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Language, Sound, and Word Choice

By Shauna Aura Knight (Guest Blogger)

To spurt or not to spurt? Finding the right word for an erotic scene is occasionally fraught with peril. Using overly clinical words breaks the sensual mood but so does purple prose. Often I focus on the musicality and sound of words while keeping an eye to their connotation, context, and even unintentional humor.

Let’s talk about connotation. Though we have this lovely invention, the dictionary, words shift their meaning over time. Reading about heaving bosoms in a romance novel published today might make you chuckle whereas a generation ago the author could reasonably assume that phrase was sexy.

I don’t use the word “dick” for sexy scenes. Why? In modern use it’s generally an insult, as in “Bob, you’re a dick.” I might use it if I’m writing from the guy’s POV and he’s referring to his own anatomy, but cock is usually my go-to word for penis. It has that nice percussiveness and rawness without being insulting.

But this brings us to the question, why not just use the word penis? It’s certainly specific. However, the word penis isn’t a very sensual sounding word, is it?

Clinical vs. Evocative Words

Let’s look at a few clinical words for human anatomy and functions. Clitoris, Penis, Vagina, labia, perineum, vulva, scrotum, anus, prostate, G-spot, urethra, semen, ejaculate, contraction, cervix, uterus, frenulum, testicles, meatus.

These words are all fairly explicit, but in most cases, they are about as sexy-sounding as formaldehyde.

On the other hand we don’t want to venture to the land of purple prose.

Let’s look at other words for penis: member, manhood, hard-on, erection, lance, shaft, hardness, thickness, length, heat, phallus, schlong, dong, pecker.

Some of those words are right out if you want a sexy vibe. Many of them, however, have a warmer, more sensual sound. Erection is still a little clinical, and manhood’s a little goofy-sounding these days, but what we’re looking at is how the sound of the word can evoke the emotions and sensations you want to bring into your writing. When we’re working with word sounds, there are techniques from linguistics and poetry that describe why words work the way they do.

Ideograms, Onomatopoeia and More

Both of these are part of phonosemantics. Onomatopoeia is when a word sounds like what it refers to. For example, water: swish, slosh, splash, crash, pour, trickle, flow, ocean, creek, brook. Onomatopoeia is a type of ideogram.

Ideograms also include sensory words for concepts that do not make a sound. For instance, we might use the words sparkle, shimmer, glint, and glisten to refer to diamonds, but diamonds don’t actually make a sound.  If you want to get really nerdy, iconism is how specific sounds recur to in language to refer to the same type of thing. Phenomimes and psychomimes are specific sound-effect words for concepts that don’t make a sound.

There are a lot of words that sound like what they describe. More examples of onomatopoeia: breath, breathe, gasp, groan, moan, grunt, cry, scream, whimper, mewl, rough, hoarse, growl.

And there are a lot of situations where the sound of the word is just as important as its meaning.

Trance and Hypnosis

I wear a few different professional hats, and along with writing paranormal romance I also write nonfiction focused on leadership, facilitation, and personal transformation. A lot of my public speaking work includes workshops and rituals for the Pagan, Earth-centered, Goddess, and metaphysical communities. Thus, I’m frequently leading meditations and trance journeys, and I’ve found that my choice in words is absolutely crucial in getting a group of people into a trance state.

I’ve learned facilitation techniques from hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, shamanic and other indigenous traditions, educational theory, and storytelling. A mentor of mine put it succinctly; if you’re trying to speak to the subconscious mind and keep the talky-thinky conscious mind from interrupting, you want to use the rougher-sounding Anglo-Saxon words as opposed to the clinical-sounding Latin words.

When I thought about this, I realized that Anglo-Saxon words tend to have more ideograms. The more visceral words keep the subconscious mind engaged and invested in the story you’re telling.

Put even more simply, words with more than three syllables tend to be more clinical whereas simple one and two-syllable words tend to engage the subconscious mind. If you’re writing an erotic scene and trying to articulate a very primal, embodied experience, you’re generally going to want to use more visceral, evocative language that keeps people out of thinky/clinical headspace.

In other words, the more you want someone to feel and experience the words, the more you want shorter words using sound and musicality that reflects those sensations. However, it also serves to be aware of when word sounds can have unintended effects.

Alliteration, Consonance, and  Accidental Humor

Alliteration is when a series of words start with the same consonant. Consonance is when a series of words use the same consonant sound anywhere within the word. These sounds in words can evoke a mood, but they can also render a phrase unintentionally humorous. Repetitions of certain consonants is found humorous to our ears.

For instance: “His penis was pounding her pussy til she peaked in pleasure, his hips slapping her posterior powerfully.” A little ridiculous, but you get the idea.

For erotic scenes, words that begin with S or SH tend to evoke the right sound. Even the clinical word sex uses the sound. Too many S-words in a series, though, will tip the balance from sensual to comical when you aren’t intending to make your reader laugh.

Some S-words: slip, slide, slick, silk, slurp, slap, squirt, spurt, spew, seed, stroke, shiver, shudder, shake, shaft, shot.

Spurt and spew are words that can sound ridiculous all on their own just because of how they sound. One of my favorite erotic romance authors, Emma Holly, somehow manages to use the word spurt without it sounding silly. Largely I think that her use of the word fits in context; she’s using more sexually raw language in most of her descriptions. There are a lot of words that will sound ridiculous in one context and hot in another.

