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Posted: 2004-08-08 | Updated: 2007-10-28

Elements of Erotic Literature

by Ken Randall


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Creative Ideas
  3. Theme
  4. Symbolism, Imagery, and Subtext
  5. The Story's Issue
  6. Types of Conflict
  7. Choice of Perspective
  8. Character
  9. The "Impact" Character
  10. Plot
  11. Throughlines
  12. Benchmarks
  13. Turning Points
  14. Story Structure
  15. Narrative Pace
  16. Repetition
  17. Realism vs. Fantasy
  18. Tension
  19. Resolve
  20. Closure
  21. Conclusion
  22. Story Revision Checklist

Introduction

There are already a number of writing guides available to aspiring writers, and these guides deal mostly with spelling, grammar, and other technical details of writing. These are very helpful and often humorous guides that I recommend to writers, before reading this one.

This writing guide assumes you already know how to spell, how to use English grammar, how to structure a sentence, how dialog works, and remedial details like that. If you don't know these things, go now and read the other guides.

This guide is intended to examine the macroscopic details of story writing. This guide will take you beyond those details and look more at the big picture - how do you make your stories more meaningful, more profound, and more in-depth? How can you write a story that actually says something important?

Now naturally, if you're only interested in tossing off quick stroke stories, this guide will be mostly useless to you. I admit the points in this guide are entirely optional. You can leave out some, or all these things, and still get a vote of 10 on your story submissions. If you apply these elements of fiction to your story writing however, you'll enjoy your writing a lot more, and so will your readers.

It takes much thought and planning to apply these principles. Very few writers have the patience for such mental effort, however. To be an exceptional writer, you must resist the temptation to just dive right into a series of slapped-together sex scenes, with no more depth or value than the Kleenex you used to ejaculate into while reading it.

You don't need to apply all these elements to every story you write, though you can if you wish. You can pick and choose which aspects of story theory you need for a particular piece. The more of them you use, however, the better it will be in the end, assuming you've used the elements correctly, and used them well.

The other good thing about this guide is that for the most part, these are all things you already know intuitively. If you've ever read a good book, or seen a good movie, you've seen these elements in action. They're not hard to pick out, if you're watching for them. The best stories of course, are those that hold you so enthralled that you aren't thinking of anything but the story itself, and its characters.

Reading this writing guide will also make you a better erotic fiction reader, as well as, I hope, improving your writing. You'll have an eye for the finer points in fiction, once you know what to look for, and will score both the good and bad stories higher, and the atrocious stories lower. Very few stories are absolute garbage, I find. Even in the bad stories, there're always some good aspects to be seen.

These story elements are applicable to all forms of fiction, but in this guide I will discuss them in terms of their application to erotica. I hope you find them helpful.


Creative Ideas

The first place to start with any story you sit down to work on is with a creative idea. If you don't really have an idea of what's going to happen in the story, it will usually end up going nowhere, and you'll either get bored of it, and give up before it's even finished, or your reader will. A good story idea is the skeleton that holds all the pieces together in a solid framework. A good story idea keeps you writing and your readers reading, even if the writing itself is only second-rate.

When I talk about a good story idea, I am referring to the overall situation that the characters are in. There has to be some sort of hook to it. The whole boy-meets-girl-boy-fucks-girl thing has been done to death in a hundred thousand ways. You must come up with an idea that stands out, an idea that's somewhat original.

When developing your idea it helps to phrase it to yourself like this: "My characters are in an interesting situation. They have a goal that they want to accomplish, but there's a problem standing in their way. The situation is _______, the goal is ______, but the problem is _______." Of course any problem should eventually have a solution, and you should figure out what that solution will be, before you even begin the story.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. For the most part the story ideas will come to you on their own, inspiring you to write. It's much harder to sit down in front of your computer and try to conjure up a good story idea out of thin air, on demand. Of course most stories are inspired by simple horniness rather than a good idea. Go ahead and write these one-dimensional fuck scenes out if you must, just to get it out of your system, but if you orgasm before the story does, it's bound to be left unfinished.

The best writing you'll ever produce will be inspired by a really good idea, with an interesting hook to it. I can't tell you how to come up with good ideas, but I do have a pointer you can use if you're ever stumped.

I encourage you to use the word "but" when developing the skeleton of your main idea. Invariably the ideas with a lot of buts in them will be a lot more interesting to read. "She wanted to fuck her best friend's man and had even worked out a plan to do so, but..." or "He was almost ready to give up on ever having sex with Laura Michaels, but..." or "His daughter was growing up fast and would soon be ready for the tribal sexual initiation ritual, but..."

You see how that works? The "but" adds the hook, and makes the idea way more interesting than say "He met her in a roadside truck stop and fucked her in his van. The end." If you add a creative "but" to it you can take the story anywhere. "He met her at a roadside truck stop and they were instantly attracted to one another, but..."

Just make sure you have a good solution to the idea's problem, otherwise the whole process of writing will feel like walking the plank.


Theme

The theme of a story is the story's heart. It is the reason why you write the story in the first place, and it should be something you care about as a person. It is the overall message behind the story.

The theme of most stroke stories is simple - sexy people are fun to fuck, or something basic like that. You can only write so many of these stories however, before you and/or your readers get bored. Erotic fiction writers have the idea that imposing an overall theme to the work is optional and/or tedious. This is true I suppose, but reading a story without a solid theme is like having sex with an inflatable doll - the body is physically appealing perhaps, but it doesn't move. It's not alive. Implanting a theme into your work gives it life. A story with a solid theme has a purpose, other than ejaculating into a Kleenex.

In fairy tale terms, the theme is referred to as "the moral of the story". Since erotic fiction has very little to do with morals, this phrase may be confusing. You get the picture though. The theme of your story is the message you want to get across to your reader, some altruism that you feel strongly about. Patience pays off in the end. Greed and selfishness take more away from you than they give. Honesty is the best policy. Whatever you choose, just be sure it's something you care about, and your reader will too, if you do a good job of it. Ultimately you will have made your readers think and/or feel as well as making them horny, and that's the best kind of writing there is.

Applying the chosen theme to your story is somewhat tricky. You must show your characters either succeeding or failing at grasping, or even comprehending the theme the events of the story have imposed upon them. You must sprinkle it subtly throughout the story, in their dialogs, in their decisions, in the events beyond their control, even in symbolism and imagery. It must run through the entire story like blood from a beating heart that nourishes every part of the body.

The mistake beginners make when applying themes is making it too obvious. Beating the reader over the head with your theme is not the way to go. "In the end, I learned that by being loving and gentle, I could have any woman I wanted, and I lived happily ever after." That's about as subtle as a sledgehammer. If your theme is "you reap what you sow", for example, you can demonstrate this idea all through the story in every little event. You don't need to just tack on a blanket statement at the end, like a children's fairy tale. That's also why it's a good idea to keep the theme general and basic. This leaves you more options in applying the theme to the story's events.

You don't need to decide on the theme before you start. You can finish the story, read it over and pick out the overall message that can be gleaned from it, and then run through it again, changing and enhancing passages to demonstrate an overall theme. Once again, you should do this subtly, like a chef adding spice to a dish.

In our truck stop example, the theme could perhaps be "discretion is the better part of valor", and we would see this sprinkled throughout the events and dialogs of the story, ultimately leading the main character to say no to the foursome with the waitress and her two beautiful sisters, out of fear of their shotgun-toting father, opting instead to do them one at a time with minimal risk in each encounter. Then as he drives away, he reflects on his luck with the ladies, and is thankful that he used wisdom in his conquests. It's subtle, but it's there.


Symbolism, Imagery, and Subtext

Using symbolism and imagery to reinforce the themes of your stories is one of the most powerful ways to get an idea across. It's subtle, almost subliminal, and it implants messages into the reader's mind without them even realizing it half the time.

For example, perhaps you have a story about a man, trying to revive a failing relationship long after his woman has given up completely on him. Show the main character watering a dead plant on his window sill, not even realizing that the thing is already done for.

The plant of course represents the relationship, which the man does not even realize is now dead. Even if the reader doesn't pick up on the symbolism itself, they'll still feel something one way or another about the man watering a dead plant, and since the unconscious mind thinks in symbols, the reader will be effected by the symbol whether they realize it or not.

Perhaps you have a story about a man who is struggling with temptation over an aggressive Lolita. Show the man in the park gradually gaining the trust of a certain little chickadee which he hopes one day will eat birdseed right from his hand. Then in the end, just as the bird is inches away from hopping right into the palm of his hand, a cop comes along and scares the thing away. Once again, it will be a powerful story moment, even if the reader doesn't consciously "get it".

