My Take on Why Romance and Erotic Romance is More than Porn

There seems to be this misconception in our world that people need to be beautiful to be perfect. That the good guys always win or wear white hats. That the cheerleaders should go with the football/basketball players or be brainless.

The same type of misconceptions are found in writing. Like fiction isn’t true literature and everything that isn’t considered literature isn’t worth reading. That writer’s wear tweed coats, smoke, and/or drink (I so want a tweed coat right now! It would look awe-some over that white corset I bought the other day! Nope. Scratch that. I think a velvet suit coat would look better.).

That romance, erotic romance, and erotica is nothing but porn. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the argument on why romance and erotica are or are not porn. The problem most people get stuck on is the sex in the story.

When you focus on the sex you miss the books theme and the lessons they teach that are only enhanced by the relationship and the sex, whether it is: love will find away, compromises are sometimes need in relationships, nobody is perfect (even mates you have no choice screwing), even the most unloveable people are sometimes worth loving, you’ll always have a second chance at love, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, just because you’re not perfect doesn’t mean that you won’t find love, couples are allowed to fight and disagree, beauty isn’t everything, danger makes people sexual charged, no one is perfect, every relationship has its ups and downs, or love can conquer most things and if not team work will. See what I mean?

So here is my break-down of each category.

Romance - couple falls in love and has sex. The focus of romance is on the relationship between the couple and the obstacles they have to overcome, not so much on the sexual aspect although that can play a big part. A HEA or happily-ever-after is required.

Erotic Romance - couple may have sex before they fall in love, then again they might not. An erotic romance is a highly explicit story with more blunt sexual terms, but at its core the erotic romance is still a romance, usually centering around a sexual conflict and their relationship. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is required.

Erotica - they have sex and things happen. The erotic story has a theme and a story line that usually surrounds a sexual situation. The situations and sex scenes in the story may be graphic and controversial. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is not required.

Porn - This is just sex. The story line is only to get you from one sex scene to the next, which happen frequently and with little purpose other than to have sex. A HEA (Happily-Ever-After) or HFN (Happy-For-Now) is not required.

Romance and erotic romance is more than just sex, it’s romance, albeit sometimes not a very realistic romance. And that is by no means the end of the list, just the ones off the top of my head. Sex in a romance is just the added bonus. For some people it can even be a learning experience. FYI How-to manuals are soo dry. ;)

I’d love to hear your opinions. Even if you disagree with me.

Categories: Genres | Tags: , , , ,

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16 thoughts on “My Take on Why Romance and Erotic Romance is More than Porn

  1. Hehe “FYI How-to manuals are soo dry.”… Yeah, I was about twelve when I borrowed ‘Valley of the Horses’ from my parents book shelf. That was an eye-opening experience to say the least.

    I think peoples’ reactions to romance / erotica is very personally biased so it’s pretty difficult to have any sort of objective measure of its worth. I think if one is to argue that a story is good because its characters are complex and interesting and something is gained from the journey you go on with those characters, then romance and erotica are capable of being equally good – or quite terrible, depending on how much effort the author has put in to developing their characters.

    There are also some very interesting feminist arguments about the value of romance novels to society and the gender stereotypes they portray / support. I have certainly noticed a change over time in the subtleties of how women are portrayed in romance novels. They need to be smart and plucky for us to care about reading them, but ultimately, we always need our alpha male to take over, right?

    Maybe not. I’d love to hear what people think about this issue too!

    • LOL I use to borrow my mom’s romance novels she got from the library when I was about the same age. When I was 15 and cleaning house for a retired psychologist who said I could borrow any book on her shelves, I borrowed her two-part sex manuals. They were very insightful, though it would be far longer before I could put what I learned into practice. :D

      Nice observations on romance/erotica. I remember when all the heroines in romance use to stand there while the hero saved them. I always wanted to smack them upside the head when they didn’t try to help the hero. Personally I like the female that might really need the hero at the start to help her, but by the end comes into her own and while she doesn’t need the hero in the same way as she did to start, she still needs him and he needs her.

