Well, in response to the #90DaysBlogChallenge in my personal view point, is there ever too much sex in romance stories? I feel that how it’s written can make it seem ‘too much.’ Rather than how much is written. Also, I feel if that (hot sex) is the main driver in a story that’s meant to be, or marketed as a romance, then it can come across as too much. I feel the latter as yes, I agree that there’s a massive difference between romance and erotica, in terms of genre, and the purpose they serve to myself as a reader and others. If the main driver is ‘hot sex’ as a selling point of the story, it really should be an erotica story. So, let me break this down.
Seriously, is it ever too much?
In romance sex may play a big part in the story, after all this is about people and their relationships. So sex will be normal, naturally for characters as it is for real people. It’s a way relationships develop you could say, so generally it’s to be expected in romance stories. Unless it’s a ‘sweet and clean’ type of story. Generally speaking for me as a big romance reader, and writer, I think that if romance writers think very carefully about where they place their sex scenes, what purpose it serves, and why their characters must get it on at that point in the story– this helps with reducing that cringe-worthy read feeling. Or the feeling a reader may have (myself included) of, ‘this is too much, shit I’m not gonna finish this book.’ This is what I mean by how sex is written rather than how much of it. Also, in addition to this if there’s pages and pages of it, that’s overly detailed, and leaves little to the imagination, and nothing else going on really in the story –yes as a reader I’ve felt it’s ‘too much.’ Again, that boils down to how it’s written. The main elements of what makes a romance a romance may also be missing, if sex is all that’s driving the plot. Which brings me back to the point I made earlier– maybe that’s an erotica story if that’s the case.
So what’s the difference between erotica and romance in your view, Kim?
I know that’s what you’re thinking, well what’s the difference? In all honesty for me erotica is sex driven not emotionally or even plot driven. To me the genre from what I have read of it, and clearly I know of it as a writer the main purpose it serves is more: the sexual tension, the sexy acts the characters get into themselves (BDSM, threesomes, carrying out fantasies etc). The plot is not always as dynamic as romance as the sexy acts can be such a big part of the story, and reason why the characters are together in the first place. This seems to be (from reading) what the main emphasis is on, in a lot of what I’ve read. It’s about the thrill of the chase yes but–sexually. Maybe you disagree, but this has just been my experience. I’d also generally say this as a writer too, I (and I’d guess most romance writers regardless of their sub-genre), write stories that are emotionally and plot driven. The emotional build up, tension (not always sexual think of romantic suspense as a sub-genre), and the growth and development characters often experience are a big factor of a story. The latter should be a feature if the writer has done a good job! Readers can feel and see it. Generally speaking also, the latter is not always something that is a heavy focus in erotica stories. It’s the power that’s in the sex scenes, rather than the power in emotionally tugging at a reader.
What about ‘steamy romance’?
Yes, let’s not forget this. I am a ‘steamy romance writer’ to the core. I find it very hard to write stories where characters just hold hands and walk in the park LOL. Those that pen wonderful romance and keep it clean, I commend them. It’s something I can’t really do– or maybe I just don’t wanna! Deep down. Steamy romance in my opinion is again different from erotica. I’d go as far as say I believe that ‘steamy romance’ is romance–emotionally and plot driven with growth for characters, a clear bond for characters over and above sexual attraction, even if sexual attraction is a feature in a story. To me it’s a label you can give romance stories that have all the features of a traditional romance but, it’s not ‘sweet and clean’, sex may feature a few times, and yes it may well be written in detail but not over the top. It’s different as again the main driver is not how ‘hot’ the sex is like erotica. The hot sex, adds to all the other romantic elements focused on.
So in a nutshell for me, nope there’s never too much sex in a romance as long as it’s well written, and not just thrown in for the sake of it. A lazy writer who can’t develop a romance, or romantically charged plot well, or feels that’s what’s needed to engage a reader (heaps of sex only), might fall back on this technique and call it ‘romance.’ To me it’s really not. Yes, there’s a massive difference between erotica and romance. No matter how steamy that romance is. The plot will always be over and above: ‘getting it on,’ having ‘hot sex scenes,’ or the thrill of the chase for characters is based on knowing what a sexual experience with another character might be like.
What do you think? Do you read either romance or erotica genres– is there a difference for you? Which one do you prefer?