On writing smut: a how-to guide

insideout
March 14, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

Maegan Cheng
The Silhouette

It begins with a fantasy that must be translated to words. There’s no one way to do it; it can be sweet and gentle or rough and desperate, but done right, it’s a turn-on. In short, smut is sex in print.

While sex is full of repetitive motion, licking and thrusting, the writer makes some actions stand out, making a lick or a thrust special by the way it makes the character feel or what it makes them think. If the smut is of a whole scene, tension and arousal builds to the climax (pun fully intended) of the story. A snapshot of smutty action can be equally riveting, tantalizing the reader into imagining about what happened before and what will follow.  Writing smut is almost purely hedonistic fun.

There are a few things to be aware of when writing smut. A medical description of putting Tab A into Slot B isn’t smut. Flowery euphemisms for genitals and an overuse of adjectives will turn the story into a comedy. Similarly, puns are not sexy, although they are hilarious. An example to illustrate both these points is “his gigantic one-eyed snake reared its head” which I still cannot read without laughing. Extensively describing a character’s attire or proportions is dull unless it’s part of a kink.

Avoid having the characters give inner monologues.  Don’t break up the action with constant revelations on how sexy they think their partner is and how much that’s turning them on.

Finally, general good writing tips apply, like saying the dialogue aloud, keeping track of how many limbs each character has, where they are and whether an action is actually possible.

Sensation and motivation are what grips a reader and drives the action. Make it easy for them to follow what’s happening by being clear about which character is doing what and why.

Are they desperate to see each other naked? Do they have specific roles in their relationship, and does that relate to their day to day life? Is there mind-body conflict? Why does an action feel especially incredible?

A reader with more inclination to the connection between characters may be more drawn to the motivations unique to a writer’s specific character while a reader just looking for some literary porn may be just as happy reading about general characters getting it on.

At the end of the day, if readers are left hot and bothered after reading smut, the author has succeeded.

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