Assonance, Internal Rhyme, and Rhythm

Assonance is when you have several words in succession that have the same vowel sound. This can create a sense of rhyme, even if the consonant sounds are different.

This can add a very gentle rhythm to your prose. And rhythm is good; rhythm is one of the qualities that helps to bring people into that light trance state. When I’m facilitating a trance journey, I’m using rhythmic words and I may often use a soft drumbeat. You might notice how some of the most charismatic public speakers use rhythm in their speech, sometimes even physically moving their bodies to that rhythm.

However, too much rhythm and rhyme and you end up with a scene that sounds like a children’s book. Rhyme, just like alliteration and consonance, can make things sound funny when that wasn’t your intention. Of course, if you’re writing a sex scene and you need something to be funny, pop in a few extra consonants and some rhyme and you’ve got it covered.

Here are a few examples. You decide: Hot, or not?

Consumed with lust, she thrust down onto his cock.

He was bucking into her, fucking faster and harder.

Hauling her leg over his shoulder, he was driving her higher til she screamed.

She gasped as he shafted her; she wouldn’t last long.

He jerked and then spurted, roaring in release.

Pulling Together Poetic Sounds

Here’s a sentence that brings in some of those sensual sounds that evoke the sensation of sex: “She pulsed in bliss at his slick, soft lapping of her silky petals.”

I used ideophones with a mix of alliteration, consonance, and assonance without it being too overbearing. A little assonance and internal rhyme is going to create a gentle rhythm. Too much internal rhyme and you’ll end up with that unfortunate sing-song quality.

Choosing the Right Word

Sometimes when I’m writing, it seems like my choices are a clinical, overly-percussive word, or a soft-sounding word that has been labeled as purple prose. And some words have so much onomatopoeia that they evoke a laugh instead of a moan. It always helps to go back to the context and mood of your story.

For instance, the words squishing, squelching, and squeaking don’t usually sound sexy. In the right context, you might get away with it, like referring to the sexy squeaking of the mattress. Dick and cunt are derogatory, insulting words in modern English. Dick is percussive, cunt is percussive and nasal. They aren’t words that I use in my own erotic fiction because they don’t fit the mood of what I write or have the sound that I want. In your writing, either of those words might work fine because the context is different.

When you’re looking for the right word, think about the atmosphere you want to evoke. Is that clinical word too stiff? Do you want that really percussive sound? Do you need a smooth, soft word?

Generally in my first drafts I tend to overuse the word “pearl” because I like the sound, but eventually for my paranormal romance and urban fantasy I have to switch it out for the word “clit” at least few times. I don’t like the percussiveness or clinical sound of clit so I use it sparingly. However, if I’m writing a modern character, they usually know what their organs are called.

On the other hand, when writing a secondary-world fantasy story, or a historical paranormal romance, I might need to avoid clinical words entirely since that’s not how people would have referred to their anatomy. And that’s a whole separate can of worms. In essence, musicality is important, but it always has to be balanced with context.

I can’t think of a context where I’d use the word vagina for a steamy scene. It’s just too nasal-sounding. “I’m going to penetrate your vaginal opening with my penis.” No way.

Generally I go with pussy because I like the softness of the word. If you’re going for a euphemism, you’ll probably find yourself using another poetic device where you refer to the object by its properties. Her slickness, his hard heat. Here is a brainstorm list to get you started. Think about the sounds of the words and how that would impact your fiction.

Vagina: pussy, cunt, sheath, channel, slickness, tightness, heat

Clitoris: clit, pearl, bud, bud of pleasure, nub, joy button

Other: G-spot, sweet spot, labia, lips, petals, mound, mons, testicles, balls, nutsack

Orgasm: climax, cum, come, ejaculation, spurt, pulsing, contraction, bliss, hot jets

I’ll end this deep dive into the poetics of words with one of my all-time versatile favorites. Fuck: this word just has a rough, percussive intensity. This word that has survived for centuries. It’s a swear word, yes, but when I need a coarse, primal word for sex, this one fits the bill. It’s a word that people can actually say during the act of sex; notice that we tend to go for those simple, one syllable words when the sex is really good. And for quick humor, just rhyme it. Fuck a duck. Fuckety-fuck. Fucknugget. Pumpkinfucker.

What words work for you? What don’t? What sound are you going for?

For further reading, if you want to get a little nerdy about language, here are a few links to get you started:

About Shauna Aura Knight

An artist, author, presenter, and designer, Shauna travels nationally offering workshops in the transformative arts of facilitation, leadership, and personal growth and has written several books on those topics. Her urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels include Werewolves in the Kitchen, A Winter Knight’s Vigil, and A Fading Amaranth.

Web site:
Leadership Blog:
Design Portfolio:

Is There a Man in the House?

By Spencer Dryden (Guest Blogger)

don’t more men write erotic romance?

very new to writing fiction. I’m also an old guy. I just turned 64. I
was 16 when Paul McCartney immortalized that age. At 16 I though 64
was much older and decrepit than it has turned out to be.
Nevertheless I am past the peak of my sexual prime and clearly headed
into the sunset.

immediate benefit of writing erotica is that I can make love to any
woman I want. In fact, she craves my sexual attention and my wife
could care less. How good is that? As my awareness of the field of
writing has expanded I have wondered why more men don’t write
erotica, or more specifically M/F vanilla erotic romance. It’s a

fair to say, since I’m saying it about myself, that I have been
subject to female allure since the first time I felt that stirring in
my pants when I saw pictures of naked women. Yes, I am pussy
whipped. I love women. I love female sexuality. I have been easily led by
the nose (actually by my cock) anywhere any woman has wanted me to
go. I have made disastrous choices because of it.

