How to write and sell erotica: a workshop with Chuck Tingle – Screen Shot
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How to write and sell erotica: a workshop with Chuck Tingle

With works dating as far back as 2000 BCE, erotica is one of the oldest forms of literature to have survived the tests of time. Although the genre was once subjected to mass destruction by law and embarrassed relatives of authors, it has now evolved into a full-fledged industry—with its own statistics and trend reports. Presently, with titles like Covid-69 and The Physical Manifestation Of Washing My Hands Gets Me Off gripping audiences, the onset of the pandemic seems to have fostered a racy renaissance of self-published erotic works. On a quest to break down this industry, Screen Shot Pro catapulted into the Tingleverse to meet up with the world’s greatest author and two-time Hugo Award finalist, Doctor Chuck Tingle. From the research and writing process backing his ‘tinglers’ to proofreading and designing his own book covers, here’s all of the conceivable advice the author had to share on his trot into proving “love is real.”

Into the Tingleverse

On 9 December 2014, Amazon witnessed the posting of a self-published erotic novel titled My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Gay Ass. Merely a month later, Buzzfeed covered the author’s body of work with international media outlets either praising or mocking his “tongue-in-cheek titles and memorable stock photo covers.” But little did they know that the author was committed to a certain movement with his writing. A movement that believes “love is real for all those who kiss.” So, no matter who you kiss—be it a space raptor, an NFT or a snowman’s carrot wiener—meet Doctor Chuck Tingle, the man behind some of the most famous works (or ‘tinglers’ like he calls them) in the erotic literature industry.


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“I started writing a long time ago, back in home of truth Utah,” Tingle said when asked about the creation of the Tingleverse. “Just stories that came into mind of Chuck, things that I would imagine in this way.” After a house fire destroyed all of his work, Tingle admitted to having “walked and walked and walked and sometimes got a dang ride” before eventually arriving in Billings, Montana. “This is where I started to realise I could write stories of pounding to prove love,” the author added.

Although Tingle initially wrote the pieces for fun, it was only when his son addressed him with a suggestion that he truly ‘trotted’ down the path to self-publishing. “Son Jon said, ‘I have bud name of Sam Rand who publishes stories like this online, would you like him to help you trot in this way?’ and I said ‘yes son Jon’ and he said ‘okay’ and then the rest is history of buds,” Tingle reminisced.

According to Tingle’s Instagram and Twitter bio, the author is a Tae Kwon Do grandmaster with a PhD from DeVry University in holistic massage. When asked about his degree, he outlined how being a doctor is “pretty neat.” “Everyone listens very close when you say your ideas in a smart voice,” he said. However, the author also admitted that his PhD has not really helped his writing all that much. “I think of these two ways as different parts of my buckaroo brain,” he added.

So, what exactly is a ‘tingler’? And is there a fool-proof recipe for curating the ‘perfect tingler’? A ‘tingler’ is a term coined by the author himself to describe a story “so blissfully erotic that it cannot be experienced without eliciting a sharp tingle down the spine.” However, Tingle highlighted how the term has evolved over time into a “way to get points or ideas across in a simple format—that is a glance into the Tingleverse.” “Sometimes there are pounds [in the butt] and sometimes there are no pounds, but every time love is real,” Tingle said. In this regard, the author frames tinglers as the physical manifestation of a “letter to this timeline” which says: “Hey, here is an idea I had. Hope you like it and hope it brings you some joy.”

As someone who was exposed to erotic literature back in eighth grade (all thanks to the algorithm on the first-generation Kindle Paperwhite), reading tinglers was a different experience for me given its plot lines. Traditional erotica usually plays around with human characters engaging in a variety of kinks to curate new titles and concepts. In stark contrast, Tingle seems to have bought an anthropomorphic (attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities) angle into erotic literature. This has resulted in an assortment of humanised characters including—but not limited to—Starbutts Christmas cups, mac ‘n’ cheese, face masks, cowboy boots, his own book, press about his own book, the concept of linear time, handsome tide pods and more. This essentially paves the way for limitless possibilities and explorations within the industry, if you ask me.

