“Erotica is sex for sex’s sake without any repercussions, demands, or thought to the outcome.”
To be blunt, that’s bullshit.
Unfortunately, it’s also a common misconception.
When the erotic romance subgenre started to boom a lot of traditional romance authors took offense. At first, word was that only writers who weren’t good enough to get published for real got epublished. Then word got out just how popular some of these epublished authors were and they shifted blame to to the subgenre. Romance authors started calling down erotica, and erotic romance authors started getting defensive about the fact that what they write is NOT erotica, it’s erotic romance.
And now, we have readers and writers alike struggling to try and figure out what is what.
Then NY publishers started buying. Some are looking for erotica, some are looking for erotic romance. Yet, not many have actual guidelines for what they want and marketing comes into play. More confusion. But basically, I think we all want the same thing. A Good Story.
Everybody seems to have a different idea of what is what, and this is just my version of things. It’s easy to say that the difference between ER and Erotica is how they end. That ER ends with a “happily ever after” (HEA) and Erotica doesn’t. Or that ER is more story and more love, and erotica is more sex and less story.
But things just aren’t that simple.
Erotica is, and has been a complete genre on it own for decades. A genre full of literary stories, photography and art, as well. We all know there doesn’t have to be explicit sex involved to make something erotic. Yet, it seems easy for people to look at a photograph and say it’s erotic, even when there is not overt or explicit sex, but when a book or story is called erotica, it’s expected to be completely about sex.
Or worse even, it’s expected to be an Erotic Romance.
Now, this is not to say that erotica novels don’t have a lot of sex. But I believe Erotica is all about the main character’s journey. The sexual acts and scenes that take place in an erotica story propel the character on a journey. It’s the same way and a photogrpah that’s classed as Erotica, in my mind, is more than an image of a body, or a sex act. That photograph also tells a story. And it tells a different story to every person who looks at it.
I often post photos here on my blog. Sometimes they’re cheesy eye candy, sometimes they’re actual erotic ones. I trust people know the difference, even if they can’t put their finger on exactly why they’re different, and appreciate both for what they’re worth.
The same goes for fictional works.
I’m sure there are many who will not agree with me, but to my way of thinking Erotica is closer to the chic-lit genre than to the romance genre.
Why? Because it’s all about the main character, and the obstacles that character faces. The obstacles could be a job, a boss, money! Or the fact that the character is realizing they like to be spanked, or that they enjoy sex with strangers, or that they crave being dominated and humiliated in the bedroom. The story is about one person’s journey to a satisfying end, not always a traditional HEA.
Erotic Romance is, first and foremost, a romance. They are a full-bodied look at the relationship that develops throughout the story. It’s about the romantic relationship, and the struggles of the hero and heroine on the path to making their relationship work. It’s about their journey. The same way a traditional romance is, only in Erotic Romance, the author doesnï¿½t hold back or close the door when it comes to the sexual part of the story.
These are the differences as I see them. It’s how I define them when I write them, when I feel the need to define them.
But to me, the actual definition isn’t as important as the fact that readers realize they are different genres, that they promise different things, and that they can appreciatte each one for the story it is.
What do you think?