1. People are into some strange and extremely specific stuff.
It’s hardly a revelation that anything conceivable turns somebody on. We live in the digital age. An age when, if you find yourself inexplicably aroused by a children’s cartoon, you need only Google its title along with “Rule 32” and you’ll find terabytes’ worth of sexually explicit images and fan fiction. But it did surprise me to learn that there exists an entire sub-genre of incredibly successful erotic romance novels starring overweight women, and men with a congenital ability to transform into bears.
Erotica fans are so hidebound and particular in their preferences that they and the authors who cater to them have developed a whole jargon to describe their niches of choice. If you’re looking to succeed as an erotica writer, God help you if you don’t know your “BBW” from your “BWWM,” or if you think that “P.I.” stands for “private investigator.”
2. The English language doesn’t have anywhere near enough synonyms for penis and vagina.
Ever flipped through a romance novel and giggled at the bizarre euphemisms the author employed to describe male and female genitalia? Yeah, me too. Then, I found myself staring at Microsoft Word, grappling with the dead-serious decision of how to recount a sexual encounter in explicit detail without sounding like a broken record. When you’ve typed “cock” and “pussy” so many times they no longer look like words, offbeat euphemisms like “manroot” and “the nub of her pleasure” start to seem downright tempting.
3. You’re not as much of a prude as you think you are.
I went through six years of Catholic school. Ask anyone who knows me to describe me in a few adjectives, and “neurotic” will probably be near the top of the list. I never talk about my sex life—with anyone. In real life, I’m politically correct to a fault. And yet, when I’m hiding behind a pseudonym, I have no trouble churning out the kind of material that’ll make the average man or woman’s toes curl. Go figure.
4. You don’t have to be turned on to write erotica.
If there’s anything that makes me hot, it’s working… said no one ever. The truth is, penning jerk-off material isn’t inherently any sexier than delivering mail or unclogging toilets. Which means that not being aroused by the premise of a given scene you’re working on is by no means a death sentence. It’s all about unraveling the inner logic of other people’s kinks, and teasing out the particular combinations of words, ideas and images that will get your audience going.
5. Writing to appeal to people’s kinks is both constraining and liberating.
If you’re serious about selling books as an erotica writer, you’ll typically be tailoring your stories to a very specific audience with a set of very specific turn-ons that will dictate both the form and the content of your work. You might think that writing according to such a rigid formula would be creatively stifling, but you’d be wrong.
Just ask a blues musician. Like the twelve-bar blues, erotica written for a particular niche is fundamentally the same every time; the art lies in how you tweak and elaborate upon the essential blueprint. Erotica fans are actually some of the most open-minded readers you’ll encounter; as long as your sex scenes press the right buttons, the stuff in between can be just about as crazy and creative as you want.