Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links

2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...

The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?

Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words

The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies

2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother


Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica
with Greg Herren

Every Experience You Have is Potential Material



Many years ago, I picked up a single author collection of erotic writings by a very respected name in the field. I’d read some of his work over the years and been favorably impressed by it, and was very happy to be able to read more of it in one sitting. One lazy Sunday afternoon, I sat down with it on my couch and started reading the introduction.

In a matter of a few paragraphs, I was so deeply offended I stopped reading—and have never picked up the book again.

You see, this author opined that in order to write about hot sex, you had to have hot sex with hot men. Otherwise, you could never, under any circumstance, be a good writer of erotica. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you were not fucking hot men, you could never write about it.


I now realize that this was nothing more than another way of stating that incredibly tired truism of write what you know, which every writing instructor and every book on ‘how to write’ tries to shovel down the throats of writers. I’ve always had a problem with this; obviously, Kathleen Winsor had not been a courtesan at the court of Charles II before she wrote Forever Amber; Isaac Asimov had never been to outer space, and I doubt very seriously Agatha Christie ever solved a murder. Ergo, how could such writing advice be valid? It also does not take into consideration that some of my absolute favorite writers of gay male erotica are women.

This advice was something I hated and thought would never truly apply to my own writing. It discounted imagination and creativity; two of the most important tools of any writer.

Yet, older and wiser as I am, I’ve had to rethink my stance on this bit of writerly wisdom. The vast majority of my published work is about gay life in New Orleans; something I know very well. A lot of my erotica is built around the eroticism of wrestling; something else I know quite well. Obviously, I had unconsciously been following that advice in my own career and with my own work. Yet there are also stories I’ve written which required a bit more imagination: I am not an empath, nor do I know one, yet I wrote the story The Sound of a Soul Crying. I am not a merman, but I wrote The Sea Where It’s Shallow. I’ve never had a pool boy, but I wrote a story about fucking one. So, where does write what you know stop and imagination begin?

I believe that life experience does come in handy when you are a writer. When I write in the first person, generally what I do is simply take myself and put myself into the character’s mind. My character Scotty Bradley (Bourbon Street Blues, Jackson Square Jazz, and Mardi Gras Mambo) couldn’t be more different than I am; he’s much more in tune to other people’s feelings, he’s kinder, sweeter, and overall, just a better person than I am. However, when I created Scotty, I had a definite idea in mind of what kind of character I wanted to write about, and the best way for me to define him, to get inside of his head, was to imagine myself to be him; and the rest of it came together from there. What kind of family would I have had to have in order for me to grow up into this person? What kind of experiences? And thus, he was born.

When I write about sex, I do draw from my own experience. What did this feel like? Did I enjoy the sensation? Where was I in my head as I experienced this?

So, yes, all these years I’d been writing what I know. Yet this advice needs a caveat; one they never give you in class or in those ‘how-to" tomes. Experience is where you start; and then you let your creativity and imagination take over. As I said, I’ve never been a merman nor have I ever fucked one, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t write about one.

Besides, coming to the realization that everything in life is fair game and possible material makes the shitty stuff easier to deal with. Just shrug and think, "ah, this would make a good story." Someone’s an asshole? That’s a possible character in another story or in a novel. Emotional or physical pain? Again, you can funnel that into a character to make them breathe and come to life.

Write what you know is just a place to start; not a place to finish.

Greg Herren
August 2006

"Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica" © 2006 Greg Herren. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Greg Herren is the author of numerous novels, including his recent release, Mardi Gras Mambo (Kensington Publishing; March 2006), and the editor of seven anthologies, including the bestselling FRATSEX and Full Body Contact. He also published a collection of his erotic short fiction, Wanna Wrestle? He has published in numerous magazines and anthologies, and works as an editor for the Haworth Press, which is launching a new line of gay erotic titles. He currently lives in New Orleans with his partner, editor Paul J.Willis, and their cat.

  E-mail this page

Search ERWA Website:

Copyright 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

> 2006 Book Reviews

4 Erotic Ass-ets
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bad Girls & More...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

The Best of Both Worlds
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Black Masque
Review by M. Ellis

Blood Surrender
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bound to Love
Review by Ashley Lister

Double Dare
Review by Ashley Lister

Filthy: Outrageous Gay...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Gary Russell

Forbidden Reading
Review by M. Ellis

Leather, Lace and Lust
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mr. Stone & Lessons
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Nina Hartley's Sex Guide
Review by Adrienne

Oedipus & Rode Hard
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Orgasms & More
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Passion of Isis
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex in Uniform
Review by Ashley Lister

Six Top Picks
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Stirring up a Storm
Review by M. Ellis

Sunshine and Shadow
Reviews by Lisabet Sarai

Surrender & Dying for It
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Wicked: Sexy Tales...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Writing Naked
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America’s War on Sex
Review by Rob Hardy

Review by Rob Hardy

Covent Garden Ladies
Review by Rob Hardy

The Commitment
Review by Rob Hardy

Eroticism and Art
Review by Rob Hardy

Expletive Deleted...
Review by Rob Hardy

Female Orgasms
Review by Rob Hardy

Government Vs. Erotica
Review by Rob Hardy

Heloise & Abelard ...
Review by Rob Hardy

International Exposure
Review by Rob Hardy

A Profane Wit
Review by Rob Hardy

Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex Collectors
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex Machines
Review by Rob Hardy