Writing Dirty: You, Too, Can Write About Sex

Riese and I teach a workshop called “Writing Dirty.” It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – each author in our group produces and workshops a piece that’s about or contains sex. Sex of any kind. Loud sex, quiet sex, kinky sex, vanilla sex, sex in public, sex on tables, sex on beds, sex with dildos, sex with fingers, butt sex, oral sex – I could go on and on. Sometimes pieces wind up published somewhere, like on Autostraddle. Other times pieces are for the author’s eyes only, locked away in a journal and a soul. Both are okay because there are a million reasons to write about sex – writing about sex can help you decide what you want out of your fuck-life. It can turn you (or a partner) on. It can wind up inspiring a blog project, or being worked into a larger piece.

No matter what your reasons are, or where your piece winds up, we think it’d be cool if you got to write about sex with us. But being that all of y’all can’t be at A-Camp with us, we figure it would also be cool if you wrote about sex at home this week. Here are a few of the prompts we have used, are using, or have just thought of right now while writing this post. Grab a pen and paper and let’s Write Dirty, shall we?

+ Tell a fairy or folk tale, but include all the sexy parts that were left out in the traditional version. The Little Mermaid. Sleeping Beauty. Many fairy tales are centered around a relationship or two, so you know some events transpired between these characters that are attracted to each other. The cool thing about this exercise is it gives you a jumping off point – you’ve got characters with personalities you can either subvert or celebrate, you’ve got a setting you can flesh out. It’s really nice to focus on craft and leave the brainstorming details to narratives that are already in our collective conscience. The inspiration for this prompt: Leather Ever After, edited by Sassafras Lowrey.

+ Personify your hometown and have them hook up with the personification of where you live today. We all know that villages, towns and cities have distinct personalities – if someone blindfolded you (hawt) and sent you on a mystery plane, it would be very clear where got off (ha) within just a few minutes. Would your hometown get along with where you live today? Are they fighting over you? Is New York the type of city that would have a nose piercing? Does Dallas like it dirty? These are the real questions. The inspiration for this prompt: “Fucking Around” by our own Marie Lyn Bernard, in the anthology Dirty Girls.

+ Write a sexy story involving your last Halloween costume. True story – once I dressed up as the Statue of Liberty for Halloween. And it makes me wonder – is there a piece where she hooks up with another notable monument? Though, I shit you not, my last costume was “personified temptation” because I’d never done a sexy costume before that, and I figured I should do it up at least once. That costume would probably make a really kickass character in a dirty little story. The inspiration for this prompt: it’s October. I have Halloween on my mind.

Do y’all have any ideas re: prompts for Writing Dirty? Or do you guys want to share the pieces you came up with (sharing is caring!)? Please do make use of the comments. And write. Always write.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I’m imagining it now… my hometown, the rich little preppy town in Southern New England, hooking up with the marijuana-smoking city in Southern Maine. I might have to actually write that later. I’m thinking a Cordy-Xander type relationship from S2 of Buffy.

  2. Hmm…the sort of shy, introverted SoCal suburb where I grew up, with all its awesomeness buried under a layer of perceived normalcy, meets tattooed, pierced, and rocking Portland, who takes her on a wild ride…excuse me, I’ll be in my bed. :O

  3. I like the hometown/current town concept, except that when I think about my birthplace (full of the grown-up children of hippies who have lots of backyard gardens and love talking about how they recycle) and my current location (college town with a sizable queer community and a lot of fair trade coffee shops) I realize that such a piece of erotica would basically just be a remake of “Handcrafted Bamboo.”

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