I found a woman who has been my wife and soul mate for 25 years, but
she too, can get me to do anything she wants. She’s so goddamn smart.
She knows that the secret to moving men is that we crave to have two
things stroked, our egos and our cocks. If she wants anything, all
she has to do is make me think its my idea, praise me for it and then
reward me. It’s like leading a lamb to the slaughter.

does your wife brag about you? Mine brags about me—not for the
tremendous screaming orgasm I bring her (right)— it’s the handyman
work I do around the house. When my wife is bragging about me to friends, in guy code she is saying, ‘my husband’s dick is bigger than

by now I’m sure your asking, ‘what does all this nonsense have to do
with men writing M/F erotica’. The answer is: EVERYTHING.

answer my own question about men writing M/F erotica, my thesis is:
It’s not that men don’t have sexual fantasies or that men aren’t good
writers, it’s that the standard, acceptable expression of erotica is
passed thought the lens of the female experience. So yes, guys, we
are subject to a kind of deeply rooted discrimination. INCOMING!

I say deeply rooted, I am talking about all the way back to the dawn
of mankind. It was sex that brought us out of the trees. Something
happened back when we were two feet tall that caused an explosion in
our species almost like a virus. I believe that explosion was
triggered by several changes that happened relatively quickly but
proved very successful. One of the most important changes was the shift
from seasonal estrus to monthly fertility—females became fertile and sexually
available on a year round basis. The other was the anterior migration
of the vagina—males and females could face each other during

to the change in the fertility cycle, a female signaled availability
by broadcasting pheromones. It drove all the males crazy, we wailed
and beat on each other, bringing gifts, building stuff and generally
making fools of ourselves for the chance of a little nookie. The big
alpha male swept us all away and banged everyone. The pheromones died
down and we all went back to living separate lives, eating grapes and
picking ticks off each other. That strategy is still working
successfully for the other primates we left behind.

along the way females got the idea that if they were sexually
available all year long, males would be constantly seeking their
favor, bringing them stuff, building shit and so on. Then to break
the alpha male thing, they realized that if they could face their
partner, visual cues could replace pheromones and allow them to have
more choice in the selection of mates. The great migration of the
vagina began.

strategy was ingenious. Guys had to keep bringing more and better
stuff in order to get laid, but we all had a chance if we could just
bring the right stuff. The phenomenon we call civilization was born.
It’s why I am pussy whipped. I keep bringing stuff and building stuff
in order to get laid. (You didn’t think I was going to get back to
that, did you?)

only place females fucked up was in selecting big hunky guys (think
Romance) as mates, which promoted sexual dimorphism—males much
larger and stronger than females. They should have selected more of
us regular guys. The slaves they bred became their physical masters.

the language thing came around, women proved much more facile with
this tool. Guys stuck to expressing themselves with clubs and spears.
Moreover since females harbored life, they had to develop much more
internal sensory awareness than men who merely needed to sense when to
eat, shit and fuck.

there was writing. At first we wouldn’t let females learn this
communication tool. When they did, they focused on internal sensory
experience. Eventually, completely frustrated by the lack of
emotional bonds with their mates, they invented Romance Novels as a
means of escape from their dreary enslaved lives. They specified that
the standard story trope must be one that focuses on internal sensory
and emotional experiences and hold the more physical, visual male
fantasy to be an invalid expression.

that’s why we don’t have more men writing erotic romance.

About Spencer Dryden

Some men are born great, others strive
for greatness; still others have greatness thrust upon them. Spencer
Dryden is none of these men. In fact, he’s so unimpressive he leaves no
footprints on newly fallen snow. He was trained in fiction writing on
the job with the many sales reports he produced for his managers,
winning the coveted ‘Keep Your Job Contest’ three years running. His
expense reports are still considered masterpieces of forgery by the
bankruptcy trustee of his former employer. He lives an unremarkable life
in a suburb of a northern city. His friends and family would drop dead
in horror if they knew of his secret life as a writer of erotica. He
hates the family cat, but still loves to pet his wife.

Going There

By Big Ed Magusson (Guest Blogger)

“She never mentions the word addiction in certain company.”–Black Crowes, She Talks to Angels

In 1991, I drove into Tucson a mental wreck. I was returning to an academic career in shambles. I’d driven 900 miles to propose to the love of my life only to have her first tell me about kissing a new guy. It was over a hundred degrees in my tiny apartment, I had no friends in town, and precious few anywhere else. I went looking for a place that was dark and cool and wouldn’t mind if I just sat for hours without doing much.

I found Temptations.

It was an appropriate name for a strip club and for what it offered. For a few dollars, I could sit quietly in the dark and have beautiful naked women pay attention to me. I had the cash. I had free afternoons. And after a while, I had more.

Solace. Comfort. Escape.

And then, over time, a life that narrowed to my trips to the club.

