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Writing Advice & Discussion > WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE BETWEEN SEXY AND EROTIC?

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message 1: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments Hi guys, I'm Esther and my Paranormal Romance, Lost in Amber, will be published in February. It's classified as New Adult, so since writing steamy scenes is my strong point, I was able to give it a stretch without crossing the Fantasy/Fiction genre (well, at least that's what I think).

From a reader's point of view, what kind of "steamy scenes" do you like to read? How much sexy is too sexy and where do you draw the line?

The beauty stands in the variety, I know it's all very relative, but I'd love to read your opinions.
Thank you!


message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Bourgeois (jennykatharina) | 237 comments I do not draw a line at all. I read erotic. Nothing is too much sexy for me yet.


message 3: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments Jennifer wrote: "I do not draw a line at all. I read erotic. Nothing is too much sexy for me yet."

That's fab. Do you have any book recommendations, Jennifer?


message 4: by James Q. (new)

James Q. Golden (jqg89) | 2 comments https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

This book might help you draw the line you're talking about. I'd recommend Henry Miller, but I think most women find his stories too crude.

Now, I don't know how open-minded you are or can be, or whether you're into manga. But if you really wanna know what's sexy or/and erotic, I'd suggest reading the Sundome Series :

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...

The story might feel a little weird and boring at first, but it steadily grows more . . .real I guess is the right word. If you can read it by remembering how it'd felt to be a teenager interested in--or even captivated by--sex, then all the power to you. Just remember a couple things as you read it: a picture is worth a thousand words, and Japan is Japan.

Hope this helps a bit.

James.


message 5: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments James Q. Golden wrote: "https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

This book might help you draw the line you're talking about. I'd recommend Henry Miller, but I think most women find ..."


Thanks James. I'm a relentless teen at heart!
PS. One of my characters is also called James :)


message 6: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments My first novel was intended to be sexy, but I feel it tipped over into erotica. After much research, the distinction I came up with was the description of the physical act. If you need to reach for a thesaurus because you've got too much repetition about body parts, then it's probably erotica. I ultimately decided to cut the 'fluids' from my writing, just keeping the foreplay.

It always depends on the reader, though. Just like the distinction between art and pornography, it's in the eyes of the beholder.


message 7: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments Keith wrote: "My first novel was intended to be sexy, but I feel it tipped over into erotica. After much research, the distinction I came up with was the description of the physical act. If you need to reach for..."

I have your work on my pending list after the publishing hassle! Can't wait to get my hands on it!

Writing wise, anything past foreplay would be erotica even if it doesn't read like pure pornography?
I guess (in my head) erotica is when you make a clear reference to lady/man parts, call them by their many names and paint a very graphic picture :)

Correct me if I'm wrong, I think I need a bit of help on this front


message 8: by Jennifer (last edited Nov 30, 2018 09:13AM) (new)

Jennifer Bourgeois (jennykatharina) | 237 comments Esther wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "I do not draw a line at all. I read erotic. Nothing is too much sexy for me yet."

That's fab. Do you have any book recommendations, Jennifer?"


Twist Me if you like dark novels.
Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers Boxed Set

Double Daddies If you like M/F/M

Savedif you like military BDSM
Craving if you like BDSM


message 9: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I've read some 'erotica' that had me sweating from the imagery, yet never once mentioned any private body parts. Conversely, I've _many_ times been bored with repetitive descriptions of physical acts that lacked passion. No doubt other people would feel other things. It really does boil down to each individuals own perceptions. And, I feel, you can become inured to the repetition as well, so what once might have been an erotic turn on is now just boring repetition.

I like erotica, but wasn't trying to write it when I wrote my novel. When I was writing I intended it to be sexy, so art in a pornography world. But a lot of my early readers (before I removed the private parts and fluids) felt that that level of detail wasn't helping the story and would inevitably lead to polarization in the readership. It is, I believe, about expectations. When I watch pornography I fast forward through the plot because I want to get to the 'good stuff.' When I watched the movie Caligula (by Penthouse owner Guccione) I struggled to enjoy all aspects of the movie at the same time. Usually I could only either enjoy the historical plot OR the sexy scenes, and found myself fast forwarding through the parts I wasn't there to enjoy on any given watching. If people are reading your story because they want to read about the sex, then you are firmly in the realm of erotica. Add too much plot and they lose interest. If your readers are after the plot and story, then they may find dwelling too much on the sex uncomfortably distracting.

I believe most Western audiences, particularly for movies, are OK with sexy foreplay in their movies, so can enjoy both aspects, but I feel (perhaps I'm projecting) that when you mix too much sex with too much story you wind up in a no-man's land where neither side wants to invest the time. Since my story wasn't about the sex, I felt that cutting out that aspect, but leaving in the foreplay, I could still keep it sexy, yet not distract my intended audience. It may be a cultural thing, and my detailed foreplay might be too much for cultures used to much less. Conversely, in more permissive cultures, my stopping with a little T&A may be seen as robbing the reader of the pleasure.

