I’ve posted my thoughts on some of the different camps of thought when it comes to the Erotica category. Other genres, no doubt, face similar issues. But what I’m learning is the ingredients that make up genres to start with. When you look at mysteries, you see certain elements, such as solving puzzling questions, going through due diligence to see if facts line up or not, using deduction to determine the killer. In romance you see the relationship between two characters and how it grows into love. In Steampunk you’ll see elements of a Victorian timeframe, engines and gears, and how characters in a past timeframe might view their world with futuristic eyes.
A well-known author noted in one of her writing courses that if a genre element takes up at least 50% of the novel, then the novel fits that particular genre. As I noted above, mystery, romance, and steampunk will need to have their particular elements fit at least half the novel to be true to its genre. So what about Erotica? I know for sure that sex and the issues of sex take up at least 50% of my erotic pieces–some will argue it takes up more than that. I tend to think I’m at a 50/50 split, with 50% being sex and the other 50% addressing the relationship between characters or a character’s sexual experiences, which help them grow into more powerful, self-assured individuals. It’s true, the romance element may play a lesser part, and the plot will only weave itself in and out and around sexual issues. Some readers won’t mind that, but those searching for more character connection and plot won’t like higher heat erotica much.
As for me, I’ve discovered that when I read Erotica, I want lots of spicy sex scenes and a story where I can just kick back, relax, and give my inner voyeur some exercise.
Take Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, for example. What I remember specifically about her novels is Beauty’s sexual adventures as she served out her training period. The story focused on the sexual aspect of this, and plots and relationships between characters did take more of a back seat. This was my first (accidental) foray into Erotica. I had no idea what I was purchasing when I bought the packaged set in the book store many years ago. However, her work made an indelible impression on me. You didn’t see much of a connection between Beauty and Tristan, until the end. I personally think their relationship seemed a little vague and in the end, a little hurried, but cute nonetheless.
In Louisa Burton’s Hidden Grotto series (my favorite of all Erotica) she seems to manage her stories in short story format, but woven cohesively into the chapters she creates. All throughout the book, sex is either active or insinuated, without too much connection between the characters like we may see in romance. Here’s the deal, though. In the Hidden Grotto series, the Follets are not supposed to fall in love with the guests who come to the castle to enjoy lusty time away from home. The goal of the immortal Follets is to propagate their seed to create beings who are “gifted” or merely satisfy their own carnal appetite. The big goal for all of them is to endure, and the goal of the one who owns the castle is to protect the Follets and give them a safe have so they can endure. He provides the guests as their sexual food for survival.
Pleasure House and House Tales From The Archives are in the same boat as the Hidden Grotto series: The attendants are not supposed to fall in love with the admits (patients). The goal of the attendants is to teach their admits empowerment through sexual liberation. Sometimes the attendants may present lessons for their admits, such as in Dance of Desire. Though I hint at Serena falling in love with Daren, I stop this (i.e. don’t explore it much) because I don’t need Daren falling in love. He needs to help Serena find her heart’s desire, even while she’s “imprisoned” at The House. I don’t go much into detail about Serena and her lover because she only has one shot at wooing him. I wanted the stakes to be high and for there to be some sense of urgency, a “get it right the first time” kind of thing.
What about you as the reader who has read my work or the authors I mentioned above? What do you like about what we write? What do you not like? Do you think our writing fits the Erotica genre the way it’s supposed to? Do you get your personal reading goals met when you read our work?