My story The Fix (on my site here and also in the ERWA Treasure Chest here) captures this slice of my past. There’s a pleasure that only the obsessed can understand—that pleasure of final attainment. At the same time, the obsession itself is an inward knife’s blade—constant stabs of nerves and fears and self-loathing.

There’s a saying in the twelve step world: the addiction is not the problem. The addiction is the crappy solution to the problem. Fix the underlying problems as I did (or become more mature), and the addiction either disappears or drops back to a manageable craving. There’s even some scientific backing to this (here).

But try explaining that to people.

All too often, our culture forces a black or white model onto addiction. On the one hand, addicts are terrible people with destroyed lives. On the other, we celebrate the overindulgence of addictive acts—”we were so wasted” describes a good time on too many college campuses.

This is particularly true in erotica and porn. One of Marilyn Chambers’ big hits was Insatiable, about a nymphomaniac; an archetype regularly celebrated in male-oriented porn. Scores of erotica conventions and tropes draw on the power of sex and the human attraction toward it.  We’ve “gotta have it.” Mainstream literary fiction is left to dwell on the question of whether that’s truly a good thing, even though mainstream fiction all too often portrays sex negatively or unerotically, as Remittance Girl discusses here.

So, do we dare go there? Do we dare portray sexual addiction in erotica in a realistic nuanced fashion?

There’s only one way I know to find out—write the stories and see. It promises to be an interesting experiment.


Big Ed Magusson has been writing erotica for the past decade. More of his work can be found at and, including some of his Addictive Desires stories. He plans to release an anthology of the Addictive Desires stories later this year.

Write What You Do Not Know

By Robin Juliet (Guest Blogger)

“She fired me because of my writing. She was worried about her reputation.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. I thought you were a serious writer. What do you write, porn?”

Fear coursed through me when I read my mother’s best friend’s words. Do I write porn? Is that what I do? How do I explain my decision to write erotica?

In many ways, erotica books chose me.

Unlike many, I did not come to this genre through reading. I have never been one to devour smut as a consumer. This is not to say I judge the genre harshly, it’s just never been on my radar screen as a reader.

Rather, I came to erotica through my writing.

Like most aspiring writers, I was told to “write what you know.” I get that. Start with a situation with which you have some familiarity so it rings true and isn’t based entirely on stereotypes and cliché. I still agree with the adage and work with it to a degree.

But, the fact of the matter is, the reason I write erotica is because of what I don’t know. And, what I still don’t understand is how and why and who and what we all do for sex. What makes sex interesting for me is when the physical sensation mingles with the emotional (or sometimes even spiritual) piece of who we are.

Human sexuality, and all of the psychological aftermath that comes along with sex, has me stumped:

  • How can you have amazing chemistry with someone you don’t even like?
  • Why do some people go POOF?
  • What makes someone a great lover? A terrible lover?
  • Is it ever possible to have ongoing casual sex with a favorite lover without getting attached?

Instead of claiming to know the answers to these questions, I prefer to write fiction where I place characters in these situations and find out what happens to them.

I don’t know the answers.

Neither do my characters.

Do erotica readers?

Not knowing is what makes erotica interesting. Not knowing is the difference between erotica and porn. Not knowing is why I write it. And, not knowing is why they come back for more.

“Are you saying your writing is considered porn?”

“By some people. You wouldn’t like them.”

“Good grief.”

“It’s what I gravitate to as a writer. I’m into the psychological play more than the sex, but people focus on the sex. It’s nothing worse than what you might find on HBO.”


“Sorry to disappoint you,” I told her.

“Oh my dear, the disappointment is certainly not with you but with the idiots who have stupidly labeled your writing. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, you can shove it down their . . . you know what I mean.”

About Robin
We cannot help but rubberneck when erotic romance author Robin Juliet explores the psychological train wreck that occurs when lust and love collide.

Never one to shy away from breaking out the lube, Ms. Juliet writes contemporary erotic romances where lust trumps love and happily ever after gets twisted beyond recognition.
Ms. Juliet lives and writes in Denver, Colorado with her dog Bennett. You can reach her at robinjulietwrites [at] gmail [dot] com

Robin Juliet’s newest novella, Involuntary Reflex, is now available in paperback at:
Twitter @robin_juliet
Goodreads Author Page:

How Porn Made Me a Better Person

By J.T. Benjamin (Guest Blogger)

I’ll never forget my first real exposure to pornography. The June, 1979 issue of Playboy Magazine featured Monique St. Pierre as Playmate of the Year, and Louann Fernald as Playmate of the Month. The former was European, Nordic, sleek, sultry, and exotic. She wore a glamorous, shimmering evening gown on the cover of the magazine. The latter was homegrown, olive-skinned, buxom and as wholesome as the sundress-wearing college student-girl next door she was. 


And I was hypnotized by both. The magazine had been “borrowed” by a friend of mine from his older brother, the same way I “borrowed” it from my friend. (My shameful introduction into a life of crime and debauchery). 


To this point, my Catholic upbringing had induced me to fear sexuality; any sexual image, any sexual concept, any sexual thought meant the hellfire of eternal damnation. And yet, when I gazed upon those gorgeous, nude, sensual images, a little voice in the back of my head told me that when considering the opportunity to see more full frontal female nudity versus the risk of eternal damnation,, I decided to take my chances. The flames of Hell? Nothing compared to Playmate of the Month. 


So began my descent into Hell. I masturbated. I fantasized. I procured more porn. More Playboys. Penthouse. Hustler. Then came the movies. The first few were in the company of others, at which I laughed and pretended to be more amused than aroused, but after a while, I stopped pretending and I simply watched the movies alone. Then I started reading porn. Oh, sure. Some people called it “erotica,”, but I knew that if I read it or watched it and I got a hard-on, it was porn. And I embraced it. And watching it or reading it made me a better person. 


How? I’m so glad you asked.

First, as the saying goes, “Once you’ve seen one woman naked, you want to see them all naked.” My exposure to the sultry Monique St. Pierre and the charmingly homespun Louann Fernald only made me want to pursue examination of the female form in every way possible. I examined naked women in every way, shape and form Pale skin, dark skin, olive skin, blonde, brunette, redhead, large breasts, little boy breasts, firm ass, long legs, short legs, buxom figure, petite figure, every possible configuration, and every possible way to look beautiful. I gained an appreciation for the female form that can only come from considering all the possibilities. Through pornography, I saw beauty and sensuality in everyone.

Then, came the exploration of alternative sexualities. At first, like most ignorant adolescents, I initially saw homosexuality or bisexuality as some sort of aberration or deviation. Once I started exploring pornography, I saw these alternative sexualities as something as normal as my fascination with girls with glasses, 140 IQs and fishnet stockings. Lesbian sex? Okay. Bondage? Sure, why not. Leather? You bet. Homosexuality? Okay with me. Not my bag, but still. 

Ultimately, I figured out that what (or who) turned other people on wasn’t my problem or even my business, because, as the saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks.”

Thirdly, I have turn-ons, kinks, and depravities. Thanks to my exposure to porn, I realized everyone else does, too. It’s no more appropriate for me to cast judgment on the kinks of others as it would be for those others to cast judgment on my kinks. So, when the issue of same-sex marriage came up, it was easy for me to decide which side to choose. Everyone’s entitled to their own pursuit of happiness. I wouldn’t have come to this realization without exposure (through porn) to this notion.

Finally, ultimately, in my opinion, the goal of porn is arousal. Either the arousal of one’s partner, one’s own arousal, or even the arousal of total strangers. For myself, porn isn’t fun if someone else isn’t having fun. I take pride in the fact that when I’ve been intimate with others, I’ve exerted the utmost effort in giving as much pleasure as possible to my partner or partners. For the most part, as far as I’ve been led to believe, I’ve been successful in that effort more often than not. I wouldn’t be so diligent in those efforts if not for the exposure to porn I’ve had over the years.

In short, thanks to my exploration of pornography I’ve learned how to be curious about sex, adventurous about sex, tolerant about concepts of arousal divergent from my own, and I’ve acquired a general notion that someone else’s idea of pleasure is simply none of my business. 


So, why do I write about porn? Well, I just want to give something back. 

About the Author

J.T. Benjamin, latter-day hippie, writer, philosopher, and porn pundit, has been a member of ERWA since 1998.  These days he’s working on the Great American Sex Novel when he’s not a cubicle slave for The Man and being devoted to his Lovely Wife, children, five dogs, three cats, and his mortgage.


Sex-free Erotica

Once upon a time, I was nominated for a Silver Clitoride – seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. The story that prompted this honor didn’t have a single sex act depicted, no intercourse, no fellatio, no cunnilingus – none of the activities that most people, not including Bill Clinton, would define as actual sex. But enough readers thought it was erotic. Alas, not quite enough to push it over the top and earn me the coveted Golden Clitoride.

The story is a bit of a downer too; not only no sex, but it occurs on the very last day of a marriage of two “best friends” who had shared a bed for ten years, but are splitting because the woman has met her soul mate, a possibility each had accepted going into the marriage. The man won’t stand in the way of his wife’s/friend’s happiness, but on their last day together he offers to give her a backrub … yeah, a backrub … just a backrub.

Okay, you’re thinking, but backrubs can be sexy. Well, yes, any application of warm hands on bare skin can summon the blood to the erogenous zones. But anyone who gives a good backrub, and I unabashedly number myself amongst such artists, knows a backrub as foreplay has an inherent downside; it tends to put the recipient to sleep. If your partner cajoles you into giving a backrub, you have to know that you are investing in morning sex. For the nonce, you’re hugging your pillow out of frustration.

The woman in my story also falls asleep. She awakes feeling ten years younger, but also alone. He’s left the divorce papers on her kitchen table, signed, and taken his broken heart and moved on.

A friend pointed out to me recently that many of my stories don’t have sex scenes. I begged to disagree: “Ah, go on!”

But when I surveyed my story archive I was mildly astounded. She was right. Not that I can’t write an arousing sex scene, but I have to admit that when I do, they are work. Most depictions of the act, to borrow that running gag from “Betelgeuse,” read like stereo instructions. One could easily substitute the mechanics of a piston engine for a sex scene and I doubt anyone would be the wiser.

So not only have I come to a realization that I’ve been penning stories with no, or perfunctory sex scenes, it’s also occurred to me that I tend to read past those scenes in other’s books and stories. I suppose I should be drummed out of the ranks of erotica writers, but really, how many ways can you describe screwing? A novice may fall back on florid language – how many times have you read the term jackhammer used as a verb? But even old hands can slip into that trap. I admit to concentrating on the viscosity of pussy secretions to the point where I had to stop and think: He’s screwing her; he’s not changing her oil.

