Erotica = Literature, Romance = Formula. GOT THAT?

Hey, remember my quick drive-by bitching about the accusation by Susie Bright that romances = formula, erotica = literary? Maili provided me with a link to her blog, where she goes into even greater detail on why this is so, peeving me even more in the process.

Cutting and pasting commencing NOW!

Because Romances are written so tightly to genre, and the predictability factor is so important to their buyers, they can’t overhaul their image that much. The explicitness of the sex scenes is the only wiggle room they have.

Whuh? Has this woman checked out the romance section in her local bookstore lately? Horny vampires (color vision optional). Chaste Christians. Werewolves. Spies. Assassins. Navy SEALs. High-in-the-instep aristocrats. Fairies. Witches. Mermaids. Rock stars. Poets. Actors. Nurses. Doctors. Threesomes. BDSM. Murders. Betrayal. Adultery. Secret babies. Cowboys. Sheikhs.

So, uh, sex is the ONLY wiggle room romance authors have? Bull. Fucking. Shit. The only requirements for romance novels to be considered as such, near as I can tell are:

1. It must be a love story and focus on the budding romantic relationship (usually between a man and a woman, but erotic romances are fast changing that).

2. There must be some kind of commitment and happily-ever-after ending.

Draconian constraints, indeed.

When a woman buys a traditional Romance, it’s like a hardcore porn fan buying a XXX video. She wants her money shot. She does not want distractions. She wants familiarity, to connect with “the childhood masturbatory feeling,” as my friend and offbeat Romanticist Pam Rosenthal so perfectly described to me.

You can say very much the same thing about ANY book in ANY genre. Do mystery fans buy a book just so they can read about how the mystery is unsolved, the investigator is dead halfway through the book and the murderer/other variety of Very Nasty Person still running loose? Do erotica authors buy a book so they can be lectured on the evils of sex? Hell no. People buy books because they EXPECT something. If I pick up a literary novel about a Jewish family’s internment in a concentration camp during WWII, then by golly by God I expect a story about just that; I certainly don’t want blue fairies with tentacles to show up out of nowhere and turn it into a Merry Gentry novel.

The point is: Closure matters. Expectations matter. There’s no difference whether the book is literary fiction like A Sacred Hunger (can’t recommend that book highly enough, by the way—GO GO GO READ READ READ) or an SF novel like Hyperion or a romance like Bet Me. If enjoying fiction and the closure it brings = shooting my wad into my own hand, then consider me a chronic masturbator—and proud of it.

The tension between Erotica vs. Romance isn’t sex, it’s writing style.

Nope. I’d say three things separate erotica from romance:

1. Romance focuses more on romantic relationship, erotica more the sexual relationship.

2. HEA is de rigueur for romance, but not for erotica.

3. Erotica HAS to include sex. How’s that for conforming to formula? Romances can skip the sex entirely and still work. How’s that for busting a genre convention?

Let me examine one of these desires as an example: Inter-racial relationships. Even though they are an exploding statistic in American life,  they are still frowned upon- to say the least. (…) However, in “Romance World,”  everyone is likely to be in bed with someone of a different “color” than themselves. White women with black men, and black women with white men, is a hot ticket.

I know I’m not up on the hippest, happening-est romance trends. Fergawdsake, I discovered MaryJanice Davidson and Emma Holly just a couple of months ago. But inter-racial relationships are common in romance novels? What. The. Fuck. I have read hundreds—actually, come to think of it, I’ve read well over a thousand romance novels in my lifetime. Romances featuring inter-racial couples that I’ve read are as follows:

The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney
Harvard’s Education by Suzanne Brockmann
White Tigress by Jade Lee

In each book, the inter-racial aspect was NOT glossed over (though I read the Brockmann book so long ago that I can’t remember much about it); the concerns about two different races marrying were very, very real and are central issues in the book.

Now, if she’d addressed how class issues are handled in European historical romances, THAT would’ve been more on the money.

Another Romance fetish is overt bondage, and domination/submission. Rape/forced sex is de rigeur.

Oh yes. That infamous preponderance of rape in modern romances. I’ll just repeat what I said in my drive-by bitching, with minor modifications: “Do you wish that Susie Bright has read romance novels that were published in the last 10, 15 years instead of being stuck in Woodiwisslandia, circa 1975? Yeah, me too.”

You know how women’s bodes are the ones that always have to be perfect in porn, even if the men are kinda droopy or overweight?  It’s the same with romance, in reverse. The men’s bodies are all PUMPED— the women can be whatever. Her imperfections are irrelevant or sympathetic; the hero has to be an oiled stud muffin. Fabio is Jenna is Fabio.

