Discussing Erotica

There’s been a recent influx of erotica novels and stories to the mainstream in recent years. You could say the rise to infamy of a certain trilogy of novels has played a large part in this newfound popularity. Whether or not that’s a good thing, or that the certain trilogy of novels is a good barometer of what’s good quality out there, is in question. However, you can’t deny the way the new demand has opened up opportunities all over for writers of the genre.

It has also raised a lot of discussion about what’s right or wrong for erotica, about whether it’s just straight pornography, and whether or not it’s a good thing that so much content is considered a good thing. I also wonder how publishers or book sellers – I’m not sure who makes the decision – classify some novels as erotica and others as mainstream romance.

I’ve been reading romance for a long time. I was also reading some erotica before it became popular in recent years. I still couldn’t tell you what the main differences are. Maybe romance is more story-driven and less sensual but that’s not entirely accurate. I don’t think I could consider that certain trilogy of novels as erotica. As I said, I’ve been reading romance and erotica for a long time and that set of books isn’t more erotic than a lot of mainstream romance that I’ve read.

Like I mentioned above, there does seem to be a lot of debate over whether these kinds of novels are considered just straight-up pornography. Uh, no. They’re not porn. Porn is all sex, no story to speak of, no character development, nothing but graphic depictions of sex in all it’s forms. Yes, I realize this is my opinion only and I’m sure there are more than a few people who would consider what I write to be porn. (It’s not!!)

I think some of the appeal for people reading and enjoying those three novels, as well as any of the other offerings out there currently, is that they don’t know or recognize all the different levels of eroticism or romance. To them, this is the height of titillation and they think they’re reading something that’s the first of it’s kind. It’s not. However, it is the first of it’s kind for those people reading.

I do find it interesting that people who might not read a lot, are reading these stories all of a sudden. I had lunch with a friend of mine this week and she’s never been a big reader. I’ve known her for ten years and don’t ever recall her talking about books with me but this week, she said she’d read that trilogy of novels.

So because all these people are reading these novels, and the myriad of books like them, they’re also discovering that it’s OK to explore their sensuality. I had a friend tell me that, while she’s not into the whole domination/submission phenomenon, she’s so happy that since reading these books, she’s been able to open up to her husband of almost eleven years. Not that she never shared with him before but she did tell me that reading those stories let her know that it was OK to say that she wanted something outside the norm with him. Since then, it’s opened up a whole new world for them. That’s a good thing. On the flip side, it’s a little worrying that people are trying things they read in these novels, assuming that the author was the authority on sub-dom situations. Before exploring certain aspects of the sex life, do your research!!

Moving on, while I’ve already admitted before that I didn’t enjoy that particular book myself, I’m enjoying the conversations and debates that it has brought up. I love the fact that more attention is being given to the entire romance genre – whether you view it as erotica or not – and I love how it’s opening up the market for so many talented authors who otherwise might have been dismissed because of the content of their novels. I have yet to be ‘discovered’ but then again, my writing isn’t as graphic or overtly sensual as a lot of the books that are considered hot right now. That’s OK. I like what I write and I am going to keep writing what I like. That’s just how I roll.

As always, take care and happy reading.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Discussing Erotica

  1. Gwen

    I agree the certain trilogy you reference above has changed the erotica landscape, making it much more mainstream. It has also opened the floodgates to copycat series, just as Harry Potter did for wizard-themed books in the 90s, and the Twilight saga did for the vampire romance sub genre.

    What mystifies me is the publisher’s apparent blind eye to the abhorrent quality of writing in the said erotica series. Perhaps it’s simply a sign of the times; an indicator of the state of the industry. Anything goes, as long as it sells.

    Great post!

  2. I like your assessment. Honestly, I’m trying to figure out the appeal and maybe it is because that book allows people to explore their sexuality. Most who’ve read it and love it (that I’ve interacted with) aren’t avid readers or weren’t readers of erotic prior to this book.

    Keep writing. I’m finding that just continuing to improve on my ability to tell a good story makes a difference. A good story overshadows even the worse writing errors, as evidenced by that series success.

    • Lady Falcon

      I’ve had the same encounter as far as those who have loved that series…they were not big readers before reading it and haven’t really been reading since they finished.

  3. I loved this post and agree with everything that has been said. I think that copycat novels are where the genre will go initially (everyone wants a piece of the pie!). However, if the publishers don’t start recognizing other erotic story lines then the genre will just fade back to where it was before – people will get bored. I’m hoping that more readers and writers start exploring the what the genre has to offer! There is so much more out there beyond overbearing billionaires!

  4. Lady Falcon

    I have been reading romance and erotica among other genres for a very long time as well. My first romances were when I was in 8th grade (1985) and my mom started letting me read her Harlequin and Silhoette books. The erotica was my freshman year of college (1990) when I discovered an erotic BBS on the internet in its infancy days. I’d print the stories on on my old dot matrix printer and read them later so I didn’t burn up all the allotted online time the University gave students. 🙂

    For as long as I’ve been reading on Lit I’ve thought that the majority of the “good” stories on there weren’t any different than what I could find in the Romance shelves at B&N. Read one of the ‘Cynster’ novels by Stephanie Laurens and the pages will pracitcally melt it gets so hot. But, maybe that is just my perspective. The same goes for some of Christine Feehan’s ‘Carpathian’ novels and any number of other mainstream authors.

    As to whether something is porn or erotica or romance or whatever is much like beauty in the eye or experience of the beholder. I’ve mentioned before how humorous I found the sheltered southern bells I work with who were tittering over that trilogy. In their experience those books were very nearly pornography and it was ‘ok’ to read them because they were a mainstreamed published book. I’ve never cracked the spine on any of the books in that series and don’t intend to unless a certain book club I’ve joined decides to select them (please don’t). I don’t intend to read them because from what I’ve heard even from those who loved the series I don’t believe I’ll like them. There are so many other things to read I really don’t have time to read something as an experiment. Maybe that makes me a book snob…I don’t….I’m ok if it does. 😉

  5. jam

    well said! the other thing that trilogy did was open the doors for badly-written, poorly-edited “erotica” to be mainstreamed and those authors are self-publishing so they have this idea that “anything goes” and just with pure luck, they’ll also achieve the same infamy as the said trilogy.

    i’ve always tried to be open-minded about grammatical errors since i, myself, am not a native english speaker but it is jarring to read a word which i know to mean something else being used inappropriately , e.g. “would of/could of” instead of “would have/could have”, “drug” instead of “drag”, “shuttered” instead of “shuddered” (there are others). i’m not sure if these are used alternatively now, though. however, it lessens my enjoyment of reading the story and ultimately, if it happens often enough, it turns me off from finishing to read the story.

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