Who am I? My name is Hazel Redgate, and seven(ish) years ago I decided that being a copywriter wasn't for me and decided to turn to writing fiction for a living instead. My job has been writing sweet romances and hot-and-heavy fucktales (woohoo) ever since, and it's comfortably one of the best decisions I ever made. I've put three of my books (under this pen name) up for free for the next few days, so if you're looking for something to warm up your winter -- or your mother, grandmother, cool aunt or uncle-who-isn't-afraid-to-admit-that-men-can-read-romance-too wants you to load something onto that new Kindlemabob they just bought for Christmas -- you might want to check them out:

  • Reckless is a novel about a Texas diner owner whose ex-boyfriend rolls back into town after a decade away -- now a famous musician, and eager to rekindle their romance.

  • Smooth is a novel about an uptight Chicago lawyer who, newly single after a break up with her fiancé, finds herself in New Orleans for her best friend's wedding -- only to find herself repeatedly crossing paths with a freewheeling jazz musician.

  • Love at Christmas is a collection of novellas about four single sisters who find a little Christmas romance waiting for them under the tree. (Not with each other, you perverts. With other people.) It's a soft little slice of festive romance.

If something a little raunchier is more your style, you can find some of my filthier shorts over on my website.

I get messages every now and then asking for an AMA about self-publishing, writing (in general) and writing smut (in particular), so if you've got an questions about how to make your writing a little more polished and your readers a little more flustered -- or anything else after this absolute pisser of a year -- fire away!


Comments: 526 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

King_Artis601 karma

Wait how does one just become a professional smut writer?

Portarossa423 karma

One starts writing smut and charging people money for it.

It sounds glib, but on the most surface of levels that's really all there is to it. You can do it by commission or you can do it via Patreon, but Amazon made it very easy for people to publish their writing and get paid for doing it -- perhaps a little too easy; I'm always reluctant to get all gatekeepy, but there's a lot of bad self-published writing that gives the industry a bad name. Once you've got a book that you're happy with and you think people would spend money on without feeling cheated, then the marketing side takes over: getting a book cover, writing a blurb, setting your prices, finding your keywords, doing market research for your next book, immediately regretting not doing market research for your first book when you realise that it's not selling at all because everyone knows that Bigfoot watersports erotica hasn't been a thing since, like, mid-2019, why didn't you listen, everything is ruined forever.

That's the bit that's not fun, and that's the bit where people realise that it's an actual job with distinct downsides. At the end of the day, it's a numbers game, and you can't count on striking it lucky. If you can write sexy stories on a short timeframe, and you're willing to put the work in to actually figuring out a marketplace that can change pretty quickly, and you're able to roll with the punches when you put out a book and it flops... well, the infrastructure is in place. The days of being able to make mad stacks writing shortform erotic fiction are, sadly, a thing of the past, but the industry is a long way from being dead. It's like selling drugs for a living; at a certain point, they pretty much sell themselves. People want to read romances, and they want to read about people fuckin'. You don't have to convince them. You just have to figure out what they want, and provide it at a reasonable price and with reasonable frequency. That's the fiddly bit.

could_use_a_snack259 karma

What's the smuttiest sentence you've ever written? No context please, just the sentence.

Portarossa348 karma

It's hard to say for sure -- I've written a lot of smut, and it probably varies day to day -- but there's one paragraph I keep coming back to:

And last but not least, there is the ache: a different sort of ache than she left the house with last night, but an ache nonetheless. She winces as she sits up in bed, feeling the fresh tenderness of her cunt with every movement. How long had it been since she was fucked like that? How long since she was fucked at all?

tsilihin666310 karma

His balls clapped against her clit like a standing ovation at the New York Philharmonic. Stroke after stroke his cock bore deeper and deeper into her gushing cunt. His shaft coated with cum slipped in and out with the precision and strength of a piston driving a wheel on a steam engine train.

Pretty good right?

Portarossa677 karma

His balls clapped against her clit

From a purely anatomical perspective, I'm in awe.

Truly, you are to the art of writing erotica what Wayne Gretzky is to the art of writing erotica.

DrEvil00713 karma

If you can put a number to it, how much smut do you think you've written?

Just checked out your website, it's quite.. entertaining. I normally don't read erotica because similar to porn, I can never find anything that relates to me appearance wise so that in itself is a major turn off. Nice work.

Portarossa26 karma

Comfortably in the millions of words. Less than ten million. Probably... five or six million?

Seven years, two thousand-ish words a day would be about five million, so yeah. That checks out.

Forsaken-Alternative247 karma

I'm not sure if this is too personal but what is your actual sex life like?
Do you draw inspiration from real life or does the stuff you write sometimes make you go, "Yeah that would never happen" lol

Portarossa805 karma

Honestly, I think everyone's sex life is a bit off this year -- no one will fuck you like a pandemic fucks you -- but no, my sex life isn't as wild as it is in my erotica, and my romantic life isn't as twee and perfect as it always ends up in my romances.

Ultimately, you realise very early on that you're selling a fantasy, and that's no bad thing; I don't need wizards and cloned dinosaurs to be real to enjoy the hell out of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. I get to skip over all the less-pleasant parts of dating and sex if I want to, which is unrealistic in a lot of ways, but it's also part of the process for writing a certain kind of fiction. Jack Bauer in 24 never has to spend fifteen minutes of one episode pinching off a log in the bathroom, in the same way that Christian Grey and Ana Steele don't have to moan about whose turn it is to sleep in the wet spot, you know?

Deson27 karma

Have you ever had the chance to use some of your "Adult" words, phrases etc that you have used in your books in your own private sex life and how was the reaction?

Portarossa121 karma

It tends to be the other way around. Sometimes I'll be talking dirty to someone -- when someone finds out that you write smut for a living, they suddenly become all about the dirty talk, which is a whole thing by itself -- and I'll say something that makes me think, Damn... I need to write that one down.

thedevilyousay215 karma

Can I ask you to critique some of my writing:

He walked into the cock house, ready to give dick for fucking. Would tonight be the night he finds what he’s been looking for? Many years ago he had the bottomless pussy; the pussy that had no bottom and would not quit. He pushed and pushed his cock in for miles and miles and it had no bottom. When he cummed, barrels and barrels of sludgy jizz poured out until he passed out from dehydration. When he woke up, the pussy was gone. The reason he stars in erotic novels is to chase that feeling and find the pussy that is the best. One day he will find it again, but it is a wide search because he did not remember the face of the owner of the pussy from all those years ago.

