Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Addicts discussion

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General Discussion > The difference between Romantic, Steamy and Erotic scenes in Writing

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message 1: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments Hi guys, my name is Esther and I am a content creator for writers and a Paranormal Romance author myself. The reason why I'm here today is to ask you, readers and writers alike about your reading preferences involving:

- romantic scenes
- steamy scenes
- erotic scenes

... in the novels of your choice. I just wrote an article on the matter: https://estherrabbit.com/romantic-ste... with examples of each (be warned, explicit content).

But I'd like to take it a step further and write another article involving the ones who would like to take part in this little survey. I'd like to know where you draw the line between steamy and erotic and if reading such scenes provides an enjoyable reading experience for you.

Naturally, do let me know if I have your permission to quote you in my upcoming article with your Goodreads name or if you wish to remain anonymous. Happy Monday everyone!


Jennifer (DigiWrit) (pixiquill) | 154 comments I personally enjoy romantic scenes in books, and I draw the line. Erotic is just too pornographic for my taste. Especially when dirty words get thrown in. Kinky, foul-mouthed sex scenes just aren't... sexy to me. To me, a truly romantic scene is sweet with just a dash of edginess. Maybe this is because I believe that love and sex aren't really related. You can want sex without loving someone, or love them without ever having even touched them. Slightly edgy romance scenes feed my emotional fantasies while just skimming the channel of my sexual fantasies. Erotic scenes are just words to get off on, if I'm to be blunt about it


message 3: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments Jennifer (DigiWrit) wrote: "I personally enjoy romantic scenes in books, and I draw the line. Erotic is just too pornographic for my taste. Especially when dirty words get thrown in. Kinky, foul-mouthed sex scenes just aren't..."

Excellent! That's a really great way to put it, Jennifer. I loved your reply so much, that I'd actually love to interview you on your reading preferences if you agree :)

Let me know


Jennifer (DigiWrit) (pixiquill) | 154 comments I'd love that, sure! Can we do via messaging?


message 5: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments Jennifer (DigiWrit) wrote: "I'd love that, sure! Can we do via messaging?"

Sure! On it!


message 6: by April (new)

April | 36 comments I don't mind reading the whole range of scenes... but it needs to suit the overall story.

Typical Romances have sex scenes... M/F or M/M... unless, of course, it's a Regency type M/F Romance or Christian, I guess, which I have never read.

The amount of sex scenes and the amount of detail in said scenes--and the focus on the sex scenes-- those can vary. I wouldn't be upset if there were no sex scenes... although that would be unexpected and the rest of the book better make up for the lack (perhaps by being very well focused on the relationship and make it seem healthy and romantic in all other ways).

The only times I don't see many sex scenes is if the Romance is not just a Romance, but rather a Paranormal-Romance or Mystery-Romance or Whatever-Romance. The cross-genre means that the focus isn't just on the Romance (relationship), but has to focus on other important plotlines.

There can be sex scenes that are very briefly described--or described in oblique or metaphoric ways. Or they can be mostly off-stage. Those can be found in books that aren't Romances at all. Actually, I've come across a fair amount of rather explicit sex scenes that aren't in Romances at all.

Briefly described sex scenes in a Romance seem a bit odd to me. But as I said, the rest had better be AMAZING.

(I do like Regency style Romance--no/little sex make sense in those because of the period and because they tend to focus on manners and social aspects. If I'm reading a Regency, it's a bit shocking if there is any mention of sex at all. And of course, that all works if it's m/f... m/m would be a different thing--since any hint of m/m in the Regency era would be ultra scandalous.)

Romantic scenes--if there is not a lot of mechanical detail and it includes the sex act... that's probably ideal. I think it takes a fairly good writer to be able to pull this off well, though.

Erotic scenes... don't really need to be all about the details and the mechanics, either! I think they need to be a bit more explicit, but can also be Romantic. To do that well would also take some skill.

Just the pornographic, mechanical sex--they did this and they did that, in this position and that position, then did this and that--in great detail... isn't necessarily sexy or romantic or erotic!

I use Erotic mostly in terms over Erotic fiction--where the whole focus of the book is on the sex acts--and the sex can be romantic or just physical or whatever.

For sex in Romance books, I think a basic hotness scale is best to describe them: from no sex to lots with lots of detail.


message 7: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments April wrote: "I don't mind reading the whole range of scenes... but it needs to suit the overall story.

Typical Romances have sex scenes... M/F or M/M... unless, of course, it's a Regency type M/F Romance or C..."


