Sex and Romance Part Two: Steamy or Erotic?

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In a previous blog post, I defined romance as follows:

Romance as a genre is any story where the relationship between two (or sometimes more) characters is central to the plot and structure. If your story is structured around a mystery that happens to be solved by two people who fall in love, it is a romantic mystery. If your story is structured around two people who fall in love and happen to also solve a mystery, it is a mystery romance. Another way to think of it is this: if you can take the romance plot out and still tell the same story, it isn’t a romance.

Steamy or spicy romance is really just an acknowledgement that there is at least some sexually explicit material in the book.  In some novels, all of the sex is at the end. In others, the sex begins soon after the characters’ first encounter. Some are very graphic and eschew pretty euphemisms, while others obscure things a little with metaphor and analogy. But while the sex on the page is (or should be!) important to character and relationship development, it’s not usually the primary force that drives the story forward and the characters together.

Erotic romance is when the sexual encounters are the major factors that drive the storytelling and relationship forward. The plot focuses on how sexual intimacy changes the characters, and how it both draws them together and keeps them apart. Think of this like the mystery example in my romance definition above. In a mystery romance, the mystery plot is used to help develop the romance. In erotic romance (also called erom), it is the sex life of the characters that is used to develop the romance. So while you can have a “steamy” romance in almost any subgenre, in order to be erotic romance, the sex has to be intrinsic to the plot.

And just like in the mystery example, if you can take out the romance and still have the same erotic story, you’re writing straight erotica. If there is no story, just sex scenes? You’re writing porn.

No judgment on any of these things, by the way. They all have their place. But they’re not all the same things, and just because a romance includes explicit sex does not make it porn. This is a concept that readers on the no-sex end of the romance spectrum sometimes have trouble with. When reading about sex at all makes a reader uncomfortable, steamy romance and porn don’t seem that far apart.

But I’m here to tell you – there is a difference. Any romance—including steamy and erotic—is still interested in telling a story, and in building characters. It wants to develop a core relationship and see two (or more) people come together in ways that make them stronger than they were apart.

Erotica is interested in stories where sex plays an important part, but where the characters have no greater emotional attachment. Porn is interested in sex purely for titillation, where the characters and plot aren’t important. And there’s no shame in wanting to read either type of writing. They just aren’t romances.

I’m a steamy romance writer. My characters fall in love and have lots of amazing sex. If that sounds like fun to you, come check out my series. The first book, Essential Magic, is available now at all major online book retailers.

To read my steamy fantasy romance as an eBook, check out one of these fine retailers:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Or if you like holding a physical copy of the book in your hands, check out:

AmazonCreateSpace

Blog Tour Update:

Today I’m visiting Jennifer Loring, author of Firebirda super-steamy romance about a hockey player and a sports reporter with a history of passion – and pain. Can they figure out how to co-exist without tearing each other apart?

One Comment on “Sex and Romance Part Two: Steamy or Erotic?

  1. Pingback: Sex and Romance Part Two: Steamy or Erotic? | Jennifer Loring

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