The key to it is of course to be subtle about it. Don't offer any commentary on the symbolism, just set it up and let it be. Making it too obvious not only deadens the impact a good symbol can have on the reader, it might also be a tad annoying to the reader as well, like being awakened from a good dream. Readers don't like being talked to like they're stupid. Over-explaining your symbols also tramples over the "show, don't tell" rule of thumb. Don't offer commentary on the symbols you're using in a particular scene.

If you are subtle about it, and you're worried that your readers won't get the point of the symbolism you've worked so hard on that's okay. Don't worry. On one level, the symbol has taken effect whether the reader notices or not, and on another level who cares if they notice? You know what it means and that's what matters. Your more intelligent readers will pick up on it and be pleased with your subtlety.

Avoid over-extending symbols as well. Keep your symbolism short and powerful, not long and dragged out to the point where it becomes some complicated allegory. For example, a girl who lost her cat, and then found it sick, and then found it dying, but then met a man who could heal it, and then the cat was better again, and the woman realized that she just needed to trust the man who healed her cat, blah, blah, blah - on and on. The cat supposedly is symbolic of her sex life in this example, but the symbol is just way too over-extended. Simply having the man heal the sick cat would have sufficed.

Also try to avoid clichés when you're working with symbols. Having the main character dream about a certain symbol, or being told it by a fortune teller or something has been done to death. Unless there's a very good reason to include such scenarios you should avoid them. It kills the subtlety of it, and leaves the reader feeling like they're getting a lot of BS shoveled into their face.

Using symbolism in this way not only helps to reinforce the theme behind the story, it also makes it a much cooler read overall. It takes a lot of creativity and imagination, and a great degree of subtly to keep it from seeming patronizing to the reader, but if done right it's also an incredible pleasure to write as well as to read. Remember - show, don't tell.

Symbolism is also good as a technique of foreshadowing - hinting at the outcome of the story, or the main conflict itself before the reader even gets there. In this case it does not necessarily need to be tied in with the main theme, but can perhaps symbolize a particular event, or aspect of the story itself. A man accidentally cutting his girlfriend with a pocketknife as they work to set up a tent could foreshadow her immanent defloration by him, for example. If you can manage to work such foreshadowing to tie in with the overall theme, that's even better.

Subtext is another device wherein a character makes a statement or asks a question that has one apparent meaning, but to the more observant the statement or question also holds a deeper secondary meaning.

"Divorce would be awful, wouldn't it?" he said to his wife.

On the outside this appears to be a straight forward statement, but the reader is privy to a promise the man made to his mistress that he would run away with her if his marriage ever ended. Therein lies the subtext - the man is not really all that averse to divorce. We know it, and he knows it, but his wife doesn't. When using subtext, as with symbolism, avoid offering commentary on it. Set it up and let it stand on its own for the more observant readers to enjoy.


The Story's Issue

When we talk about the issue behind a story, we're not talking about some personal issues a particular character has, and is dealing with. We're not talking about the fact that little Janey was raped by her father as a child and now has "daddy issues", or whatever. The story's issue is a more technical term, relating to the overall flow of the story, regardless of what each individual character is personally dealing with.

The issue behind a story is the story's muscle. It's the thing that drives the characters to come into conflict with one another in the first place.

Say for example you've dreamed up a great situation between some characters. You know what the conflict is, you know what the goal is, but the story still seems a little weak in terms of the characters' motivations. Why is this guy mad at his woman for sleeping with another man? Why is she driven to do it, even though she knows the risks? What's the issue behind it all? Basically, why do the characters react in the ways they do?

Do you know? If not, you have to think it through and figure it out. You have to get a clear grasp on what the issue of the story is. What's the "passionate argument" behind it? It has to be one main overall issue that unites the characters in a tug-of-war over their individual desires. Sound confusing? It is, a little, but some examples might clear it up.

The issue is closely tied to, and often rooted in the main theme itself. Some even call it the "Thematic Issue". Why is it wrong to rape a sixteen year old girl? Why are the characters so bent on exacting a brutal vengeance? The issue here would be freedom of choice, and every character, including the rapist himself has strong feelings that relate to this issue in some way or another. It's what motivates their actions from their very core.

If the theme is "discretion is the better part of valor", the issue would be fear of consequences, or lack of fear of consequences, or even recognition of potential consequences, depending on each character's individual point of view.

Once you have nailed down the issue, you must decide how or why each character cares about the issue, from their particular point of view. They must care about it, or they have no real motivation to come into conflict with those who care about the opposite side of the issue.

Going back to our truck stop story example once again, we must look at the theme of the story, the main events, and the proposed outcome, and decide what the issue behind their actions would be. The main character is perhaps struggling with his desire to possess each of the three sisters, and is worried about getting caught by their tyrannical father. The sisters on the other hand are less worried about the consequences that may befall the young man in question, and are more concerned with their own freedom of choice, their own pride and dignity as growing young women. The father of course is worried about them being used and abandoned by some traveling Don Juan, and will do everything in his power to prevent it, whether his concern is warranted or not. In all cases the main issue revolves around consequences, lack of consequences, or ignorance of consequences. This issue then would relate back to the overall theme of "discretion".

Sounds a little too "thinky" for a common stroke story though, doesn't it? It does on paper of course, but a good writer would work it out so that the reader barely even notices the technical thought put into it. A good writer, having developed each character's motivations thoroughly and put a little fire under them, will only help the reader to lose him or herself in the action of the story. Don't be afraid of getting too technical; be afraid of being too weak in your storytelling. Develop the issue thoroughly, at least in your own mind, and present the reader with very good and believable reasons why the characters act the way they do, even if it's outrageous. Reality is way sexier than fantasy, especially when the reality you present is merely an incredibly believable fantasy.


Types of Conflict

When most people hear the term conflict, they think of either an epic battle between good and evil, with wars, sword-fights, and death and such, or else they picture the tired clichés of inner conflict, where some dude or some chick is struggling with some decision he or she must make.

For writers, conflict is a more general term basically referring to the struggle between one or more characters as they seek to accomplish opposing goals. This struggle could be an overt physical one, resulting in fist fights, car chases, gun battles, swordplay, and etc. - all the stuff guys love - or it could be a more subtle emotional conflict, the kind women tend to favor. Your stories could/should have a combination of these conflicts.

There are also the cliché high school English definitions of conflict, such as man against man, man against nature, and man against himself. These categories are a little too broad and vague for our discussion of erotic fiction however, except in the cases of overly simplistic story lines where two guys are fighting over the same girl, or a couple is stranded on an uncharted Island and must survive, or whatever. It's not wrong to write simple stories like these of course, but there should be more to it than the basic premises above if you want to hold your readers' attention.

The trouble with most erotic fiction is not what the conflict is, but the total lack of conflict. Typically, some guy walks in, has wonderful sex with the woman of his dreams, and walks out with a broad shit-eating grin to get on with his daily life. You've read hundreds of these stories I'm sure, and you know as well as anybody that there's an inherent problem in such scenarios. There are no consequences or opposition in any way, and without opposition or potential negative consequences, there is no tension.

Ultimately this is the main problem. Without tension in the story, it's harder to make your readers care about what happens in the end. With a good amount of tension, doubt, uncertainty - all the stuff that makes taking heroic action necessary - the sex that results in the end is way more gratifying. The reader was left hanging, wondering if the hero will even end up bedding the girl in the end of it all, and what a relief when by some twist of fate, some lucky chance, or some decisive action he finally does her in the end (no pun intended).

Stirring up conflict should be an essential part of your story development process, even down at the skeletal level. It's the "but" in the formulation of the story's creative idea. "A traveler meets three horny young sisters at a small town truck stop and discovers that they have all agreed to bed the next good looking man that walks through the door, but their father has unfortunately caught on to their little plan and greets the traveler with a shotgun to his neck, warning him away from touching his daughters while he's in town. Will he bed them in the end? Will they fight with each other over who gets him first before daddy returns from the local bar? Will Daddy catch them in the act and get in a physical struggle with the young traveler?" All these aspects of the story outline offer potential for conflict. Then of course, combined with a sprinkle of symbolism (the traveler swiping a few sweets from the old man's private candy dish perhaps), the story becomes so much more than your typical wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ride-off-into-the-sunset tale.

With a well-developed network of conflicts, both internal and external, you'll hook the reader in, and keep him turning the pages, or scrolling the mouse down to the very end. Conflict, when fueled by a well-developed story issue, makes for a compelling read. Conflict also sets the stage for a nicely gratifying resolution, and this is ultimately what zings the reader. It gives him (or her) the feeling that they have just read a story worthy of their time, and the Kleenex (or towel) used to clean up after.


Choice of Perspective

There is not much to say about perspective that hasn't already been discussed in the other writing guides. Basically the rule of thumb is, choose a perspective and stick to it. Don't jump around, cross over, or alter the perspective of the story in the middle of a scene. You can of course switch to any number of perspectives throughout the story, but you should be consistent in your overall voice. Your reader should be able to lose themselves in the story, without being jostled out of it by awkward and erroneous perspective shifts.

