Saturday, 30 August 2014

How to Write a Good Erotic Mash-Up

by I.J. Miller

Taking a classic novel and combining the story with a completely different genre to form a single narrative has become popular these days.  Mashups have been common in music for quite some time, with artists sampling older classics in their new rap song or pop hit.  In literature, Seth Graeme Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies made the first big splash in 2009.  With the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, publishers soon got the idea that erotic mashups might have an appeal.  This past August I was commissioned by Grand Central Publishing to tackle Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights.  Once a book is in public domain, you can use original sentences, but if you are just going to use a lot of verbatim text and periodically throw in a few sex scenes here and there, what is the point? 
Having a strong background in screenwriting probably most tailored my approach.  I looked at the project less as an addition of sex to an old story, but more as an adaptation of the original work with an erotic interpretation.  Interpreting the story, rather than rehashing it makes it much easier for the erotic parts to become organic and not stick out like a sore thumb, or for erotic readers used to heightened sensuality, a small penis.
These classic works are usually longer than the final book a current publisher would want in the erotic romance genre.  In addition, you’re adding material.  To make it work, you have to break the story down to its core and have a plan.
Identify the true theme and through line of the book.  What it is about?  What is it saying?
The better you can emulate the voice and language of the original the more your new scenes will flow.
In order to reduce the book to a manageable length, look to consolidate scenes as much as possible, as one would do for a screen adaptation.  Write the single best scene, or scenes that carries the broader drama in the liveliest way.
Very often these classic books have a lot of subplots and many minor characters.  Only use what is important to the through line of your erotic story.  The entire book will usually need to be streamlined and restructured to get the most out of the romance, love, and lust that is there.
Be creative in your approach to erotic scenes.  The more they carry the story line, the more they reveal character, the more interesting they will be.
For Wuthering Nights, my erotic mashup, I got rid of the narrator, Lockwood, who hears most of the story in flashback from Nelly the housekeeper.  I went with an omniscient narrator to get into the heads of both Heathcliff and his love, Catherine.  After all, Nelly couldn’t be present in every sex scene!  I went with a straight, linear narrative, starting at the beginning, finishing at the end.
This was a wonderful book to retell, because the characters are so complex.  No one is above reproach.  There is intense love and romance, but also bitter revenge and dark hate.  It allowed for complex and varied erotic scenes, from deeply loving, to vengeful, to manipulative, to rough dungeon sex with Heathcliff as the ultimate dominator.  The passion always fit what was happening in the story.
I adapted the book to three parts (the original had two long, sprawling sections), emulating a film’s three act structure.  I developed the set up of the story and took it to its breaking point.  Then, as in the original, I brought Heathcliff back with a longer middle section that continued to escalate his conflict of trying to win Catherine back while getting knocked off course with his intense thirst for revenge.  The last section, as in the original, uses the second generation of the two families to resolve the story.  I limited the focus Bronte had on Catherine’s daughter’s relationship with Heathcliff’s son (Linton), which was ultimately unfulfilling and not passionate in the original, and added a greater focus on the love story between Catherine’s daughter and Catherine’s brother’s son (Hareton) to bring about a more interesting and fulfilling end for a romantic love story, which is different from the more tragic, dark last parts of the original.
One of the things that usually make great books classic is the wonderful language and writing.  There is no reason to lose the great description or dialogue if you don’t have to.  Find passages that will add meaning to the new eroticism you are adding.  The combination might be very close to what might have been if the original had been written this way, with a beautiful and interesting result.  For example, Heathcliff ends up marrying Catherine’s sister-in-law, Isabella, in order to make Catherine jealous and as an act of revenge.  It is clear in the original that it is an abusive relationship and that Heathcliff has changed Isabella from a noble lady to a “thorough little slattern,” as Nelly observes in the original.  I eroticized this dynamic by making Heathcliff a dominant, with bdsm inclinations, who breaks Isabella down completely in his dungeon.  As in the original, she is both addicted to and repelled by him.  I used Heathcliff’s exact dialogue from the original that did not necessarily refer to his sexual relationship with Isabella, but fit perfectly right before a dungeon scene:
“She would rather I seemed all tenderness before you; it wounds her vanity to have the truth of her taming exposed.  No brutality disgusts her.  I suppose she has an innate admiration of it.  I’ve sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on what she could endure, and she still creeps shamefully back.”
There is no magic formula, but a thoughtful approach will allow one to use eroticism, to use what was not a viable alternative back in the day, to heighten all of the powerful emotions in a classic, while producing a story that pays homage to the great writing of yesteryear and is still powerful and interesting enough to stand on its own.


