Continuing on with our series on using the senses in erotica writing, this week we’re talking about sight. Describing the way someone or something looks is absolutely vital in good writing because it’s the writer’s job to paint a mental picture for the reader. This isn’t to say you have to fill in every detail, but you need to do some of the work so the reader’s mind can easily fill in the rest.
To be completely honest, no one gives a crap what your characters are wearing unless it’s somehow relevant to the story.
However, when writing erotica, if you’re selective about the clothing you discuss, it can really enhance your story. For example, think about the different effects various outfits can have, like if a woman walks out wearing a lacy bra and panties or if she’s wearing simple cotton underwear, the kind that comes in a five pack at Target. Both visuals create very different moods. Another example would be to think about the way clothing can represent a character, such as the trope of the sexy librarian or the well-suited billionaire. Audiences tend to love the idea of looking demure and polished on the outside but being sexually wild and experimental when they’re alone with their partner. Don’t believe me?
Think about the success of 50 Shades of Grey–a fancy, well-mannered billionaire has a secret BDSM play room. This whole idea ties into the concept of a Madonna-whore, where a woman (or man) looks like June Cleaver in public but fucks like Jenna Jameson.
Your characters aren’t banging in limbo (well, they’re probably not banging in limbo) so you need to describe where they are to your reader. Are they in a bedroom? A car? An alleyway? On stage? What’s the lighting like? Certain locations only allow certain positions–are they in the back of a Ford Taurus or in the back of a limo? Are there rose petals scattered everywhere for a romantic setting or can one of your characters see a rat running by because they’re getting busy behind a restaurant?
You need to orient your readers in a location so it’s easier for your readers to visualize where your characters are. It isn’t necessary to describe absolutely every detail of the setting (think about the restraint you used in describing clothes), but pick out a few key details: rumpled sheets on the bed, the glow of candlelight, goblets of garnet wine, etc. Use your setting to your advantage to help set the mood of your scene.
If you’re writing erotica, then there’s going to be a lot of focus on the people having sex because . . . well, that’s the whole point. When describing bodies, try and think of descriptors that are more poetic or sensual.
Bodies have a lot of curves you can describe: hips, lips, cheeks, shoulders, calves, etc. Sex can also be a fairly aerobic activity–is your character’s skin flushed? Has her hair fallen across her face? What do the participants look like while they’re moving around? Sex isn’t always a very dignified looking activity, but focus on some of the more attractive movements like the arch of a back. If you have male characters, try and come up with something a little more original than “veiny cock.” Sure, it’s a classic description that you can use, but it’s so overdone at this point that it’s worth trying to come up with something a little more original. If you’re having trouble coming up with something that sounds a little more sensual rather than clinical, take a break from writing and read some poetry. I know that for me, just immersing my brain in something more descriptive can help get the creative juices flowing. Otherwise, I run the risk of staring at something for too long until my brain just starts throwing out useless, unusable descriptors.
I hope these quick tips are useful for your next scene. More than anything, just have fun with it. Sex is fun and your writing should reflect that, so get busy!
Are there any other sight elements you think I should have included? Let me know in the comments!
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