There's the omniscient perspective first of all, or the "third person omniscient" as it's technically called. This is the voice of someone who knows everything there is to know about all characters and events, and is telling the reader their very thoughts. This is useful when there is a lot of psychological drama going on between the characters, which outward appearances do not reveal.

"Mary-Ann looked into his eyes and knew that he wanted her. Her memories of his past propositions floated through her mind one by one, and she decided she would finally submit this time. John on the other hand was merely thinking about which team he would put money on in the upcoming World Series. Sex was the furthest thing from his mind, until Mary-Ann began unbuttoning her blouse right before his eyes."

There is also the "second person omniscient" perspective - it's generally the same thing, except that the omniscience only applies to one particular character at a time, for the entire scene. You know his or her thoughts, and his motives, but you don't know what's going on in other people's heads. You can only describe how your point-of-view character perceives them. This perspective is good for helping your reader relate more to a particular character. It's also good for building tension and uncertainty about a secondary character's motivations.

"John sat staring at the ceiling, all but ignoring his beautiful companion who sat a mere arm's length away. He was trying to decide which team he would put money on in the upcoming World Series, and sex was the furthest thing from his mind. He was shocked back into reality however when Mary-Ann began unbuttoning her shirt. He had no idea why she was doing it, but from the look in her eyes he figured she must have finally changed her mind about the hundred and one propositions he'd given her in the past couple years..."

Then there's the first-person perspective. It's pretty much the same as the second person perspective, except you're saying "I" instead of "he" or "she". The character naturally doesn't know what's going on in other people's heads, and you must be careful you don't betray the continuity of the perspective by slipping in little side commentaries of information that the character wouldn't know.

Of course the exception to this rule is the whole idea of Mind Reading stories, where the main character has the power to see other people's thoughts. You should still be consistent in these cases of course. Rather than giving you more freedom in perspective choice, the Mind Reading story actually makes it easier to screw up royally. You have to be very careful.

The advantage of first person perspective is that it's very personal, and offers a lot more in-your-face realism. It's sort of like sitting around listening to some dude telling the story of last night's romp with a sexy blonde while his buddies huddle around him in the locker room, hanging on every detail.

"I sat staring at the ceiling, all but ignoring my beautiful companion who sat a mere arm's length away. I was trying to decide which team I would put money on in the upcoming World Series, and sex was the furthest thing from my mind. I was shocked back into reality however when Mary-Ann began unbuttoning her shirt. I had no idea why she was doing it, but from the look in her eyes I figured she must have finally changed her mind about the hundred and one propositions I'd given her in the past couple years..."

You get the idea. The trouble with the first person perspective is the tendency writers have to convert every character into mini-versions of themselves - intelligent and eloquent. For example, John in this case, who is a foul-mouthed jock throughout the story, is given a dignified and articulate voice by the author as he supposedly narrates the events of the story, totally out of character for him, totally conflicting with the way he would really be talking. If you find yourself doing this, you're better off to stick with the third or second person perspective.

No matter which perspective you choose, be mindful of the overall tone of the writing. It's helpful to have a tone that's consistent with the mood the character is in that particular scene. It's also helpful to match the tone of the writing up with the character in question. If it's an angry bitter character, use an angry and bitter tone. If it's a cheerful and optimistic character, be cheerful and optimistic in your phrasing and narration. Doing this also helps you to stay in your point of view. It's hard to accidentally stray into another character's point of view, when you're writing in a harsh and cynical tone, and the secondary character is not harsh or cynical.

If Mary-Ann wanted to fuck other men, she could damn well fuck them all for all John cared. He had given up on women altogether by that point. She had tried to apologize but John would have none of it. He called her a dirty little slut and did everything but outright backhand her across her lying little two-faced mouth. She went away crying and John felt a strange sense of satisfaction. He had managed to hurt her as much as she had hurt him, the fucking little whore. If he ever saw her again it would be too soon. He had done everything for her - everything! And she had thrown it back in his face for a cheap little fling with Charles, the local playboy.

Consider the above perspective tone compared to this one:

Before she had slept with Charles, Mary-ann had foolishly told herself that what her and John had together wasn't serious - she didn't owe him anything, but as soon as Charles' load was out and dripping slowly off her tits, she knew that having sex with him had been a terrible mistake. John found out about it the next day and he did not take the news well. The moment came for their confrontation, and by the end of it Mary-Ann was in tears. She already felt like a silly little slut, and John only made it worse. He really was a good man. She knew that now, and she apologized brokenly, almost ready to fall to her knees, begging for forgiveness. She'd lost her chance at developing any sort of relationship with him however, and she knew she would regret it forever.

The important thing is to be consistent. If you suddenly switch perspectives in the middle of a scene it winds up looking like a mere typo, and you are then dismissed as a careless writer.


Character

Characters are truly the eyes and ears of a story. Well, all five senses to be exact. When we experience the taste of a blonde's kiss, the smell of her perfume, the wetness of her labia, we experience it through our characters. Our excitement in these experiences is either hindered or enhanced by the believability of the characters through which we experience these things. Characters are also the hands and feet of the story. If something's gonna get done, the characters are the ones to do it.

There is very little that can be said about characters in a story that's not fairly obvious. There are a few important points you should keep in mind when writing erotic fiction however.

The failure of many-a-story is simply the lack of character in the people involved. Many writers do nothing more than assign a name to the characters, and of course the obligatory physical description. This is an empty and heartless way to write. It robs the story of the appeal it could have if the personalities were better developed.

Think of it this way. If you were told about "some chick" who went down a guy she didn't even know in the back seat of his car on her lunch break, you would be mildly turned on, maybe even a little tantalized. In the back of your mind however, you don't really care too much. You don't know who this girl is, what she's like, or why she did it. It's little more than a racy anecdote.

What if you found out however, that the "chick" in this story was actually a girl named Denise, who you knew personally? She works down in the coffee shop where you get your coffee every morning, and she always licks her lips when you're talking to her, and she usually has some really compelling nipple erections going on behind the fabric of her white "Cream n' Sugar" T-Shirt. She's a college student, studying social psychology, and she has a cat named Miffy. Suddenly the story is way more interesting, isn't it? Suddenly you can actually see Denise going down on some guy in the back of his car during her lunch break. Suddenly the fact that it's her changes everything.

This is the premise behind the thrill good characterization gives to a story. The more you develop your characters into real people, with real quirks, and real hang-ups, the more real the sex becomes. After you've come along a personal journey with a character, following them through pages and pages of their daily lives, to finally see them in bed with the girl, or guy, of their dreams is amazingly arousing. On the other hand, some rubber stamp, ladies man, sleeping with some one-dimensional every-girl character may be stimulating on a superficial level, if the writing is good, but for the most part it just ends up seeming fake. Real people who have had real sex know what it's like to fuck someone, and experience their personality in the sex act, as well as their body.

Once again the analogy of the inflatable doll applies here. Wouldn't you rather have sex with a real live person, than an inflatable sex doll that just lays there and does nothing? Yes, you would, if you're sane. So would your readers. Give them the experience, at least vicariously through the characters you create.

Here again the concept of "show, don't tell" applies. The best way to convince your reader of the authenticity of your characters is to simply show them going through their daily lives. Don't simply tell them that John is a meticulous guy, show him getting out of bed and getting ready for work, show the reader step by step how he does things, and how his meticulous personality shines forth out of his morning routine. Don't just tell the reader than Mary-Ann is a carefree and easy-going girl, show her getting dressed for the day, daydreaming, wondering if John will make another pass at her. Show the reader the whole process, and while you're at it, show it to yourself. It's as exciting for you to meet these characters as you write as it should be for your readers.

But don't bland descriptions of day-to-day activities drag down the story into monotony? I suppose it would, if your characters really are boring. If you make them fascinating people, however, someone you would be interested in getting to know better, than the details take care of themselves. Who doesn't want to see Denise, the "Cream n' Sugar" girl, brushing her teeth before work, wearing only a skimpy little thong, and stopping to tease her nipples to erection, just out of curiosity about how they look to the guys at the coffee shop looking at them all day? Who doesn't want to see her masturbating in the bathroom at work, pressing her cheek to the cold cement wall, wishing the guy she had just suckled a load out of had not simply driven off without even offering so much as a phone number in return for her efforts.

Characters have to be interesting. That's the only real rule. They don't have to be likable. They don't have to be someone you can empathize with. They just have to be interesting. You can develop the meanest son-of-a-bitch on the face of the earth, who treats women like garbage over and over again, until the readers just hate the bastard with a passion. Maybe he's not likable, but he's got to be interesting. Your readers will want to see what becomes of him in the end.