The more she rubbed, the more she rotated her finger at the bump of her pleasure, the more clearly she saw, and felt the presence of Heathcliff. She liked that he was so available to her, that she was not locked in her room, that they were not stealing time in the fields, that this was not a clandestine visit to the garret. No one else was around and they were free to be who they wanted to be, and do what they wanted to do. She rubbed more vigorously and Heathcliff looked up from his whittling and smiled with happiness: happy to be alone with her, happy to see her begin her pleasure so freely. There was so much contentment right now within them both. They were with each other in a way that had never been possible before. Heathcliff undid the buttons of his trousers and removed his erect cock. This stirred her mightily, for she enjoyed everything about his cock: the salty taste, the musky scent, the beautiful curved vision of it. She rose to her hands and knees and crawled on all fours to Heathcliff…up close, her face soon between his legs. She took a moment to sniff his member, then she took turns alternating the brushing of each cheek along the sides of his shaft, like a cat purring for affection. She kissed his ball sack, then up along the bulging veins, around the swollen head, tenderly, before she took this glorious specimen into her mouth. Completely without thought, she sucked, fingers still gyrating against her clitoris, applying deep pressure, as Heathcliff’s cock penetrated her mouth, and a passion grew within her body that she had only come close to feeling on that beautiful Christmas night. There was a temptation to quicken her pace with both her hand and mouth and give them both the pleasure they sorely needed. But this was not enough. Christmas night had not been enough. She rose to her feet, pulled her dress over her head, swiveled slightly so Heathcliff could enjoy the sight of her body as the golden flames from the fireplace reflected off it. He leaned forward and kissed her stomach. He said, “Catherine, you are the most beautiful woman to walk this earth.”


Twitter: @heathcliffian

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Five Tips from Tabitha Rayne

 Tabitha Rayne has been told she is quirky, lovely and kinky – not necessarily in that order or by the same person. She writes erotic romance and as long as there’s a love scene – she’ll explore any genre.

1- Be sure your chosen genre is the very best to tell your story - I think of genres as different artistic mediums - erotica for me, is oil painting in dramatic shades of red. Erotic and sensual connection between people is so much more than the physical and that's what drives me in this style.

2- If, like me, you are a visual writer - try and get right inside the character's skin, viewing and experiencing the world from their perspective as if it were your own.

3- For me, writing erotica has the same rules as any other writing - if you want to elicit a response from your reader, it has to do the same for you. The beauty of using the erotic in your writing palette is that sensuality brings with it every emotion a human is capable of - it is a gift for character study and interaction. So if my couple are making love but about to break up, I have to be aroused and crying by the end of the scene. If they are making up - I want to start out angry along with them and be feeling that golden moment when it flips into passion - oh yes!

4 - Some advice for the physical act of writing: switch off spell check and word count. The more red lines there are when you switch it back on again - the more you were in the zone with your story and letting it pour out on to the screen/page.

5- If you come to at the end of your writing session in a state of dishevelment and exhaustion with barely a coherent word on the page, you can be fairly confident that you have created something authentic and compelling - oh, and hawt!

Tabitha Rayne's stories, long and short, have been published by Xcite, Beachwalk Press, Oysters & Chocolate, Cleis, Ravenous Romance, Mischief, House of Erotica and upcoming with Burning Book Press.

To find more of Tabitha's work visit: my website is

Saturday, 16 August 2014

What do editors look for? D L King

 D. L. King has published dozens of short stories and is the editor of several erotica anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Where the Girls Are: Urban Lesbian Erotica and the Independent Publisher's Award Gold Medalist, Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica.

1. Edit yourself first.
A lot of people call this rewriting. Stephen King says in his wonderful book, On Writing, that after he’s finished a manuscript, he cuts ten percent of it in the rewrite.

After you’ve finished your story, put it aside for a while. When you come back to it you’ll be able to pare it down to its essential core; cut the extraneous bits that have nothing to do with the story. What you should be left with is a tight piece of writing that can’t be cut any further without losing part of the story line.

2. Don’t head hop.
Keep your point of view straight. If we’re privy to your main character’s thoughts about the guy she’s just picked up in the bar, don’t tell us what he’s thinking about her. Remember who’s head your in and what that person could possibly know. The main character couldn’t know what the guy was thinking unless she was a mind reader – and that would be a different story. 

The rule about head hopping doesn’t mean we can’t ever know other characters’ thoughts (although it’s often easier to have a single point of view in a short story). As long as you don’t confuse your characters’ points of view in the same paragraph, section or chapter, you’ll be okay. And when you do change points of view, make it clear who’s doing the thinking.

3. Proofread your work before submitting to an editor.
Because editors are lazy, you want to submit the cleanest copy possible. Make sure you’ve gone over it with a fine-toothed comb for typos and copy errors. I don’t know why, but for some reason errors that go unnoticed on the screen, appear on the printed page, so do your copyediting from the printed page.

4. Follow directions.
Read the call for submissions or the style guide carefully and make sure you follow the directions. Editors don’t put those directions in just to see if you’re paying attention. If asked for double-spaced text in a specific font and point size with paragraphs indented and no extra space between them, don’t give your editor single-spaced block text with a double space between paragraphs.