So, is the anthropomorphic genre Tingle specialises in considered a niche? If so, what is more successful: mainstream erotica or niche erotica? “As a man name of Chuck, I look at it as all the same because even the most mainstream trot has parts that are unique, special and different,” Tingle said, adding how all niche erotica trots have “things that make them similar and accessible to all in some way.” The author boils both the genres down to the fact that they are “just a method of communicating ideas and sending a message to this timeline.” “To try and divide them up like this just seems like sorting love letters when all I want to do is step back and say ‘all your love letters are so kind—just make sure they are written with love in your heart’.”

In terms of their individual successes, the author explained how the factor is defined by measuring “how much did this prove love” rather than by tags like ‘niche’ and ‘mainstream’. “It is defined by the heart of the messenger when they try to make this timeline a better place.”


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The A-Zs of curating tinglers

Now that we’ve gotten better clarity about the sub-genres of the industry, it’s time to get cracking. I’m talking about the research, inspiration, writing and proofreading process—down to designing your own book covers before self-publishing them with a unique message. And who better than Chuck Tingle himself to break down his process and offer tips to all those writers pounding with potential out there?

Let’s start with the inspirations backing tinglers. “There are two types of tinglers,” the author started off. The first type is a ‘current event tingler’. “This is when I see something in the world on the dang news and I think ‘dang, I have something to say on this that will prove love is real and expose my heart and my trot’ and then I sit down and figure out a way to turn this into a story.”According to the author, these tinglers come around “pretty dang quickly” given that it is an important part of current events. “Gotta be current, buckaroo. It’s right there in the name,” Tingle advised. Some examples of current event tinglers include being pounded in the butt by the physical manifestation of Tromp’s Twitter ban and his ‘anal’ impeachment.

The next type is a ‘classic tingler’ which is not connected to current events in any way. “Just look into the Tingleverse, that is my thoughts on something or a message or an idea I would like to put into this timeline and prove love is real.” Examples of classic tinglers include lesbian twice-baked potatoes, shark lifeguards and sabertooth dentists. Apart from these two, Tingle also acknowledged the presence of a third type of inspiration. “Sometimes, I will have an idea that is unrelated to a tingler format, maybe a horror novel or a ‘select your own timeline’ book or a dang TV show—could be anything—and the process for these is unique as well.”

Talking about the process, Tingle further explained: “As far as specific processes go, most of the time I start my mornings with a meditation or a trot through the neighborhood very early—this is where ideas and plans come out.” The author sits down to write only after getting back. “I think it is important for me to have that thinking time to drift between timelines,” he added.

Next up is the research process after deciding on the type and idea. “Typically, research is just to peek into other timelines and see what is happening there,” Tingle explained. “As a letter B in the LGBTQIA community, I feel like I can write on certain ways pretty well. But if I am going to write for another letter, I will message buckaroos or post on social media to say, ‘here is my idea. I would love input from other buckaroos to make sure I prove love in a respectful way’ and this is very helpful as well.” The author added how he perceives the queer community as a “neighbourhood where we are all neighbours who love each other and we can visit each other’s houses. But when we are there, we should remember that we are guests and to treat this trot with respect and leave this house as cozy and full of love as we found it.”

Tingle also advised how inclusivity should be a key factor one has to keep in mind while deciding on the list of characters. The author admitted to using a “variety of buckaroos” for cover models and writing about “all who want to have this representation.” “Everyone is welcome in the Tingleverse,” he added.


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A live review session

After nailing down your ideas, inspirations, research and list of characters, it’s time to get down and dirty with the writing. To get a more hands-on approach to the process, I sent Tingle a rough draft of one of my own attempts at writing a current event tingler. Inspired by the Suez Canal x Ever Given erotic fanfiction that once gripped the internet, here’s what I sent the author’s way for a live review:

“What do you think I should do now?” Ever Given asked, with his mast hung low. It’d been a little over two days since the container ship had wedged himself into the walls of the Suez Canal. Trying out every other tactic from the book, Ever Given had engaged in a plethora of activities to free himself from the tight (and occasionally moist) walls of his captor. “I’ve been suggesting this since day one but here it goes again,” Suez Canal sighed as she clenched her walls even tighter to scoot next to Ever Given’s ear. “Hump me hard ‘till I wash you out of this hellhole with my cum,” she whispered, as cabin pressure increased within the Ever Given. “But we’re surrounded by rescue ships. They would see it all,” Ever Given replied meekly. “That’s alright bub. Just make sure to hump me extra hard so all of them willingly get stuck on their next trip…”

So, what does Doctor Chuck Tingle think of my writing? Can I make a living out of writing such erotica? “If it is in your heart I think you can do anything. So of course, I believe in you and your way,” the author said. In terms of the writing, he remarked, “As put up it seems like you have a broad word choice and there are a lot of visceral and creative ways of language here so good job.” However, one critique by the author stressed the need for extensive research before writing any type of erotica. “In the first sentence you talk on Ever Given’s mast and I do not think this boat has a mast in this timeline.”

