The Oxford English Dictionary defines erotic as 'relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement' and it is true that Erotic Novels are meant to do just that. However, the word novel is also important here, because an erotic novel is not simply a book-length succession of sexual encounters designed to turn the reader on. In an erotic novel, sex must be an integral part of a fully developed story, with rounded characters who experience conflict and struggle, and find some kind of resolution in the end (usually a happy one, but we'll come to that later).
Having said this, it is important to note that many literary novels or novels of other genres contain erotic scenes that can have the above dictionary-defined effect on their readers. What sets an Erotic Novel apart is that sex and sexuality are central to driving the story forward, rather than simply being part of the larger narrative. In an Erotic Novel, if you were to remove the sex, you would no longer have a narrative at all.
This course will consider the grey dividing line between eroticism and pornography. It will help you, the writer, to differentiate between a bad sex scene, and tapping the fairy tale romance of a person's inner desires portrayed as fiction. It will cover the basics of intense sexual need, and the devices and ruses by which the author can create sex scenes which are believable and exciting.
The course covers the subject intelligently, including observations of social behaviour, individual boundaries, publisher's guidelines and specifications on sexual matters, and discusses realism versus the 'fantasy' element of the written word. It offers thought provoking overviews on the subject of sex in fiction, and will help set in your mind the boundaries of which erotic writers need an instinctive understanding.
• Exploring erotic fiction as a genre - definitions, conventions, sub-genres.
• Researching the market - reading as a writer, finding your niche.
• Getting started - generating ideas, journals and notebooks, forming good habits.
• Character types in erotic fiction - heroines, heroes, secondary characters.
• Creating compelling and convincing characters - appearance, background, motivation, development.
• Showing characters in action - effective characterisation, generating plot from character, character interplay.
• Exploring point-of-view - choosing the best viewpoint for your erotic novel, advantages and disadvantages of first- and third-person narrators, experimenting with viewpoint.
• Keeping perspective - consistency, control, and reader identification.
• Narrative voice - presence, tone and language.
• Exploring plot - plot structures in erotic fiction, plot as character development, sub-plots.
• Storytelling techniques and plot devices - exposition, flashbacks, foreshadowing and twists, the dangers of contrived plotting.
• Planning - writing a working synopsis, plot signposts, planning vs. process.
• Building up erotic tension - establishing desire, sexual dynamics, and obstacles to fulfilment.
• Writing sex - developing an erotic vocabulary, using sensory description, and avoiding cliché.
• Plotting sex - sex as an integral part of the story, variety and frequency, structuring erotic scenes.
• Setting and sex - using appropriate settings, variation and surprise, settings to avoid.
• Bringing setting to life - carrying out research, creating a vivid picture, employing all the senses.
• Setting as a resource - revealing characters, evoking atmosphere, moving the story along.
• The functions of dialogue - characterisation, revealing relationships, and moving the plot along.
• Reading between the lines - subtext, body language, flirtation and sexual chemistry.
• The conventions of dialogue - punctuation, formatting and descriptive adverbs.
• Structure - beginning, middle and end.
• Pace - tension, weighting and timeframe.
• Character - motivation, sympathy and progression.
• Sentence editing - rhythm, punctuation, descriptive language and dialogue.
• The bigger picture - finding focus, structural issues, cutting down and building up.
• Editing sex scenes - re-imagining the moment, deepening context and character dynamic, avoiding repetition.
• Agents and publishers - identifying the right market, approaching agents and publishers, what to expect.
• Self-publishing and marketing - advantages and disadvantages, getting started, proactive marketing.
• Links and resources.