As he opened the door to the cock house, the hinge squeaked. To his horny ears, it sounded like a sweet queef. When he entered, he saw many fresh pussies that he had not penetrated before. Are one of them my mystery pussy, he thought in his horny mind. His huge boner began to fill with hardness as he thought of the sweet pussy. Years ago, his sociology professor told him to also look at the faces of the people who own the pussies and to learn the names of them too. He could not remember the face or name of that professor but he did remember her horny pussy.

He entered the room more fully, in the same way he would soon enter a pussy. He saw a familiar pussy, and it filled him with horny surprise. He walked over and just stood there, cock throbbing with soon-to-be-orgasm jizz. The pussy pulsated and seem to recognize him.

“It’s been a long time since I saw you,” a voice said from a few feet above the pussy. “Maybe you remember me?”

The sentence ended in a question mark, but it was a statement because this was indeed the lost pussy he has been searching for.

“It’s you. I have been searching for years to find you. You were the best pussy I ever had.” His cock became more horny. “All day long I hunt pussy but all I’ve really wanted was you”.

“I’m surprised considering what happened last time,” the voice above the pussy said. “It seemed like I didn’t do much.”

If a pussy had eyes it would see the shock on his face.

“Excuse me?” he said. “I rammed my horny cock a mile into your fuck hole for hours and when I came it was like a whale sneeze. I was in a coma for three days after because I jizzed so much.”

The voice above the pussy chuckled. “The night you met me I became suddenly on my period right before we fucked. I could tell how horny your cock was, and knew it would be disappointed to miss a fuck. So I told you to close your eyes and I licked your asshole to get it nice and wet. Then I bent your cock and stuffed it into your own asshole. At first you were surprised but you were also very horny. You moaned at first but I pushed your cock further and further up your own asshole. Pretty soon you were spinning on the floor like a lazy Susan just fucking your own asshole. I watched you for several hours and read my book. As you were about to cum you howled like a horny wolf and released. Now, I’ve seen many men cum buckets of cum, but what exploded out of your cock was like a firehose. Your belly became swollen, your arms flapped around, and jizz started spewing from your ears and nose.”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” he said, his horniness giving way to shock. “The ultimate pussy I searched for was my own asshole.”

“Yes,” the voice said. “You had memory loss from all of the jizz you put up your asshole, but it’s true. You have the ultimate pussy. I have searched for years to find you again.”

With that, the pussy pulled out a hard, throbbing, horny cock. “And now it’s time to fuck that pussy.”

He was shocked to find out that he himself was the pussy. For his whole life he had been the cock. He knew what he had to do. He lifted his legs deep into the air so that the pussy could fuck him like the horny slut he is.

The pussy’s cock fucked his ass until way into the morning. So much jizz was made that rats started to appear, looking for a nutritious meal. Owls howled in the distance, and sharks in the sea jumped out of the water.

Sometimes the greatest things we look for are not at the bottom of a pussy, but often within ourselves.

The end

Portarossa176 karma

10/10, no notes.

invigokate145 karma

I love your work on r/OutOfTheLoop Do you write much non-fiction outside of reddit? I think you have a real talent for explaining and informing.

Portarossa153 karma

Thank you! I don't, generally; between the fiction I write for money and the fiction I write for fun, there's not that much time to squeeze in non-fiction. (My OOTL is how I procrastinate, which has been happening a lot this year.)

That said, a friend of mine is toying with the idea of starting a new history-themed YouTube channel in the near future, so I've been casually helping out with the research for that for a few weeks as a sort of proof-of-concept thing, and I've found that I enjoy it much more than I thought I would. I've always liked the whole INFINITE POSSIBILITIES side of writing fiction, but sometimes it's nice just to be able to sit down with a bunch of facts and try to figure out the balance between giving enough of the story that people have a good background and rambling on about all the cool shit you just found, you know?

The limitation of not having to figure out what happens next in the story is enormously underrated.

olivias_bulge144 karma

is there a limit to how much edging/teasing you do before the sex scenes? a sex scene thats too short might be frustrating but how long is too long?

is there a big erotic audiobook scene? does the author do VA directing or is it a third party?

Portarossa245 karma

It depends on a lot of things, honestly. If you're looking at a hot-and-heavy short story (say, six to ten thousand words long), people are liable to get annoyed if you get more than about 40% of the way through without someone boning down, and then the rest of it can be gratuitous fuckin'; if you're writing a novel, even if it's a full-on erotic romance, it still might be a while before your love interests hook up for the first time. You can do a lot with lingering glances and teasing touches, but you've also got to space your sex scenes out. It's less about length -- am I right, ladies? -- but about how well you can balance the audience's expectations for plot vs. horniness. (I'm not going to hold up Fifty Shades as a great book, but structurally it's pretty sound, despite its glaring flaws in other areas. The sex scenes are a couple of thousands of words of intense play, then they go and do something else that keeps them apart or at least out of the bedroom for a little while; whether that's go and make breakfast, go to work, or have an argument, it's something that they're doing that isn't fucking, which helps to keep those moments where they are fucking from feeling stale. As with real sex, sometimes you need a break to have a breather and go and grab a sandwich or something. James manages to keep the tension up with things like flirty text messages and the infamous inner-Goddess monologues where Ana is constantly running over what just happened, which is why a) the books are so much longer than they need to be and b) the characters feel like they spend more time balls-deep in each other than they actually do.)

Then again, if it's a pure romance novel, you might not include a sex scene at all. The fade-to-black implication is very underrated.

There is a big audiobook erotica scene, but I've never dipped my toe in it. I know that some people -- especially the bigger authors who are putting out more than a book a month and who are absolute workhorses -- have invested in it, which they wouldn't do unless it was profitable, but it's always something that I've put off and put off, so I'm not really best placed to say just how effective it is.

monstercake15 karma

That’s something I never thought about because I was so consumed by its flaws, but I do totally agree 50 shades was well paced. Interesting answer thank you!

Portarossa35 karma

Genuinely, the two biggest flaws in people's fiction -- I want to say all fiction, but definitely romantic/erotic fiction -- are poor dialogue and poor pacing.

If you can get those right, your book's quality will be massively improved (almost) regardless of what else you do with it.

TheBeardedGM114 karma

Of which artistic efforts are you most proud?

Portarossa199 karma

Way, way before I started writing smut, I was a playwright trying to get noticed. I had some decent-ish success with a couple of competitions -- nothing that you'd count as an actual job, but enough that it paid for groceries when I otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford it. I wrote odd little dramas that, for some reason, seemed to resonate with people, at least to some extent. (There's no feeling quite like seeing actual people doing make-believe with something you've written; it's this weird mishmash of absolute terror and total maternal pride that I've never encountered anywhere else.)

