How to write erotica when you don’t know where to start

Picture of Rachel Kramer Bussel

Rachel Kramer Bussel

Rachel Kramer Bussel is the author of How to Write Erotica and editor of over 70 anthologies, including The Big Book of Orgasms (Volumes 1 and 2), Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, and the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series. Her books have won multiple IPPY (Independent Publisher) awards and the Samois Anthology Award from the National Leather Association-International, and her short story “Necessary Roughness” from Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 won the John Preston Short Fiction Award. Rachel’s erotic stories have been published in over 100 anthologies, including Best American Erotica 2004 and 2006 edited by Susie Bright and Succulent: Chocolate Flava II and Purple Panties edited by Zane. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, The Village Voice, and many other publications.

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How to write erotica when you don’t know where to start

Rachel’s new book belongs on your shelf alongside Aphrodite’s Pen: The Power of Writing Erotica after Midlife. Stella’s book is the first to empower older women writing about erotic experiences in life, the bedroom, and beyond. Explore writing prompts, interviews with writers, and examples of Elderotica. Push back on sexless stereotypes by writing your vivid stories. Together let’s create the fun revolution.

By Rachel Kramer Bussel

As a longtime erotica author, anthology editor, and erotic writing instructor, I’ve worked with hundreds of writers and aspiring writers who are eager to turn their sexual fantasies and scenarios into words on the page. Often, however, they don’t know where to start, and many are concerned about what people in their life will think about their new venture into XXX territory.

I believe these issues are intertwined. It can be hard enough in our society to let our minds roam free enough to entertain our wildest, most daring, most taboo sexual fantasies in our own personal lives, let alone contemplate turning them into fiction. When you mix in potential judgment from partners, family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else who might encounter your smutty side hustle, it can turn what should be a joyful creative endeavor into a nightmare.

So if you’re curious about writing erotica, the first thing I urge you to do is push aside all those worries, fears, and thoughts about what anyone else’s reaction might be to your work. Right now, they don’t matter; all that matters is enacting your vision of an erotic story on the page. If it’s helpful, put a name at the top of your piece of paper or computer screen that embodies your dreams for your erotic writing. You can use a name you’ve always thought was sexy or find your “porn name” or any other method of creating a pseudonym.

I’ve used this method myself when writing erotica that I wasn’t sure I wanted to use my given name with, and found it helpful in freeing me from mental constraints I wasn’t even consciously aware I possessed. While most of my published erotic stories are under my name, Rachel Kramer Bussel, I’ve also written under male and female pseudonyms over the last 24 years on occasion, for various reasons.

A pseudonym can help get you in the right mindset to go there, whatever “going there” means to you. I also suggest that if you’re concerned about anyone else in your household potentially reading your work that you password protect your computer or lock away your handwritten papers or notebook. That way, you can fully immerse yourself in your writing, whether that’s penning alien erotica or a kinky “Daddy” fantasy.

Don’t know where to start?

Once you’ve got your pen name and a comfortable place to work, I would start by writing down a scenario involving a sexual fantasy you’ve either had in the past or currently have. The story doesn’t have to involve you personally as a character, but if the actual fantasy is one you also possess, that can make the writing a little bit easier. For instance, my first erotica story, “Monica and Me,” written in 1999, which was published in the anthologies Starf*cker edited by Shar Rednour and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001 edited by Tristan Taormino, was based on an actual sexual fantasy I had about Monica Lewinsky. I wove in my knowledge about her life with what I imagined would happen if the world’s most famous intern were bisexual and interested in a character just like me.

From there, I wrote other stories about either events in my life or my fantasies, such as about a lap dance I received at a Los Angeles strip club, Cheetahs. You can also opt to start with looking around your home. One of the prompts I give my erotica writing students is to write erotica involving a chair. It can be any kind of chair, from a barstool to a sumptuous lounge chair to a rocking chair or a more complicated bondage chair. The point is to get you thinking about chairs in an erotic way. Maybe someone is receiving oral sex under a table or masturbating on the sly at work or squirming on a barstool while flirting with the bartender. The possibilities are endless.

Once you start looking around at your daily surroundings and encounters through an erotica writing lens, you’ll likely find dozens of scenarios that could make good erotica fodder. That doesn’t mean you should ogle your neighbors or grill them about their sex lives, but simply that sexual potential is everywhere, from our first waking moments until we go to sleep, from the highest, happiest moments of our days to our darkest times. Anywhere people are living and interacting with one another (or with inanimate objects), there’s an opportunity for an erotica story. I wish you the best in seeking out those opportunities and writing them down, with your own unique spin.

For more erotica writing tips, writing prompts, and examples of sexy erotica, see my new book How to Write Erotica, out in print and ebook from Cleis Press.

Rachel Tweets @raquelita and consults about erotica and sex writing at Find out more about her online erotica writing classes here.

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