Sex Writing 101: How to Write a Helpful, Engaging Review

They say that you become an expert at something when you’ve spent 10,000 hours doing it. I doubt I’ve spent that many hours reading and writing sex toy reviews, and I’m definitely not an expert. But I do think my two and a half years of experience have taught me some things about what does and does not work in a sex toy review.

I purposely left the title of this post vague because I think most of these rules can apply to reviews of other things, too, besides sex toys. I sometimes review porn, clothing, and even lipstick, and these tips translate well to most kinds of reviews. I hope you find them helpful!

Talk about your experience.

It’s amazing how many reviewers forget to do this, or don’t do it adequately. I can read a toy’s specs and features on just about any site that sells it; if I’m reading your blog, it’s because I want to know what you think of the product, not what its sales copy says.

Try to answer these questions: how did the toy feel for you? Did it work for your body? Did you encounter any issues when you used it? What did the sensation remind you of? Did you find any alternate/unusual techniques or uses for the product?

Usefully compare the product to others.

Granted, not everyone reading your blog will have a lot of toys as a frame of reference for your comparisons, but some will.

Comparisons are also useful as a way of recommending products that might work better for some people depending on their bodies and preferences. For example: in a review of the Lelo Gigi, I might write that someone seeking similar functionality but with more girth and power might prefer the Mona 2.

I specified that the comparisons should be useful and here’s what I mean: don’t compare the product you’re reviewing to a product that’s so obscure that almost no one has it, be very selective in making comparisons to outlier toys like the Hitachi Magic Wand, try not to make comparisons to toys that have been discontinued (this helps no one), and be specific in your comparisons. If you say that one toy reminds you of another, try to specify why.

Find interesting ways to describe sensations.

It can sometimes be helpful to describe a vibrator as “very strong” or a dildo as “very pleasurable” or whatever, but it’s better if you can come up with a more specific, creative and memorable way to describe what you feel.

Here are some examples which are totally cliché but work effectively as sensation descriptors: a vibrator like a jackhammer, a dildo that pounds your G-spot, a butt plug which gives a stretching sensation. If you can come up with more inventive descriptions, so much the better.

I often ask myself, “What does this feeling remind me of?” and find my descriptions that way. That’s how, for example, I decided to describe the Lelo Ida as feeling like a sharp rock in my vagina. I’ve never actually had a sharp rock in my vagina, but that’s what it felt like to me.

Proofread.

I tend to tune out and/or unsubscribe from blogs that have a lot of grammar mistakes, misspellings, and typos. I find it incredibly distracting, even if the writing is otherwise good.

Read your posts aloud before publishing, or show them to someone in your life who’s a good proofreader.

Structure your post for maximum readability and clarity.

The most basic way to increase readability is to use lots of paragraph breaks. Long paragraphs are sometimes necessary but they can feel tiring or confusing.

If your post has subheadings, sections, or any really important points you want to stress, consider bolding them. This helps break up the post, visually, and aids in overall comprehension for your reader.

I often structure my reviews in an “on the one hand/on the other hand” format, by which I mean, usually I’ll list all the pros and then all the cons, or vice versa. I try not to go back and forth too much between the product’s good qualities and its bad qualities; I think it makes more logical sense to list all of one and then all of the other.

Use the “inverse pyramid” structure.

Man, you would be surprised how many of the tips I learn at journalism school translate directly to my work writing sex toy reviews!

At J-school, we learn to structure our news pieces in an “inverse pyramid,” meaning that the most important or exciting information goes first and then the rest of the information is laid out from most to least important, all the way down.

If there’s a huge, glaring reason why I hate or love the product I’m reviewing, I usually start with that. That’s the “headline,” so to speak. The lesser details go farther down.

Introduce and conclude properly.

Remember when you had to write essays for school and they always had an introduction and a conclusion, both of which contained mini-summaries of the points to be made in the body of the essay? A similar structure can be helpful for reviews.

It’s good for comprehension and clarity if the reader knows what to expect before they get into the meat of the post (e.g. that you’re going to talk about size, shape, and texture, in that order) and if your conclusion is a little recap of your main points.

Disclose your relevant biases and quirks.

I have a small-ish vagina, I need clit stimulation to reach orgasm, I often find intense G-spot stimulation overwhelming rather than pleasurable, I loooove A-spot stimulation, and I need moderately strong vibration to get me off. These are all factors which affect how I feel about sex toys, and which may make my preferences different from those of some of my readers.

If I hate or love a sex toy for a reason that has a lot to do with my own unique preferences, I always try to be transparent about that. Someone else might love a toy I hate, or vice versa, if their body and preferences are significantly different from mine, and they should get some sense of that from my review.

What qualities matter to you in a review?

  • Sorry for commenting on an older post, but I do think it can sometimes be useful to compare something to a toy that’s been discontinued. It’s not always useful, but if someone particularly loved a toy that’s not around anymore, or if something had a cult following but is no longer being made, people might want to know if a new toy is similar.

    Granted, this is pretty rare, and I feel like it comes up a lot more when you work in sex toy retail than in reviewing, but in rare instances it can be good to know what’s similar to toys that aren’t around anymore.