Book Review: How to Write a Dirty Story

How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Erotica

Susie Bright

I found this book to be an enjoyable read, but the title felt a little misleading.

As far as a writing book goes, this one has a lot going for it.  Number one is that it’s easy to read.  A lot of those writing books are dry and clunky; it’s hard to write about writing effectively.  However, Bright does just that.  I whizzed through this book pretty quickly.  The second main strength of this book is its empowering nature.  The key message repeatedly emphasized is that absolutely anyone can write a dirty story and they should feel proud about doing so.  You don’t have to be a sexual god or goddess — you could even be a virgin — there are no qualifications that need to be met.  Moreover, it’s not just that anyone can write it, but anyone who can write it should take pride in their work.  Erotica and sex writing is often seen as dirty, terrible literature, or a blight on the book industry.  But erotic fiction continues to sell and can sometimes feature stellar writing (such as in the lesbian anthology I read recently).

Where this book stumbles is in its practical advice.  Bright seems to give little in the way of how to construct a story, how to write the erotic scenes effectively, or how to pursue the publishing process.  Instead, a lot of time is devoted to exploring how her career developed.  This was certainly an interesting read (and I’m glad I picked the book up), but the lack of effectiveness of these sections means that this reads less like a book on how to write a dirty story and more like… I don’t know… a companion book.  Someone wanting to write a dirty story should pick up this title to learn more about the industry and its development, but they should also pick up a good book on writing tools to help them put together an effective story.

But, like I said, for its weaknesses, it is still an enjoyable read.  Bright’s casual style of writing almost feels like she is relating this information over a cup of coffee in her kitchen.  Her openness and honesty make this, and subsequently the erotica industry, open and accessible.



Filed under Book Reviews, Publishing, Writing, Writing Tips

5 responses to “Book Review: How to Write a Dirty Story

  1. Lin

    This looks like an interesting book. Too bad the author spent overmuch time on her own career–it’s so hard for one author’s path to actually be applicable to another’s. The messages it includes sound good, though.

  2. Hey, thank you so much for your review! I’m very touched, after all these years.

    I will tell you a behind the scenes secret: I have written and delivered countless hours/pages of “practical” advice. Out of the couple thousand people I have edited and published, I’d say about 11 of them took me up on it.

    And they have been financially and creatively successful– not bc of my counsel, but because they acted on similar advice/mentoring. My chapter you read on the “Devils Argument Against Publishing” is the most ruthless practical advice I’ve delivered, and I’ve had strangers kiss me on the mouth in reaction to its truthfulness.

    When I wrote this book, I concentrated on creative exercise, inspiration, and truth-telling. Screw my career– it doesn’t matter. People who write are compelled to write, and people who are ferociously entrepreneurial are a small overlap. That 10% are the publishing business, and they aren’t better writers than anyone else, they’re just coping well with capitalism.



    • Hey! Wow! You came by my little blog!

      I find that in hindsight, I really appreciated the work. I’ve read “how to write” books before and, well, most of them are eye-gougingly dreadful. “How to write a dirty story” was a pleasure to read — it flowed well, your voice was engaging, and, like I said in the review, you are very good at empowering your readers. I like your reasons for leaving out the mechanics section… I think it would have really killed the book.

  3. Pingback: What I Read in 2013 | Cameron D James

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