General · reading · Writing

Erotica vs Romance

I’ve read a lot of romance and a lot of erotica, but I don’t know where exactly is the line between the two things. I started wondering about it I began the gay modern-day fairy tale.

The easy answer is that romances are about love and erotica is about sex. But all romances have sex and most erotica has romance, too. In erotica (to my mind) the plot revolves around sex. In romance, plot revolves around the romance. But in both the sex has a point. A plot point, character development, something. The sex isn’t gratuitous. If the definition of erotica is any story where sex serves a plot point, than everything would be erotica and this post would be pointless. (Plus, a good chunk of urban fantasy would be called erotica, too.) BTW, that’s how they are organized in my kindle. Romance or erotica, they are all in one folder.

My favorite erotica (Vampire Trinity by Joey W. Hill. But I love anything by her) the sex and romance are equally balanced. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. Of course, Joey W. Hill gets into alternate lifestyle situations that most traditional publishers wouldn’t touch. Alternate situations include not only kinky stuff, but gay romances. Josh Lanyon, whose Adrien English Mysteries is a long, drawn-out romantic suspense series. Oftentimes it has more suspense than romance. I discovered it on an erotica publisher’s website, but it is not erotic in the least. It has equal or less sex scenes than your average romance (i . e. Nora Roberts). So I am thinking that’s one way a story becomes erotica; the sex is out of norms somehow.

But that’s not enough! I mean, plenty of erotica has vanilla, one, guy, one girl kind sex. So I am thinking now one of the differences is language. Erotica has words that you would never find in romances. (i. e. pussy) Sometimes the words seem kind of forced, like they don’t belong, maybe as if the publisher insisted on using those words. But they are there.

The third thing is that if someone is published by an erotica publisher, they will always be erotica writers and everything they produce afterward will be deemed erotica. That isn’t fair and I am not sure how true it is.

What do you guys think? What separates erotica from romance? Does the separation even exist?

11 thoughts on “Erotica vs Romance

  1. Very interesting article, beautiful page also. Erotic. I thought it was a differentiation used for authors to separating romance from what some deem hard core SEX..

    1. thanks! sex is a big part of erotica, no question. The whole point, even. It’s just sometimes you do have erotica books that aren’t all about the sex. I mean, they got a story apart from the sex.

  2. I’m not sure there is any clear demarcation, at least I’ve never thought so. It seems like your first point about love verses sex has some merit, but I think it’s a simplistic way to view stories. For example, if I use sex to make a point about a character, does that make my story automatically erotic? What if that’s the only sex scene in the book? It’s a very difficult distinction to make. When we start drawing arbitrary lines about love and sex and call books one thing of the other, I start to get nervous.

    Like any relationship, a good love story will have both love an sex. Sex is a vital part of romantic relationships and trying to separate the two seems contrived to me most of the time.

  3. I’ve been wondering the same thing, before reading your post here I would have said that the difference is that there are more sexual scenes in erotic fiction, they go into more detail and descriptive scenes, where the reader is pulled more into the sex than say in Romance. where in some romances it is described, i think erotic stories are just romances that have allowed themselves or been allowed to take it that much further.

  4. I like your comparisons between Romance and Erotica and agree with them. You will find that the sex is a bit more gratuitous in an Erotica tale, while a romance may not even have a scene until you’re well into the story. I can see where the stereotyping can occur if you’ve written Erotica once (especially if the subject matter is of a deviant nature (Fetishes and the like). Wouldn’t everyone expect you to keep writing that?

    Great article, btw.

  5. I agree that there is a fine line between the two. While I tend to favor erotica in my own writing I have had some work that includes romance. I always find it tricky not crossing that line from romance to erotica when I come to is. I always want to plunge straight over that cliff and have to really hold myself back.

    Great article.

  6. I believe the difference really does hinge on the story line and depth of plot development. In a romance, a hero and heroine have conflicts and overcome those conflicts to fall in love. In erotica, there’s not necessarily a hero and heroine in the same predicament. The focus is more on the sensual moods, the arousal. At least that’s the way I make the difference in my mind. But it’s more fun to let them have grey areas!!!

  7. Interesting exploration. I agree about the “dirty words” sometimes seeming forced, in what little erotica I’ve read. I think it kills the mood if the words are just tossed in there, without regard to how the characters have been portrayed or how their relationship’s developing.

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