Every writer dreams of having their work acknowledged by the world, their name in headlines, thousands (if not millions) of readers searching for their book, and their own work on the lips of every talk show host. That is, of course, unless the piece is being put on blast because it’s unanimously been deemed as some of the worst work of the year…Sadly that’s just what happened to author Ben Okri.
Bad Sex in Erotic Fiction?
According to The Independent, his novel, The Age of Magic, was just given the 2014 Bad Sex in Fiction award, a title chosen annually by the Literary Review.
While it’s certainly not an award that every author covets, what’s particularly interesting about Okri is that he’s actually an award-winning writer—the good kind. In 1991, he was given the Man Booker award for The Famished Road. At just 32, he became the youngest recipient ever to take home the award, though he was later beat out by 28-year-old Eleanor Catton in 2013 for The Luminaries.
So how did a renowned author receive such a, um, special award? Well, it may be hard for some to admit, but just because you’re a talented writer doesn’t mean you’re good at writing about everything. Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.
Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.
Now, just because your erotic writing could use some help doesn’t mean anyone doubts your skills in the sack. I’m sure you’re very talented. I’m sure that thing you do with your leg and the bedpost should be studied by contortionists and that you’re ability to change positions while “never leaving your post” is nothing short of magic. But being able to describe the act on the page, in a way that makes readers feel as though they’re taking part in the act, is a whole different ball game. You could be a tiger in the bedroom, but readers will instantly recognize if you’re typing timidly.
In order to really write the hell out of an erotic story, you’re going to need to find out how to release that tiger from its bashful cage.
How to Write Better Erotica Scenes
There’s really only a few ways to break out of your shell and better your writing for these particular scenes.
- Read every erotic novel you can get your hands on. Go through every book and then read through them again. Take note of the equal portions of writing describing what’s going on and the characters’ responses.
- Reminisce. Think about the times you’ve had sex, and highlight some of the reasons why an experience was more memorable than others. What did your partner do that made being intimate resonate with you? Was there a certain way your partner touched you, something your partner said, or even just your partner’s enthusiasm in the heat of it all that made that moment unforgettable? Write every bit of it down in explicit detail. Afterwards, read what you wrote. Does your writing really reflect the heat of that night? If not, try to see where your description is lacking. Your goal is to recreate the emotions for your readers to experience. You want them to feel the same attachment to the sex scene that you feel.
- Watch an adult movie. Watch the videos and describe what’s happening in order to get comfortable with the wording. Utilize the 5 Ws of journalism and describe how the couple on screen interacts, the sounds they make, what each seems to be feeling—write it all down. Having a visual to utilize for inspiration can dramatically improve your dialogue and scene description skills when writing about similar acts.
Even if you love reading sexy stories and can’t help but grin when thinking about your own particularly hot liaisons, that doesn’t always mean you can translate a steamy sex scene onto the page. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and give some of these exercises a go. Think of it this way: even if your erotic writing needs improvement and potentially painstaking research, at least you know putting in the work will be fun!
I’d like to hear from you in the comments section. How do you tackle writing erotic scenes?
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[Image credit: Alan Cleaver]