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has got us all wondering if we too could write an erotic bestseller.

After all, how hard can it be to put together a few steamy sex scenes and pad it out with a bit of romance?

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So how do you go about writing that spicy bestseller?

We sought expert guidance from Gillian Green, Eden Bradley and Rachel Blowes.

Gillian is editorial director for commercial fiction at Ebury Publishing, which this month is relaunching its erotic imprint Black Lace, with five sexy titles, including The Dark Garden written by Eden.

Rachel is a member of a book group at one of Ebury’s sister companies, which is asked to read and comment on books pre-publication, including erotic novels. Erotic writing covers a broad spectrum, from contemporary and historical to the frankly bizarre (anyone for sex with aliens? Books such as 50 Shades of Grey fall into a category known as ‘erotic romance’, where the key word is ‘romance’.

Although there has to be plenty of fairly inventive sex – the sort of thing that would have had earlier generations reaching for the smelling salts – the story still has to be driven by the developing relationship between the main characters, as is the case with Ana and Christian in Fifty Shades.

And your partners in this instance are your potential readers, a predominantly female audience that doesn’t simply want a catalogue of exhausting sexual encounters.

The basic guidelines are as valid for erotic romance as they are for Mills & Boon: a man and a woman, or a love triangle, an up-and-down relationship (in more ways than one) leading to a happy-ever-after.

Almost literally, since the sexual menu of many of these books is based on BDSM (that’s bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism), requiring a range of equipment not readily available at your local Homebase.

It doesn’t mean you have to turn your spare room into a suburban torture chamber, but it does mean researching what you’re writing about.

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