Formats For Erotic Writing
This post is about some formats I’ve found myself writing when it comes to erotica and a quick breakdown of each one. Some of these names probably are used out there, others I’ve made up just to label the type of story best I can. I don’t know a lot of lingo, not really my thing, but I love to make shit up.
When you come up with an idea for a story it might be good to stop and take a look at just how you want to present that idea. Knowing your options and where you find yourself excelling can help you get more work out faster, or at least steadily, and help you know how to approach the market when it comes times to sell your fiction.
Starting long to short…
Ex. Blackthorne, Demon Arms
Plot and emotional reaction mixed with some very hot scenes.
I enjoy writing these types of stories but I do find it difficult to balance all that plot with the heat I like to see once my characters are together and alone. And if your reader is coming from a romance genre, they might be used to a certain type of set up that might make them balk when seeing your attempts because they’re still under the impression they’re reading just a romance. Romance readers expect relationship even though a lot of them are reading for the fantasy of the hot sex. I get bored writing about relationships, especially realistic ones, hence Erotic Romance. The main characters get together at the end; I don’t go serious into the real world possibilities of them trying to mush their lives together, focusing instead on the hot stuff they do before they get to that point.
The biggest thing with these types of stories is keeping the tension. The tension in the action of events surrounding the characters and the tension in the sexual relationship of the characters. It can be tough. Once you have 50,000 plus words of your characters side by side, they can start acting like an old married couple if you’re not careful—Hell, I’ve read stories where characters just meet and start acting like an old married couple, calling each other soulmate and ready to get that U-Haul packed up.
That building, tug of war, hunt and chase and final kill (in this case fuck) in a new relationship is the most powerful, sexually wrought part to write and read. Don’t waste it. Your reader has a lifetime to feel safe and comfortable with the person they fell in love with. They really don’t get to experience that hunt and chase again for themselves without some big real life consequences. Let them read it as wildly as possible so they can indulge.
So the erotic romance format for erotic writing is great for KDP reads. Crazy great if you can do it right which is why tension is important. Keeps them reading. But yeah, you’re still dealing with a crowd of people that think they’re reading a romance and you might not be living up to their expectations of what that means in that niche.
It’s up to you how you want to approach it. I don’t compromise—not because I’m elitist or what have you, so much as, if my writing bores me I just can’t write. I’m a creative not a xerox machine. I can’t spew out something just because the masses would really prefer the main characters be thirty something, adopt a baby, buy a house together, and get the best job ever, all while having amazing sex. Bores the fuck out of me. I am a thirty something and I don’t want to write about that shit. I have to deal with bills, fears of unfulfilled career goals, laundry, and questions of family and if starting one will just be a huge fuck up all around. I don’t want to read about it. Talk about stress.
Erotic Run On
This is a series of sex scenes with short set up interrupted by plot and emotional reaction. I actually enjoy writing this format the best. You have an opportunity to create an emotional relationship with you characters that fuel their interactions as they continue, allowing for more steamy fun with less work. Set up can be boring, but if you’re dropping hints through every interaction of your characters it just becomes effortless. You build your story and your tension, and your characters are free to enjoy their wild fun.
This format is also good for getting KDP reads. When you’re told that your writing is worth about ½ a penny a page (sorry, that would be .0041 a page when posting this) no matter how amazing and thought provoking your short story is, you suddenly find yourself wanting to pad some word count in there. I enjoy writing good, hot sex. I would rather fill a 100 page short story with that then boring setting descriptors and crap set up about someone getting ready for the beach where that cute guy might be there as they freak over if they should shave their legs or not. Blah.
Although I understand why those stories are out there. Because who the hell wants to spend all that time writing 100 pages of work, only to get $0.41 for every read in the Kindle Library? I’m not saying it’s right to ever put a poor quality piece out there, you’re only screwing yourself in the long run, but I understand why it happens.
So in this sense by balancing sex and the driving plot in between, with an Erotic Run On format for your erotic writing you’re giving your reader what they enjoy, and for myself I’m not bored with writing filler.
Erotic Short Story
This is a balance of sexy and plot. Somewhat like the erotic romance, but shorter, ends tighter, less events, maybe less emotional impact, but still a requirement of lots of heat.
These stories can be actually pretty quick to write. Not as quick as the Erotic Setup, but if you’re the type that gets stuck in a sex scene not sure how to get out of it, this format can help a lot. The plot is the main factor in this type of story but the promise of the characters getting together is still fueling things. You could actually write the entire plot out then go back in and have your characters get it on. And there are readers out there that are used to erotic writers not going into the sex much. These authors follow a theory of letting the reader fill in the sexy for themselves—I am not of that theory, but hey, it works for them so why not?
