I have read quite a bit on Noveltrove as well as on other sites, and one thing is pretty clear. A lot of first time writers have a good idea for the story and write well, but the story doesn't progress from a definite beginning to a definite end. That's called a plot, and even the shortest story needs a plot to keep a reader reading to see what's going to happen next.
I don't consider myself to be an expert in the art of writing, and some of my stuff makes that painfully obvious, but I learned a lot about writing by reading and contributing to a similar forum on another site. Indeed, as Ernest Hemingway once remarked, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” What he was saying is that no matter how good you are, you can always improve. I offer this short introduction into writing erotica in the hope of generating a discussion of the techniques other writers use and favor so all of us, beginners and experienced writers alike, can improve.
How To Write Eritica
So, you’ve enjoyed reading erotica for a while now, and think it would be fun to write your own story and share it with others. Good for you. All you have to do is sit down at your keyboard and start writing, right?
Well, you can do it that way, and if you read erotic stories on some sites other than Noveltrove, you’ll realize many writers do just that. They apparently sit down and begin typing words as fast as they think of them. Here’s an example. It’s of my own invention and while it looks overboard, it’s unfortunately typical of some writing you can find on sites that aren’t as selective as arti about what he publishes on Noveltrove.
I saw her walking on campus that day her gigantic tits bouncing with each step and I knew I had to fuck her so I walked up and said that and she said she wanted to fuck me so we went to my apartment and she ripped off her clothes as soon as I closed the door and she ripped off my pants then and sucked my cock hard and then said she wanted to be fucked until she came so hard she squirted all over my cock so I…
The above isn’t Erotica. It’s very poorly written porn with no punctuation and is very hard to read. Erotica is a story containing realistic sex as part of the relationships and actions between the characters. Erotica is no different from any other work of fiction except for a somewhat more graphic recounting of sex. The same techniques that Stephen King used to capture the interest of so many readers are the same techniques used by D. H. Lawrence in “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”, by John Cleland in “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” and by “Walter” in “My Secret Life”.
So, how does one write erotica (or any other type of story for that matter)?
To write, one must have something about which to write. That usually means a situation that brings two or more people together, but it can also be just one person. The story will be about what happens before, during, and maybe after that situation occurs.
It’s easier to write about something you know reasonably well, either through personal experience or by research. You don’t have to research enough to qualify as an expert. You just need to know enough about the setting and time period of the story that what you write could probably happen.
What Happens? – The “Plot”
It’s amazing, isn’t it, that the characters in the novels written by authors who get paid to write always do exactly what is needed to arrive at the ending? That’s not by chance. The end of a story is the most important part because the end determines the actions the characters will take at the beginning and during the middle, i.e., the plot. If we don’t know how the story is going to end before we write the beginning and middle, how do we know what the characters are going to do and how they’re going to do it? A plot gives a story continuity and makes a reader want to read what happens next.
That said, don’t think you’ve done something wrong if your original ending doesn’t seem to fit what you’re writing. That happens because you get involved in the characters, start to think like they do, and then discover they probably wouldn’t get to the ending you imagined. Don’t re-write everything or try to bend your characters back to your original ending. Just change the ending to one that fits where your characters are going.
How to construct a plot
If you’ve never taken a creative writing class, you may not know that most novels follow a set series of steps to form the plot. If you watch for these steps, you’ll find them in almost every novel you read and in almost every movie you watch.
The simplest way of stating how a plot works is with the explanation by Gustav Freytag, a 19th century German writer. He determined there were five steps to any plot. You can find a more detailed explanation on Wikipedia, but I've summarized the steps here.
Freytag’s first step he called “the Exposition”, and what is “exposed” is not usually body parts. What is contained in this section is the introduction of each main character and what they believe, their goals and their ambitions, and how they relate to each other.
The second step Freytag called “Rising Action”. No, that’s not when the guy’s cock gets hard. It is the part of the story that starts with some situation that sets the characters on the road toward his third step. It continues as the characters begin to develop and pursue a course of action relative to the story.
The third step of Freytag’s plot description is what he called “The Climax”, and no, it’s not necessarily when one or more characters have an orgasm. The “Climax” is the point where one or more characters reveal their true thoughts and what they are going to do to resolve the situation. The “Climax” may also reveal the way in which one character acts in opposition to another because their goals are different.
Freytag’s fourth step he named “Falling Action”, and described it as what happens after the climax to prepare the reader for the last step.
