I wrote a post on how to avoid some common amateur writing mistakes back in June. This is a similar list, only specific to erotica and romance. If you’re not into these genres, consider yourself warned.
1. It would seem obvious, but a lot of new writers don’t seem to understand that well-written romance or erotica deserves good writing just as much as any other genre. A good story or book of any genre needs a well-developed storyline and believable characters.
2. Trope that needs retired already: The 18- or 19-year-old girl (usually written as some over the top stereotype of an innocent virgin) with a much-older man. Huge age differences squick me out when the younger party is so young. I don’t think it’s a big deal if a couple is, say, 18 and 22, 30 and 40, 25 and 30, or 45 and 60. It’s another story when we’re talking an 18-year-old with a guy who’s 30, 45, 50, even 26. Could you please use more realistic and appropriate age differences?
3. Learning how to be good at any sort of sex takes time. Totally ridiculous when some innocent virgin is suddenly asking for or engaging in rather advanced sexual activities, like fisting or anal sex. You don’t go from nothing to everything overnight, even when you’re turned on.
4. And speaking of Greek love, a little goes a long way. Not everyone is turned on by it. There’s no requirement to have at least one type of anal scene in your story or book, contrary to its popularity in porn. Some couples love it, others save it as a treat for special times, and others have no interest.
5. Again regarding Greek love, most gay men actually prefer other methods of intimacy. If your story is M/M, you don’t have to have that form of sex at all.
6. Even if a story is meant to titillate, you should still spend some time developing the characters and storyline. I’m going to be bored if two people are immediately going at it. I don’t know them, don’t care about them, have no idea what brought them to this point. It’s just lazy writing to have a story that’s exclusively sexual, even within erotica.
7. Original storylines, please! As much as I love doctor-themed erotica, I’m tired of seeing so many variations on the same basic plot. Make your story stand out. The original doctor-themed stories I’ve found aren’t built around the same old, same old, which makes them memorable.
8. Also regarding doctor-themed stories, I’m extremely turned off by enemas and catheters. Not only does it not turn me on, but it’s extremely unrealistic as to what actually goes on at a normal doctor visit. A lot of these stories seem like they’d be better-off submitted to some scat fetish story database, not Lit Erotica or other reputable websites!
9. Dialogue is important. I can’t get into a story that’s nothing more than paragraphs of description. There’s no character or story development if you’re just telling the reader everything.
10. It seems super-amateur to include personal measurements, particularly when they’re given soon into the story. Honestly, most people don’t really care. Use descriptive adjectives, not exact sizes. The only exception I could think of would be if the measurements are an actual, serious part of the story, like if the female lead is really self-conscious about her small breasts.
11. Related to #10, it seems even more amateur to always make your characters bigger than average. If you must include measurements, at least make them realistic! I know I’m not typical for naturally having a DD chest, just as it’s not normal for a male member to be 8-12 inches.
12. The hymen (now more accurately called the corona minora) is not located several inches into the body. I want to bang my head into a wall every time I read yet another line like “He withdrew his finger after the first knuckle, not wanting to take her maidenhood.” If you’re that far in, you’ve already reached the hymen some time ago! It’s also an utter myth, left over from antiquity, that the hymen is some sort of factory seal that remains completely dense and unbroken until first heterosexual intercourse. If the hymen didn’t naturally wear away, there would be nowhere to menstruate. It’s also an utter myth that all women bleed the first time. I’m not typical for how I had such a thick (but NOT unperforated) hymen, and thus wasn’t successful until the eighth occasion my ex and I tried to have intercourse.
13. Even if erotica usually has some elements which aren’t entirely realistic, at least give the reader a reason to go along with it. Don’t be so obviously over the top with unrealistic characters, storylines, and events. It’s probably a bad sign if your story makes people laugh when you didn’t file it in the Humor section.
14. If your story is contemporary, or even 20th century historical, it’s just common sense, and modeling good practices, to have your characters practising some type of safer sex. Condoms, diaphragms, pessaries, the Pill, an IUD, you name it.