Friday, 22 February 2013

Mills&Boon Erotica Workshop Review

So last night I trekked halfway across London to attend Mills&Boon's erotica writing workshop at Willesden Green Library.  Being a fairly big fan of their current SPICE series, as well as currently working on my own romance manuscript, any help with writing that all important sex scene seemed like a good plan.

And the evening certainly did not disappoint!

Mills & Boon digital erotica sales have increased by 2000% over the last few years.

The panel stated off by inviting the audience to define erotica.  Now erotica has a habit of crossing over with more contemporary romances - particularly those don't leave bedroom exploits behind a closed door - so I was particularly intrigued to see how the M&B editors see it.

Erotica, though escapism blended with fantasy, is effective precisely because it immerses us in an exploration of a different aspect of ourselves.

And erotica, just like any other genre, has numerous subgenres such as short stories (such as M&B's 12 Stories of Surrender), BDSM (Tiffany Reisz's incredible Original Sinners Series), emotional dilemmas (Megan Hart), historical (Portia Da Costa's Into the Flesh - 50 Shades meets Mr Darcy), and magical (The Harlot).

After the opening panel, the group split into three and then went to separate rooms to discuss some contrasting excerpts.  I found it particularly interesting to see how different people reacted to the different excerpts - especially getting a male perspective.

The final section of the evening was devoted to putting all the things we'd discussed into practice.  Anything can be sensual if you try...  So we were given three options (a glass of water, a shoe and chocolate) and tld to pick one.  Check out a snippet from my attempt at making a shoe sexy:

His eyes lingered on her ankle and she deliberately hesitated, inviting his gaze to settle as she slowly wound the ribbons of her shoe round her soft skin.

Overall, a highly entertaining evening, really helpful, and even though I ended up getting to Durham at 3 in the morning, I'll definitely attend another!

The M&B Guide to Writing Erotica:
  • Start with your characters
  • Tell a god story - sex alone is not enough
  • Motivate and contextualise your sex scenes
  • Sex...without the cliches
  • Delve into the specificity of the particular character's experience
  • Use the five senses to explain and express the uniqueness of your character's response to sex
  • Above all, don't be embarrassed - if you're uncomfortable writing your sex scenes, your audience will be uncomfortable reading it
Things to consider:
  • What flaws do your characters have?
  • What emotional and internal barriers are preventing your characters from being together?
  • Why is the sex scene the next inevitable step?
  • Sex must drive the action forward
    • What shift is there after sex happens?
    • What are the consequences of sex?

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