I kind of drifted away from it over the years, but I wrote a couple of plays that to this day I think are genuinely pretty solid. (Lots of plays that were absolutely bloody awful, of course, but we don't talk about those.) I guess the artistic effort I'm most proud of isn't just the plays themselves, but the part of me that was actively out there just writing weird and interesting stuff without worrying about whether it was going to sell well. 'Will it play in Peoria?' is important in terms of keeping the lights on and the rent paid, but it's kind of rough on your creativity after a while.

Sometimes it's nice to just make something with no expectations of it, and my proudest achievement is that I was for so long -- and sometimes still am -- capable of doing exactly that. My 2021 resolution is to try and get some of that feeling back.

frostyfreckle72 karma

I’ve dabbled in smut writing while doing fan fiction and after a few smut-heavy chaptered pieces I found that I was almost repeating myself in the way that I worded something, or in the way scenes played out.

Do you find this to be an issue for you, too? What are some tips and tricks you might have to keep from feeling your smut is boring you/getting too mechanical?

Portarossa155 karma

I've heard people refer to this as the IKEA problem: when your smut becomes a rote, mechanical description of putting tab P into slot V. It's not great.

There are a couple of ways I've found to avoid it:

  • Write something else. If you've got non-smut fiction, work on that for a while. If you're writing a novel, write what comes immediately after the fucking is done. (The big sex scene in my book Smooth, for example, was literally just a page that said 'SEX SCENE' for about two weeks when I went to work on something else.) Sometimes you just need a palate cleanser, and that's fine.

  • Write less sex. A lot of the time, it's OK to spend more time on sex-adjacent things: kissing, foreplay, tender touches, the smell, the taste, the sights, the sounds, all that good stuff. Focus on how the characters feel, not what the characters feel. You're less interested in the way his turgid member feels in her hand as you are in the way her heart skips in her chest when he whispers her name into her ear. For me, at least, the last one is infinitely sexier.

  • If you're writing actual jerk-off porn, you don't always have to go too heavy with it. Sex is fundamentally pretty simple. Unless you're going into Bad Sex in Fiction Awards territory, you're basically describing something that's been written about a million times before. People often want just enough to get them off, and if you're pulling out too many literary flourishes, it can be distracting. A long, slow lovemaking is fine -- but sometimes you just want to get your rocks off so you can go to sleep.

lkso13 karma

the smell, the taste,

How do you describe the scent and taste of vagina? What about semen?

What other kinds of smells are there that can help create a more sensory impression on the reader?

Portarossa56 karma

My go-to description for both is something that's salty and sweet. I've also used clean to describe a cunt on occasion. You don't need to compare it to anything; you just need to say enough that the audience knows to imagine the taste of come or cunt.

They probably already know what it tastes like. Saying his spunk tasted like melted vanilla ice cream on a summer sidewalk is just going to be confusing, and doesn't really add anything to the scene.

lkso18 karma

I'm a straight guy so the only thing I know about the taste of semen is how a friend described it to me: like baking soda. Does it really taste salty? And I've read that the flavour changes depending on the man's diet. Is there a tasty way that semen can taste that women go wild for?

Portarossa94 karma

I mean, if you were curious, you could always taste your own next time you crank one out. It's not going to be delicious, but it's not going to do you any harm. Consider it literary research.

And no. It can taste better or worse depending on diet, but it's not usually the taste of come that excites women -- even women who are super into swallowing and ejaculation play. You can eat as much pineapple as you want, but you're never going to be spunking out Mountain Dew.

FuujinSama14 karma

You made me imagine the taste of melted vanilla ice cream on a summer sidewalk and I'm blaming you for that.

Portarossa60 karma

Did it taste like semen?

(Asking for a friend.)

djarvis7770 karma

What are your favorite words for the different private parts?

Portarossa184 karma

Cock and cunt, no question. There's just that wonderful bluntness about them. I've always found pussy to be a little too flowery -- it works better in an American accent, which I do not have -- and dick, prick and twat are insults, not anatomical descriptions. I also like phrases like her sex or her entrance; it's contentious in some circles, but I like how unobtrusive they are. You can build a sexy image around them without making them the star attraction.

Basically, the golden rule is never to use something that pulls you out of the moment. If you're writing something romantic, calling it a cunt can be a little jarring; similarly, if you're writing something that's supposed to be straight-up sexy, going for an elaborate literary metaphor can just completely make the reader lose his or her train of thought. You've got to play to the room, and there's no one word that's right in every case.

PhillyTaco30 karma

All the best words have hard "K" sounds.

Portarossa57 karma


TheWriter2853 karma

Has there ever been something you've written that even you thought was 'too much' to go to publish?

Portarossa150 karma

One of the golden rules of publishing smut is that you want to be careful about exactly what you publish under each pen name. My first attempt, way back when, was basically just a free-for-all; I was so desperate to find a niche that worked for me that I had hardcore BDSM stuff and the weirder end of the fetish spectrum right next to fluffy little lesbian romances. The problem is that when you write like that, people tend to find one story that pushes a particular button for them and then they expect all of your other books to be more of the same, and when they get something either too raunchy or too warm-and-fuzzy, they get turned off and promptly forget you exist.

I've definitely written books that are too much for the pen name I initially intended them for, and I've had to either tone them down or just shunt it off to another pen name entirely. (I've been doing this for years now and it's still something I struggle with sometimes, with a catalogue of quite literally millions of words of smut behind me.)

As for something I thought was too much entirely... not really. I occasionally pull back if I think I've gone a little too hard in one direction -- usually if the asshole-male archetype that's so popular just comes across as a bit rapey rather than just strong and dominant in the way I'd intended -- but that happens pretty rarely, and it's usually just a case of adding a few extra lines here and there to soften it and make my intentions clear.

I try my best to work on a least-waste scenario; if I've got to the stage where I've written it, I'm going to try my best to make sure I can use it somehow, otherwise it's just wasted work hours.

lkso14 karma

So it's important to have a different pen name for each kind of smut. How many pen names do you have?

Portarossa36 karma

In current, semi-regular use? Four or five. Historically I've had more and abandoned them when the niche didn't work, or I've ported their books across (with a quick rewrite) to more profitable pen names.

BurgerPleaseYT26 karma

you are one busy author, when you take a break for lunch do you go for burgers? if so, what's your favorite burger joint?

Portarossa39 karma

I fuckin' love burgers. They are my go-to fast food. (Sorry, pizza. It's a close run thing.)

There was a place local to me that used to do burgers that you could customise like a pizza. (Lamb burger with pickles, black olives and mozzarella, if you're wondering.) Unfortunately they shut down recently, so I'm in the market for a new place. Five Guys is nice but too pricey; McDonald's just doesn't scratch that itch.

