Everything You Always Wanted to Know About How To Write Erotica With Examples

Erotica and other romantic subgenres are routinely among the best-selling book genres worldwide. The sensual and emotional journeys of characters are the main subject of erotica, which draws readers in with its unforgettable sex scenes.

Although writing such scenes can be intimidating, you can write sexual fiction that really grabs the attention of your audience if you take the appropriate technique. In this article, we’ll cover everything from the first draft to the subtleties that set your scenes apart; carefully read through.

What Is Erotica?

Erotic literature, which depicts sex or sexual themes in a more literary or serious fashion than pornographic periodicals, may incorporate elements of satire or societal critique. Governments and religious authorities typically prohibit such works.

Fiction in the erotica (sometimes known as “erotic lit”) subgenre features engrossing erotic interactions between the protagonist and a secondary character. Erotica contains relatable, well-developed characters and gripping narratives that captivate readers from the first word.

Unlike pornography, the storyline and character development in erotica still take precedence over the actual sex that occurs. The focus of porn is the sex. Any growth of the narrative or characters is coincidental. 

Similar to fantasy, the goal of erotica is not to replicate real-life interactions. It is intended to push the reader’s imagination to its utmost. Popular escape literature, erotic fiction gives writers and readers the chance to ponder very unlikely scenarios that could have a joyful (or semi-happy) conclusion. It’s about arousing feelings in the reader that pique their curiosity.

Differences Between Romance and Erotica

Romance novels and erotica differ fundamentally in how they treat sex scenes. In romance novels, the plot drives the story, with sex scenes integrated as part of the narrative. In contrast, erotica places the sex scenes at the center, with the plot serving to connect these moments.

When planning your erotica, decide whether the story revolves around character development and plot twists, or if the primary focus is the sexual encounters.

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How To Structure Your Erotic Story

Like any genre, a well-structured story is crucial for erotica. Ensure your narrative has a clear arc, even if the plot is straightforward. Suspense and tension (will-they/won’t-they scenarios) should be skillfully woven into the erotic elements to maintain momentum and keep readers engaged.

Your story can be relatively short, as a concise 50,000-word erotic novel can be just as satisfying as a longer narrative in other genres.

To get started writing high-quality erotica, do the following: 

  • Find and read high-quality, best-selling erotica.
  • Participate in groups for erotica writers and readers to learn from them.
  • Practice writing for yourself (share it only if you want to).
  • Practice writing for others. 

The greatest approach to getting started writing erotica is to become familiar with the best examples of it. To summarize, read literature that inspires you to write.

If you don’t enjoy reading erotica, you won’t enjoy writing it – and you won’t get much support from erotica readers, who have certain expectations of the genre.

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Key Elements To Include While Writing

Here are key elements to include while writing erotica:

1. Setting the Scene (Act 1)

Establish the time and place of your story. Is it a modern cityscape or a historical mansion? The setting shapes the atmosphere of your erotica.

2. Introducing Characters

Present your main characters early on. Are they a love-starved vampire and a controlling millionaire? Make their backstories clear to enhance reader investment.

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3. Inciting Incident

Trigger the event that sets the plot in motion, marking a point of no return for your characters.

4. The Middle (Act 2)

Develop your characters and their relationship. Include twists and surprises to maintain interest.

5. False Peak/False Defeat

Create moments where it seems the characters might succeed or fail, keeping readers on edge.

6. Things Can’t Get Any Worse

Lead your characters to a seemingly insurmountable low point before they find a solution.

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7. Hero Overcomes (Act 3)

Show how the characters overcome their struggles, leading to a satisfying resolution.

8. Happily Ever After

Ensure a fulfilling conclusion for your romantic and erotic arcs, hinting at future possibilities if needed.

How To Write Erotica

We’ve established the structure of erotica writing and the key elements to include when writing your erotica novel – but how do you write your individual sex scenes?

1. Visualize the Scene

Imagine Your Characters in the Act: Start by vividly imagining your characters during their intimate moments. Picture every detail, from their expressions to their movements. If you find it challenging, you can superimpose familiar faces, such as celebrities or personal crushes, onto your characters. This technique helps you see the scene more clearly and describe it with authenticity.

Create a Mental Movie: Think of the scene as a movie playing in your mind. Visualize the setting, lighting, and even the background sounds. Pay attention to the small details that make the scene come alive, like the way a character’s hand brushes against the other’s skin or the subtle changes in their breathing.

2. Make Readers Care

Establish a Strong Dynamic: Your readers need to care about the characters and their relationships. Develop a strong dynamic between your characters, highlighting their chemistry and the tension between them. Their attraction should be intense and undeniable, pulling readers into their world.

Build Emotional Depth: Go beyond physical attraction. Explore the emotional connection between your characters. What draws them to each other? What are their desires, fears, and vulnerabilities? When readers understand the characters’ motivations, they become more invested in their journey.