This is such a terrific reply, April. Thank you so much!


message 8: by Kiersten, Mod (new)

Kiersten Fay (kierstenfay) | 501 comments Mod
Esther wrote: "I'd like to know where you draw the line between steamy and erotic and if reading such scenes provides an enjoyable reading experience for you."

This is such a great topic, Esther, and so relevant when so many books these days have extra explicit scenes in them. I myself write very explicit scenes and don't mind reading them...most of the time. However, some books are WAAAY too over the top.


message 9: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments Kiersten wrote: "Esther wrote: "I'd like to know where you draw the line between steamy and erotic and if reading such scenes provides an enjoyable reading experience for you."

This is such a great topic, Esther, ..."


I love explicit scenes as well! What would you say is something over the top?


message 10: by Kiersten, Mod (new)

Kiersten Fay (kierstenfay) | 501 comments Mod
It's hard to know exactly until you come across it. One thing that comes to mind is unrealistic scenes (not necessarily the explicit scenes). For instance, when a heroine is running from the hero at the start of the novel, thinking he's trying to kill her while at the same time musing over how handsome and fit he is. That just doesn't follow.


message 11: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments Kiersten wrote: "It's hard to know exactly until you come across it. One thing that comes to mind is unrealistic scenes (not necessarily the explicit scenes). For instance, when a heroine is running from the hero a..."

Ahh, now I get it, thank you :)


message 12: by Chloe (new)

Chloe Balkin (chloealicebalkin) | 21 comments Ooh, I agree about the over-the-top thing. I write erotic romance. I do extremely down and dirty. The last 'over-the-top' scene for me, one that was bad enough that I quit reading the book (and the author entirely, even though I mostly enjoyed her stuff and it was good market research for me) wasn't explicit at all. It was gratuitous. I will read something that's sex all the way through, but as soon as it's thrown in just because, presumably, the author thought the book needed sex for fan service's sake, ruins it.


kittykat AKA Jo Tortitude | 137 comments I like this topic as I like different levels of steam depending on the genre or plot of the book. My thoughts here are a little scattered so bear with me.

For action packed fantasy, mainly UF, I generally dislike graphic sex scenes as they take me out of the story. I don't particularly enjoy a lot of full on romance in UF anyway, I would much rather see a few lifelike off-page casual dates/hook ups instead (and yes I know that I'm an anomoly there!) and focus on the worldbuilding, the magic, the supernatural creatures, the mystery etc. There's too much other stuff going in for the romance to be so front and centre.

For PNR I don't mind graphic sex, so long as there is also a lot of plot and character time - I like it for the worlds and the creatures not just the romance. I would just as happily read more shifter stories in particular with little to no romance and sex.

For romance genre, I expect there to be a certain level of steam, but can't abide certain words or phrases... C you next tuesday is on the VERY top of my most hated list in sex scenes. It is a hateful insult and IMO should only be used in that way. Some books that I've read would have been better without the sex scenes because they were either boring or horrible, but to be honest it's hard to pinpoint why. Sometimes it's just a feeling, and sometimes it's because I dislike or am bored by the characters overall or feel that they have little chemistry, that thing that makes my tummy flutter even if they are just talking.

I think that sex is so often written badly though. There are so many cheesy and down nasty sounding words and phrases that get used so often it's frustrating and that's what sometimes puts me off. Maybe I'm just becoming less tolerant, but int he last couple of years I have skimmed past many a sex scene for any number of reasons. But maybe that's because I'm kind of burnt out? When I started reading romance in earnest, it was from Ellora's Cave and Samhain publishing and Loose ID... about 10/12 years ago and the more erotic titles was the bulk of what I was choosing.

But I'm also happy to read Romance books with little to no sex content, as long as I feel the chemistry between the characters. And sometimes, the sexiest and steamiest scenes are not where the MC's are having sex at all, they may just be having a conversation, or sitting on the sofa watching TV... I read one book where the hero was just softly rubbing the waistband of the heroine's jeans while they were watching TV and it was SCORCHING to me!

One thing that really annoys me, is the constant descriptions of huge penises and how the women wonder if they will fit. Eyes roll EVERY SINGLE TIME. Also, marathon sessions... I could go on but I won't as this has been long enough!


message 14: by Esther (new)

Esther Rabbit | 30 comments kittykat wrote: "I like this topic as I like different levels of steam depending on the genre or plot of the book. My thoughts here are a little scattered so bear with me.

For action packed fantasy, mainly UF, I g..."


OMG I rearly cried :) I never realized it before you mentioned it but that's right! Will it fit? EVERY SINGLE TIME! Your comment made my day and I totally agree with you. Chemistry first.


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