On the other hand, you can develop a guy who's so nice, and so good, and so honorable, and so perfect in everything he says and does that your readers just want to puke. He's not interesting because he doesn't really exist in the real world. You're not allowing your readers to lose themselves in your story with this guy. They keep pulling back and saying to themselves, "Yeah right. Nobody's that perfect."

Perfect characters are usually not that interesting either. The guy who solves every problem he has with maturity and wisdom, before it even gets to the point of becoming a problem, is just plain boring. I'd rather read about the guy who tries to be perfect but always seems to mess up somehow - a guy who wants to be the perfect boyfriend, but constantly annoys his girl with subtle little criticisms or something. He's more real, he's more believable, and he's more interesting.

Of course the flaws in your character are usually part of the story's problem on some level, so the rest of it will write itself. You could have the whole story about the characters trying to overcome their flaws. Sometimes simple change is the only goal. There's very little to change with a perfect character however, unless of course the change is from good to bad. Then it becomes really interesting.

If you are gonna write a perfect character though, at least give him an incredibly interesting problem. "Frank Emmery, a wise and mature high school teacher wouldn't dream of getting involved with a student in a million years no matter how tempting she was, but one day he finds a bright and pretty young student of his on her knees giving head to her boyfriend in the supply closet of his classroom during lunch hour. He cares about her education and doesn't want to see her expelled, so he doesn't make a big deal out of it. He is haunted as he lays in bed at night by the image of her cum-streaked cheeks however, her sweet little gasp when he opened the door, and the way she smiled shamelessly and said, 'Oh, Mr. Emmery. It's you.' He begins to doubt his resolve day-by-day. The girl and her boyfriend return every once in a while for a noon-hour quickie in his closet, and he soon finds himself watching them, he soon finds himself envious, he soon finds himself flirting a little."

Here we have a semi-perfect, but subtly flawed character who ropes us in with an interesting situation. The situation itself of course is what eventually changes him. Though he is a perfect, seemingly flawless character, his reaction to the situation he finds himself in, reveals another, more interesting level to his personality.

Perhaps the best way to reinforce your characters' believability is to read through your first draft after it's done, and pepper in subtle little nuances of their personalities as you go. Add little slices of life to their day-to-day routine, and interactions. Show your character sitting in the coffee shop right through his afternoon classes, with his steamed latté, getting an embarrassing hard on simply watching Denise's lips (and nipples) as she serves customer after customer. Show Denise glancing over at him every so often, trying to figure out if he's staring at her or not. Show Denise suddenly self-conscious about her nipple erection, after purposefully teasing them up earlier that day. Show them each going into the bathroom to masturbate over fantasies of the other one, desperately desiring each other, but both too shy to make the first move. Decorate them throughout the story, with these little slices of life, and your reader will forget that they're even reading a story. Come on now. After reading just these little examples, aren't you just dying to see them get together? See how easy that is?

I say to do this after the first draft is done, because by that time you know a whole lot more about who your characters are. In the first pass you have a vague idea, but once you've spent a few days with them you pretty much know them inside and out. You know why Denise licks her lips all the time, and why the young man takes a bus all the way across town, missing half a day's worth of classes, just to see her doing it.

Now there are a couple of different character types that bear some explanation at this point. Different character types have different function in the story, and you should use them well, like paints on an artist's easel.

The first, and most widely known, is the protagonist. The protagonist is the "action character" of the story. He's the guy who takes action. He's the guy who won't sit around while everything is falling apart and just do nothing. He's the guy on the rope in the tug of war with the antagonist. The antagonist is basically the same character, with diametrically opposing motivations and goals. He doesn't want the protagonist to win, and he will do all he can to prevent it. He won't sit around idly while the protagonist is gaining ground. These two dudes are the center of the main conflict.

The story doesn't always have to be about the protagonist of course. It can be about the protagonist's sidekick, perhaps, or even the antagonist. The story's main goal is in question however, and the protagonist is defined as the one who works towards its fulfillment, while the antagonist works against it.

What does all this have to do with erotic fiction? That's for you to decide. It depends on your story. Does the man in the coffee shop, pining secretly for Denise have a rival, who wants her all to himself? If the story goal is to win her heart, or her lips, or whatever, then the protagonist is the guy who takes action in this direction.

The key word is that it's the guy who takes action. The protagonist feels strongly about the story's issue, that such a beautiful girl should not be with a jerk, perhaps, and he is motivated to take action in spite of all obstacles, like shyness, class schedules, etc. The readers want to see him take action. It's thrilling to see him make an attempt, even if it fails miserably - at least he did something.

Be careful also about creating a character that is simply a prop, being acted upon, and contributing nothing actively to the story. Denise, for example, would not be very interesting if she simply stood around being fought over, looking doughy-eyed and cute while her fate was decided for her by her two suitors. She also has a personality, motivations, goals, and desires. Make these real for the reader as well. Don't leave any of the main characters as fodder for the action of the story. Of course there are minor characters in every story who are simply props, but even they should be spiced up a bit - the victim in a murder mystery for example, a past lover in Denise's life, perhaps. Who was he? What was he like? Make it matter, and your story will have more depth.

Ultimately the two main points of all of this rambling are these. Make your characters believable, and keep all the main characters in a story active, not passive.


The "Impact" Character

Another dynamic in literature is the relationship between what's generally known as the "impact character" and the point-of-view character.

The Point-of-View character is the eyes through which we see the story, as we discussed earlier. Whether he or she is the protagonist (the character most active in pursuing the story's goal) or not is irrelevant.

The Impact Character is some other person in the story who works throughout the story to "impact" the point-of-view character concerning the story's main issue. They have little discussions and/or arguments throughout the story, or perhaps the impact character says nothing, and just actively influences our hero by example. The impact character could be anyone, even an enemy. The purpose he or she has in the story is to help convince the point-of-view character of an opposite side of the story issue, to try and win him over, as it were.

The point of creating an impact character dynamic is drama, of course, and conflict and tension. On a more macroscopic level, the impact character could be used by the author to express the very theme of the story. He could argue on behalf of the author himself, indirectly of course, trying to convince the point of view character (the reader, indirectly) of his thoughts on the overall theme. Once again, this must be done ever-so-subtly, or you risk sounding preachy or obnoxious.

The most common example of the impact character in erotic fiction is perhaps the seducer/seducee relationship. One character is trying to persuade the other as to the benefits of surrendering to their baser urges and indulging in whatever pleasures ensue as a result. They argue perhaps over guilt, morality, consequences, etc., and eventually one of them gives in, and convinces the other of their point of view, or else there's a stand off, wherein the debate itself was the point, rather than the winning. This dynamic is of course impossible in stories where the seducee gives it up without the slightest fight, unless of course you set the "passionate argument" after the sex scene: "How could you have taken advantage of me like that?" or something along those lines. You risk losing your readers that way though, who have already "gotten what they came for".

Pretty much anyone can be an Impact Character in erotic fiction however, especially when the story's issue is not necessarily related to sex. The issue could be self-worth perhaps, and whoever the main character's main influence is in regard to this issue would be the Impact character - his mom, an ex-girlfriend, his fairy godmother, his alternate personality. The impact character should be active in trying to persuade the main character of the issue though, and not be simply some unknowing bystander who the character happened to observe in passing one day.

"When I saw the way the man in the blue coat at the bus station treated his woman, I knew that I must change, once and for all..."

This is perhaps allowable, but it's not really an Impact Character moment. An impact character moment would look more like this:

"Phil wore me down, day after day, constantly trying to convince me that Juliette was losing respect for me and I ought to straighten out, but I never listened. One day however, he outright grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. 'Get your fucking head out of your ass!' he said. 'That girl wants to be proud of you, but you're not giving her any reason to. Quit being a dickhead and walk like a man!' I finally began to see his point, but was it too late?"

Developing an Impact character is optional of course, but it is a good dramatic tool that every writer should know about. You see it all the time in the movies, and TV shows, and this is a good place to watch for it, to learn how the dynamic works.


Plot

When we talk about plot we are simply talking about the turns of events within a developing storyline. One thing leads to another, to another, and to another, and so on, until the story comes to an exciting climax, where all the issues are resolved and all the questions are answered. For all intents and purposes this is a story plot defined in the simplest terms.

The difference between plot and the Creative Idea we talked about earlier, is simply the level of development. Anything more than a single scene is going to require some detailed outlining of the twists, turns, and surprises that take place, and how they all relate to each other. The goal is ultimately to keep the reader hooked in to the characters' journey.

As with Character, the chief problem erotic fiction writers generally have with plot is not the kind of plot, but the lack of plot. Let's face it; plots are hard to develop, especially when you're as horny as hell from working through all the sex scenes. This is why I recommend writing out a story overview before you begin, if you hope to work any sort plot into the story you're writing. Make a point-form list of the story's main events, and build them up toward the story's climax and resolution - then begin writing each scene out. You can change it as you go of course, but it's better to start with a map when you go on a journey. It prevents you from getting lost.

