Recently I’ve dipped by toe into the pool of erotica, writing a series of stories set in a swinger club that I call, appropriately enough, Tales from the Club. The stories aren’t housed on wordpress – they contain very adult content, so I have them on a certain website that allows such things. I won’t go into the nature of these stories, but I thought I’d post a bit on the process of writing these, and how they compare to writing horror stories.
The first thing I’ve found is that erotica and horror take the same sort of thought process. When I write horror, I try to write about things that scare me. The writing itself doesn’t scare me, of course; I don’t get scared while I’m writing, only after, when I’m proofing it in a dark room with scary music playing. Erotica works the same way for me. I write about stuff I find sexy, but the actual act of writing doesn’t turn me on. In fact, much like being scared witless wouldn’t be conducive to writing horror, being horny doesn’t help writing erotica.
The second takeaway I’ve found is that it’s still all about the characters for me. The scenes I put a character in are usually less detailed than how the characters are feeling and what’s going on in their heads. This works for both horror and erotica interchangeably. Even the character elements are the same; motivations, tone, reactions, they all work the same. That’s not always true for all writing. Action stories, for example, tend to focus far more on the events or story beats than on the characters and their internal voices. But both horror and erotica are very inwardly focused, at least how I write them.
A third coincidence is that I tend to focus on the female characters the most. I blame this on my own writing style and an adolescence filled with Chris Claremont’s X-Men as my primary guide to how people acted in the “real world” (which was anything but!). Still, whether it’s horror or erotica, I tend to drift toward the female protagonist, who might be strong and independent, or weak willed and frightened. It’s not that men bore me, but perhaps it’s a perspective I’m too familiar with.
Finally, much as I try not to pull punches when writing horror, I do the same with erotica. Stephen King once said, “But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.” I follow this when writing horror. In erotica, I think the quote would be something like, “If I can’t seduce, I will try to titillate, and if I can’t titillate, I’ll go for the porno. I’m not proud.” Just as I’ll go for a scene where a zombie’s head is splattered like a rotten tomato struck by a sledgehammer when I need to, I’ll similarly go for a sweaty, grunting copulation with every naughty word I can come up with when needed. I like to try to hook with the characterization, but when the chips are down, gore for horror and hard fucking for erotica works every time.
I can see how the paranormal romance genre has taken off; horror and erotica are a match made in heaven. Perhaps I’ll have to try my hand at paranormal erotica next, because romance is for sparkly vampires, not rapacious zombies or dread beings of the eternal darkness.