Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's the Difference?

by D.L. Jackson

Recently I was gathered together with a group of women while we sent the guys over to another house to watch MMA title fights. Now, being a black belt recommend in mixed martial arts, I wanted to go, but it was a no chicks, guy thing, and I wasn’t allowed. So, I hung with the girls, watched movies and chatted.
One of the ladies I met talked about a reading club she belongs to. I pulled out my phone, brought up my website and handed it to her. I said, “I’m an author. What are you reading?” She leans in and whispers, “erotica.” And then she blushes.
Booyah! You’re talking my language. “I write erotic romance and erotica.”
Then she asks what’s the difference. Ah, I say. You just might be surprised. There’s a very thin line, and often readers are reading erotic romance and don’t know it.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve had someone react like erotic romance is the dirty little secret of the publishing world. I’ve had a woman in Barnes and Noble reply to my question, “where is the erotic?” by saying, “the slut books?” Usually the first reaction I get when someone finds out I’m an author is they ask what it is I write. When I tell them, they often blink and say, “oh, well I like so-and-so”, and spout out the name of some well known author they are reading, thinking it sounds “safe”, something a good girl would read. Nothing they wouldn’t be caught dead buying in the bookstore.
Uh, huh.
The next reaction I usually get, because ninety percent of the time what they are reading is erotic romance, goes something like this, “but they are a New York Times best seller. It’s romance.”
And so is erotic romance. It is romance. So what’s the difference? What makes romance erotic, or not. I think the first thing that makes it erotic is that the language is explicit. We call the body parts what they are, and we are not afraid to talk a little dirty. Seen any of that in the book you picked up in the supermarket lately? Yes? I’m not surprised.
The second thing that makes it erotic romance, is that the sex is an important part of the story.  The tension, the building desires and lust all lead to a big bang. Or multiple bangs. Sound familiar?
Ah. So, you’ve been reading erotic romance and you didn’t know it. Now there are definitely different degrees of heat you will find in romance and not all is erotic in nature, but the current trend is sexier, hotter books, with snarky heroines who often know what they want and go after it. They experiment and yes, sometimes talk dirty.
So, here are the different kinds of romance.
Sweet romance: Close the door. Sometimes the hero and heroine never consummate that relationship, and if they do, it will most likely not happen before they’re married. You will often see this in YA (young adult) books and Christian Romance. Happy ever afters are a must.
Romance: Hero and heroine are headed to bed somewhere in the story. Sometimes they’re married when they consummate, sometimes not. When they roll around in the sheets, the big scene doesn’t usually happen until around page 300 or so (don’t ask me why, but that’s usually where I see it). When it does happen, sometimes the author shuts the door, sometimes you see a little of what they are doing, but the scenes are not explicit, nor is the language. Happy ever afters are a must.
Erotic romance: This is the most common romance out there. And though you don’t think you’ve read it, you very well might have. Now erotic romance can have different degrees of heat, leaning toward romance, or the other way, erotica. You know the couple is going to get it on, and a lot of the time, it happens in the first chapter. You feel sexual tension from page one and throughout the story. Multiple sex scenes with descriptive sex, but not necessarily in every chapter. The sex isn’t the plot, but it is important to the story, and if it happens, it happens for a reason. The story could be paranormal, science fiction, contemporary, and about any sub-genre you can think of. A lot of the time there is a hero and a heroine, but it’s not exclusive. There may be ménage, male on male, female on female. Because this is romance and not erotica, once the hero(es) and heroine(s) get together, they are usually monogamous, even if they are a threesome. Happy ever afters, or at least happy for nows, are a must.
Erotica: The plot is the sex, but it often follows a storyline. Again, it can be any sub-genre you can think of. But the thing to remember is that the story is about the couple, or couples, or multiples coming together sexually. Almost every chapter will have hot, descriptive sex. The heroine or hero may have sex with others, but I find once they get together, they tend toward monogamy (in most the erotica I’ve read). Just about anything goes (except the usual no-no’s). Voyeurism, bondage, multiples. You will always see explicit sex, and graphic language. The plot is often based on sexual fantasies, i.e., seducing the boss, nailing the mailman, being the only man in an all female orgy. It is not Porn. Porn does not have a plot. Happy for now is usually a must, but not required.
Porn: Graphic detailed sex that spontaneously happens, and usually has no storyline. The sex is there for the purpose of titillation. The hero and heroine are there for one reason—to f*%k. It consists of graphic sex scenes, and language. Chicky-bah-wah. The plumber comes in, nails the bored housewife while the husband watches, story over.

So, up for some erotic romance? Go ahead, give it a try. You might be surprised you’ve already been reading it. Tell me what your favorite erotic romances are. What sub-genre do you like most?

I’m going to give away a copy of Seducing Liberty, a Decadent 1Night Stand, and yes, it’s erotic romance. All you have to do to get in on a chance to win, is leave a comment. 


Debby said...

Great post. I do read erotic romance. Great stuff!!
debby236 at gmail dot com

Barbara Elsborg said...

That was very well put, Dawn. Most of the supposedly NOT erotic romances have sex scenes that are just as hot as the erotic romances - but less of them. I have to admit, I always smile when people ask me what I write because I'm waiting to see the look on their face when I tell them!

Tamaria Soana said...

I'm pretty obsessed with the 1NS!

This book is on my to read list!

Viari said...

I hadn't released until I read this post, yes, you are right, I have read erotic romance. Though if I was standing speaking with you and you told me you wrote erotica, I would ask for the title, so I could go read it.

bn100 said...

Great post. Thanks for the explanations.


elaing8 said...

Great post.I read erotic romance and love it.Yes I get a raised eyebrow now and then when someone asked what I'm reading but I don't care.I like any arrangement of the m's and the f's :) m/m-f/f-m/f-m/m/f..etc.

D L Jackson said...

Thanks to all who commented. Tamaria, you are my winner. I'll be in touch to find out what e-format you'd like.

Tamaria Soana said...

OMG!!! I'm so excited to read this! Thank you so much I look forward to hearing from you!