Five Tips for Writing Successful Erotic Fiction by Elizabeth Coldwell

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Five Tips For Writing Successful Erotic Fiction

By Elizabeth Coldwell

Create believable characters

Readers’ letters may be full of people with freakishly proportioned sex organs and the ability to make love all night, but erotic romance stories need to be grounded in the real world. Yes, your characters may be attractive, sensual and more than usually willing to experiment sexually, but they also need to be human enough for your readers to identify with them. Don’t forget, a surprising number of people are turned on by ‘imperfections’ like bald heads, small breasts or plump bottoms.

Pay attention to plot

There’s so much more to erotic fiction than simply two (or more) people meeting and having sex. Plot is as important here as it is in any other kind of fiction, and in good erotic romance, the sex will help to drive the storyline on. That said, don’t sideline the erotic action in favour of the plot. Not every publisher demands one sex scene per chapter, but if you’ve written half the book and the characters haven’t even reached the bedroom yet, you’re not writing erotica.

Don’t mince your words

I once had to review a book with a sex scene containing the line “she fondled the bulbs of his manly plant”. There’s no place for such silly euphemisms or overly flowery descriptions in erotic fiction any more. If you’re not comfortable using frank descriptive terms for body parts, stick to mainstream romance so you can shut the bedroom door on your characters when you need to.

Choose your point of view

Third person point of view can sometimes be awkward, especially if you’re describing an encounter between two people of the same sex. First person is more immediate, allowing the reader to experience just what the narrator does. It also helps you avoid one of the pet peeves of many editors – “head-hopping”, or shifting from one character’s point of view to another halfway through a scene.

Research your market

Some publishers specialise purely in male/male romance, others only want stories with BDSM (bondage, domination/submission) themes. Don’t waste their time – and yours – by sending them a story that doesn’t fit their requirements. Similarly, if editors ask for stories or novels of a certain length, don’t send them something that’s far too long, or too short. Guidelines are there for a reason, and editors will never believe you when you tell them your work is so good they will simply have to break those guidelines to accommodate you.

Bio: Elizabeth Coldwell has been writing erotic fiction for over twenty years, and in her time on Forum and Erotic Stories magazines, she edited hundreds of short stories and helped launched the careers of a number of successful authors. Her stories and novels have been published by many of the top print and e-book imprints, including Black Lace, Cleis Press, Total-e-bound and Xcite Books and her Christmas-themed short story, Be Good To Your Elf, is available from MuseItHOT!  Find out more about her and her work at


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