Another reason erotic fiction writers generally neglect plot development is because erotic fiction is probably the only genre where plot is truly optional. The vast majority of stories out there are simply single-scene situations that unfold within minutes, and the climax is literally that - the climax. What writers need to realize however is that even these single-scene stories can have an inkling of plot and become ten times more interesting. During a fuck scene unusual turns of events can happen. The story can twist, surprises can occur, throwing conflict and tension into the mix. Someone can walk in on them, the car their fucking in can roll down a hill and crash into a tree, the girl can turn into a werewolf and tear the man's throat out, whatever. You're only limited by your imagination, and your laziness I suppose.

Even in very long stories, plot is optional however. People just like reading about sex. Cocks and cunts, blow-jobs, and cum facials turn people on, and if done well, these things can stand on their own without requiring any sort of plot. There are even cases where imposing a plot on an erotic fiction piece is detrimental to the overall work. Some stories are better off as a laundry list of thrusting, bobbing, and screaming in passion. Generally speaking, however, a good plot will only serve to make an already exciting story even better.

As far as erotic fiction goes, an underdeveloped plot is somewhat forgivable, especially with men, as long as the writing makes up for it. If you have some really solid characters, and some very sexy descriptions, the typical erotic fiction reader will stay with your story to the end, even without the slightest hint of any kind of plot. Trouble is, once the stroke factor kicks in, and they start stroking off along with your scenes, it's all over for your story as soon as they've come into the aforementioned Kleenex. Reading a sexy story without a plot is like fucking an attractive partner who has an annoying or dull personality. Once you're finished, you can't get them out the door fast enough. If you actually like them as a person however, you can keep at it all night and not get bored. In the same way, if your story has a plot going for it, your readers will keep reading to the very end.

A story is just way more interesting when there is a problem that needs to be solved, some goal to be accomplished, or a mystery that needs figuring out. Then of course the sexy sex descriptions along the way are juicy little bonuses. They are not the central focus of the story however. The reader actually wants to know what happens in the end.

There are no rules or formulas for developing the actual plot of a story, nor should there be. Whenever a formula is applied in plot development the result usually turns out annoyingly predictable. The typical chick-flick for example, seems to stick with the rubber-stamp formula that worked in every other popular romantic comedy. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, something goes wrong, girl makes 2000 mistakes, boy professes his love for her in the end anyway since he is noble enough to forgive and overlook her faults. Hand me that barf bag over there, I'm gonna puke up some popcorn.

I suppose the only rule of thumb with plot development is creativity. Whether your story is a single scene, or an epic sexual odyssey, there should be some sort of creative hook to the main events. We've all read the umpteen stories that are completely devoid of storyline, simply outlining the events of a sexual encounter or two. Once again, these are okay, if the writing is exceptional, but for the most part they are not worth the reader's time, especially when there are other stories out there where the author did put the extra work into plot development.

The only formulaic suggestion I will make about plot development is that it's a good idea to give your readers a bit of a zinger at the end of each section. End off your chapters with some new twist, some hook, some surprise turn of events, and your reader will be galloping on toward the next chapter. If it's the end of a story with a part 2 to it, leave the reader with a cliffhanger of sorts after all the events of this story have been resolved. This will of course leave your reader with the feeling that you know what the hell you're doing. You've taken them on a journey that was worth their time, and they will eagerly come along with you on the next one.

A bad story plot is worse than no plot at all when it comes to erotic fiction. If your twists and turns are just unbelievable, or downright stupid, the reader will abandon your story like a sinking ship. Don't squeeze your characters into actions or decisions that are outside of their personalities. Having the prim and proper school teacher suddenly shift into being a total slut for no apparent reason is not going to work as a surprise twist. It's more likely to result in confusion or annoyance from the reader. If you hinted at her transformation, if you've built up to it, it'll work, but if you just throw some stupid twist bluntly into the mix, cramming a round peg into a square hole so to speak, the story falls flat.

You can't suddenly throw in surprise circumstances that are beyond the scope of reality either. Suddenly, out of the blue having your trailer trash teen slut winning the lottery just because you want to move her on to fucking more powerful men would be a little weak, for example. You've got to keep your events grounded in the realm of plausibility in order for them to be appealing. Granted there are surely some exceptional writers out there who could make such preposterous scenarios work brilliantly, but for the most part you should stick with interesting but "believable" turns of events.

Lastly, in terms of plot, a warning about trying too hard to build a surprise into your story, or some sort of trick ending. The trouble with this is that you have to jump through so many hoops to keep the reader from guessing your surprise that it winds up being a competition between you and him. It turns into a sort of pea-in-the-shell game with clues and hints and awkward convolutions that are meant to set up the surprise, but not give it away. Do you really want to compete with your reader this way, trying to outthink him or her the whole way through the story? Personally I usually find writing that way to be a massive headache, not worth the zing of the little surprise I'd cooked up in the end.

Once again, it's not wrong to put surprises into your stories. In fact it's incredibly gratifying when done well, but unless the idea is ingenious before you even begin, I would tend to avoid the trouble.


Throughlines

Throughlines are simply mini-stories within the overall story you're working through. As you go through the main events of the story, each individual character is going along their own personal journey of growth, development, and ultimate change.

Throughlines are perhaps the most optional story technique of them all when it comes to erotic fiction, but you should still try to develop them in your stories for the sake of excellence and polish. It simply makes for a richer and more gratifying piece of work when the author has threaded several compelling throughlines through the fabric of a story. Yes everyone's fucking like mad, come is flying in every direction, and someone is having an orgasm every 32 seconds, but look over here - one of the girls is overcoming a personal issue and growing as a person, and over here one of the guys is learning to stand up to the local bully. Interesting.

Take the story example of John and Mary-Ann once again. The overall story of course is how John seeks to win Mary-Ann's heart over the course of several months, then when they finally start hitting it off, and he feels himself beginning to fall for her, he discovers that she has cheated on him with Charles, the local playboy. The relationship ends bitterly, but they have both learned important lessons.

Now within this storyline, you could thread the personal journeys of John, Mary-Ann, and any number of supporting characters you desire. The individual journeys must have a beginning, middle, and an ending, just like the overall storyline does, and the reader must find closure in the end of each separate character's mini-story. John for example goes on a journey of being too open and trusting, to getting his heart broken and winding up as a sad and bitter woman-hater in the end, while Mary-Ann could begin as a carefree and fun-loving gal, then moves through the decision to betray John's trust, and ultimately end up sad and lonely in the end, but way more cautious when it comes to her choices in mates. Charles of course remains steadfast in his convictions about womanizing being life's greatest pleasure. In spite of a near fatal run-in with John who he has cuckolded, he comes to a place where he is assured of his actions. Even he is resolved in the end.

Of course the throughlines should also reinforce the story's overall theme, they should address the story's issue, and they should be woven together to advance the story's plot. It's not as hard as it sounds. Don't worry. It just takes a little bit of thinking up front, and polishing the finished product once you've completed a good draft of the work.

The best way to learn how to implement throughlines into your work as an author is to watch for them in your favorite movies. Movies usually contain overly-simplistic throughlines that are easy to spot. Specifically, watch for the changes in each character in a story, from who they were in the beginning to who they become in the end. The throughlines were there all along, you just never noticed them until you knew what they were. Then, once you've got a more thorough grasp of how they work, add them into your stories. Set each individual character on their own little journey, apart from where the overall story is taking them. Start with the main characters of course, and do the supporting characters later. It's challenging, but gratifying in the end.

It should also be noted here that throughlines can be applied to character relationships as well as individuals. The relationship that develops between John and Mary-Ann, Mary-Ann and Charles, or even John and Charles, could have its own throughline, from friendship to coolness, to enmity, or from aloofness, to love, to distain. In particular the relationship between the point of view character, and the impact character should have its own throughline. Of course, as I said, these throughlines are definitely optional, but I hold them up to you as a challenge by which to produce some truly exceptional stories.

Developing throughlines is also good for ensuring your stories have vivid and distinguished characters. It saves you from dragging your readers through a generic mishmash of a cast. Putting the extra bit of thought into it keeps your ideas fresh and original as well.

Now before you dismiss the idea of throughlines altogether, just remember that 95% of erotic fiction author's don't use them. If you do, you'll become a star in the craft.


Benchmarks

Benchmarks are set up by a good author to reinforce for the reader the consequences if the characters should fail in their quest. Benchmarks are simply story moments that show the reader that failure is possible, and that failure has consequences. For the erotic fiction writer it could be something as simple as an "Oops. What if she got pregnant?" moment, or a revelation that the woman of the man's dreams could very well go off and fuck a sexier man if he doesn't get his act together. She's spending more and more time with the rival, she even went out on a casual date with him, and the pressure is on the main character to win her over, before it's too late.

Of course with erotic fiction the average story has no tension or consequences whatsoever so benchmarks are not even on the map. You should know what benchmarks in a story are however, and sprinkle them throughout your stories to keep the reader on the edge of their seat so to speak. In a story with an actual plot Benchmarks are essential.

The other side of the coin with Benchmarks is the positive consequences of success. This will also keep the reader reading. Show the reader that the actions the characters have taken so far have paid off in some ways. There has been some progress, and if they continue to succeed, the ultimate reward will be well worth the fight in the end. Basically you're telling the reader that victory is not impossible, no matter how bad the problem has become. It's essentially a ray of hope.

Perhaps the character trying to win over the girl of his dreams seems to have lost at one point. She has finally decided to go all the way with his rival, and he has all but given up. This would be a good place to put a positive benchmark that keeps the reader from giving up on the hopeless situation. It could be the man's deep-down self-assurance, it could be some tidbit of information about the rival that comes to light, or it could be a certain weakness in the girl which the character has discovered he can use to his advantage. Whatever the angle, it's got to keep the reader's hope alive for a successful outcome, in spite of all the obstacles you have so cleverly set up.


Turning Points

We've all seen turning points in the stories we've read or movies we've watched. Turning points are simply the major incidents in a story's plot where everything changes, gets more intense, and where the characters are brought to a point from which there can be no going back.

In erotic fiction turning points are pretty much the same thing. Some event, or events take place and suddenly everything changes for the worse (or better). A chief character makes some discovery, some major incident takes place, and suddenly the story goes in a whole new direction.

For example, Nadine Walker, who has been pressured by her boyfriend to go all the way but has thus far refused, gets into a fight with her mother about some completely unrelated issue, and finally decides to fuck he boyfriend, completely out of rebellion. The fight would be the turning point here.

Other examples of turning points might be a wife or husband discovering that their spouse is cheating on them, a boss or employee discovering someone in the company is conducting some shady business dealings behind the scenes, or maybe the trailer trash teen slut whose family wins the lottery, opening a whole new world of sexual adventures with more powerful men.

Even the quick one-scene stroke story can have a turning point. For example, the part where seven or eight well-hung black dudes walk in on a couple in the middle of their love making and the couple decides that they can join in. Or perhaps the part where the cock teasing bitch is finally put in her place, drops to her knees, and begins slurping wildly on the main character's cock. In some cases a short story can actually begin from the turning point. This saves a lot of time, placing the reader right into the action at a very intense point in a story. It serves to hook the reader in from the very first line.

Betty's Ready

By Joe Writesalot

"I've been in love with you for a long time, Mr. Hanson," Betty told me, slowly unzipping my pants with a lustful gleam in her eye. "And now I'm going to prove it."

Her sudden assertiveness was a total shock to me. A few minutes ago we had been innocently sorting through exams on my desk when all of the sudden my arm had accidentally brushed across her hot little ass. We stopped and stared into one another's eyes for a moment, then we kissed, and now this.

Of course the turning point doesn't always have to be a surprise. It could be something that they all knew would happen eventually, but the incident still turns the story in a whole new direction. An eighteenth birthday for example, is a major turning point in everyone's life which we not only knew was coming, we actually looked forward to it for many years. Still, it changes the course of our lives forever, depending on the circumstances.

The turning point is essentially the place in every story where we all sit back, stroke out chins, raise our eyebrows and say, "Hmm. The plot thickens." It should be intriguing and compelling. It should raise the intensity of the story, and take the action in a whole new direction.


Story Structure

One of the most important, and most troublesome aspect of writing is Story Structure. Essentially story structure is not necessarily what order the scenes and events are in, but in what order you reveal them to the reader. Using devices like flashback, flashforward, or the ever-nauseating "... but it was all a dream" scenario can really screw a story up big time.

Let's face it, flashback can make an atrocious mess of an otherwise good story. Starting the story with the main character as an old man, and then flashing back to the actual events of the story is usually redundant. If there's not a very good reason to do this you should avoid it. If there's not some event that's pertinent to the plot that happens to the character as an old man, there's not really a point in getting in to that. This sounds fairly obvious, but we've all seen writers do this, purely for the sake of it.

I suppose the rule of thumb with story structure is, don't muddle up your story when it's not necessary. Avoid the temptation of trying to be "clever" in structuring your story. If the jumps in narration have nothing really to do with the storyline, you should avoid them. Keep it simple, stupid. You can't prop up poor plot development with a lot of meaningless flashing back and forth. Nine times out of ten, a story is better off with a straight linear narration that lets the plot itself wow the reader. Complicating the structure purely for the sake of it is a bad idea.

A wise man once said, "Start from the beginning, keep going until you get to the end, and then stop." This is excellent advice when it comes to structuring a story.

There are of course times when flashback is appropriate. In a mystery story for example, or a story with some sort of surprise that requires you to skip over key events and explain them in the end, flashback is useful in such cases. You should still use it sparingly though, keeping the flashbacks brief but powerful.

Of course there is a difference between narrative flashbacks, and simple cognitive flashbacks. If you need to fill in some back-story for a character, it's usually acceptable to have them reflect back on the details of some significant event in their life. It's not wise however, to hijack the entire storyline, dragging it through a flashback.

Once again, as with other story writing elements, an exceptional author could pull it off without a hitch, interweaving all sorts of jumps and starts into the story structure, but for the most part it's better to stick with a simpler model.


Narrative Pace

Another subtle flaw authors sometimes have in their stories is with the pace of the narrative. How smooth is the flow of thought in the story, in other words. This is particularly important in erotic fiction where long moment-by-moment descriptions of sex action play a big part.

As a reader reads images are formed in his or her mind. As the action flows in the text of the story, the mental movie plays out in the reader's mind. A good author should be keenly aware of this flow of thought as they write and edit their work. There should be no jumps in the flow; neither should there be a fast forward or slow down button.

Essentially the pace is set by the amount of detail included in the narrative. What actions, thoughts, sensations, and images do you want to draw your reader's attention to? The amount of detail can change from one scene to the next of course, but within a scene, and especially in each moment of a scene, the amount of detail should remain consistent.

If you want a more technical explanation you might think of it in terms of word count. How many words are you making the reader read for each minute of story time? Ten? Fifty? One Hundred? A thousand? Whatever the case, be consistent, because the pace your readers read these words usually is.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is by examples.

Todd's tongue slithered down Julia's tummy in a slow and meandering trail that had its destination sizzling by the time it got there. He paused here and there to drop kisses onto particularly sensitive areas, and then continued on his way down, toward the most sensitive area of all. Julia shivered as he passed her navel, and felt her flesh rise up to meet his touch. Then his tongue was wandering around on the flesh between her belly button and pubic bone, and her pelvis lifted to meet him.

His tongue entered her hole with a ticklish swirl. She had never felt so excited in her whole adult life. The next thing she knew she was fully penetrated, with the entire length of his cock buried deep inside her.

They came together minutes later with a scream and lay side by side eating grapes from a bowl beside the bed. It was heaven.

And so on. This is an extreme example, exaggerated for the sake of illustration. As you can see the story's pace starts as a moment-by-moment description of Todd's meandering tongue, but suddenly jumps in time to his tongue entering her vagina, and then to the actual sex. It leaves the reader wondering what happened in between. Why did the pace suddenly jump like that? Show me, don't tell me!

An opposite example might look like this:

Julia felt like he was licking her entire body at once, as his tongue slithered its way down to her privates. His face between her thighs made her feel powerful, like a queen, and so incredibly adored at the same time. Then he was kneeling before her, with his erection in his hand, guiding it to her sweetly welcoming sheath, where she could adore him in return.

It went in, slowly at first, barely moving as each moment passed. She felt the width of him, then the inches, slowly expanding her womanhood as he sunk in to her, one inch, then two, then more, and she began to grow impatient, urging him deeper with a gentle tug of her feet on his ass. He resisted though, wanting to drive her wild, and she moaned aloud.

Finally he was buried to half his length in her slippery wet little entrance. He began slowly pulling out once again, torturing her even more...

Here we have the opposite effect - a sort super zoom-in into the scope of time the narrative dictates. This is a little more forgivable than the first example, as it breaks the show-me-don't-tell-me rule at the beginning rather than the end, but the pace is still inconsistent overall.

Authors should always keep the pace of the reader's "mental movie" in mind as they write. Add more detail where the pace seems to jump, or take away details where the pace seems to drag a bit. Keep the flow consistent, at least within a single scene. You can also switch back and forth between thoughts, emotions, sensations, and action on your characters' part if you find simply adding more physical details to be a little redundant.

What's really important is the perceived passage of the flow of story time rather than the actual passage of story time, and it has almost nothing to do with the amount of time a story actually takes to read... It takes as much time for your reader to digest a micro-second of a character's thought, as it does to imagine a whole minute of action if an equal number of words are used. This is the reason many writers don't even notice jumps in their narrative pace. They know what's going on in their own minds because they thought it up. That doesn't necessarily mean they've accurately transferred a good mental movie over to the reader though. If worse comes to worst you can always read your stories aloud to yourself to be sure that what you've imagined in your mind will end up making sense and flows consistently for the intended reader.

The exception to this rule, if you're an exceptional author, is keeping the acceleration or deceleration of the pace consistent. If the pace of the narrative is intentionally speeding up or slowing down, perhaps to affect a mood or anticipation or building intensity, be sure to keep the rate of acceleration or deceleration consistent. It's a little tougher pulling this off, but it pays off in the end with a heart-stopping build in intensity, or a mind-blowing deceleration through all the delicious details of the human sex act.

Most authors intuitively figure these things out on their own after much practice, but it helps to keep this in mind at any level of writing experience. It ultimately helps readers to lose themselves in the story and this is perhaps the greatest effect you could ever hope to achieve in your writing.


Repetition

Repetition, of words, phrases, scenes, characters, and sometimes entire stories is another mistake authors sometimes make in their writing. This works sometimes, giving a hypnotic effect, if that's what you're going for, but most of the time it's distracting, and pulls the reader from the story flow. Sometimes it can even be obnoxious. Most of the time it's simply a minor annoyance though, but it can still bring your story from a 10 down to a 7 or even a 6 if you aren't careful. Sometimes it can destroy a story altogether.

As you can see in the above paragraph, I used the word 'sometimes' a total of five times, and the word 'time' twice. This hopefully proves my point about word repetition. Keep an eye open for this often subtle error, and keep a good thesaurus handy in order to prevent it. (Be careful about over-using a thesaurus though, as using obscure words purely for the sake of it can be even more distracting than word repetition itself. Your readers should never have to consult a dictionary in order to fully enjoy your stories.) Sometimes completely rephrasing, or deleting the sentence in question altogether is a better solution though. If you find yourself repeating words too much, you're probably repeating thoughts as well, which is just as bad.

Todd entered Julia's deep liquid snatch with a long slow thrust that made her toes curl on the sheets beneath her. He entered her with a long slow moan, and her deep liquid snatch stretched wide to receive him. His long slow thrust ended at the bottom of her and her toes curled even more as he began pulling out again. The sheets beneath her were pulled from the mattress as he pulled himself out of her. Her deep liquid snatch released him as his long slow thrust reversed into a long slow pull and she released a long slow moan in response. Her toes curled into little fists and she finally forced them to relax for a moment when his long slow pull ended and another long slow thrust began again, followed by another long slow pull out of her deep liquid snatch, and another long slow thrust back in again.

"Fuck me, Todd," she said in a long slow moan.

Uhg! Writing like this is probably as hard for you to read as it is for a good author to write it. It's an exaggerated example once again, just to over-demonstrate the point. You can see the obnoxious repetition of thoughts, words and phrases here, and it makes it so obviously a mere "story" and not an erotic moment you can lose yourself in.

Repeating scenes is an obvious mistake, and an easy enough one to avoid with a little planning. Never use a rubberstamp formula for more than one scene in a single story. You know the formula I'm referring to. It's the one porn movie producers seem addicted to: kissing, undressing, oral sex exchanged, vaginal sex in the missionary, woman-on-top, and then rear-entry positions, and then perhaps anal sex, followed by a come facial. Go ahead and use this "formula" once in a while, but any more than that you're just being lazy. (Hopefully you're not doing this in your real-life sex life as well or you'll wind up a very bored and lonely person after a while.)

Then there's repetition of characters. You have to read a lot of a single author to pick this one up, and it's perhaps the hardest error of all for an author to avoid. As authors we tend to write what we know, and we usually create characters that are either who we are deep down inside, or who we wish we could be, and of course we pair them up with who our real-life partners are/were, and who we wish they were/could be. In then end we find that we keep creating characters that are essentially the same, story after story.

The best way to deal with this sort of self-projection, if you feel you even need to, is to first deal with your insecurities as a person outside of your writing, if you have any. If you find yourself screaming out in your character creation "Look at me, the author, know me, love me," you know you've got some stuff you need to deal with. Writing is often very therapeutic though when used to deal with personal issues in an author's life, and this self-projection may not even be a problem. Repetitious character creation is a problem though, if you plan to share your writing with anyone other than your therapist.

You see this problem with some actors as well, where the characters they portray seem to be the same no matter what they appear in. We've all seen Mel Gibson for example do the same stunned-looking "I can't believe it. I've been betrayed" routine in just about all of his movies no matter what character he's portraying, where he staggers around in a daze, swallows a few times, glances around all paranoid like, and then falls down. After you've seen it a few times it just takes you right out of the movie, rolling your eyes and saying "Here we go again!" We should avoid this kind of Deja-vu feeling in our writing like the plague.

Then of course there's the cast of Friends. They've all appeared in movies outside of Friends, but you still see Phoebe, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Ross, and Chandler shining through into any character they find themselves in. It never fails. (This is just my opinion of course. You may disagree.)

A little planning, focus, and self-discipline will fix this problem for a good writer though. Getting to know a lot of different people in real life very intimately helps too. A good writer should also be a "People Person". Listen and observe more than you speak. You'll win a lot more friends that way as well as attention is very flattering.

Repetition of entire stories is a whole other problem of course, but it's simply an issue the author himself or herself must deal with. You all know what I mean when I talk about the authors who seem to rewrite the same story over and over again, simply changing the names of the characters perhaps, or the setting for the inevitable sex. Perhaps they have a hyper-specific fetish that they're excited about and keep returning to, but for the rest of us it lost its appeal after the first one or two stories.

This is not to say that writing stories in the new "Story Universe" system is a bad idea of course. You can reuse a Story Universe idea a thousand times without being repetitious if you're creative enough. In fact that's usually the appeal of these works - new angles on the same premise.

Just be careful you don't turn into a one-trick pony in your career as an author. Leave story formats for television sitcom writers and keep your ideas fresh and exciting.


Realism vs. Fantasy

The balance between realism and fantasy must be well-developed in an erotic fiction story. A lot of writers stumble a bit here, erring too heavily on one side or the other.

Putting too much realism into a story is a mistake because readers come to erotic fiction stories to escape reality, if only for a while. They don't want to be reminded of all the things they're fleeing from in their own personal lives - money problems, relationship problems, rejections by the opposite sex, boring dead-end jobs, emotional and mental trauma of all sorts. They want to escape into a world where everything is wonderful and exciting, where all the people are gorgeous and have carefree, mind-blowing sex.

There are cases when a hardcore downer of a story can be quite uplifting and gratifying in the end, when the hard-done-by character triumphs in the end and has an incredibly satisfying happy ending. You have to really do some fancy writing to keep your readers interested up to that point though, if this is the way you want to go. It's ultimately up to you, but just remember: erotic fiction readers are looking for erotic fiction. Don't keep them waiting for too long.

On the other hand, you can't abandon realism altogether when serving up a steamy sex fantasy to your readers. This is a mistake as well. We've all seen it in stories that are heavy on fantasy and light on reality, where the stunningly gorgeous participants get lucky, extremely lucky, so lucky that they enjoy encounters that would literally never happen in real life. Now if your readers are dumb as a posts they will buy such nonsense of course, but the odds are they are not. Anyone smart enough to actually read knows that gorgeous women and men don't just throw themselves at anyone that comes along, flying into a deeply gratifying sexual frenzy no matter what the situation. The idea is just dumb, and it takes the reader right out of the story, leaving them mumbling "Yeah, right! Whatever!" as they close your story and move on to something else.

So in the end a delicate balance must be maintained in your writing. Give them an exciting escape into such sexual frenzies, but make it something that's at least plausible, if not very likely.

The concept of realism in story writing is closely tied to the development of character. This is where writers most often fail in terms of realism. They create characters that are just too good to be true - drop dead sexy women who are closet nymphomaniacs, men that are so noble and good that you just want to puke, or any combination in between. It's not wrong by any stretch of the imagination to put together a dream girl type of character for your sexual adventures, but she must at least be believable.

If she is a drop dead gorgeous slut who will fuck any guy she meets, any time, any where, you have to back that personality up with some sensible reasoning behind it. Why is she like that, when every other gorgeous woman we all know isn't? How did she get that way? What motivates her? Please don't say simple "horniness" because that's just way too shallow. If that were true then the world would be full of sluts and you wouldn't be able to turn around without bumping into two or three people fucking in every direction you look. It's just not reality. In the real world there are real consequences that your dream girl slut had to rationalize away - disease, pregnancy, social stigma, emotional emptiness, for example. How does she deal with these things? Most sluts in real life are alcoholics and drug addicts. That's not very sexy, unless you're an uncaring woman-hating sadist deep down inside.

