Writing Erotic Flash Fiction


It’s about writing flash fiction, geared to erotica but good points for anyone writing a story in 250 words.

Writing Erotic Flash Fiction
By T. Myer
You’ve seen these little powerhouses of narrative everywhere. Short little stories (1000 words is almost too long) that convey a powerful story while implying an entire novel’s worth of story, characterization, and conflict. The flash fiction (or short-short story) market is gaining in popularity, as editors can pack in more variety with each anthology or zine they publish.

But how do you crack this market? Anyone who has tried to write a piece of flash fiction (erotic or not) quickly realizes how difficult it is to build a good story in so little acreage. Here are some tips for getting off on the right foot.

1. Start strong. Flash fiction in many respects is like advertising copywriting. Without a strong headline and lead sentence, there’s no way anyone will pay attention to it. Same with flash fiction. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

· Dialogue. An excellent beginning, especially if we are thrust into a conversation halfway through it, as though we’d just entered the room where two people are talking. This draws us in, makes us want to read on to figure out what’s happening.

· Description. More than other prose forms, flash fiction attracts a lot of poetic diction. Many flash fiction pieces can sustain lyrical prose because of its brevity. An effective beginning for an erotic piece is to describe in depth one of the character’s physical characteristics. This will lead you to other discoveries.

· Metaphor. Again, flash fiction can sustain higher levels of metaphor, analogy, and allegory than other prose forms because they’re so short. Readers will forgive–even enjoy–the tangents you take. Beware, though: if you have something allegorical to say, don’t dawdle. Economy of words is everything.

2. Forget plot. Let your characters and situations take their natural course. Especially if the piece you are writing has to be 100 or 200 words. Don’t cranialize the experience, get it out on paper. The best way to approach this kind of writing is to get the hell out of the way of the first draft. You’ll have plenty of time later to edit and shape. With just two or three characters, a situation, and 300 words, you’ll have no trouble at all getting the words out.

3. Imply as much as you can. Every word, every action, every sentence should imply way more than it actually says or expresses. If your two characters are divorced, try not to say this outright. Show us, show us, show us. Their words and actions around each other will tell us not only if they are divorced, but whether it was amicable, painful, etc.

4. Think tone. Flash fiction pieces are about tone, not just form. They are more like poems than prose in this way. Although flash fiction pieces can take many forms (letter, diary entry, vignette, slice of life, anecdote, joke) it’s their tone that sets them apart as a literary form.

What is tone? I can take the easy way out and say “You’ll know it when you see it,” but I won’t. Tone is what underlies any of your writing. An emotion or edge. Maybe the entire tone of the story is hurried and paranoid, but the characters themselves are placid. This sets up a nice conflict. Or maybe the tone is comic, although the matter is tragic.

Tone is painted with diction, rhythm, and syntax. Most prose writers find these fields hard to master. Take a poetry class or write some poetry that doesn’t rhyme. Paint a picture with word choices, word phrases, word arrangements. A delicious conflict arises when one character tra-la-la’s while another feels like a dead anvil sitting in the middle of the page.

5. Conflict and contrast. I’ve said it a number of times, but it bears saying again. Always throw yourself into the path of conflict. The conflict can be physical, emotional, spiritual, internal, external, whatever. Same goes with contrast–the bolder, the better.

6. Twist the hook at the end. You open with a hook to reel in the reader. By the end, you need to twist that hook in the reader’s mouth. Because the form is so brief, the twist will be no more than a paragraph, and is usually just a sentence or phrase.

The hook at the end is what will make your flash fiction totally unforgettable. It can literally seal the memory of it in the vaults of your reader’s mind. But don’t overdo it. Sometimes a quarter turn of the hook is enough.

7. Forget everything I told you. Someone will come around and break all these rules, and that’s fine. This form is ripe for harvesting unusual fruit. Just write and see what happens. I think you’ll find the form very gratifying.

Editing Advice Now that you’ve got a first draft down, more than likely you have too many words, either for your own liking or for the editor’s. Here’s how you can knock down the word count.

1. Murder all adverbs. Keep the emphasis on the nouns and verbs. Instead of saying “he ran quickly” say, “he sprinted.” You just saved 1 word.

2. Likewise with redundancies. Instead of saying things like “she moaned with pleasure” say “she moaned.” We’ll figure out from the context that it was pleasurable. Double kudos to you if the piece becomes a little more ambiguous (maybe she moans from pain? despair? fright?) because of the edit.