  2. Excellent breakdown! I will definitely have to post on this topic in the near future. I’ll feature a link-back!
    And I agree with comments above. Every reader will react differently. I love my alpha male stories -(not sure I’d want to live with that all-alpha-all-the-time in real life…but it’s not real life. That’s the beauty of a book! I can enjoy alpha one night, and sexy nerd the next!)…but someone else may adore the more laid back type.

    • LOL I don’t think I could handle it either. I’m too passive-aggressive and I’m a feared the cast iron pan would find it’s way it to the clashing of heads. :D

  3. I agree with the argument, descriptions, and breakdowns – but I think one point was missed. One person can be the audience for more than one of those categories, depending on their needs (or mood) at the time. Characters always matter most to me in a story – but sometimes porn for porn’s sake is all a person requires. :-)

  4. lahilden

    I asked the question sex or no sex in a in romance novel on a social site, and wow is all I can say. This is a hot topic and people get pretty heated with their views. A man popped in to give his opinion and told us women we should stop peddling our porn. We were discussing romance novels. Suffice to say, he was removed from the site but it did show me how this issue can really bother people. Great article.

    • It does bother some people. I’ve posted on this subject one other time and had a lady fly off the handle at the whole subject of sex in romance, erotica, or fiction. It can be a mess subject. :(

      I’m glad you liked the article though. :D

  5. Sex only happens in , I think, three of my books. And it’s not very graphic. I love a hot love scene that leaves a lot to the imagination. Sometimes it’s the build up that’s hotter than the actual sex. That being said, I still don’t mind reading a little erotic romance now and then. And I will admit reading some erotica, mostly because I knew the author. But my heart is still with romance because the relationship builds up to the sex, the sex doesn’t build the relationship. Does that make sense? I’ve had people complain because there wasn’t sex in one of my books, and I’ve had people say they liked the same book BECAUSE there wasn’t sex. LOL There’s enough to please everyone, I think, and no one has to read anything they don’t want to read. So there’s no need to complain about any kind of genre. Romance is here to stay, and the naysayers can just choose not to read it. Some say it doesn’t show realistic relationships. I don’t read romance because I want something realistic. I want to be taken away to a fantasy land where there’s always a HEA. :)

    • :D Well said. Some people never seem to be happy with books. I’ve had people complain that some of my sex scenes are too vanilla and some are too spicy for their tastes. It always depends on the people and what they like.

  6. Most of the time, I receive emails thanking me for writing sex scenes in what the readers think is a beautiful way. I’ve had a few emails (like two every six months) where I have someone praying for me so I no longer add sex in my books. Both groups are Christian women. So who is right and who is wrong? i think this boils down to taste. Some people don’t want to read sex, just like I don’t like to read endless descriptions about what someone is wearing or how their house looks. Neither is right or wrong.

    The problem is when one person takes the attitude that their taste is the only valid taste, and this is where I get pissed off with trolls who bash people for having a differing opinion. You know, a book has sex in it. So what? It doesn’t. So what? Just read the books your like and toss out the rest. I see reviewers who like or don’t like something about a book being bashed, and it annoys me to no end. I wish comments under reviews weren’t allowed. I wish the stupid helpful or not helpful vote buttons weren’t up. I’m all for people having opinions and voicing them, but getting into a war of words over a personal preference makes no sense to me. We could be doing so many productive things with our time, and holding onto an argument only damages your health.

    And really, it’s the author’s book, which is why I love self-publishing as much as I do. I don’t like anyone but the author calling the shots in their books. And the readers who prefer books like the ones we’re writing will be glad they found us. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself first. I believe the right readers will come along and appreciate us for sticking with our vision.

    Sorry I ended up ranting.

  7. mylunar

    Great article. Definitely agree with you. And I must admit, before I become an avid romance reader, I thought anything with an erotica word was porn. But after read several erotica genre I came to basically same conclusion as yours. When I picked romance book, I searching for HEA, looking for a wonderful story. Sex scene is a bonus. I also encounter some erotica romance book borderline to porn – too much sex scene and wreck storyline (in my opinion that wasn’t erotica romance).

  8. Excellent post, Stephannie.

    In the collaborative novel I’m writing with a partner, the story is definitely erotic romance. It’s explicit, but the foundation of the story is the relationship.

  9. Pingback: Friday Favorites – Romance, Love and Storytelling « Shannyn Schroeder's Blog

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