Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The sweet, the sensual and the erotic

I have read all “heat" levels of romance. Crafting any of these levels takes skill. The writer of each type has to know how far to push the envelope in what he/she is writing.

Sweet romance’s hottest moment might be what movie directors used to do in films when a couple was about to have sex. The movie scene would discretely cut to a billowing bedroom window curtain or rain beating against a window. So in sweet romance writing the scene may end before the couple gets to the bedroom and then pick up at some point after the loving (few hours later, the next morning, etc.) Also there is usually no harsh cursing. An example from my personal bookshelf is BEAUTY by Susan Wilson. Great plotline. Great characters that linger in the mind. Did I miss the sex scenes? No. Would I have liked a few? Probably but they weren’t necessary. The author’s command of the writing elements made the omission of sex scenes correct.

Sensual romance. Most romance books I’ve read and certainly the ones I write are sensual. These stories (mine and others’) depict the sexual affection the hero and the heroine have for one another. It’s not better than the sweet romance category; it’s another facet of a wide genre. The ones I loved were any historicals written by the “Avon Ladies”, that tight, well-oiled, successful machine of romance writers at Avon Books back in the 80s and early 90s. Even today I’ll re-read a classic by Woodiwiss or Rogers or Jenkins when nothing is calling to me from my TBR pile. Yes, those historicals could have some thin plotlines but I adored the descriptions of the locales, the era and of the fearless hero.

Now we come (no pun intended) to the erotica category. Always, always, always there will be people who call it porn. It’s not porn. It’s not even porn with prose. It’s a story with explicit sex scenes woven into a well-written story. Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be. And this is the debate about the erotica category. The focus of the book is sex. And I call them books with the side eye. I’m going to put my neck on the chopping block here. Ten pages is not a book. I repeat. Ten pages is not a book. Yes, I know that this length and a little longer are popular on Amazon. I suppose people don’t have time to invest in a long book. But I must comment, “Why does one read a book?" Is it not to relax and unwind? Does everything in this life have to be short, hurried and frenzied? Quick service, fast food. If you are taking the time out to read a book, don’t you want to savor it? I really do hope this rushed atmosphere is not indicative of your sex lives. If it is, no wonder most folks are sexually frustrated. But that’s just my observation. I am into relaxing and taking my time, so in my purview, ten pages is not a book. I name these short works, “written extended sexual encounters.”

Romance writing for me is the more imaginative of writing categories. Erotica may be the most imaginative genre. The sex in erotica is definitely the focus. It is usually very hot and veers into the realm of the unreal.  Erotica can be dangerous dark, playful, forbidding, vanilla, MM, FF, MFM, FMF or interracial. It blends quite well with paranormal, Sci-fi and the were/vamp/shifter tales.  I think with better crafting and building of stories, better plots (plots period), and by not rating a story by how many orgasms one can squeeze into ten pages, erotica could hold its own with the rest of the genres in romance writing.

So which level do you read? Any? All? A blend?



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