Research is a deal-breaker in this regard, fellow buckaroos. You don’t want someone from Ever Given’s crew reading your erotica and being bothered by the lack of research throughout. It makes your novel lose its sensuous appeal. But Tingle also added another comment which draws on the ‘limitless exploration’ aspect to the entire industry: “If you are writing about another timeline, I will withdraw this critique though,” the author added. “Just trying to be a helpful bud.”

So, does Chuck Tingle make someone proofread his tinglers before they go live? “Yes, son Jon edits tinglers but right now I am staying in the city of devils with Sam Rand so he is helping edit sometimes,” the author mentioned, adding how he is having a lot of fun on this timeline right now. The author is also famous for designing his own book covers and merchandise. So, if you are looking to hone the skill yourself, here’s what Tingle has to say: “Find a style that says ‘this is my unique way’ and this will run a thread of light through your whole series.”

Tingle further admitted how seeing all of his books sitting together with the same lettering and colours makes his brain feel very nice “like a massage from a dang ghost.” “As the world’s greatest author Chuck, I think: ‘can’t expect buds to want to collect them on their bookshelf if you don’t want to collect them in your brain’.”

Now onto the final deal: where does Tingle suggest erotic authors start, in order to make some bucks in the industry? “Start by looking inward and thinking ‘if I take this journey, will it make this timeline a better place?’,” he advised. According to the author, it is also essential to ask yourself if you are going to “prove love by setting out with your trot.” “Because sometimes we are not sure what our unique way is and it can take some time,” Tingle continued. He also added how there are numerous ways to prove love is real—be it writing erotic tales or “making a great dang breakfast” or “throwing handsome frisbees in the park.”

“We all have our own trot to prove love. So just give yourself an honest question: ‘Is this my way? Should I find out if it is?’ and if the answer is yes, then get out there and prove love is real, buckaroo.”


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The creative trot forward

In the next five years, two-time Hugo Award finalist Chuck Tingle sees himself as a Hugo Award winner Chuck Tingle. And if given the opportunity and circumstance, the author wants to be part of a movement instead of inspiring a new one. A movement where we all realise that we are the world’s greatest author, the world’s greatest chef, the world’s greatest baseball player and the world’s greatest bud.

“Together we make this timeline even better by proving love is real,” Tingle continued. “And the exciting part is we already are a part of this movement—including you reading this right now. So thank you for your hard work and it is an honor to be here trotting with you, buckaroo.”

So, what are you waiting for, fellow buckaroos? Succumb to your true calling and get cracking—all the while committing your work to your beliefs. Plumbers and babysitters may be declared non-essential, but erotica will adapt and survive as historical artifacts. And in case you ever run out of your creative juices that have the potential of getting other juices flowing, make sure to social distance from the Chuck Tingle Title Generator. “Because then you would be trying to write like the world’s greatest author Chuck Tingle but you should be trying to write like yourself—that’s the most important of all.”


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Why women prefer erotica over pornography

If you’re already a fan of erotica, then you know the reactions that turning a page can have on you. Flushed cheeks, increased heart rate, a little lip-bite… And all of a sudden your imagination is in overdrive. Reading about people getting down and dirty can be an incredible turn on. What’s the secret?

Let’s get all science-y for a moment. A study in the National Library of Medicine found that 90 per cent of women used ‘mental framing’ (also known as scenario conjuring) to get aroused. And a 2009 study on porn and arousal published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that women became aroused by the context of the story rather than the visual offering of porn. That’s a lot of science backing up the fact that women need a little something extra to get what they need. But why? Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? We asked a few sexperts in their field.

