Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Difference Between Erotica and Erotic Romance

Hey all,

Erotic romance, or just erotica. That's the question. Smut, porn, or sensual writing. I've been following a thread on another blog where the author says any sex in a book makes it erotica. Another author says any erotica might as well be called porn.

Now, I have very strong views on this. For me, I don't consider what I write as porn. In fact, I take very strong exception to that statement. To me, porn is nothing more than writing about sex to titillate. No story, no romance. Just sex.

To me, erotica is a story that has a well developed plot, yet there is no romance. It's all about the sex. Some authors excell in this, and while I don't write it, I do believe firmly, it is very different than porn.

What I write is what I call sensual romance. Some call it erotic romance, but for me, it's more sensual than erotic. It's a fine line, but the way I define it...sensual romance means the storyline comes before the sex. Erotic romance is more focused on the sex as a whole. Neither way is wrong, just different.

It does bother me when people define my work incorrectly. While I can understand the moniker Erotic Romance since that is what the industry uses, mistakenly saying I write erotica does. Romance is always a huge part of every book I write. I am
proud to be a Romance writer, and leaving that off when you define me, takes away from the work I do.

But what do you all think? Part of the problem is there are so many definitions for this type of writing. So help me out. Tell me what you think the differences are between Erotic writings and Erotic Romance.

CJ England
#1 Bestseller and Torrid Sizzler Selection


Anne Rainey said...

Okay...my thoughts. Be warned, I'm being honest, but mean no offense to anyone who reads this! If you know me then you know I don't judge.

Porn-- Sex letters in Playboy magazine. "I was sitting at home wearing my teddy, the air conditioner was broken. Thankfully, the man who came to fix it, fixed lots of other things too"...you get the idea. Not really a bad thing, but not my thing.

Erotica--Poetry, stories, photography...anything that details sex or the human form, leaving nothing to the imagination. It's classy, well thought out, and designed to induce desire in the reader/watcher, but not in a tawdry way.--I'm currently working on a story that will be classified as erotica. "Naughty Games"

Erotic Romance-- Very spicy stories, but with a happy ending. Most of what I write I think of as Erotic Romance. Granted, lots of my stuff tends to be more tame, but I'd still classify it as erotic romance.--Haley's Cabin

Sensual Romance-- Stories that go beyond the bedroom door, but don't necessarily venture into the forbidden, such as threesomes, BDSM, etc.--Instructing Sarah

CJ England said...

Pretty much dead on with what I think. I wanted thoughts, and I don't expect everyone will agree with all of the opinions.



Tess MacKall said...

I think your take on it is dead on C J. I do have a friend who writes erotica/erotic romance and her motto is Porn With a Plot. She has a great sense of humor. And I wholeheartedly agree with the sensual romance you mentioned. What we write is not porn. I believe it should just be labeled as sexually explicit. Then let the reader look at the sexual content ratings. My novella, (The Emerald Lady coming out tomorrow Sept 19...YaY!!!!) I consider to be sensual romance. The sex scenes are explicit in description and so is some of the language, but it is highly romantic and I can almost call it sweet. Nothing pornographic whatsoever. I do however write things that I consider erotica. Just sold a series. There is much more sex, it's very explicit and while there is a plot, it's not romantic at all. Yes, it titillates sexually, but the mind as well. Porn does nothing but titillate sexually. With all that said, those who accuse us of writing pornography have issues...lol...and you know what I mean. Uptight. Presently I have a friend who sends me little bible scriptures daily..all since she read...or rather tried to read something I wrote. Well, I warned her. Great blog, C J.

Tess MacKall said...

One more thing. lol When you get right down to it. It's like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. It's all about what the reader feels when they read it. And it looks like a lot of people are reading it.

Anne Rainey said...

Yes, a lot of people are reading erotic romance. Two of my publishers have reported that they've gotten more than double the hits on the 'threesome' stories...so, I'd say erotica/erotic romance is pretty hot.

Caitlyn Hunter said...

...sensual romance means the storyline comes before the sex. Erotic romance is more focused on the sex as a whole. Neither way is wrong, just different.

Great definition! I know my first book was classified as erotic, but I was forever telling people it was more sensual than erotic. It is a fine line--good to know I'm not the only one out there who's tripping over it!

Terrific post, CJ. In the ongoing battle of erotic romance vs. sensual romance, I'm firmly in your corner.


Lacey Diamond said...

Terrific post CJ! I think you got it right. I consider my work erotic romance.

Jenifer said...

I think you and Anne Rainey hit it on the head! you guys just say it better than i do LOL

Jodi said...

You and Anne have it correct and said it way better than I could have. Guess that's why you guys are the authors and I am the reader!

Taylor Hartt said...

Good definitions.

I also agree that erotica is not porn, that it's more of a sensual journey the body takes along with the mind. However, there is a fine line between the two genres that some don't seem to see. Things that do feel more porny than erotic are often mislabled labled as erotica, the same as sensual romance is tossed into the mix.

It's all in the eye of the reader, one person's porn is another's romantica.

CJ England said...

Great comments all! Thanks so much for taking the time.

I had one comment on another blog where the reader said she wished NY would choose a definition and stick with it.

While I agree in one way, that can be scary since organizations like RWA still consider what we do porn. Some of the thoughts are changing, but to others if you tell what goes on in the bedroom, you stepped across the line into porn.

Hmmm... I wonder if some people consider the Bible pornagraphic. The section in Song of Solomon about his lover is descriptive, beautiful and sultry.

Like someone said...it is all in the eye of the beholder.


Veronica Arch said...

What Anne and CJ said - LOL

I even wonder if there will come a day when "romance" and "erotic romance" aren't different categories. I say this because I recently attended a workshop with an author who writes for Harlequin and Berkeley (I think!) and she said sex is now accepted in romance stories. She didn't talk about heat levels. Maybe that's where the differentiation comes in but she implied the sex could be fairly explicit without the novel being labeled "erotic".

CJ England said...

Someday, there might be an easy way to figure it, but every publisher right now has a different rating, so it's confusing for the author and the readers.