PM_ME_UR_TAC025 karma

Do you keep details about your personal life/appearance private due to the nature of your writing or are you just a private person in general? Just curious... this is fairly typical for redditors but not many authors I'd assume. Do all your friends/family know about what you do for a living?

Portarossa107 karma

I'm fairly private in general, but there are a couple of reasons for it:

  • I like to keep my different pen names separate for business purposes. One of the golden rules is that if you write different kinds of smut -- whether that's just topic by topic, or different levels of intensity -- you probably want to keep them separate. (You don't want someone review-bombing your entire collection if they don't like something you say on Reddit, for example, or if they find out that the nice girl who wrote that sweet romance your grandmother loved also wrote that eighteen man BDSM gangbang story that your grandmother thought was just OK.)

  • I would potentially like to do something other than write smut someday; I used to work as a personal tutor for little kids in the evenings, and if the shit hits the fan and the industry completely collapses it would be nice to know I wasn't going to be linked to my smut forever.

  • If you write niche kinks, sometimes the fans are... intense. Most of them are lovely, but I recognise that I write openly about sex on the internet, and I don't necessarily want to take undue risks. I'd much rather write happy endings than wind up becoming a cautionary tale -- or a horror story -- myself.

My friends know what I do for a living. My parents think I just write the romance side of things.

PM_ME_UR_TAC016 karma

Thanks for the candid response. I assumed it was some combination of the above but its very interesting to read it in your words. Sounds like a lot of work maintaining so many identities (pen names)... do you ever have trouble separating them or keeping track of things?

Also, happy cake day!

Portarossa40 karma

Thank you!

I don't really have a problem separating them as 'identities' -- 'Hazel Redgate' is basically who I am in real life -- but there's always a brief moment of panic when I publish a book. (For those of you who don't know, when you finally press submit on KDP, the book goes into review for anywhere from 12 hours to 72 hours, at which point you can't do a damn thing to edit it -- including changing the author name if you've accidentally typed in the wrong one. I live in constant fear that one day I'll be just a little bit distracted and one day I'll out myself by typing my hardcore smut pen name into the box for one of my gentle, grandma-friendly romance novels, and then have to wait three days before I can fix it.)

Connect-Answer-807923 karma

How do you balance writing as a job vs writing as a passion/something you love?

Portarossa63 karma

It's genuinely tough sometimes. I don't want to bitch about it too much because I'm very lucky that I get to sit down and tell stories for a living, which is literally what I wanted to do since I was five years old, but constantly having to write to market can be draining. There's not always much room for creativity.

Writing longer-form fiction for sale helps with that; you get more creative freedom in a ninety thousand word novel than you do in a seven thousand word short where your characters have to spend two-thirds of it fucking. I also like to try and make room for my own projects, although I've been shockingly bad at that recently. It's important to carve out some space where you can say, 'OK, I've done enough smut for the week; on Friday, I'm going to write what I want to write, and I don't give a shit if it's saleable or to market.'

The other thing is that sometimes you just have to be able to walk away. I try and get at least something written every day, but when I'm feeling burned out on writing in general, I have to remind myself to take the weekend off and just read some books or watch some movies and come back to it with a fresh mind. That has the twin benefits of cleansing my smut palate (which is a real organ; you don't need to Google it) and also usually breaking me out of whatever funk I'm in about writing in general. It's better to lose a day's productivity and come back refreshed than lose a week spent hating everything you write.

AmexNomad21 karma

Do your parents read your books and talk about your work to friends and family?

Portarossa68 karma

My parents have read my romance stuff, but as far as they're concerned that's all I write; I don't need to look my mother in the eye over Christmas dinner knowing that's somewhere on her Kindle there's a story her daughter wrote about, you know, Bigfoot watersports or whatever. (That's largely for my benefit rather than hers. My mother isn't exactly what you'd call 'sexually liberated', but it would still be vastly more embarrassing for me than for her.)

It's for that reason that I don't don't link any of my other pen names to this account. This is my 'polite company' profile, so to speak; I would, perhaps, one day like to do something that isn't writing porn, so it's nice to be able to keep a little distance between the various facets of the job.

TheHunnyRunner21 karma

Do you make decent money?

Portarossa62 karma

I do OK! It's my full-time occupation and has been for all bar about six months of the time I've been writing smut. That said, there are a couple of caveats: a) I know full well that there are people who work far harder than I do and make far more money than I do, and b) I do better on other pen names than I do on this one. (Unfortunately, this is the Reddit account that managed to gather a shitload of karma, so this is the one I use for things like this.)

I earn more than enough to keep me happy and fulfilled, and I've got a job I love where I get to set my own schedule and workload. I can't ask for more than that.

Educator_Wise20 karma

How does one become more articulate? Be it in writing emails or general conversation, i tend to use fillers frequently, which i am not a fan of because it makes me sound like unprofessional.

Portarossa58 karma

You don't necessarily need to worry about fillers. They serve an important function; they're often either a way of stalling for time, or a way of softening an idea to make it more palatable. (If you look at my answers to these questions on this thread, you'll see that I use fillers when I type. There's more than one 'you know' kicking around in my last few posts, and it's not because I'm just transcribing what I'm thinking. I'm making a conscious effort to make my answer seem softer and more personable -- less formal, more like an actual person. Some people don't like this approach; I've been accused of 'talk-typing' on several occasions... but also, fuck 'em.) If it's in writing, you have the advantage of being able to edit them out before you hit send.

If you're worried about fillers, you might want to start by looking at the root cause. Are you stalling for time because you don't know how the sentence ends when you start it? Well, try and talk more slowly, or take a second to figure out where you're going with it before you start. Are you trying to give the impression of caution or 'softness' because you're not feeling decisive about what you say? Well, maybe you make a conscious effort to try and remove ambiguity. (It's not like something; it is something.) That way, you can -- in theory, at least -- choose when to use fillers and when not to. (Used purposefully, they're an important tool; just try and imagine flirting without them.)

It could also just be force of habit, which makes things trickier. In that case, I've found Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit to be useful when it comes to getting myself out of bad routines. (It's a self-help book, yes, but it's also pretty interesting from a psychology perspective -- and he very handily breaks down all the self-help bits in a twenty-or-so page section at the back of the book, so you don't even have to read the whole thing if you don't want to. Your local library will almost certainly have a copy, if not thirty.) If that's the case, practice is a big help. It's a pain in the ass, sure, but you can change your speech patterns if they're genuinely annoying you. It might take a while to unclip your brain, but they're not fixed forever.

Good luck!

Katesfan14 karma

How do you gather your info for your well-informed answers on r/outoftheloop? In other words, how do you seem to know so much!?

Portarossa5 karma

I'm flattered, and glad you enjoy them!

Basically it's not about knowing things as much as it is about knowing how to find things. I don't have any specialist expertise; my degrees are both in English, and while there are certain parts of the news that I actively follow (I'm a big nerd for US politics, for example), I wouldn't really describe myself as a big news or even non-fiction buff.

When I see a question that looks interesting -- which often includes questions I don't already know the answer to, but ones where I'd like to find out more -- the first thing I do is hit up Google. That usually pushes me towards news sites where I can get a vague overview of whatever's going on at the moment. (Sometimes Reuters and the Associated Press are enough to get a vague outline, but other times I like a website like Vox where they try and explain things a little more contextually; Vox can be very clickbaity at times, but they're also good at laying out complicated ideas over time, so you can see how we got from there to here. That's something that the main news organisations, where there's the expectation that you're already a little familiar with things, sometimes falls apart.)

The reason I think my comments are different than most is because I'm very focused on the follow up questions. Most stories in a news setting can be explained quite quickly. 'Why did X do Y?' is often as simple as 'Because A did B', but that doesn't really help you understand it. What's the relationship between A and B? How has it changed over time? Why did A do B now, after not doing it for a decade? What do C, D and E think about it? Is X likely to respond? Is the reporting about A and X accurate, or is it being spun for political gain?

Those are the sorts of questions that people tend to have about a topic, and that's the kind of context I aim to provide. At that point, it's just going to Wikipedia, finding reliable news sources and opinion pieces from people with a proven track record of expertise, occasionally looking up the actual laws that are being referred to, and double-checking what other people say. (I make a conscious effort to provide sources for every claim I make, so people can tell that I'm not just pulling it out of nowhere.)

I'm not doing journalism; I don't have any journalistic training, and frankly it seems like a massive pain in the ass. (I like the Nero Wolfe approach, where I send other people out to find information and I just sit on my fat ass and tend my orchids.) What I do think I'm good at is taking big, complicated stories with a lot of moving parts and turning them into an understandable narrative. That seems to resonate with people, which I'm glad about, but all the information is out there. I'm just collating it, contextualising it, and trying to keep some sense of nuance while also making it fun and easy to understand.

LittleMew2213 karma

Have you listened to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, and how does your style compare to the incredible Rocky Flintstone?

Portarossa11 karma

I haven't! I've had it recommended to me a bunch of times, but I'm not really a podcast sort of girl; if I'm driving, it tends to be an audiobook.

I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point, though.

Frozen_Gopher13 karma

Have you seen much of an uptick on kdp over your free books this year compared to previous years?

Portarossa29 karma

I've noticed an uptick in the latter part of the year when things improved for me and I started publishing regularly again, but honestly I've had an absolutely shitty 2020 -- join the club, I know -- and it massively affected my output for about six months. That gives a little more noise than signal when it comes to trying to figure out exactly what impact the weirdness of this year might have had.

I genuinely wish I had the information about how other people have done over the pandemic. My guess would be that things have gone OK, and that people having more time and desire to read would largely counterbalance the fact that times are lean for a lot of people right now, but the industry is very dependent on a steady flow of new content and not having that will skew your numbers dramatically.

OddDirective13 karma

Do you think you could ever transition into writing non-romance fiction after this long? And if you did, would you still be self-publishing?

Portarossa23 karma

I do write non-romance fiction! Partly it's just to stay sane and to avoid the 'Tab A/Slot B' sameness that comes when you spend too long writing smut, but I also like the opportunity to do more literary stuff. (Way back when, I was a playwright; I learned to write for the stage, and there's part of me that still feels more comfortable with drama than with straight prose.)

I don't have as much time for it as I'd like, but I've got a couple of projects that are nearing completion. When they're done, I'll probably try and go down the traditional agent and publisher route if I can, not least because a) there's not as big a market for it on KDP as there is for genres like romance, b) I would have to learn how to market an entirely new genre, and while I'm sure there are plenty of crossovers that was a steep enough learning curve the first time, and c) I think every writer -- even the biggest proponent of indie publishing -- kind of likes the idea of walking into a bookshop and randomly seeing their work on a shelf. The number of people who get plucked out of ebook obscurity and thrust into the world of traditional publishing is vanishingly small.

Lightmareman11 karma

What are your thoughts on the works of Chuck Tingle?

Portarossa35 karma


Chuck Tingle isn't writing erotica; he's writing satire of erotica. That's great and all, but it's kind of like asking Walter Cronkite what he thinks about Stephen Colbert as a journalist: you can respect both of then -- and I do respect Tingle for being able to make a name for himself writing; it's not easy -- but you also need to recognise that they're not quite the same thing, and that it can get really fucking wearing when you're trying to put out actual, quality erotica that does what it's supposed to do and everyone's first question is 'So... aRe YoU cHuCk TiNgLe?' (Truly, it is the 'If it doesn't scan, it's free, right?' of smutwriting.)

That said, his cover design is on point. Despite being weird as all hell, it's very well-designed, extremely clean, and perfectly consistent across all the books. That's some serious work right there.

RSchaeffer11 karma

What did your income over time look like? How does Amazon compare to Patreon?

Portarossa30 karma

Full disclosure: I absolutely couldn't make Patreon work. That's partly because I decided to launch it just before a pandemic happened and my productivity went to shit, but it's also because having that increased workload -- writing all the stuff I was usually writing, plus all the stuff for the Patreon, plus trying to manage it -- took a lot of the freedom out of the job and made it feel like a grind. I'm sure that there's a way to make Patreon work; I'm not sure there's a way for me to make Patreon work, at least in my current headspace.

My income was very slow for the first six months or so, then I had a decent success on one of my other pen names and I just kind of eased off on taking copywriting commissions. (I was always freelance, so it just became easier to be more and more selective about the jobs I wanted to do until I stopped doing them altogether.) Within a year I was at a level where I was happy with both my workload and my paycheque, and I've mostly tried to maintain that level ever since. There are people who make way more than I do, but I just don't have that productivity in me for longer than a couple of weeks at a time without burning out.

HHS201910 karma

Have you ever had a reader contact you and say that your work helped inspire them to believe in love, endure a romantic lull, take a chance at a relationship or rekindle an old relationship?

Also, do you soundboard your ideas with women and men before you publish?

Portarossa42 karma

Not my smut, but I did post something on Reddit once about knowing when to leave a relationship, in response to a question about something every person should experience at some point:

The kind of break up where there's nothing particularly wrong with the person in question -- no specific thing you could put your finger on -- but a sort of low-level dissatisfaction that has compounded over time until you realise that you're both making each other miserable and would be better off with other people. It's awful at the time, because you never feel like you've got a good enough reason to break things off, and why be sad now when you can be, you know, sort of happy... ish? If you squint a bit? Forever?

I've found that the realisation that someone can be a good person and at the same time not the right person for you is a big turning point in how you view relationships: not as something that can be topped up with grand romantic gestures, but as a long journey you make with someone who -- at least, in theory -- should help you be the best version of yourself. Relationships take work, yes, but at the same time sometimes a fresh start is better for all involved.

I got a lot of PMs from people telling me that they'd seen that and realised that they needed to get out of their relationships, which is the exact opposite of the vibe I'm usually going for in my writing.


blueforrule10 karma

How do you organize your pen names, and get paid by Amazon under your...real name, a real name, a LLC?

audible_narrator8 karma

Amazon makes it really easy. So when you sign up for it you can sign up for it under your real name and then when you go to publish the book you can pick any pseudonym you would want

blueforrule4 karma

Do you list the copyright in your legal name, or in your pen name?

Portarossa16 karma

I do it in my pen name. It seems like it would kind of defeat the object to do it any other way.

It's worth pointing out that you don't even need the copyright listing; it's copyrighted by virtue of it existing and being written by you, so you don't even need to affirm it if you don't want to. (It does tend to make things look a little more professional, though.)

hi-nick10 karma

Wait why Aloha for the mods? Not that they don't deserve it, probably, but do you live in the islands?

Portarossa22 karma

No, I'm British. I just like the word.

I've got a thing for any multipurpose hello-and-goodbye greeting, I guess; I'm one of those assholes that says ciao in real life too.

BMLortz8 karma

Oh, one of those European Islanders, as opposed to the Pacific variety.
I heard some British people use "Piss off" as a multipurpose hello-and-goodbye greeting. I doubt it has the same effect as "Aloha" though.

Aloha from Hawaii!

Portarossa22 karma

Piss off is strictly a goodbye.

For hello, you say piss on.

blackcountrylad19 karma

A few questions if you don't mind : 1) What inspired your writing name? 2) Do your stories come from personal experience or your own creativity? 3) Which character that you have written do you relate to the most? 4) How important is it to find love? 5) Are you doing OK in todays climate? 6) Do you just plan to be a 'smutwriter' or do you harbour ambitions to branch out into other genre's? 7) How do you you deal with writers block?

Portarossa15 karma

1) Hazel is my real name. I picked Redgate out of an online phonebook. I just kept trying surnames until I found one that seemed to fit. (And that's where Portarossa comes from, too. You know... red gate.)

2) Little of Column A, little of Column B... but I think that's true of most stories.

3) Oh, God. I think the four sisters from Love at Christmas probably each have a little more in common with me than I'd like to admit. I'm a mashup of all of them. Like a sexy Voltron.

4) Very, but I don't think it always has to be romantic love to be fulfilling.

5) Yeah, I'm getting by. I'm mostly just looking forward to having a fresh start in January. It has been a year, that's for damn sure.

6) I do write other things, but I think I'd try for a more traditional publication route for those. I don't really want to try and learn the mechanics of another genre's marketing strategies.

7) I used to say 'If you don't write, you don't eat' -- which is true, in some ways -- but it's mostly just distracting myself in productive ways. If I'm not feeling it one day, I'll work on something else, or I'll do admin, or cover design, or just read books and see if something sparks in me. Usually once I start, I find it easier to keep going, but that first step can be a doozy.

theblackcanaryyy8 karma

Wait, aren’t you the one who always has the best and smartest answers in the out of the loop sub?

Portarossa12 karma

I don't know about always, but I do spend a lot of time there, yeah :)

theblackcanaryyy5 karma

Oh man I haven’t seen a response from you in forever! Makes sense you’re a professional writer tho cuz everything you wrote was interesting and specific!

Portarossa6 karma

I'm glad you enjoy it!

I'm still there, though; earlier this week I was writing about the King of Thailand, and a couple of days before that I was writing about new coronavirus strains. I think it's just less immediately apparent when I'm not writing about political chicanery, but if I'm quite honest I'm looking forward to there being less political chicanery to write about in the coming year.

Fingers crossed, right?

yourrussiandoll7 karma

I’m also an aspiring smut writer who publishes on KDP!

Would you advise someone to always use a different pen name when they write harder stuff? I’ve been thinking about just using one pen name and writing longer romance stories. Now I just write erotica.

Most people tell me to use a different name, but it seems like such a hassle with authorcentral and the KDP dashboard that I just want to keep my erotica pen name. Are most people right or not?

Portarossa27 karma

Definitely split up your pen names. It's literally no extra work on AuthorCentral and KDP (or BookReport, if you're using that extension, which you should be). There are two main reasons:

1) What you want, ideally, is for someone to buy one of your books, love it, and then buy a bunch of your other books. Loyal readers who come back time and time again are worth their weight in gold. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that, which means keeping all of your books roughly on theme; if they have to pick through your back catalogue to find the stories they think they're going to like, they're likely to either miss some or just get bored and go elsewhere.

2) You don't want someone to accidentally buy a book that's not what they're looking for, get pissed, and give it a one star rating. (It happens, and there's not a lot you can do about it.) If you're writing 'inspirational romance' (read: Christian) and also hardcore satanic BDSM gangbang shorts, you want to put some real fuckin' distance between those bookshelves.

To a lesser extent, there's also 3) It lets you choose an 'appropriate' pen name for your niche. I'm a big believer that you can usually get by with most pen names as long as they're not too ridiculous -- you might sell hardcore smut under the name Plenty O'Cox, but that's not going to work for regency romance -- but if you write under a male name and want to switch to writing, say, lesbian romance, a female name might help you to fit in more.

If there is one piece of advice you get about publishing smut, this is absolutely the one to listen to.

HHS20196 karma

Thanks for doing this. How much do you use literary devices (foreshadowing, allegories, flashbacks) to provide a deeper meaning to your stories?

Portarossa15 karma

I think it's less about meaning and more about structure. I like the idea that a story is a constructed object, like a car; sure, you can watch it run and marvel at how smooth the ride is, but when you pull the hood up -- when you start looking at it in terms of words and sentences, and why this point is mentioned in Chapter Two before it becomes a big deal in Chapter Eight, and why there's a slow chapter after a fast-paced chapter, or why we suddenly go into a flashback to slow things down (case in point: Chapter Two of Reckless, if you're inclined to take a look) -- you see the mechanics of it.

