Write What You Know? Creating Erotic Fantasies

Ok, confession time. Not everything I write falls into that ‘Write What You Know” category. Especially in erotica writing, I’d either have to be very lucky and, by extension, exceedingly exhausted, to do all of what I write. My most favorite writer, Ray Bradbury, certainly someone who had never been to the planet Mars, still so elegantly wrote about the place in his seminal The Martian Chronicles (if you have never read them I urge you to, right now, go ahead, I’ll wait) said of his imaginative traveling: “I came on the old and best ways of writing through ignorance and experiment and was startled when truths leaped out of brushes like quail before gunshot.”

He merely worked hard to dream where he wanted to go and then went there. 

As any adult with a few relationships under their belt can relate, it’s sometimes best to keep a fantasy strictly fantasy. The third person in your mane trios might turn out to be a lot more clingy than you, and your regular partner wants them to be; that ping-pong paddle might sting a lot more than you ever imagined when you bend over to get spanked by it; chocolate sauce really does get very sticky when…well, you get the idea. Things birthed with our fevered imaginings don’t always the best reality make, but they sometimes do provide the goods for good stories. In fact, a case could be made that those things you do not make real indeed make for the best fictions as they pretty much have always been fiction to you anyway as you come to ‘work out’ what it is you desire through writing it.

Admittedly, it’s best to go forth with at least a modicum of facts about the action at hand, even if it is something you have never tried (this is one of the main reasons that ‘write what you know axiom’ is so often offered as advice). One of the criticisms I repeatedly heard about E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Gray fantasies, came from kinksters, who said the primary power-play relationship portrayed in the books felt false. This is undoubtedly a subjective assessment of the trilogy. Still, authenticity is essential when writing about trussing your lover to an overhead beam as much as figuring out the propulsion used for a rocket ship.

Conversely, getting mired in the details doesn’t always make for a spectacular read…especially with erotica. I recall trying to slog through the one thousand pages Anne Rice set herself midway of her otherwise engaging The Witching Hour relating the history of her “Talamasca” sect. Rich in detail, florid in background, still the book ground to a halt for me when Rice opened things up into this history. Who am to criticize Anne Rice, the lady is a smashingly fantastic fantast and a very sweet person (I met her at a book signing once, and she couldn’t have been nicer). But have you a penchant for giving forth on what every whip crack feels like as it bounces off a sub’s skin or what the air on a particular planet smells like, remember details are useful for however long you can maintain their effectiveness.

You also don’t want to come across as the smartest kid in the class. Sure, this is your journey we are on, but what you don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. In a lot of the fetish writing I read, I find authors get too mired in the minutia, as if they are trying to impress upon me all the wild sex they have engaged in while letting me know that they are indeed writing what they know. Yeah, yeah, I get it, you are super peachy-cool wild in bed. But is the tale you are relaying interesting? Does it move me emotionally? In the end, this is all I really want from you, Potsie.

This writing thing is a balance beam of imparting what you have experienced, what you dream about, and your skills at embellishing, infusing your fiction with “truths leaping(sic) out of brushes like quail before gunshot.” Write what you know, what you imagine, what you wish, but mostly, what you want to read.


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