Canberra novelist Tracy O'Hara discusses in her upcoming workshop what it takes to be an erotic fiction writer.

Canberra novelist Tracy O'Hara discusses in her upcoming workshop what it takes to be an erotic fiction writer. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Erotica may push the boundaries of traditional publishing but it also gets an unjust and bad wrap according to award winning erotic fiction writer Tracey O'Hara.

“Erotica is not porn. It gives both men and women the opportunity to explore their own sexuality,” she said.

“They are stories which contain graphic sex scenes but narratives also centre as much around the mental and emotional journey of the characters as they do about the physical side of things.”

As she prepares to host her second how to write erotic fiction workshop at the ACT Writer's Centre, Ms O'Hara, who publishes erotic romance under the pen name “Tracie Sommers”, is hoping to help free the minds and emotions of Canberra's budding writers.

One of her goals of the weekend workshops is to encourage aspiring authors to look past the “vanilla” examples of erotica, like Fifty Shades of Grey, and start penning their own passionate novellas or sexy long-form stories.

“Fifty Shades of Grey is not the best example of erotica. It's just the one that managed to break through here. Erotica is only a new publishing phenomenon here in Australia. In the US, it's been a best-selling and profit spinning genre since 2000,” Ms O'Hara said.

She said the biggest challenge for any wannabe EL James is learning how to construct and write a good sex scene.

When penning a romantic liaison, the key is to avoiding “flowery euphemisms”.

“There needs to be balance, so use actual words to describe actual things otherwise it just makes the work sound crass,” she said.

“Balance is the key. It shouldn't be crude but it's about getting the right emotional response from the characters. Ask yourself 'how does the sex make a person feel?'.”

Ms O'Hara writes her erotic fiction with a paranormal twist during her downtime from housework and her day job in the public service.

The new-age romance novelist has written two short stories for Mills & Boon and is now researching for her next novel – a serial killer, crime story set in Canberra.

Writing Erotic Fiction for Publication with Tracey O'Hara workshops will be held on August 3 and 10. For more information head to the ACT Writers Centre website or call 6262 9191.