That said, I'm always vaguely sceptical of the branch of literary analysis that focuses on meaning that may or may not actually be there. (Why is William Carlos Williams's wheelbarrow red? Because it signifies passion? No; it just helps you to picture it; it's red because when Williams looked out of the window, the wheelbarrow he saw was red.) I'm always reminded of Bruce McAllister, who in the sixties wrote a letter to a buttload of working novelists to ask them whether they consciously used symbolism in their stories. Most of the novelists responded that the symbolism that came out in their work was unconscious, and that readers -- and critics -- often saw things that the author had not intended to put there. At that point, people will probably find meaning in any text they find a strong connection to -- so I consider my job to be to give them a book they can have a connection with, rather than to fill it with literary tricks and techniques just for the sake of it.

amesfatal6 karma

Who are your favorite authors to read?

Portarossa17 karma

I don't read much smut myself. My guilty pleasure is terrible crime fiction. (I'm on the record as being a fan-but-not-but-also-kind-of-yeah of Chris Carter's Robert Hunter novels.)

I'm currently reading The End of Policing, by Alex S. Vitale. My favourite books in general -- and I really cannot recommend them highly enough -- are The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. (They're both very much romances and also very much with a sci-fi twist. They're also absolutely beautiful to read.)

dracapis5 karma

I’m quite sure I’ve seen an AMA from you before - how does it feel to be famous and interesting enough to be able to do multiple AMAs?

Portarossa36 karma

I have! This is my third, in fact; I do one every year on my cake day. I don't know about famous or interesting, but people seem to enjoy them well enough.

There's a pastor who always does an AMA around this time too as a regular seasonal event. I like to think I'm providing the other side of the salaciousness coin to /u/revanon: 'Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned' vs. 'Sorry, Daddy, I've been a bad girl' :p

(But for real, his AMAs are always super interesting, even from a secular perspective, and you should check them out.)

kweenkittty4 karma

What was the moment that you knew you needed to quit as a copywriter?

Portarossa10 karma

I didn't so much quit as I just stopped looking for work. I was freelance, so a lot of my time was spent trying to find new jobs anway, and as the money from the smut started to grow I just spent less time trying to hunt down new leads. Eventually I realised I didn't need to do any copyediting work, and found I didn't miss it at all.

I still carried it on very half-assedly occasionally, usually with editing jobs from clients I'd really enjoyed working with in the past, but by that point they were coming to me. There's the concept of 'fuck you money' in freelancing -- that is, having an amount of cash stored away that's large enough that you don't have to take a job if you don't want it, regardless of how well it pays -- and I was well past that stage after about a year.

WithFullForce4 karma

In a post-50 shades world, how does one write believable bdsm?

Portarossa12 karma

It's something I've been spending a fair amount of time thinking about recently. Basically, my theory is that pretty much all of the BDSM works that have gone mainstream -- Fifty Shades, Sleeping Beauty, Story of O, all that stuff -- have a baked-in expectation that these acts are in some way transgressive. They're something that other people do -- people who are not like you and I. (Christian Grey, for example, constantly talks about how his desires make him different to other people; in Story of O, Roissy is a secret society and they use rings to display their membership to other members while keeping it secret from the wider public.) The expectation when you read these books is that you're doing something naughty and going against established conventions while reading them. You are walking on the wild side, and that's OK, because even though you like reading about it you're not doing that yourself. You get to watch them fucking and enjoy the show without getting any of that sordid splashback on you.

The problem is that in reality most BDSM relationships aren't like that. They're largely loving and sexually fulfilling and -- for want of a better word -- 'normal'. Wanting to be tied up or hit or degraded during sex isn't all that transgressive in real life, and more and more people are coming to realise that. As such, the representation of BDSM in things like Fifty Shades only really appeals to people who aren't in the proverbial loop about how 'normal' BDSM relationships can be. The kinksters don't like it because it makes them out to be freaks, and the vanilla crowd are so used to seeing it as extreme and out-there that they can't quite wrap the two genres of erotica together. (Imagine Pride and Prejudice if Mr. Darcy called Elizabeth Bennet a filthy little whore and spat in her mouth, but only if she asked very nicely. The expectation doesn't fit the result, and in a lot of erotica and romance -- which is quite formulaic in terms of plot -- expectation is very important.)

So how do you do it? I'd suggest that the important thing is to start normalising BDSM relationships as normal. Have people have wonderful, kinky, filthy sex with each other on the road to getting a happy and fulfilling relationship -- but do it in a way that doesn't suggest that the BDSM involved is unnatural or wrong or something to be hidden, even though suggesting those things is likely to increase your book's sales and odds of going mainstream among people who are looking for precisely that level of 'naughtiness'. Maybe set it among a community of like-minded people, or with someone who (rather than being introduced to kink for the first time) has been out of the game for a while and is drawn back in.

Either way, the draw of the book cannot be how wrong and transgressive it is to read it, in the way that modern gay fiction isn't (always) used to titillate. Sometimes it's just a love story about two dudes. The sex scenes can still be hot, but the gayness isn't what's used to scandalise the reader; it's just part of the story. Until we get more people writing BDSM fiction where the BDSM isn't used to separate the characters from the reader, I don't see a believeable, ethical BDSM story going mainstream.

ixnay-amscray3 karma

Do you dabble in all relationships? I saw you mention lesbian erotic novels as well as het, but do you also write gay/trans/poly novels as well? I often read male gay romance novels with some hetero stores sprinkled in as well, so was curious what types you like to write.

Portarossa15 karma

The short version is no. That's not because I don't think they're important, and I'd love to see more representation, but it's a big investment in a market that I'm not as sure is profitable. I do OK in terms of audience retention, but I'm not sure I do well enough that I have readers who'll buy a novel of mine regardless of the pairing, and the industry as it stands leans heavily hetero. (Full disclosure, I've never written a full-length lesbian novel either; but I've got a trilogy planned out in which the third book is a lesbian romance. I figure by that point I'll either have people hooked on the characters, or I won't.) You didn't mention bi, but I'm currently working on a book in which the lead character is openly and happily bisexual; the main romantic pairing is with a man, though. (Even that's taking a while longer than I would have liked; I remember the outrage among certain parts of the LGBT community about Julie Murphy's Ramona Blue, which had a bisexual female lead falling in love with a boy. Bisexuality in literature still has a long way to go in terms of actually being bisexuality, and the same is true of smut.)