There really is a reason an editor requests a specific format and, by the way, if no format is specified, it’s always best to go with standard style (which is, if you haven’t already gathered, double spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman or Courier New, paragraphs indented one-half inch, pages numbered and one inch margins all round).

Oh, and pay attention to word count. Word count is related to page count, which is close to a publisher’s heart (because more pages means higher printing costs). If an editor specifies a short story word count range between 2,000 and 4,000, she doesn’t want to see your 8,000-word opus, no matter how brilliant it is. Trust me on this.

5. Fit the Call.
If you’re sending work based on a call for submissions, make sure your work actually fits the call.  Don’t send a vampire story if the call is for a zombie anthology.  Okay, that one’s simple. But what if the call is for a “sex at work” anthology? You wouldn’t want to send the vampire story to that call either – unless the main character worked as a vampire slayer. The bottom line is: make sure your story fits the call, and if you’re not sure, query the editor.

It’s always a good idea to ask questions if you’re not sure about something. Trust me, an editor would rather answer a question up front than read a story that doesn’t fit the call. 

More of D L King's work can be found here and here,, or by following her tweets on Twitter:

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Five Tips from Emerald

Five tips on how to write erotica from Emerald:

1) Schedule writing time
While this sounds obvious, for me it’s tended to have a particular importance. Rather than just trying to “fit it in when I can,” it’s helpful to me to schedule time that’s to be purely devoted to writing. For me, this is internal as much as external--I have to firmly tell my psyche this is what I’m doing for this period of time and that it does not have permission to distract me with other things. Given my psyche’s tendency to do this, it’s both grounding and freeing to have specifically delineated periods when I am not obligated to do anything but write.

2) Invite stream of consciousnessI'm a big proponent of writing things down to allow them out of our consciousness. In my experience, once we do so, our mind doesn't feel such an urgent need to hold on to or keep track of said things anymore. If you're feeling stuck in writing or your creative process, start writing/typing whatever comes into your consciousness. Let it clear out. I see this somewhat like the writing equivalent of warming up before exercising. Even if a literal story idea or such is not generated, the very process may clear out something that was blocking your attention without your even being aware of it.

3) Take care of yourselfThis may not seem to have to do much with writing, but in my experience, it affects it profoundly. If I am not properly fed, energized, and rested, I don't concentrate as well, and if nothing else, this tends to make the editing phase(s) more challenging--and ultimately lead to a piece being less than what it could have been. When I’m on deadline, of course, such self-preservational considerations tend to fly out the window, which is all the more reason I find it helpful to attend to them when I’m not--if I’ve taken care of myself up until go-time, I might have more adrenaline and energy reserves to carry me through those short periods of ignoring eating, sleeping, and most other concerns until a deadline is met.

4) Allow space in the editing processI admit I have often not allowed time for this (see prior tip), but I have repeatedly found that if I allow time--days, weeks, months, or at the very least hours--between when I think I'm done with a final version of something and when I submit or publish it, I'm in a much better position to view the work as a reader would rather than as the writer does. The passage of time allows the attachment I feel to the piece to relax so that I can see things about it I tend not to when I've been working on it for the hours or days immediately prior.

5) Respect non-writing timeI have been known to make the mistake of chastising myself for "not writing" whenever I'm not. But sometimes ideas take a while to come to fruition. Just because you're not sitting at your computer doesn't mean nothing useful to your writing is occurring. A character may just be introducing her/him/themselves to you in your subconscious, or a twist or turn of events may be sprouting in your imagination but need more time to marinate before allowing itself to be seen. Spend the time you're not writing consciously and openly (rather than in frustration or berating yourself for not writing enough), and know that your receptivity is allowing the creativity in you to develop and flourish at its own pace. An apple ripens only when it's ready to.

Emerald is the author of many pieces of fiction including 'Who's on Top?' in Alison Tyler's anthology G is for Games. More of Emerald's work can be found by visiting:

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Five Tips from Sommer Marsden

Five tips on how to write erotica from Sommer Marsden:

1) Write every day. Okay, nearly every day. If your body, mind and soul are screaming for a break, by all means take one. But make it short!

2) Read your work aloud to check for errors. Especially important in explicit love scenes. Sometimes you will find you've written in an extra hand or...other bit.

3) Put yourself in the mood, even if it's just mentally, before writing a sex scene. You might be sitting there in ugly pyjamas with a cup of coffee but in your mind you need to be all about the sex.

4) Talk to other writers. Even if it's about non-writing things. Just find other writers and talk to them. It will save your sanity and possibly your marriage (providing your spouse is not a writer).

5) Get up and move. Believe it or not that's super important. You are a writer but you can't be ALL about writing. Getting up, moving around, finding hobbies, dicking around, watching movies, talking to your family, meeting a friend for a drink are all crucial things to being a well rounded writer. Be a writer not a body in a chair.

Sommer Marsden is the author of many pieces of fiction including 'The Student' in D L King's anthology, Sweetest Kiss. More of Sommer's work can be found by visiting: