Using Suspense and Tension in Erotica

A lot of my titles are kinda vague attempts to be mysterious so I thought I’d be blatant for once.

I thought that after a couple of years my stories (and hell, my brand overall) would only wither. A fellow writer wrote me yesterday to tell me that for some reason, Panopticon is listed on the 20 top rated pieces on sexstories.com. To be honest I’m nothing but surprised. I never considered it to be my best work but I’m glad people like it. I figure, though, and somewhat hope, that people only like the story as is and didn’t use what I have left of a reputation as a “Oh, he wrote this? Better upvote it” scenario.

But then again, I thought BMS was a dead story that no one ever wrote, and yet in the last two months I’ve come across three stories written at different periods that have a suspiciously plentiful number of similarities to BMS. The issue I take with it, though, is that if they truly were inspired by Being More Social, they’re beginning to suffer from a few of the same problems I now see in my own story. The biggest one? Pacing and suspense.

I lucked out with Nicole being the most interesting character of my story. Had Nicole even been the equal of May or Megan as opposed to the main character of BMS, the whole story would have fallen apart as of chapter two. Why? Because I didn’t raise suspense, I didn’t use the thrill of sexual tension to my advantage. Because hands down, it is the most powerful thing any erotica writer can use.

Every single effective romance makes sure to keep the sexual tension high. Readers keep reading, thinking, “Come on! Kiss each other already!” Erotica stories are no exception. If you’re writing for more than your reader to get off as quickly as possible, forget the stupid rule that you have to have sex in at least every chapter. If you think that the website you publish to will hate you for not including sex in one chapter, then fine, publish two chapters under one readable piece. In fact, let me make my stance clear – in your next erotica story, I don’t want any characters to even kiss in the first chapter unless they’re pre-established as a couple.

Patience is the hardest thing to master as an erotica writer. If you have two characters written that are perfect for each other and they’re beginning to hang out, I understand that it’s painful to have them not immediately gush to each other how they have crushes and immediately kiss or immediately bang or whatever. And I get that sometimes immediate sex is like a red herring where that one character becomes a side character after a bit and readers were duped into thinking they were the main character. I understand that everything has context (so it’s a good thing that you don’t have to listen to me). That said, think very hard about why you’re writing what you’re writing, why sex is coming up at the specific point you write it in the story, and what makes readers come back for more. There’s no one size fits all recommendation I can give for writing tension and suspense in your erotica, but my prefered strategy at this point is to write until it feels right for something romantic/sexual to happen, then write just a little more non-romantic non-sexual content. It keeps people on their toes, that’s for damn sure. And hey, find your own strategies. Keep sending me your erotic pieces, I absolutely love reading them. I’m loving seeing what you all are creating. I’ll talk to you all next week.

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