The trouble is, you can't deal with all these issues without dragging down the story a bit into cold cruel reality. This is not wrong in parts of the story, if the rest of it is hot and sexy. Just make sure there is a good balance, as I said.

Be sure to avoid all the clichés here when addressing the character's back-story. The classic clichés usually go something like this: she was molested or raped as a child and now has sexuality issues that drive her to nymphomania, or else she is a victim of some sort of mind control, hypnosis, or drugs that turn her into a free-wheeling cum dumpster. (This is not to say that mind control and hypnosis stories are inherently bad, but when the mind control/hypnosis factors are just tacked on to prop up poor characterization it becomes stale very quickly.) While the clichés may be somewhat believable, they usually take the reader right out of the story, with an old "Here we go again" role of their eyes.

You have to be somewhat clever to come up with a good reason for your characters to get involved in the extraordinary circumstances of your sexual fantasy tales. The challenge is that it has to be believable. Of course whatever clever idea you come up with to account for unusual sexual adventures is usually the basic hook of the story in the first place, so the problem has already taken care of itself. Going back to the truck stop story example once again, the three beautiful sisters are motivated to their sexual proclivities by their maniacally over-protective father. They are sick of having their lives run for them, and decide to rebel against him, motivated by a deep desire for freedom and adventure.


Tension

Tension is another factor that is usually lacking in sub-par porn stories. It's usually lacking because the author has opted to err on the side of fantasy as opposed to reality. He wants his leading lady to be free and easy, and to give it up without fuss or fight. This is usually because he wishes women in the real world were like this as well.

What you have to realize is that sex is always a hundred times more exciting when there is tension involved, some degree of uncertainty, some doubt about whether the character will get laid at all, and if they do get laid, there should be the very real potential for negative consequences to make it all the more exciting. Human beings love forbidden fruit. We all crave what we can not have, simply because we cannot have it. If it's just thrown into our lap without a fight, its value goes down almost to zero.

I once had a female admirer who used to throw herself at me, shamelessly offering herself to me as a love slave whenever I wanted. It was fun the first few times, but much to my amazement I actually found myself getting sick of her very quickly. It's not like she was ugly or unsexy or anything - she was a very cute blonde with a back-breaking set of high, firm tits, and she could give head like nobody's business. There was just no challenge though - no tension, and I soon found myself looking elsewhere for excitement.

It's the same with erotic fiction completely devoid of tension. It's exciting at first, but it very soon becomes boring. You must offer the reader slices of forbidden fruit, slathered in rich creamy tension, doubt, uncertainty, and mystery.

You must of course avoid what I call "false tension" at all costs. False tension is tension simply for the sake of it, with no real substance, or even reason for it, other than to wind up the reader. We've all seen the scenes in horror movies where the music turns all ominous, the girl hears a noise in another room, she gets all scared and goes to check it out, "wooooo", and all of the sudden "MEEOW!" - it's just a stupid cat. Nonsense like this just winds up being annoying in the end. If you're gonna get your reader's system all wound up, there better be a good reason for it.

Of course with erotic fiction, any tension is better than no tension at all. Just don't be obnoxious about it, like a little kid hiding in a closet waiting to jump out and scream "Boo!" just to be a little prick.


Resolve

When we talk about character resolve in fiction, we're not necessarily talking about whether or not everything "works out in the end". Character resolve is more of a technical term. It speaks about how your characters are moved by the action and events of the story; it addresses the type and quality of changes in your characters.

There are two types of resolve in fiction, generally speaking. Either the character changes in the end, realizing that he was wrong about the story's issue all along, and becomes fundamentally different in some way, or else he or she realizes that they were right all along, in spite of all opposition, and they remain steadfast and unchanged in their stance on the story's main issue.

The steadfast resolve might go something like this, if you'll excuse the overly-simplified example:

Sure I'm still a cheap and easy slut, offering myself to any guy, anytime, anywhere, but I'm fine with it deep down inside. My mother may disagree, and she may continue to fight me every step of the way, but I no longer care. If there's one thing this whole experience has taught me it's that life is too short for hang-ups and reservations. I'm gonna milk the world for every pleasure it has to offer, because you never know if today is your last day on earth. I'm gonna make it count.

The changed resolve might go something like this:

"Are you sure you want to do this?" she asked me.

"I'm sure," I replied, unzipping my fly.

She took out my cock and wrapped her sweet loving mouth around the end of it. As the pleasure of her lips and tongue overtook me, I felt the last dying shreds of the scared and uncertain little boy I had once been melt away in the delicious vat of ecstasy she was dipping me into. I was a man now, and things could only get better from here on in.

The thing about resolve is that it offers a kind of post-climactic after glow to the story. It helps the reader to feel that something significant has actually taken place, other than the A-B-C list of events in the story.

For erotic fiction the concept of resolve can only be developed as deeply as the characters themselves are. If it's just a quickie little fuck scene there is usually little room for any profound insights into the changes the story made to the characters involved. You should still add it, subtly and briefly in the end, but it will only be as powerful as your characterization was. Don't try to force it, or it will just seem tacked-on and phony, like the moral of a fairly tale or something.

The depth of the story's problem and the development of the main issue also influence the total impact of the final resolve. If you have great characters but no real problem involved, there's not much to be resolved about. On the other hand, if you skimp on the resolve after a long and in-depth storyline, the reader will walk away feeling a little let down, like something's missing.


Closure

Closure is another concept in wrapping up a story that's closely related to resolve. It's not the same thing however. Don't get these two concepts confused.

It's possible, and often incredibly compelling, to have a character come to the wrong resolve in the end, changing when he should have stuck to his convictions, or remaining stubbornly unchanged when he should have realized he was wrong. These things happen all the time in real life, and it adds an incredibly realistic feel to the story ending when it is done well. In such cases closure is required, because though the character was resolved, the reader usually has not been.

In our above example, let's say that the girl came to the wrong resolve. Maybe remaining a slut was the wrong thing to do in the context of the story's theme. Perhaps she dodged the story's real lesson and came to an incorrect conclusion. Her friend who died in the car accident was hoping she would settle down, find a good man and live happily ever after, but she didn't figure that out in the end. You must somehow give the reader closure, in spite of a character's bad choices.

Perhaps you are trying to tell the reader something about the story's main theme and are using her story as a cautionary tale. Be careful you don't slip out of point of view and begin sermonizing in a third person omniscient voice or anything like that. That would kill it. You have to offer resolve in some other way, using subtext perhaps, or having some secondary character offer the comments you need to sum up the mistake she's made. The choice is up to you. Just make sure your readers have closure.

The other, less technical aspect of closure is simply the process of making sure all your throughlines are resolved. You don't want to leave the reader wondering, "Okay, so Sally Slutface had a happy little ending, but what became of old Jimmy Longdick?" Before your story is finished you have to read through it and be sure all the loose ends are tied up. Don't leave any threads dangling.

Try to avoid the tired cliché of simply listing off what became of each individual character in the end, kind of like they do in those teen comedies where they show a picture of the character and a caption at the bottom telling you what became of them. You should instead work each character's resolve into the action of the story somewhere. Have the closing scene take place at the bus station perhaps, where Sally is seeing Jimmy off on his trip to the police academy in the big city. Whatever you choose, just make sure it doesn't seem forced or tacked-on.

In any case resolve is more about the internal changes in a character, than the external situations they wind up in. Be sure you address the internal changes in your characters at least slightly. Don't cop out with a short little blurb about where they ended up in life after the story was done.

Give your readers as much closure as you can in the end, without being trite or cliché. Don't leave any character hanging unresolved when you find yourself typing "The End" on the final draft and submitting your story to the public.


Conclusion

There you have it, the end of my little writing guide. As I said in the beginning, you don't necessarily need to include all of these elements into every story you write. You can use them as needed. Pick and choose the ones that will enhance the overall impact of the story, and discard the ones that seem to drag it down.

The last piece of advice I'll give is that you should never be afraid to tear down and rebuild sections of a story that don't seem to be working. As a young writer I always became too attached to long-winded sections of a story that wasn't really working. I'd invested so much time into it though, that I hated to hit the delete key when I realized it was just a lot of hot air for nothing. Don't make this mistake in your writing. Edit your work down to its essentials, avoid redundancy, and be sure it is complete as well.


Story Revision Checklist

Following is a short Checklist of story elements you can look for when revising and editing the drafts of your story. I recommend doing one draft for each element listed, skimming over the work and adding or changing things as needed.


Disclaimer:

All character names and story examples in this writing guide are the work of the author's imagination. Any similarities to actual people you know or stories you or someone else may have written are unintentional and coincidental.