OK, she has a point here. But not all romance readers find grotesquely muscular men attractive, and not all romance readers find Fabio to be the beau ideal. I certainly don’t. I love me a nice, skinny nerd hero like Jack Langdon in The Devil’s Delilah. Oh, wait, it doesn’t feature rape, which according to Bright is de rigueur for a romance. Maybe it’s not a romance novel after all. *wrinkles forehead in deep thought*

The biggest difference between my Best American Erotica and one of the “Sexxxy” Romances isn’t the sex… it’s the style of the writing (genre vs. literary fiction). Every romance has a ‘happy, monogamous ending” while BAE stories are more diverse, without that guarantee.

She’s clearly talking about two different things here but conflating them into one. One is writing style, and the other is genre constraints. Erotica has a genre constraint, and it’s every bit as inflexible as the HEA ending demanded of all romance novels: it has to have sex. Loads of it. In fact, it has to BE mostly about sex. What constitutes a literary writing style is certainly up for debate, and I’ve encountered romance novels that feature beautiful, literary prose. Laura Kinsale,  for example, does quite well in that regard.

In the same way that sci-fi and mystery novels historically became more psychological and complicated, the same thing is happening to romance, which has been the infantile genre the longest. The women still love their romances—like loving their Barbie Doll—but they’re buying other things now too.

Yowwwch. Not only am I a mental masturbator, I’m now a child for reading romances. And apparently my reading tastes are not diverse. I guess reading everything from SF/F to veterinary textbooks to literary fiction to children’s books to old adventure stories to romance novels to scientific non-fiction (I need to spend more quality time with Fabric of the Cosmos, dammit) doesn’t qualify. Maybe I need to read more erotica?

Romance readers are not remaining “monogamous;” their reading interests are diversifying.

Heh. From what I’ve heard and read, romance readers are some of the most voracious, diverse readers there are in the market.

If they break formula, they’ll be a better writer.

Sweet. I want to become the first erotica author to write an erotic novel all about the salubrious effects of abstinence, with nary a sex scene in it. How’s THAT for breaking formula?

Categorized:

Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    E.D'Trix says:

    A-freakin’-men, Candy! As an erotic romance editor, I see submissions on a daily basis that are erotic/a, NOT erotic romance. The differences are huge.

    As someone who has read quite a bit of the “Herotica” and BAE-type books and stories, more often than not I found myself having the “WTF?” reaction to the stories. Some were frankly so obscure and poetical/scary when it came to describing sex, that I had to reread multiple times to make sure a sex act had actually occured. Sometimes a pussy is a pussy, not a ‘gently weeping fragrant portal’.

    Also, some erotic/a writers go towards the opposite side of the spectrum and will not give any sort of detail, flowery or otherwise:

    “She bit her lip as the ever-increasing movement of the water forced her body forward and back. It was as though a broad steelhead salmon had wedged its way into her womb and was wriggling…wriggling…wriggling…

    In her increasingly seasick passion, she cried out as the salmon finally made its way upstream and…spawned.”

    Did I just read a fishtiality story? With the majority of erotic romances (certainly the ones my company publishes) flowery prose, although not outright banned, is midigated with blunt sexual words (pussy, cock, etc.)—words that will bring the reader back from cotton-candy land and into the visceral, sexual scene the author is describing.

    Creativity, while not completely discouraged, can go to insane extremes—no a penis (or a fish for that matter) cannot enter a woman’s womb. Vagina, yes—womb, not unless you want an early hysterectomy. And you know what? A man cannot thrust himself between your loins. Last time I checked there weren’t multiple ones of those on your body.

    As you can see you hit a real hot button with me, LOL. But honestly, one of the biggest problems I had as an initial reader of ‘literary’ erotica, was the unwillingness of the majority of the authors to cut through the often-times insanely purple prose and acknowledge that they were writing about sex. IMO, literary erotica has a bigger problem acknowledging that they are writing about sex, and for people that want to read about sex—than romance readers have ever had providing their happy endings.

  2. 2
    Candy says:

    E.D’Trix: SALMON? Wriggling up the poor woman’s womb? You’re shitting me. Please tell me you’re shitting me.

    ….

    You’re not, are you? *starts crying*

  3. 3
    E.D'Trix says:

    Nope. And that is just one of many ass-hatted analogies one often finds in this “superior” form of literary erotica.

  4. 4
    Marjorie says:

    Damn you.  I’m never going to be able to get that image out of my head.

