My father-in-law lovingly calls my stories Bodice Rippers. A turn of phrase first written in The New York Times in 1980 in regards to Romance novels. It usually refers to a romance in a historical setting, but he’s my father-in-law, and he means it in a sweet way, so I don’t correct him.
My mother has referred to my writing as “porn”. She said this with less love than my father-in-law, but I knew it was coming from love and a little disappointment. You see, my mother has waited my whole life for me to write a great novel. An american great! And, well, it’s probably not gonna happen. My love is erotic romance. I could put out a great thriller if I wanted to, and make her uber happy, but my heart’s not in it.
Don’t misunderstand, my mother loves me and loves that I’m writing and publishing and all that. She’s my biggest fan (who hasn’t read my current works) and supports me every step of the way. She just wishes I would write something she could read. But that’s another subject.
When I see how my family looks at my writing, I see the confusion in their minds. Some think I write “porn” others I think I write romance with a lot of sex. I also see the same confusion when I’m looking for new ways to publicize my work. The term “erotic romance” is not always an option, but “erotica” is, but these two things are different.
There are differences between erotica, erotic romance, and porn just as there are with Chick flicks and porn. Just because sex is there doesn’t make it porn.
Erotica is a story that relies heavily on sex to make the story. If you take out the sex, the story is pretty much a limp noodle- still there but can’t really stand up on it’s own.
Porn is a story- well not even a story really- it’s sex. Plain and simple just sex. There maybe a little back story, or a tiny shadow of a plot, but if you take the sex out you have nothing.
Erotic Romance is a story with sexual scenes that enhance the story line. If you take out the sex, the plot stands on it’s own and is solid. The sex scenes enhance the relationship between the characters, but even without them they would find their happily ever after.
I don’t think one characterization has more worth than the other, as it really depends on the reader, doesn’t it? If the reader just wants to read a hot, sex scene and get that heart pounding in her chest feeling, erotica is right up her alley.
If you want to watch something sexy as foreplay, inspiration, or because you just want to see some sexy people doing naughty things- porn is for you! (and me too btw)
If you want more story to go along with your sexy scenes- than erotic romance is where you’ll find your happy place.
The reason I feel it’s important that we understand the differences, is because when someone who wants to find an erotic romance has to sift through piles of erotica to find it they get frustrated and the authors get annoyed because no one’s finding them. Same is true if you’re looking for erotica. So to lump those two as one one category is making it harder on the readers to find what they really want.
It also makes it harder on the authors. When submitting to a new publisher and they list what categories they take, and I see “no erotica”, I automatically assume they mean me too. Because odds are since they didn’t make the distinction, they don’t get the differences and wouldn’t be a good fit for me anyway. But, what if I’m wrong and they would consider an erotic romance, we’re both losing out on a potential solid relationship.
The shades movement did open the eyes of more people to erotic romance, but we aren’t there yet. We aren’t as mainstream as historicals yet. When I admit to being an erotic romance writer- even among a group of romance writers- I still get that step-child vibe. My RWA chapter is awesome, and it’s one of the few places this hasn’t happened, but in many facets it’s still an issue.
Just like everything else, education is power. So, perhaps if more people understood the differences, understood that every level of erotic writing has a place in the industry, there’d be more growth into the mainstream.
Which means more readers, and more happy hearts.