Actual sex is less important to me than how characters get to having sex, or not having sex. The best stories I’ve read unfold like extended foreplay, and I’d rather describe over multiple paragraphs how a man kisses a woman’s leg or licks her belly button. Oy! Don’t get me started on belly buttons.

I’m content to end a story with a hand slipping under a sweater, or a kiss applied to a knee exposed by a tear in a lady’s jeans.

But actual penetration? Hey, a paragraph will do.

And what if there’s no chance of penetration? I’m at an age now when things aren’t as easy, nor as frequent. Still, you like to think you’ll die in the saddle, or go down fighting. More than likely, you’ll have given up your guns long before you go knock-knock-knocking at Heaven’s door. And Viagra, with the myth of a hours-long erection? I’m convinced it is all a marketing ploy.

I’ve used erotica to look mortality in the face, imagining an elderly man who can still appreciate a young girl’s beauty and yearn for her. He’d rather yearn for her in vain than not feel anything. A form of masochism to be sure. Sex isn’t going to happen, and it doesn’t in that story. Is it erotic?

How about a couple holding hands on a bench savoring the sights of beautiful young women in summer attire? He’s a straight widower; she’s an elderly lesbian who has recently lost her partner of many years. Together they appear like any old couple slipping into their twilight, when in fact they’re a pair of friends who share a hobby. I dunno … you think that’s erotic?

Is there anything more erotic than a broken heart? I’ve peeked in on a couple, a guy and a girl, who are also best friends. And because he is the one person she trusts implicitly with her secrets, she asks him to give her an enema in preparation for the anal sex she plans to have with her boyfriend. It’s slapstick; but it’s also heartbreaking for her devoted friend. Erotic?

Over on the ERWA discussion lists we can count on the latest newbie to raise the question: what’s the difference between erotica and porn? And everyone sort of heaves a sigh and says, well, here we go again. I make no attempt at definitions. To borrow from Justice Brennan, I can’t define it, but I know it when I read it … and write it. And, you don’t have to agree.



2001 Golden Clitoride nominee

He had offered to massage her shoulders … a parting gesture. She had let him, knowing better, knowing where it would lead. Now she lay on her bed, on her belly, stripped to her panties as his hands roamed, not randomly, but deliberately over her shoulders, then down, thumbs pressing deeply but gently along her spine until the heels of his palms pillowed up against her tailbone.

His hands began their return track up her back, trailing a wake of friction … heat that saturated her flesh and sought out every knot, every muscle made tight by frustration, stress or anxiety. She felt herself dissolve under his hands and enter a state of total relaxation.

His hands pressed over her hips and up her sides. His fingers subtly ploughed the valleys between her ribs. Then farther up to where he kneaded the soft flesh just beneath her arm before sharply turning, pressing over her shoulder blade, a thumb and pinky finger gauging its width.

His cock grazed her right thigh like a velvet wand, dabbing and streaking precum that had already cooled at the tip. She wondered when he had shed his trousers, but in the state he had put her in, she hadn’t noticed much.

He could take her now. She would not, could not resist. Warm syrup flowed out of her pussy that would coat his cock and slicken its way to her pulsing center. He could also toss her over on her back as if she were a rag doll. Either way made no difference … she was open, unguarded, utterly pliant.

Her mind darted to the day they met. They had been tossed together, the only two responsible for an impossible task. They had cursed their lot with humor and teasing and shared the camaraderie of the “screwed over.” Somehow they had completed the project on deadline. Their superiors made them a permanent team.

They were the best of friends. Their bond was that of two people who had endured against the odds and met a challenge arm-in-arm. Friendship became something deeper and marriage seemed like a good idea at the time.

They had carried their teasing and humor into their married life. She believed in soul mates, and flatly pronounced that he wasn’t hers. They had laughed about it then, even though she said if she found her true soul mate she would be torn to leave him. He said he could accept it if it meant her happiness. They decided then that the odds were that they were stuck together in this lifetime, best friends, lovers and companions.

That was ten years ago. Today she had called him home from the apartment he had taken recently. The divorce papers were ready to be signed. In defiance of the odds, her soul mate had stepped into their lives. She knew immediately, and explained to her husband.

… “I feel complete with this man, I won’t be complete without him,” she said.

She told him even as the aroma of the sex she had shared with her lover lingered about her. He drew deep breaths of it and replied, “Looks like I’m yesterday.” He said it as a statement of fact, no bitterness, no anger. He was like that. He would not fight the facts.

He insisted on a no-contest divorce, one lawyer for both. He didn’t want to take anything out of the marriage. It was all hers. He would shed himself of her entirely, except the memories. He had already lined up a new job more than a thousand miles away. …

He had sensed her anxiety as she greeted him at the door. Before she even had a chance to make small talk, he said, “You’re a bundle of nerves. You don’t have to be that way.”

“I guess I can’t help it,” she replied.

“Let me massage your shoulders … one last time.”

She knew she should have said no. His hands were magic. He called running his hands over her naked body “worship” and approached her not so much as a lover, but a supplicant. It was as if he entered a zone of spirituality, while she absorbed his total attention. She felt venerated. It was a heady, erotic elixir that his hands served.