The last of Freytag’s steps is called “Denouement”, and is the end of the story. It’s the final result of the other four and should leave the reader with an understanding of how the characters resolved the situation and their thoughts. In the “franchise” stories like “Star Wars”, the ending does that but also leaves an opening for a continuation. That opening is called a “hook”, because it’s intended to make you want to read the continuation when it’s published.
Let’s look at a popular genre and see if we can find these five plot stages.
Romance novels are a prime example of the above five stages of a plot. Publishers of romance novels have what could be considered a “cookbook” plot that novels must follow in order to be considered for publication, and this plot follows Freytag’s explanation to the letter though sometimes a couple steps are combined.
The “Exposition” – the two main characters are introduced by description of social status, appearance, and how they perceive themselves along with whatever else makes them interesting. Think the woman in high society and the gardener and how each would view themselves and others around them.
The “Rising Action” – the two meet when the socialite hires the gardener to care of her lawn and flowers. As time progresses, they have to keep conversing about what she wants and what he can do. Along the way, she finds his somewhat rough character to be more attractive than the polished manners of her peers. He finds himself being attracted to her because she’s beautiful and seems to be at ease with him. That attraction begins turning into love and the story explains how the two characters develop those feelings.
The “Climax” – She realizes she loves him but worries what her parents and friends will think. He realizes he loves her but knows it can never be because they are so far apart in status. There’s usually a lot of soul-searching and sometimes arguments between the characters caused by their conflicting thoughts.
The “Falling Action” – She finds reasons to keep talking to him and ultimately confesses that she loves him. He understands and feels the same way, but knows if he lets things go further it will hurt her status. He might also have the feeling it’s just an infatuation and not really love on both their parts. He quits working for her in order to end the pain of not being able to be with her all the time.
She spends their time apart trying to cope by telling herself it’s for the best. He spends the time wishing he’d been born in her level of society and wishing there were some way he could elevate himself to that level. It’s a struggle for both of them before they realize love tops status.
The “Denouement" – He finally confesses he can’t live without her even though it’s probably not the right thing for them. She tells him she doesn’t care what other people think. She loves him and that’s all that matters. They marry and then have fantastic sex, or have fantastic sex and then marry, and then go on to live happily ever after.
Not all erotica has to include the love of a romance novel, but the interactions between the characters should give credence to the story and make the reader want to continue reading.
You don’t have to invent a plot because it’s already been done a million times. Spend some time on Wikipedia and check out “The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations” as explained by George Polti, an English novelist. You’ll find one of his situations in anything you read or see on film.
If you don’t want to go to that much trouble, shamelessly steal a plot from another writer. It’s only plagiarism if you copy all or parts of the story verbatim and put that under your pen name without recognizing the original author. It’s perfectly legal as long as you vary the characters, setting, and action from the original. This has been done many, many thousands of times, and even the “re-makes” of popular movies aren’t considered plagiarism even though the plot is basically identical to the original.
If you think about it, the series “Star Wars” and most action stories like Ian Fleming’s “007” novels follow the same plots as the old western movies of the 1950’s. Those plots were borrowed from earlier writers who borrowed them from even earlier writers.
Each story has a hero and a heroine. The heroine gets into some sort of trouble, the hero rescues her, they fall in love in the process, and everything turns out great at the end. In some stories, it’s the heroine who rescues the hero, but the basic plot is the same. Han Solo carried a blaster instead of a six-gun like John Wayne, Luke uses a light saber instead of a sword like a medieval knight, and James Bond has “Q” to supply all sorts of technology, but other than some updated language, locations and weapons, the plots are nearly identical.
So, pick an ending, develop a plot and start writing. It doesn’t matter if you type on a computer or write it out longhand on paper. It doesn’t matter if you first draw story boards, make an outline, or just make it up as you go along.
Don’t give up
All authors hit a stopping point at some time or another. They’re writing away and suddenly don’t know where to take the characters next. Just stop writing and read what you’ve written from the start. That will get your mind back into what the characters are doing and how and why they’re doing it. It also helps to just stop and think about the story for a while. There’s no deadline to meet, so just let it simmer until you discover what needs to happen next.
Write the story, let it sit for a couple weeks or so and then proofread it. If you proofread right after you write it, you’ll remember what you meant to write and your brain will “see” those words instead of what you actually wrote. Waiting a while to proofread lets your brain forget. There will be errors and things you want to change, so fix it and let it sit again while you’re writing the next story.
No matter what happens, keep writing and having fun. You’ll only get better as you continue to write.
I’m sure other writers who read this have different ways of developing a plot. Let us know with a comment so we can all learn something.