“What’s The Best Way To Write Smut?”

A reader PM’d me the other day to ask some writing advice, and one of her questions was “What’s the best way to write smut?”

My answer, of course, is “With your clothes off,” but I don’t think that’s what she was looking for. So here’s my thought on the topic:

Don’t try to write smut.

Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. Write a good story, instead. Give it characters that people can love or hate or laugh with or at or feel sorry for. Make them interact in fascinating, hilarious or heartbreaking ways. Build the story to several climaxes and have them resolve in a way that moves that story forward, then bring it all to a conclusion that makes the reader sorry to have to see it end.

And if, somewhere in there, two (or more) of your characters find themselves interacting in a way that would lead them to do something sexual to or with each other, then write it.

But for God’s sake, don’t just write a bunch of smut, paint a plot around it, and call it a story. That’s smut, all right. But it’s also probably crap. If you have to make your characters do the dirty deed, you’re not doing it right. They should be telling you how and where and when and for how long they’re doing it.

When I write a steamy scene, sometimes it’s incredibly detailed and played out, and sometimes, we’ll see lips meet, and a hand move down, and then they’re waking up the next morning next to each other. That’s not because I’m lazy or tired of writing about throbbing stuff and sliding tongues and trailing fingers – it’s because in that moment, that’s all we need. Maybe it’s more about the fact that one of them was still there when the morning light hit the windows.

And that’s because the story isn’t all about the smut. Smut, like humor, or tragedy, or obstacles thrown in a protagonist’s path, should be there to further the plot in some way. It’s okay to get really, really detailed (God knows I do often enough), but if you go overboard with it, it desensitizes the reader and subjugates your story.

As for your descriptive terms – well, I just say know your audience. I try not to get too purply in my prose (I’ve read entirely too much historical fiction referring to turgid manhood and heaving bosoms in my life) and I personally can’t stand people who write sex using clinical terms (oh, look – he’s manipulating her clitoris!) but that’s my personal preference. If your audience likes it, you’re doing something right.

And if your audience likes your story – even the chapters without the sexy stuff – you’re really, really doing it right.

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