The Allure of the Illicit


We all need it.

When it comes to writing erotica, we need it in shedloads – or should that be bedloads? – as, like I mentioned before, the actual coming together of bodily parts can get a bit, well, samey, after a while. It’s not the detail of the event but the event itself which lends the eroticism, not that the details can’t be belly-churningly appealing in themselves.

When it comes to my fantasies – and, let’s face it, our own fantasies underpin our erotic writing – I err towards the inappropriate or the illicit.

Inappropriate =conflict (even an internal one)

Conflict= sexual tension

Sexual tension = great erotica

Age differences, class differences, work conflicts, social conflict, hierarchical mismatches … when it comes to sex, it’s a turn on. And that’s my inspiration.

I’ll admit, I’m not that interested in writing sex between two free, single people of the same age who see each other, fancy each other and take it from there. Where’s the erotic tension in that?

I read a fun little story the other day which had a fantastic illicit premise. One of the characters is an authority figure over the other in a historical setting, all of-age and consenting. It uses the premise to lead into some naughty and contextually believable spanking. All in all, it was pretty scorching. But right at the end it turned out to be role-play and the two characters were actually a modern, married couple. This is a common way of avoiding any overly dodgy situations in erotica, this or the ‘it was all a dream’ opt out. Excuse me while I run away screaming. You may as well dunk me in a cold bath.

There are ways of maintaining the moral acceptability of a dynamic without having to completely annihilate the illicit element. I don’t mean you have to write situations which could land everyone in hot water. Yes, illicit can mean illegal, but it can also mean something which is simply frowned on or disapproved of. I’m not talking about wildly flouting the law, but flouting expectation and convention. This is, presumably, one of the reasons BDSM literature is so popular – you can construct acceptable, consenting, often romantic relationships with the immediate enhancement of something still regarded as unconventional and, in the minds of many, illicit.

Written erotica allows us to push our imaginings and our fantasies. And, after all, if we can’t stretch our fantasies in print where no real person is being exploited, where can we stretch them?

The Allure of the Illicit

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