by Angela Kubinec

Writing literary-style erotica is the most useful tool for improving one’s writing skills. What is literary erotica? Not Fifty. It is writing that stimulates the reader’s sexual and emotional imagination while very rarely using biological-type text or slang references.

But why is it so difficult to get right? Try describing an embrace, for example, which does not use the word “arms,” yet makes you want to grab someone. A challenging task, indeed. Now try writing about a sexual encounter without mentioning “under the swimsuit” parts. There is nothing you can share which your readers have not already done themselves, or at least heard about. After all, there are statistics proclaiming one in three American households admits to viewing pornography.

Pornography is not erotic, merely informative and visually stimulating. Little happens between the ears. If erotica is to be considered literary, it must include highly engaging descriptions of setting and all things tactile. It must portray fascination with events or objects that are not directly sexual, and emotional states of mind that can lead to anxiety, risk-taking, and compromise. These criteria may easily be applied to many other “literary” works.

Perhaps there is no actual “literary erotica” classification. I do know that I wrote what I consider to be said genre off and on for some years under a pseudonym on at the now-defunct Six Sentences website. It gives me pleasure to state that I had a number of followers who enjoyed the tales of illicit romance between a married woman and a gentleman who was the curator of a museum, a couple who appeared in many installments. At Six Sentences, a social writing blog site, my fellow hobby writers flatteringly anticipated the next go-round between these two characters.

Among the flatterers, I entertained a number of site mails from gentlemen, especially a young man who confused me with my character and could not remove from his head the image of kneeling behind her (me) and pressing his face over and over into the soft backs of her (my) knees. He wanted to gently glide his hands along the fronts her (my) thighs in a kind of worshipful posture, just to touch the crotch of her (my) panties. That is all, really, just graze them with my fingertips, he wrote. I suppose since he knew the all fabrics in the scene—their texture, colors, the cuts of the garments, the absence of her (my) stockings, the stress of the floor on one’s pants legs and the willingness to sacrifice one’s best suit—along with the blare of the lights in the church fellowship hall, etc., he got it mixed up with the real thing. Or he was simply crazy. Then after a few more installments, he offered to drive anywhere on the east coast to meet her (me) in a grocery store parking lot for an encounter in the back seat of a car.

Try writing about a sexual encounter without mentioning “under the swimsuit” parts. There is nothing you can share which your readers have not already done themselves, or at least heard about.

For some time I felt guilty and narcissistic about letting him continue his fantasies. Admittedly, though, it made me full out giddy to think someone (however delusional or possibly underage) would be so aroused by a few words which never directly said anything about sex itself—just a fixated, frustrated desire for it. I do not feel bad any longer. It has been about four years, and the well-balanced friends I made on the site occasionally ask if I have abandoned this couple of characters altogether or if they are lurking on paper I am too selfish to share. One of my pals calls about four times a year and asks when the book is coming out. Then we laugh.

My writing has moved on to other things, although I am sure my current stuff is as impermanent as are all my previous incarnations as a writer. I love my old characters and their sneaky convolutions like treasured friends. They gained their depth because they had sexual relationships that were pleasingly explicit without insulting the reader’s pre-existing knowledge. Maybe what they did is merely tantalizing. Either way, they were enjoyed, and are still remembered. Requests to have them come out and play again persist. Anything a reader is moved by or wants more of is literary enough for me.

Oh, and I refused the parking lot offer, but it wasn’t entirely easy. He had some writing skills of his own.

Angela Kubinec is a native of South Carolina who holds a Physics degree from the College of Charleston, and taught Mathematics for eighteen years. Her work has appeared in Carve Magazine and elsewhere.