There's also the marketing reality that I was writing a series, and as I wrote more the level of steamy sex dropped off. Partly because, I think, I was running out of ways to describe what is, after all, basically an incredibly repetitive task, but also I just felt less was more. Thus, the seamy, ugly-bumping, fluid-filled first novel set a precedent for the rest that I was failing to live up to, and those readers that might have enjoyed it because of the level of detail might wind up very disappointed, which leads to poor reviews. I felt my putative readers would be better off if I scaled things back in the first and second novel to better match what was in the third and planned fourth.

If you want your stories to have a heavy sexual content, but also want lots of story and plot, well write what you enjoy! Writing is a lonely 'sport,' and a very lengthy one, so you have to enjoy what you're doing. But if you have mercenary intent, as I do, then you need to think about how the market will perceive your work, so you can tailor what you create to maximize your exposure. There are plenty of authors that have gone with both, so clearly there's a market for erotica with plot. Based on my research, that market heavily skews toward women. I've been told that my stories tend to skew toward male audiences (this despite some of the most vocal supporters being women), so trying to go after them might hurt any potential sales.

TL/DR: Erotica is focused on sex over story. But too much sex in the story can lead to unhappy erotica readers, so it requires balance. Your readership, to an increasing extent, are going to pigeon hole you one way or another, as trying to change the level can upset your readers.


message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Bourgeois (jennykatharina) | 237 comments Esther wrote: "Keith wrote: "My first novel was intended to be sexy, but I feel it tipped over into erotica. After much research, the distinction I came up with was the description of the physical act. If you nee..."

You are both correct. If you name all male/lady part and have romance, it is called Erotic. if there is no romance, it called Erotica. A lot people say erotic or erotica for Both non-romance and romance.


message 11: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments That certainly clarifies things, thank you!


message 12: by J.R. (last edited Nov 30, 2018 09:46AM) (new)

J.R. Alcyone | 276 comments I don't write romance, but I read them sometimes. The current trend in romance novels (outside of sweet romances) seems to be to show sex scenes. And sometimes they are described in pretty graphic ("steamy") detail. So the lines are blurring.

In terms of what makes something a romance versus erotica, I look at the point of the story. If the point of the story is the developing relationship between two people, it's a romance novel. Sex is often a part of these stories, sometimes a big part, but the story could exist without the sex scenes. Conversely, in erotica, the sex is the point of the story; take out the sex, and there's really no story.

Another distinction I make is in traditional romances, there are typically two partners and the sex tends to follow more, for lack of a better term, traditional trends. For that reason, I place stories which involve discussions or depictions of fetishes, ménages, toys, strong BDSM, multiple partners, etc. on the erotica side of the line. Again, it comes down to the point of the story -- is this about a relationship between two people, or is this story about sex?

Romance is probably the most trope-driven and strictest genre in terms of formula and readers wanting you to stick to that formula; you drift from the formula and tropes at your own peril in terms of selling books and reader reviews. For that reason, I would recommend picking up some PNR novels, preferably best sellers, and seeing how they handle their sex scenes. If they are describing the scenes in graphic detail, feel free to go there; if their sex scenes are relatively tame, then you probably should tone your's down accordingly. The best sellers in your genre give you a good idea of what your readers expectations will be.


message 13: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 15 comments Are you a writer yourself JR? Also thank you for clarifying certain aspects.


message 14: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments JR is an excellent author: Five Fathoms Beneath.


message 15: by J.R. (new)

J.R. Alcyone | 276 comments I basically just agreed with Keith. He slipped his response in while I was writing mine. :)

I have one published novel, and it's general fiction, leaning toward literary. No one gets past second base in said story. :)

But I read a lot and across many genres.


message 16: by Ariella (new)

Ariella Talix (ariellatalix) It's my understanding that if the sex is what holds the story together, it's erotica. Now... what is erotic to one person may not be to another. However, if the story can stand on its own and just be enhanced by the sexy parts, then it's contemporary or erotic fiction. I've read what is considered erotica, and I frankly find it boring. However, if I can be invested in the plot and the characters, and there is some hot sex... that's great! I hope I've been able to accomplish that for my readers!


message 17: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Winkler (goodreadscomrebecca_winkler) | 26 comments IMHO, it comes down to one question: Is the content developing the protagonist and other characters' sexual life arc, or a story/plot arc?

I find it interesting how some books are categorized on Amazon. Even though a book may have an erotic scene(s), it is not listed in the erotica category.


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