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3. Choose the Right Location

Enhance the Mood: The setting plays a crucial role in the eroticism of a scene. Choose locations that heighten the sensuality and reflect the tone of your story. A luxurious penthouse, a secluded beach, or a cozy cabin can each create a different atmosphere.

Consider the Practicality: While a setting should be sexy, it should also be practical for the scene you are writing. Ensure that the environment allows for the actions you describe. For instance, a cramped car might limit movement, while a spacious bedroom offers more possibilities.

4. Build-Up and Foreplay

Gradual Progression: Don’t rush into the main event. Build up to the physical act with suggestive dialogue and actions. This gradual progression creates anticipation and heightens the tension.

Engage All Senses: Describe the sensations your characters experience during foreplay. What do they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? Engaging all five senses makes the scene more immersive and realistic.

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5. Take It Slow

Unfold the Scene Slowly: While the characters might be eager, take your time unfolding the scene. Slow down the narrative to savor each moment. This not only teases the characters but also the readers, making the eventual climax more satisfying.

Tease and Delay: Introduce elements of teasing and delayed gratification. Have the characters hold back, heightening the anticipation. This build-up makes the payoff much more intense.

6. Structure the Scene

Follow a Natural Flow: Structure your scene like the act of lovemaking itself—foreplay, action, climax, and wind down. Each part should flow naturally into the next, maintaining a smooth narrative progression.

Foreplay: Set the mood with a detailed description of the environment and the characters’ initial interactions. Use this phase to build tension.

Action: Describe the main event with attention to detail, focusing on the characters’ physical and emotional responses.

Climax: Write the peak of the scene with intensity, capturing the culmination of the character’s desires.

Wind Down: Conclude the scene with a gentle wind down, allowing the characters (and readers) to relax and process what just happened.

7. Balance Cinematic and Plausible Elements

Make It Dramatic but Realistic: While your scenes should be dramatic, they also need to feel real. Avoid overly athletic or unrealistic descriptions that might pull readers out of the story.

Human Touch: Keep your characters’ actions and reactions human. They can be passionate and energetic, but their movements and responses should remain believable.

8. Realistic Language

Straightforward and Evocative: Use clear, straightforward language to describe the actions and sensations. Avoid vulgar or overly anatomical terms unless they fit the tone of your story.

Avoid Clichés: Stay away from clichéd descriptions and euphemisms. Instead, find fresh, evocative ways to convey the intensity and intimacy of the scene.

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9. Reflective of Character and Plot

Advance the Plot: Ensure that each sex scene contributes to the character development and advances the plot. The intimacy should feel like a natural progression of their relationship.

Show Growth: Use the sex scenes to show how the characters evolve. Their interactions should reflect their growing closeness and emotional depth.

10. Rhythm and Flow

Match the Rhythm: Write with a rhythm that mirrors the ebb and flow of a sexual encounter. Vary the pace to reflect the changing intensity, creating a dynamic and engaging narrative.

Smooth Transitions: Ensure smooth transitions between different parts of the scene. This rhythmic flow enhances the immersive experience for the reader.

Tips For Writing Great Sex Scenes

1. Show, Don’t Tell

Let the actions and dialogues convey the emotions and physical sensations. Readers want to experience the scene, not just read about it.

2. Engage All Senses

Describe what characters see, hear, smell, taste, and feel to create a vivid, immersive experience.

3. Use Appropriate Settings and Props

Ensure the setting and props align with the story’s context. The environment can enhance the erotic tension and overall experience.

4. Don’t Get Coy With Your Language

Keep it simple, punchy, evocative, but not obscene or anatomical.

Don’t, like John Updike, veer away from simple words and use hideous ones like ‘yam’ to describe a penis. Don’t use euphemisms or flowery words, either. ‘Cock’, ‘cunt’, and ‘fuck’ are acceptable with some publishers, but not others, and certainly not in the new mainstream type of erotica.

There’s a difference between well-written erotica and graphic pornography!

You must also use caution when using your evocation powers to avoid appearing awkward or coy. So, while manhood and sex are OK, they should be used sparingly. Read erotic romance novels and other works in your chosen genre, or look up a publisher’s house style to see what works and what publishers/readers want.

FAQs on How To Write Erotica

How Do I Start Writing Erotica?

Begin with your characters and setting, then consider how they shape the plot and their relationship. Practice through fan fiction or self-publishing before approaching traditional publishers.

How Do You Write an Intimate Scene?

Engage all senses and visualize the scene. Focus on the characters and emotions rather than step-by-step actions. Use evocative language to enhance the experience.

How Do You Write a Steamy Romance?

In steamy romance, the sex scenes are integral to the plot and character development. Build up tension through teasing and suspense, ensuring each intimate moment moves the story forward.


As with any genre, there are guidelines that writers of erotica must follow to know how to write erotica. Knowing your audience and your market can assist you in promoting your work even if regulations may sometimes be bent or even disregarded.


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