Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is That Erotic Romance or Erotica or Porn?

As people choose their Halloweenie costumes, some will be drawn to the salacious. Halloweenie. Get it?

What is it about sexually-charged costumes that attracts men and women to choose them (not for trick or treating, thank goodness; the phenomenon seems limited to house parties)?

This is also a topic for discussion on a couple of the writing groups I belong to as well as the subject of multiple blog posts. What is the line between pornography and erotica? A lot of us have wrestled with that and settled it in our own writers’ minds.

What is it about titillating text that causes us to buy it and read it? When folks ask me what I write, I tell them “naughty and nice” allowing their brains to fill in what that means to them.

The whole question has come up again (so to speak) because of the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. New York Times Best Seller List? That is unprecedented for a book, much less three, in the genre.

In one of my critique groups I was challenged on one of my naughty books they were helping with. “Is that what you want to be known for?” I was asked. My response that I just want to be known was met with little support.

Clearly people who don’t read much erotic romance have pre-conceived notions of what it must be. Dirty for the sake of being dirty. All about physicality rather than emotionality. Commercial. Provoking acts of exploitation and abuse. You get the idea.

I avoid pornography. But not because I am offended by sexual acts. I’m a farm girl, as I tell my husband. Lucky him that I think pretty much anything goes if it’s not hurtful and mutually agreed upon. We are sexual beings. We are meant to have sex.

Pornography, however, is boring. How many ways can they stick it how many places? I mean really. I want characters who are impacted by the act, not just holes in a mattress. What are the implications of the sexual act(s)? That’s why we read these materials.

I don’t read widely in erotica and erotic romance, either. But I do read some, mostly as mentor texts for my own writing. I find that while I just love writing sex scenes (and practicing before writing), I really don’t enjoy reading them so much. Weird, huh? I expect love scenes to be integral to the plot, not just pasted in for titillation.

Here’s a recent blog by Maree Anderson on the same topic that I know you’ll enjoy:  http://www.mareeanderson.com/porn-erotica-erotic-romance


  1. See, I have a problem with people making judgments about others because they like romance or erotica. It's fine if they don't want to read it, but why do they care if other people enjoy reading and writing it? Keep doing what you do. What matters most is your opinion.

  2. I absolutely agree. I choose not to read hard-core horror. That doesn't make it bad, immoral, or stupid. It's a choice I make, and I don't give a whit whether others make the same choice. Sadly, I feel we may be a minority. Thanks for coming by. I hope you'll check in again. I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sharon

  3. You're so right about their pre-conceived notions. I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about what romance in general is like - and it's stuck in the 1980s (her heaving bosoms, his mighty sword, etc.) Maybe people think the erotic versions are like this only crammed with gratuitous sex. And that's just silly.

  4. Yes, Libby. I have friends embarrassed to admit they write romance because of the brush the genre is tarred with. As to the gratuitous sex, I can get better sex at home than in a book. I am looking for relationships and implications. And there are the books where sex is the thing--it's just not the majority. The woman's journey has become much more the theme in current books.