erotica writing

Poll: Which one of these erotica stories would you most want to read?

Just purely based on their first sentences, which is the most appealing to you?

Poll Maker

For the record, these are all examples of first lines that shine — none of them are examples of what not to do.

Why was that one your favorite? Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What do you already know about the characters?
  • What would you guess about where the story is going, based on what you know of the characters?
  • What do you already know about the setting?
  • Which lines gave you a physical reaction? What kind of reactions did you feel in your body?
  • What was intriguing, and made you want to read more?
  • What was sexy, and made you want to read more?

There’s no right or wrong answer — part of it is just about what you personally like and resonate with. Maybe there’s a character, or a certain dynamic, that reminds you of yourself and your partner (or a crush), and you feel some sweetness. Fantastic. Totally legit reason to like a story and want to read more.

All of these beginnings above establish different things: setting, character, action, at what point in the erotic encounter are the characters, a summary or fable, kink, voice, and more.

In the opening sentences of an erotica story, often one or more of these things are set up: who (one or more of) the characters are, where the characters are, the dynamic between the characters, the environment in which the characters are navigating. It often draws the reader in to start with a ka-pow — some sort of scene, dialogue, or description that reminds the reader immediately that this is a sexy story (if it is! Though not all erotica aims to titillate) and starts to situate the reader inside of that erotic, sultry, sensuous world.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

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