Maybe you love writing plot and your readers know it. Fill it with cool plot twists, just make sure it’s still sexy. And for real, end on a sexy note. I have read so many stories that make you think a final fuck is coming, which is why I bothered to read through that boring ass wind down only to be let down completely when the story ends. Happy ending, pretty please?
This format is actually an interesting mix of the long Erotic Romance, the Erotic Run On, and a bit of the Erotic Setup. Although you’re building it an episode at a time, the end result can end up much longer than anything your Erotic Romance might look like depending on how many episodes you write.
First off, I love this type of format. I do. I just don’t know how my readers feel about it so I’ve been careful not to flood my stories with this format just yet (even though I have a few 30,000 word serials in the wings waiting for me to get to them. I don’t like letting unfinished work sit there and build up.) Why do I love it? You’re basically writing an episode to a long story of standing characters in a world of your building. It’s self contained, allowing me to focus in the 10,000 words an episode format I’ve chosen to build characters, get certain plot points out of the way, and focus on some hot smut. You can make a damn interesting story with this, and because people are so used to tuning in for television or comic books, it’s not out of their realm of reality to get absorbed into this format.
I feel that if you’re going to pursue this format for erotic writing, you do have a requirement to make it damn sexy. I came across a two part short story that I didn’t know was two parts at the time. They ended it right before the characters finally got together, then pointed me in the direction of the second part, holding that sex scene as hostage to get me to shell out another $3. I refused. It felt like a dirty trick, and not in a sexy way. And, well, the writing wasn’t that great to begin with. Maybe if it had been I would have yielded… maybe.
Seriously, don’t fuck with your readers. I don’t care how good of a writer you are; no one wants to feel like they’re being tricked. Plot cliffhangers are fine for a serial, I think honestly they’re expected of a good writer, but don’t promise a sexy story and never deliver. Your reader will figure out damn quick what you’re doing and they’ll get over you.
Erotic Setup or Stroke
Ex: Coffee Guy
Bit of plot leading up to one, or a few sex scenes. Sometimes it’s a lot of filler leading up to a sex scene. Usually around 30-50 pages which equals about $.15 – $.25 a read in KDP.
You’ve seen this one a million times, some far better than others. It is the go to setup for most short erotic fiction out there. You introduce your characters, you introduce why they’re together, they fuck. Depending on your skills, this can be interesting with a lot of heat, or it can be mediocre, or just funny and awkward as hell.
This format for erotic writing I wouldn’t recommend for KDP unless you’re trying to build a base of followers or already have a ton of followers and understand how to use keywords. Coming from a fan fiction background, I also feel the need to mention that people that are used to getting something for free aren’t always the best people in your life when you’re trying to make a living. But there are some amazing gems of fans to be found if you’re honest with your work and treat your readers with respect. After a damn ocean of faceless apathetic readers, you really begin to appreciate the rare, generous souls that are willing to leave a few kind words in a review.
I enjoy the KDP program because of the exposure it allows, the way to alter the price for promotions that are then put into their special categories during that time, and that’s about it. The exclusivity of my story from anywhere else for just ½ a penny a page that KDP demands is pretty crap. But it can be useful for list building, and I do mean outside of the mailing list Amazon provides. You need your own mailing list and Amazon doesn’t bother to share with the author the email addys of the people subscribing to get their updates for their books—and then they take a fucking month to actual update you readers when you get a new book out. It’s pretty messed up just how controlling the big A is at times.
So if you want to make a serious buck and get independent from your supplier so that you wouldn’t ever consider accepting ½ a penny a page again, start building your own mailing list through something like mailchimp. Then when you start selling your amazingly hot short stories, you’ll have readers that are more than willing to spend the $2-3 they’re worth. And believe me, they will be worth it. When you’re getting paid for your work, you put the extra time and attention to detail into it. I do it anyways because I don’t waste my time doing something unless I’m doing the best I can (I’m a neurotic mess with lofty self standards.) I would rather my readers know I respect my writing and them, than half ass anything I put out there. But again, still human, no editor, and my spellchecker is fail at times. Neurotic but not a perfectionist and that’s gonna have to be enough.
I hope you guys find these erotic writing formats useful. I know when people talk about erotic writing, it’s not usually about the how to aspect. They don’t get too deep into the actual craft of writing. I’m hoping to offer otherwise because, really, I would love to see more people willing to give writing a shot. Is there anything more inspiring to write than something sexy?