Erotica is more empowering

A lot of the time in mainstream porn, the man is in charge and the woman is subjecting. The sex is being done to them rather than with them. There’s a lot of control and it’s borderline non-consensual at times. But the thing about erotica is that it puts the power back in the woman’s hands. She is completely consenting to sex and being an active participant; she’s fully in control of her sexuality.

As the editor-in-chief of erotic fiction subscription service LVH, I noticed that porn tends to classify women as ‘good girls’ or ‘sluts’: it doesn’t empower women. Women have had their sexuality repressed for so long, that we’re not sure how to be ourselves when it comes to expressing what gives us pleasure, and that harms our relationships. The Lady Victoria Howard stories give women that all-important context with characters they can emotionally identify with and sexual fantasies that they can engage with using their own imagination to personalise it, and frame the story within what turns them on. When women are able to draw inspiration from a character that we can relate to, it gives us permission to say, yes I’d like to do that too.

Wish fulfilment

Let’s face it. Most porn is made with men in mind. It’s very to the point and visual; there’s no imagination or creativity involved whatsoever. Well, that’s the opinion of M, editor-in-chief of award-winning sex and relationships blog Sex & London City, who says that women are drawn to the escapism and fantasy of erotica: “Erotica goes so much deeper than porn—if you’ll pardon the phrase. It provides a fantasy, and a way to escape everyday life. Rough P in V sex or the ‘moneyshot’ just doesn’t do it for women; they want to be seduced. They want a life that’s glamorous, sexy, and pretty. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about the sex. It’s about having the life of someone who is desired, craved… and having lots and lots of sex because of that. The sex is just a happy consequence.”

The sex itself doesn’t really matter. It’s everything around the sex and the build up. When it’s done right—when there’s a connection—sexual tension can be just as good as an orgasm itself. Yep, I said what I said!

It’s all about you

I’m not saying that women don’t watch porn—of course they do—but it’s the type of porn they watch that gives us clues into what women really want. Did you know that women love lesbian porn? It’s true!

According to Pornhub Insights, lesbian porn is 151 per cent more popular with women than it is with men, and that number isn’t just LGBT women either. Huge numbers of straight women are flocking to girl-on-girl action. Why?

Take a look at any ‘straight’ porn video and you’ll notice that it’s all about the dude. He’s usually got a huge member, sticks it in the girl dry and thrusts until he climaxes. But what about the girl? What about her pleasure? This is the point I’m trying to make.

The majority of porn is built for men. Many women (I’m not saying all) want to see something involving their pleasure, something they can relate to. Which is why girl-on-girl porn, which can involve a lot of cunnilingus, is so appealing. But it’s also why erotica, where the woman is usually front and centre of the story and indeed the sex scenes, is even more appealing.

Megwyn White, certified clinical sexologist and director of education at sexual wellness brand Satisfyer, goes into more detail about what women want: “Women are sensitive creatures, endowed with a multi-sensory pleasure map that includes details of physicality, sensitivities to touch, aroma, lighting, plot line, and more. We remember these details, and use them to connect the dots to our own pleasure maps. Women are attentive to emotional details as well, and crave polarity within a sensual conquest to energize their interest. Edging a woman’s excitement is exactly what erotica is so good at doing. By oftentimes holding back overt sexual contact, and instead stimulating simultaneous sensual cues embedded within authentic sexual tension it allows a woman’s innate ability to map into the layers of details that form her unique sexual template.”

Erotica is more emotional

Leading on from erotica being all about wish fulfillment, is a woman’s desire for emotion and connection. In general, women prefer reading adult romance and erotica, rather than watching porn, because emotional context is far more important for a woman’s sexual arousal than for a man. There are a few women porn directors who have tried to make it more female friendly. As Petra Joy said in an interview with The Guardian, “Women enjoy seeing a curve of arousal and like to understand why these people are having sex and how they got turned on. Women want to see credible female performers, women of all sizes and looks who genuinely enjoy themselves rather than porn clones with fake nails, hairs and boobs faking it for the camera.”

As we know, traditional porn typically has very little depth and is extremely thin on storyline, which doesn’t seem to bother men, but it’s certainly a barrier for women. Often it’s about as arousing as watching paint dry. Having said that, a story involving a hot-looking house painter would interest women, but there has to be a credible story.

You heard me: write us a good story, then add the sex.