When I published my first erotica in 2015, I quickly realized there was still a certain level of judgment related to the genre. Sure, we had come far thanks to trailblazers such as Zane, EL James, and Noire (to name a few), but there was an overarching stigma present that the literary community was afraid to address; the type of stigma that prompted a level of embarrassment when you admitted to reading (or writing) in the erotic genre.
One reader told me she loved my book, however, she could never leave a review because she didn’t want her family and friends to know she read “those kind of books.” As an author, it’s motivating to see how much the dynamic has changed since then.
With an increased demand for books in the erotica genre, it is important for authors to meet or exceed the reader’s expectations. Not only does it give us the opportunity to exercise our creative freedom, but it keeps audiences intrigued and thirsting for more.
Here are a few tips on how to write sex that sells!
Know Your Genre and Subgenre
Some people think you can just write a sex scene, slap the “erotica” label on it, and BOOM! instant erotica bestseller.
There’s more to it than that.
Like with any genre, you have subgenres. And erotica is no different. Therefore, you must first decide the angle of your story and make sure you know how to work within the parameters of that genre or subgenre.
For example, I now write in the erotic romance subgenre which is slightly different from erotica. What’s the difference? The erotic romance genre explores the various aspects of a relationship, the emotional, mental, as well as the physical. While erotica may focus on just the sexual aspects, erotic romance tells a love story that encompasses all of the dynamics.
Other subgenres to consider are erotic thriller, erotic suspense, erotic fantasy, etc.
Knowing your genre and applicable subgenres will provide the necessary guidance on exactly how much, or how little, to emphasize the sex throughout your story and readers won’t be disappointed. But beyond that, there are certain techniques you can develop to write sex that sells.
Bring the Passion off the Page
Have you heard the phrase, “it’s all in the details?” Well, that certainly applies when you set out to write sex that sells.
Writing a sex scene is an art because you really have to use your words to make that scene come alive. This is where it’s even more important to develop all of the senses. Not only what is being seen, but what is being heard? Is there music, moaning, applause? What about smells, candles, incense, peppermint on his breath. Think about touch, is his skin wet with sweat, smooth, rough? Is the sex on crisp, satin sheets, a cold counter in the kitchen, or the gritty sand of the beach? Taste… well, I’m sure you get the picture.
All of these details will stimulate your audience. They won’t just read your scene, they’ll experience it.
Find Your Inspiration
What really seems to help strengthen your sex scenes, is if you’re in the mood (or if you’re not, you hopefully get there by the time you finish the scene).
There are different ways to get yourself to that point. One trick I like to use is music. Music will help put you in the right frame of mind so you can effectively transpose those same feelings on the page.
Just like sex sessions are different, so are the scenes you write. If my characters are sneaking in the restroom stall at work to have sex, my pacing may be more hurried and urgent. So, my music will reflect that tone to evoke those emotions. Whereas, if my lovers are celebrating their wedding anniversary in their honeymoon villa, my music may be more relaxed, romantic, and slow.
Picture how you would visualize the scene if it were on-screen in a movie or TV show. What type of music would play? That’s your playlist for the scene.
Music is just one way to inspire, but there are others as well. Perhaps you need to watch a porno or eat a certain type of food known for being an aphrodisiac. You can light candles, take bubble baths, dim the lights, or even use your partner to stoke those flames.
However you decide to find your inspiration, don’t be afraid to do what works to awaken those feelings within yourself so you can, in turn, awaken them in your reader.
Have Fun With It
This is where you can really stretch those creative muscles of yours. Have fun with it. Let your personality shine and don’t feel compelled to shy away from certain opportunities to really heighten the peak of your scene.
One of my catchphrases is that I like to “entertain, as well as educate.” Even if I haven’t personally experienced certain sexual liberties that I write about, this is my chance to experiment.
For example, I’ve tapped into more of the unconventional erotic romance, which has opened the door for an even wider range of narratives, such as non-monogamous relationships (polyamory, swingers, etc.). This is because I love learning and writing about new things that set me apart from other authors. And because it’s so much fun for me, that is what shines through and makes my books that much more engaging and enjoyable.
Briana Cole is an acclaimed author known for exploring unconventional relationships and making readers question all expectations about love, lust, and monogamy. Her newest book is Couples Wanted (Kensington). An Atlanta native, Cole graduated cum laude from Georgia Southern University and is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. In addition to being a published author, she is also a motivational speaker, sex educator, and actress. Her motto and ultimate drive toward success is a famous quote from Mae West: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Connect with Briana online at BrianaCole.com, and on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter @BColeAuthor.
PS—Check out this guest post about writing your story fast that Briana wrote for DIY MFA.