With poly, the perceived wisdom is that it's 'cheating' -- I know it's not, but the idea of 'two people and two people only for a happy ever after' looms large in the industry -- and that's a risky proposition for a full length novel. (If it bombs, you're out a lot of work.) I've written trans-centric shorts and had them do fairly well, but I've never really had an idea for a novel where I thought a trans lead would add anything to it without feeling like I was butting in where I didn't necessarily have the right credentials, and all for a book that might end up selling all of two copies. (Given the rise in trans visibility and acceptance, I very much expect that this will change in the next ten years.)

aversethule3 karma

Is "Redgate" a pseudonym for flushed vagina?

Portarossa12 karma

Afraid not. I just picked it out of a phonebook because I thought it sounded more suitable for a smutwriting career than my actual surname, Moistpussé.

orders1-653 karma

Do you masturbate while writing?

Portarossa11 karma

Not really. I mean, I'm living this life all day every day; eventually you just become sort of used to it. If I went to take some special time every time I wrote something arousing, I'd never get anything done.

That said, there have definitely been occasions over the past few years where I've written something that I've gone back to a little while later and enjoyed thoroughly, which made me feel incredibly hot in the moment and like such a fuckin' creep once the horniness wore off. It's like masturbating to a photo of yourself. You can do it, sure, but no matter how hot you might be, it does make you feel kind of wrong.

secondtoasterintub2 karma

I'm trying to write smut and I don't have any experience with erotic writing. Is there anything I should read or any techniques to keep in mind?

Portarossa2 karma

Read as much smut as you can. When you find a story that works for you, copy it into a Word document (or similar) and highlight different sections of it.

What you're trying to do is get a feel for what all of the books that work for you have in common. It's not likely to just be the fetish or the particular kink; you'll probably find that it has more to do with the structure. How much time do they spend on straight-up fucking? How much time do they spend on subtle teasing and foreplay and flirting? How much time is pure plot? (Probably not all that much, if it's a short story, and a lot more if it's a novel.) When you start to get a sense of the mechanics of how smut works, you'll come away with a loose framework on which you can build your own stories.

Also, it sounds dumb, but read your dialogue aloud. You want to write things that sound like stuff that people would actually say. If it sounds stilted when you say it out loud, it's going to read stilted on the page.

silentwalkaway2 karma

How often do you use the word "turgid"?

Portarossa5 karma

I'd say never, but last week I described some shippers for a webcomic I read as being 'turgid with squee', so... almost never.

Hard, firm and stiff do well enough. I also take a stern view on the word tumescent.

Wthq4hq4hqrhqe2 karma

Are you related to Omarossa?

Portarossa3 karma

Lord, I hope not.

T_at2 karma

Have you read Anne Rice’s erotic work, and if so, what did you think of it?

Portarossa6 karma

I haven't. I meant to, a few years ago -- my plan was to read all the big names in BDSM erotica -- but I started with the Fifty Shades trilogy and by the time I was done I didn't really have the stomach for more. I genuinely don't think there's been a good BDSM erotica novel that's gone (relatively) mainstream, and I can't figure out why; it seems to be that the public at large want the kind of BDSM that's shocking and scandalous, and most actual BDSM relationships -- in my experience, anyway -- are actually very warm and loving and normal.

That said, I read Story of O for the first time this year, and it's an absolute shitshow of a novel. How that became one of the main literary touchstones for BDSM representation, I have no idea.

afifthofaugust2 karma

What are some of the best venues for bdsm shorts?

Portarossa4 karma

Amazon has a lot of good stuff, so don't be afraid to get a Kindle Unlimited subscription -- just for a month, if you want to try it out; you can get a 30 day free trial and the authors still get paid -- and just go absolutely hog wild. (My advice is to get the trial and cancel it immediately; you can still use the full extent of the trial, I believe, but it won't automatically re-enroll you. Of course, if you decide it's worth it, go nuts.)

That said, Literotica is also consistently pretty good. The editing can be a little slapdash sometimes, but it's free and the back-catalogue is huge.

jbeech-2 karma

What's your process for sketching out an idea? A scenario comes first, or a scenario is required to get there? And do you lay out three sentences and begin filling in? Do you always know the answer before you first begin, e.g. the ending, or is it ever a surprise that comes in a flash of inspiration? Finally, is this available in paperback form, or strictly digital (not fond of digital and interested in buying a paperback to learn what this is all about). And if not your stuff, to whom would you point me for a primer, 50 Shades, or?

Portarossa21 karma

It depends! For romance books, it's usually a case of finding the character first. In Reckless, I wrote the first chapter -- 'girl working at a diner at a dead end town when her ex-boyfriend walks back in ten years after running away' -- before I even had the first clue of where the plot was going. With Smooth, it was slightly more limited; the plan was originally to write a trilogy of books about musicians, so I started with the idea of a jazz musician in New Orleans, then the characters started to flesh themselves out when I started asking questions about it. The big question is always 'How do I put a seventy thousand word roadblock in the way of this couple who are obviously perfect for each other?'; in this case, the answer was that she's only in town for a wedding and she's just been ditched by her fiancé. (There was, originally, a third book in the series about a haughty Russian violinist and a journalist covering him for a newspaper article, but I could never quite make it work the way I wanted it to -- proof, I suppose, that character is king.)

For smut, especially short smut, it's very much about the content. The characters matter a lot less, so I'll often just sit down with a vague marketing idea in my head -- 'OK, it's August, so it's time to write something Hallowe'en themed for October so you can get a bundle of vampire erotica or whatever-the-fuck ready for the season' -- and start typing until it coalesces. It took me a lot longer to do that when I started out, but at this point I've written so many of the damn things that it's mostly just a case of typing until someone has their orgasm.

As for a primer... it's hard to say. Honestly, you're best off just reading as much of everything as you can in whatever niche you want to write in. (What works for a Motorcycle Club romance won't work for, say, a Regency bodice-ripper. You have to play to your niche, and the genre expectations.) Get a Kindle Unlimited subscription for a month, find books that are doing well in the charts and that you'd be interested in writing, and just go absolutely to town. Read a book a day, and makes notes of what pops up time and time again -- what works, and what doesn't. It's time-consuming, but you'll get a much richer appreciation of exactly how these books are structured, which will make them much easier to write.

SubredditObama-10 karma

How does it feel to contribute to degeneracy?

Do you think reading smut / erotic fanfiction is healthy?

Portarossa20 karma

How does it feel to contribute to degeneracy?

Moist. Slick. Turgid.

Do you think reading smut / erotic fanfiction is healthy?

I don't think it's unhealthy, especially in moderation. No one shit-talks a chef for putting too much butter in their food. Sometimes you just want to enjoy something for what it is and then go about your day.

I am the butter.