Book Review: How to Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes by Ashley Lister

So since I have just finished reading through this, I decided to write a review. Now, this book has me umm-ing and ahh-ing a bit as to whether not it actually DOES what it says it does.

How to Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes is a book designed to show a writer how to do exactly what it says on the tin, looking at why a writer would want to write them (for personal use or for selling), identifying and reading the type of erotic fiction you want to write (sub-genres basically), characters, motivations, writing the naked body, description, dialogue, hooks, fetishes, writing the threesome and scenes between couples of the same gender and selling the fiction if you want to do that. This book is written by Ashley Lister, who writes erotic fiction (he is often described as “prolific” when I have looked him up on the web) and also teaches creative writing at a university.

This book covers (almost) everything you need to know about writing this type of fiction, leads you through everything you need to write, includes snippets from various works of fiction to illustrate any points he makes and includes a heck of a lot of advice that is interesting and for writing in general. I also found myself smiling and take a good note of what he says about describing and writing the naked body. This is something that is not covered in other books, with good reason granted since it is not really of any use for writers of other genres really but still, it is something I will take away from reading this book. I will also be taking from this book what Lister talks about when discussing writing scenes with characters of the same gender. Again, it is something not discussed in other books and hopefully, it will help when writing any characters who are gay, bisexual and/or bi-curious.

The thing is though, despite it sincerely doing what it says on the tin, it didn’t do it completely, or at least, in my opinion, it didn’t. I got this book out of the library due to needing help with sex scenes and I say when I describe this book above that the book is “DESIGNED to SHOW a writer HOW to do exactly what it SAYS on the tin”. However, I found that it did not actually cover sex scenes and really he could have easily have called this “How to Write Romantic Fiction with some emphasis on Build Up and Foreplay” and it would have been a better description (albeit not quite as snappy).  Maybe Lister was relying on this being read by someone older than I, who knows a bit more about sex or has at least some experience of it. Maybe he wanted to make sure the book would be sold in stores and could be stocked in libraries.

Either way, I don’t think it quite does what it says it wants to do but it is still a good book to have on hand if you are wanting to write romantic fiction with some steaminess and erotic fiction. I would definitely consider maybe getting this book for myself…providing I can find it cheap on Amazon Marketplace or in a second hand book store.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes by Ashley Lister

  1. That was a good review. Thanks for that. Does the book have anything to say about the use of vocabulary. When I write I always hesitate when it comes to picking the correct anatomical descriptions. On the one hand, words like “vagina” seem to clinical. On the flip side, I feel silly writing things like “the flower of her womanhood.” What do you think?

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    • I apologise if you are getting two replies. Not sure if the other one went through but to be on the safe side:
      Yes, Lister does discuss the use of words for anatomical part in relation to characters. Which words to use is usually down to the character.
      So say a character is a doctor or someone in a medical profession, they might be more inclined to use the medical terminology but if the character is more brash and harsh, they might use the more, let’s say, “dirtier” words for those parts.
      Really, it is down to the character. Let them guide how you describe them and what words to use.

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      • That is definitely good advice. And it makes me think about all those romance novels I read in junior high. Does anyone really think of it as the “flower of womanhood?” Maybe. Maybe I just haven’t hung out in those circles recently. : )

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