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    Erotica Writing Workshop Series

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    Have you ever hidden a secondhand romance novel on the bottom of your bookshelf, or privately bookmarked a steamy fanfiction story? Do some of your fantasies play out like narratives (with you and/or other characters) or are there kinky and sexy scenarios that you'd like to delve into in fictional spaces rather than in the real world? What can we learn about ourselves through erotic writing, and what unique pleasures can we explore through it?

    Whether you're a published author or an occasional hobby writer, whether you've got a portfolio filled with erotica or you've never penned anything spicier than a kiss--this is the course for you!

    Throughout this 6-week course, we will dive deep into the heady waters of writing about pleasure for pleasure's sake! We will explore the technical aspects (e.g. general formal and narrative fiction techniques, character and world-building, etc.) as well as the fun bits (e.g. tropes, dynamics, kinks and squi(icks), etc.) to develop our own outlines, scenes, and stories!

    This class will feature group and individual discussions and writing exercises. Sharing of your work is not required, but will be warmly encouraged.

    #1: What is Erotic?: We will explore the history of sensual art, bawdy stories, erotica, fan fiction, and the other varied forms that creative erotic expression can take. Participants will create their own definitions of erotica, what it means to them, and what they want to do with/through it.

    #2: Foreplay as a Narrative & Beats as a Tease: We will explore the technical aspects of form and narrative, and consider the ways in which these tools can be used to enhance erotic writing and sensual creative experiences.

    #3: What a Character: We will explore the elements that go into genuine character and world-building, different types of relationship dynamics, and the ways in which non-standard relationship forms (e.g. throuples, polycules, harems, etc.) can be explored in erotic work.

    #4: One Person's Pleasure: We will explore tropes and kinks, delving into personal faves as well as those that are uncomfortable/gross to some of us (squicks) and discuss how erotica can also be a liberatory space for discomfort and trauma-processing.

    #5: Erotica for All: We will push beyond the standard depictions in erotica and tackle how race, gender, queerness, disability, neurodivergence, age, etc. can intersectionally be brought into erotic work as we move towards destigmatization and critical (authentic) diversity in the genre.

    #6: Make a Scene: Participants will take everything that they have learned throughout the course and bring it all together in either a longer form or multiple short form pieces of original erotic writing. These will build upon the writing that will be done each session, and will culminate in any participants who want to share being able to do so. We will also discuss next steps in terms of continuing erotica writing as a practice post-course.


    LEIGH HELLMAN is a queer and non-binary writer, originally from the western suburbs of Chicago, and a graduate of the MA Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After gaining the ever-lucrative BA in English, they spent five years living and teaching in South Korea before returning to their native Midwest. They are currently located in Bellingham.

    Leigh’s short fiction and creative nonfiction work has been featured in Hippocampus Magazine, VIDA Review, and Fulbright Korea Infusion Magazine. Their critical and journalistic work has been featured in the American Book Review, the Gwangju News magazine, the Windy City Times, and Bellingham Alive!.

    Their debut novel, Orbit, is a new adult speculative fiction story available through Snowy Wings Publishing. They also have a historical fantasy piece included in the SWP anthology Magic at Midnight and a cyberpunk sci-fi piece included in the SWP anthology Sing! Goddess.

    They have been writing erotica for over 20 years and have participated in both fan and original spaces for erotic and romance work.

    Leigh is a strong advocate for full-day breakfast menus, all varieties of dark chocolate, building a wardrobe based primarily on bad puns, and bathing in the tears of their enemies.

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