The heat from his touch had opened her pores. Her skin became moist. Now he just lightly grazed his palms over her back, then ever more lightly still. Her body was a feather, inanimate on the bed.

She awoke just two hours into the new day. She lay on the bed for a long moment before she tested her muscles’ ability to lift herself into a sit. Her panties were still on. He hadn’t fucked her.

She stood and pulled on a robe that she let hang open. Her skin tingled and felt new. It seemed like ten years had been filtered out of her. As she started downstairs she looked at herself in the mirror on the landing. She nearly glowed and had to say to herself, “I’m beautiful.”

Stepping off the stairs she sensed at once that she was alone in the house, but more than that she sensed his absence.

She found the divorce papers signed on the kitchen table. Beneath his signature he had written, “Goodbye.”

A single tear fell from her cheek and smudged the ink. She knew she would never see him again.

About the Author

Bob Buckley was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a hospital that doesn’t exist anymore, but was a conveniently short ride over the Prison Point Bridge from the Charlestown housing projects, in the shadow of the Bunker Hill Monument, where his family lived. He may even have passed Malcolm X, who was finishing up his time at the old state prison, when his parents took him home.

When he was four they moved to a brand new project in Boston’s Columbia Point, the site of a former WWII prison camp for Italian prisoners, and hard by the city dump. It’s now the site of the JFK Library and the University of Massachusetts. So wherever he went he came in touch with history, or history in the making.

Finally leaving the projects behind, he lived in a series of triple-decker houses in Boston’s blue collar Irish-Polish neighborhoods where one identified oneself not by the neighborhood one lived in, but what parish. It was a boisterous place peopled by folks who were casually violent and racist, tribal, spiteful, gossip-ridden, intensely loyal and unconditionally loving. The parish church and the greater Apostolic Catholic Church held sway over all aspects of life, so it was a repressed place, but the stronger the repression, the more likely renegade ideas and—Oh, my heavens!—questions are spawned.

Saturday afternoons one was obligated to confess not only actual sinful deeds, but also thoughts. Can you imagine how many times a day a young boy might visualize a naked girl? Never mind that he might have no foundation at all for his imaginings of what a girl might look like without her clothes on. He still had to tell the priest.

Every so often, one of the neighborhood kids would swipe his older brother’s or bachelor uncle’s Playboy.

Wow! Did they really look like that? Then how come Mary Theresa O’Halloran or Anya Wisniewski looked so unfilled under their parochial school uniforms?

Bob had his suspicions that the girls in Playboy were not precisely representative of real girls, so while he enjoyed sneaking peeks at the pictures, he noticed the short stories and fiction that surrounded those pictures. And that began his fascination with words in general, but especially erotic words. And it’s a fascination he’s maintained long since escaping the old neighborhood and finding out for himself what girls look like when they’re naked.

Today he still finds himself a stone’s throw from history, living up the hill from the spot where they hanged the victims of the Salem Witch Hysteria. He enjoys using words to uncover the erotic in places you might never expect to find it—like everyday, mundane life. He especially enjoys writing about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary erotic situations. So, far, it’s been fun.

Writing Ticks: How to Kill a Great Story

By Emilia Mancini (Guest Blogger)

As an editor, I should find that writing comes as easily and smoothly as breathing. However, I am one of those writers who has terrible personal ticks—bad habits that become a part of a writer’s style. For me, the ticks formed early in my writing career—long before becoming an editor and published author—and have stuck with me. I fully recognize that I have these issues, but as personal ticks tend to do, they have been nearly impossible to break.

One of the worst things I do is use the same words and phrases over and over. I latch onto a word and seem to find a way to work it into every paragraph. Several times. This is an incredibly annoying habit to me as an editor, but as a writer it’s one that I can’t stop doing. I now edit my work looking specifically for a word that that wriggles its way in far too often. In my last book that word was “slid.” He slid down her body. She slid his cock into her mouth. They slid onto the floor. I cut out so many instances of “slid,” I was nearly banging my head by the time I finished.

Another tick, one that I can’t seem to get away from, is “filtering”. Rather than just saying someone took a slow drink, I have a terrible habit of saying something like, “He watched her take a slow drink.”

If we are in his point of view, of course he watched her. If he wasn’t seeing her take a drink, we wouldn’t be seeing it either. There is no reason for the writer to constantly tell us he was watching or he looked or he felt. Tighten those sentences up, get rid of those filters, and get right to the point.

The last bad habit that I just recently realized I have, is using the word “again.” Okay, I already said that I fixate on words and over use them, but my abuse of “again” deserves its own tick. If you have this habit as well, stop. Stop now. “He kissed her again.” Or “She moaned his name again.”

Again is a lazy word. It’s basically saying, “I’m too tired or uncreative to find another way to say what is happening.” If you have to use “again,” constantly throughout a scene, take a step back and see what can be altered to shake up your word usage, because I promise you, something can be changed to expand on what you are trying to express.

There are so many ticks and we all have them, we all have things that define our way of writing that makes our editors cringe. The trick is to find those problems and correct them before they make it to the editor’s desk.

Some tips for editing:

1. Walk away and come back later. Reading and re-reading something you just wrote makes it nearly impossible to see your errors. Let it sit for a few hours, or days if you have the patience. When you come back, your brain will more easily see what is actually on the computer screen instead of what you intended to say.