3. If a word doesn’t add to tone, conflict, or the upcoming hook-twisting, then flush it. There’s no room for excess baggage in this genre. Every word must lead to the conclusion, even in a roundabout way.

Further Reading:

Several online erotica sites publish flash fiction, including Amoret (http://www.amoretonline.com), Mind Caviar (http://www.mindcaviar.com), and Clean Sheets (http://www.cleansheets.com).

Writing Erotica

For the Adult BackWash column this evening/ early morning, I wrote about writing erotica. Here for your viewing pleasure…

Writing is always taking a chance, putting yourself out there, on a limb. I think that is even more so when you are writing fiction with fewer guides to track yourself and maintain your anonymity. You are putting more of yourself on paper than you think at the time, if you’re doing a good job. Especially when you write about sex. It’s already a taboo, hushed up subject. So, to write about your personal sex life or your thoughts about the whole thing in general is kind of setting yourself up for a fall each time. You are exposing yourself to the judgment of the masses. Not so different from getting into a car every day and hoping no one will smash into you. We trust the other drivers to be self interested enough to avoid accidents. But, when you are writing, the self interest is all on the writer’s side. The reader is a complete unknown, out to please themselves.

Anyway, I decided to write about writing erotica. Most of the rules are the same when it comes to punctuation, grammar, spelling all that proper rules of the page sort of thing. I think the biggest challenge for writing erotica is keeping it from being boring. As if sex could be boring, right? Well, it can. Try reading the same thing a hundred times. He puts it in her, she likes it, they come. There, that’s a sex scene. Was it good for you?

While you wipe yourself down…

When a story has no real plot or character development, just mechanical sex with a lot of naughty words and phrases tossed in it becomes more stroke fiction than erotic fiction. This might please a reader who just wants to jack off but someone who wants to actually become aroused and linger in arousal leading to foreplay, will be disappointed and likely frustrated too.

Another unique challenge to writing about sex, the name calling. What do you call it? My personal preference is cock for the penis. It has a blend of cuteness and crudeness that I seem to favour. As far as the vagina, I’ve sort of settled on pussy for lack of anything better. I don’t like it though. If something else comes along I’ll be glad to switch. There are so many variations for breasts, vagina, penis, butt, sex, come and so on. As the writer you have to find words you can live with and words your readers won’t laugh at or not understand.

Avoid 10 inch cocks, breasts like watermelons, anything that will seem improbable to your readers. Errors of mechanics are just that, things that easily believed. You can’t have a character doing something that he/ she couldn’t physically do. That is where really proofreading your work comes in. See the action in your head as you read it over. Make sure it’s clear who is doing what to whom.

Erotic writing tends to use a lot of metaphors and similes. Things like “her pussy was wetter than the whole of Lake Ontario”. I’d personally choose not to use that one, though I did just make it up on the spot. (Don’t blame someone else). You want to keep your metaphors as part of the action, don’t make them stand out and drag readers out of the story and into your writing. The idea is to keep them fully involved in the action, not in your sensational writing. Also, use phrases that don’t sound gross or silly.

Break up your sentences and paragraphs. The breaks are the spots where the reader breathes and moves onto the next part of the action/ plot. You can also use short sentences to spike the action. A short sentence gets attention and stands out. But don’t go overboard. Any writing should have transitional sentences at the end of one paragraph and the start of the next, it keeps things flowing without awkward pauses while the reader catches up with you.

Don’t forget to use dialogue. This also breaks up the story and keeps it interesting. Reading solid text is boring. Just pick up a text book and see how erotic you feel. Reading solid chunks of text takes patience. When the action is moving fast your sentences and paragraphs should be short. Using dialogue is one way to keep things short and moving.

Sex is a sensual thing, it involves the five senses: touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. Include them in your writing. It brings things to life for the reader. Bringing senses into play draws them into the scene and the ongoing action.

Yet again, character development and motivation. Even erotica should have some point or reason. Why are your characters interested in each other? What are they thinking? How do they look? Who are they? When is all this happening? Give some purpose to the sex. Develop the erotica into a storyline, make things happen besides two bodies bumping together.

At the end, you need a conclusion, something to mark the end, to let the reader know it’s over and (hopefully) something to leave them wanting more. Articles and stories without some kind of conclusion aren’t artsy or dramatic, just frustrating. Remember, the point of erotica is for everyone (reader and writer) to have a good time.