My first two published short stories were stories first and porn second – the sexual element was underneath the primary genres, horror and fairy tale/fantasy respectively. The tone was deeply sensual throughout, and the stories were about sex, but the erotic parts of it were not as important as what the erotica supported.
However, three of the four stories that I’ve submitted to anthologies this summer have been primarily erotica. Even when I do a PWP (also known as Porn Without Plot or Plot? What Plot?, depending on who you talk to), I like to ground it in an established plot. Since all of the PWP stories were short, usually around 4000 words or less, the established plot was definitely implied, but the erotic element was the primary focus within that implied framework.
The sword-and-sorcery erotic short I’m working on at the moment brings me back to the literary erotica that I started with by making fantasy the primary genre and erotica the secondary. I do plan for a hot het scene between my protagonist and her love interest, of course, but I’m also having a blast doing world-building, which I don’t have to do as much for my modern pieces. Almost 4500 words in (there will be huge cuts, but I’m developing the world as I go), and while sensuality is certainly an element, as is sex in general, it’s nice to return to the richness of the story.
The word count that the anthology call assigns to its potential contributors is often what determines how storyful my story is, versus the porn. When you really let me go – somewhere between 5000-10000 words – that’s where I feel the happiest, where the plot doesn’t suffer in order to give the porn enough room to pant. Just give me room to play, that’s all I ask, and then you can have a rich, developed story and some juicy, unrushed porn without sacrificing substance or making the porn finish too quickly so that the reader feels unsatisfied.