2. No, it’s not easy, but try to read first for content. Fix plot holes and inconsistencies before getting hung up on technical issues. Pay attention to things like eye and hair color and the names of secondary characters. These are things that can easily be mixed up.

3. Read your manuscript again for grammar, those pesky writing ticks, and incorrect spellings that have slipped through your computer’s spell check program.

4. One last step, one that can make a huge difference in how you see your words, is to print the book on paper. If you have the patience, put it aside for a day or two. Then curl up and get to reading.

Though these steps are basic and suggested repeatedly, they are tried and true editing tips that can make the difference between a sloppy first draft and a solid submission that an editor, and hopefully a publisher, can really sink her teeth into. Utilizing all or just a few of these also can help you recognize and correct your own personal ticks—before your editor rips her hair out.


In her “real” life, Emilia Mancini is a Developmental Editor at Musa Publishing, a freelance journalist working for numerous magazines, and a freelance editor/publicist working with independent authors. She has a double BA in Journalism and Public Relations and will earn her MS in Publishing from University of Houston-Victoria in May 2014.

Emilia is published with Musa Publishing, Liquid Silver Books, and Sweet Cravings Publishing (as Marci Boudreaux). Her newest release, Seducing Kate, is now available from Musa Publishing.

The Virgin as She Was Meant to Be

By Henry Corrigan (Guest Blogger)

Several weeks ago, as
often happens on the ERWA Writers discussion list, a question was
posted and soon after a debate began. The question was how to write a
scene that involved the sixty-nine position, but from a female
perspective. The author was having difficulty because he had no
actual experience with the position. (He had no experience with being
a woman either, but that’s beside the point.) He asked several
female members of the group if they could offer any insight. The
answers he received were varied and detailed, but one of them stuck
in my mind.

It was from the
incomparable Rose, and her reply didn’t so much as deal with
sixty-nine, but with writing from the woman’s point of view in
general. She lamented that today, many stories which try for the
female POV, often end up revolving around the same poorly conceived
idea: the trope of the virgin.

The story is simple. A
shy, goodhearted but burningly curious young woman decides to leave
her hometown of Virginity (Birthplace of Everyone, Ever) and move to
the exciting, but kinda scary city of Sex (Everybody Comes Here).
Wherein, on her first day in town, despite being given no outward
instruction, she somehow manages to perform an incredibly complicated
and intense…insert sex act here.

Why is this a bad idea? As
Rose put it, the story left her disappointed because she was unable
to believe in the characters. Doing something right for the first
time without instruction, especially sexually, doesn’t happen in
real life. And if a story is not at least partially based on reality,
the reader can’t connect with it.

This simple fact applies
not only in erotica but in all of literature. If science fiction goes
too far out into the black, no one wants to follow. If the
protagonist of a horror story shrugs off a wound that even a layman
knows is fatal, said layman will demand his money back.

Bypassing reality, while
expedient, comes with the cost of losing the reader’s interest.
Science fiction can go as far out as it wants to, so long as it
remembers to keep a sleeping pod open for humanity. Erotica must keep
the human element in the bedroom as well, if it wants readers to
return for more.

Because for as wonderful
and special as sex can be, it is still, at its heart, a physical act.
And like anything physical that a person tries for the first time,
they are bound to do it wrong.

Real people will gag,
cough at the wrong time, or feel ashamed when something doesn’t go
the way they imagined it. They may even hurt their partner without
meaning to. It’s distressing and humiliating, but everyone goes
through it. To pretend otherwise is like being that guy in high
school who brags about how great he was in the sack the first time
around. Everyone knows he is full of it before he even finishes

Don’t be that guy.

The impulse to skip over
the embarrassing moments may seem like the logical thing to do. When
I first started writing, I did the exact same thing. Why put in
happenings that are difficult to talk about, even years later?
Because people who’ve experienced a similar event will be able to
connect with your fictional re-imagining. The point is not to remind
readers of an embarrassing time in their lives, but to put them in
the right frame of mind to remember what came after. The moment when
they got it right.

That golden moment when
they and their lover found a rhythm or that one little spot and
suddenly…blankets got kicked off the bed, pillows were knocked
aside and two people clung to each other till they had nothing left
and all of it felt just a little bit like dying. Then they did it all

The missteps, accidents
and occasional tears were necessary because they made finally driving
each other absolutely, skin tremblingly insane worthwhile.

Readers come to erotica
because they want heat, but they stay for the heart. They don’t
just identify with characters who have foibles and make mistakes but
with the authors who create them as well. They purchase stories, tell
their friends and little by little a network of fans begins to form.

Give readers the heart,
heat, accidents and mistakes they want and they will look to you for
more. Remember, there may be a whole vast Internet out there full of
poorly written virgin stories ready to pull readers under, but if you
give them a safe port full of well written tales, they will study
oceanography to get to it if they have to. 


About the Author

Henry started writing erotica for the same reason that gets most people into trouble; Because of a girl. Several years ago he decided to turn his passion into a professional career. By day, Henry is a full-time federal employee, and by night a student working towards an MBA in healthcare. Whatever time he has left over, is devoted to family and writing. His work has been featured at and twice in the ERWA Gallery. He is currently at work on two novels. Updates and randomness can be found on twitter, @HenryCorrigan. More of his work can be found hanging in The Cave at

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


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