition.
  • Separate fact from fiction, or rather fact from fantasy. So a RAPE fantasy doesn't mean you want that, but desire to be overwhelmed, relieved of decision making, violently desirable, but NOT harmed or injured.
  • Having established your characters, make us care about them well before they have sex. They may come from different worlds, or have a difference in age or power between them, but they are still magnets. Their attraction is what drives your story, and once we know how this dynamic works, we will know how and why they fancy each other, and your readers will fancy them, too.
  • Sexy environment. Depending on their age, athleticism the back of a clapped out Ford Cortina or the bins behind the Plaza cinema might be just the place for a quick, rough first time, and that will do it for some readers. Any good erotic writer, like the old Martini adverts, can create a sex scene any time, any place, anywhere! But others are after escapism from mean streets of real life. So hie your characters off to a place you'd like to be. A moonlit beach, sumptuous hotel room, or a rug in front of a roaring fire.
  • FIVE SENSES. Make sure there is low lighting and great music. Garish lighting and deadly silence are not always the sexist ambience, at least for the first time.
  • Have fun as novel progresses, having them so hot for each other that after the first seduction they'll do it anywhere. A lift, a restaurant. A riding stable. An art gallery.
  • PLAY WITH DYNAMIC too. Meek heroine takes the lead, for once. See how the hero responds to that.
  • SUGGESTIVE conversation either blatant and in your face, or playful, teasing. don't stand woodenly about like actors in a bad am-dram.
  • Eating, drinking, dancing, singing, involve us
  • Clothes, how they fit, are they too formal or tight, how good does it feel as they come off? Unbuttoning cut-off jeans can be just as sexy as unzipping a ball gown.
  • Tense, breathless, but take it slow.
  • Keep it reasonably real. The first time you have sex is often urgently desired but ends up fast and disastrous. There will be hesitation, shyness and teasing (unless fuelled by alcohol, I suppose), mixed with the intoxicating desire to get their hands on each other. Make that clear, but prepare the way for a more leisurely, climactic second time
  • Talking of climaxes, here is how to build it up. There's the first sensation of skin on skin starts the action. Think of a movie scene. Imagine yourself as involved, generous, hands-on director, make sure the bed is soft, the studio is warm, and soon they'll take off on their own.
  • Make it dramatic, but human. Not impossibly athletic, but not mundane either. The characters will already be attractive or arresting .
  • The men will be strong, well hung and experienced unless they are being educated by a cougar.. in which case keep in the well hung bit!
  • The women are curvacious, soft and wonderfully proportioned, and if not experienced, then primed and ready to learn – or teach!
  • If this is a romantic setting, lots of kissing and stroking, exploration. If this is more down the BDSM route, then the participants will get their kicks from spanking, binding, roughness and pain. But there is always room for sensuousness and tenderness.
  • The rhythm of your narrative should be similar to the rhythm of sex. First time fast and furious. After that think Strictly Come Dancing – Argentine Tango. Slow, slow, quick slow.
  • EROTICA LOVERS tend to come together but there's room to be more realistic. Let one come before the other and show who is the generous one, who the thoughtful, who the selfish? Or are they both equally considerate, and if not, will they become so as the novel progresses. This is the basis for their relationship out of bed, as well as in.
  • LANGUAGE. Keep it simple, punchy, evocative, but not obscene or anatomical. Your challenge is to find evocative language to describe something we've all done, we all know about, we've all talked about, but readers look to you to find something sensation to say about that rush of ecstasy, as if it's something new. But don't use euphemism or flowery words or ugly symbolism.

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