  5. 5
    Shannon says:

    Crabs yesterday.  Salmon today.  For heaven’s sake, where’s the beef?

  6. 6
    Candy says:

    See, as I was just writing to Sarah, the thing about Bright’s article that bugs me the most is how she seems to feel all superior about erotica (which is literature, unlike romance novels, which are children’s playthings) by lording over how much better it is than romance, but she doesn’t demonstrate a shred of proof that she’s read extensively in it. Like the rape thing, and the inter-racial romance thing. Inter-racial is the hot new trend? Huh, I guess Monica Jackson talking about how black romances are the the ghetto of the ghetto of romance novels (which are already ghettoized) is just her talking out of her ass. Hey, Monica, black romances are the hot new thing. You got it made, hon! I know *I* certainly see the market saturated with black romances. Can’t go to the bookstore without tripping over an inter-racial romance or other forms of chocolove. Now, those vampire romances are pestilentially difficult to find—anyone got any good tips on which section they’re shelved at?

    This kind of thing convinces me that Bright is another genre writer/editor who wants to feels superior by lording it over the redheaded bastard (yet incredibly lucrative) stepchild of the publishing industry. And that’s fine, really. I mean, God knows I bitch on and on about romance novel conventions I feel are overused or cliche. But fergawdsake, bitch ACCURATELY. Don’t go off based on old, stale stereotypes. And don’t make it as if your genre is superior by pointing out how silly the conventions of another genre are, because you know what? ALL fiction genre conventions tend to be kind of silly.

  7. 7
    Candy says:

    “For heaven’s sake, where’s the beef?”

    The beef’s all used up on the covers, Shannon.

  8. 8
    Monica says:

    Methinks, Bright was indulging in some literary self-gratification of her own.

  9. 9
    Danielle says:

    I think we should all send our therapy bills to E.D’Trix.

    The funny thing is, I actually agreed with her here: “sci-fi and mystery novels historically became more psychological and complicated, the same thing is happening to romance…” If only she’d stopped there and skipped the infantile insult.

  10. 10
    E.D'Trix says:

    I think we should all send our therapy bills to E.D’Trix.

    Oh no, pity me instead! Gems like this are part of my everyday life, quite often in my inbox waiting for me every morning…

  11. 11
    Meljean says:

    Oh, no. Women already have to overcome some kind of ‘tuna’ reference to their genitals, but some people are sticking other fish up there?

    Everything else—I’m just nodding in agreement. I need to make a Meljean bobblehead and have it set up permanent residence here.

  12. 12
    Candy says:

    Yeah, shit, we should all chip in for E.D’Trix’s therapy bills.

    I salute your fortitude. Question: Are you still able to eat sushi with a straight face after reading prose like that? Because I swear, my love of salmon sashimi has been temporarily suspended.

  13. 13
    E.D'Trix says:

    Tragically, *sniff* salmon had always been my favorite fish… Now I have temporarily abandoned it.

    Thank goodness I have never had an abiding love for sausage, so all the nauseating “man sausage and gravy” references roll right off my back!

  14. 14
    jenreads says:

    Salmon erotica! This must be the strange fish fetish Troy McClure had on “The Simpson’s” when he married Selma. Sure baby. Mystery solved.

  15. 15
    Susie says:

    You can dish out some of your rebuttals over at my blog, I won’t bite. I feel a combination of chagrined, intrigued, mystified, and misunderstood by your editorial.

    I’m not an expert on Romances, no, not at all. But i know a lot about sex in writing, all kinds of writing. I thought the main point of my story wasn’t that “all romances are bad,” but rather that women’s sexuality flourishes in Romances, to a degree that the mainstream is completely ignorant of. And that women’s sexual appetities are just as direct, focused, and outrageous as any guy’s, despite the steretotypes to the contrary.

    Most erotica is cliche-muck, the Penthouse Letters stuff. If you gave me a more considered reading, I dont’ think you’d ever find me saying, “all erotic writing is so fabulous”. C’mon!  I was writing this story for people who don’t know a darn thing about romance genre. They don’t know that romances go where mainstream media fears to tread. They have no idea that interracial romances, which are banned from Hollywood moives and mainstream women’s magazines, are very popular in romances. They don’t know that S/M and erotic power play is huge in romances, they think women are APPALLED by such stuff.  This was my point… the double standard about what we publicly say that men get aroused by , vs. what women get aroused by.

    Well, The better thing to do is to go see what i wrote in the first place. I am sorry if I came off as a snob, that is certainly not how I feel about writing. I met dozens of writers at the RT convention who were REALLY UPSET about the restrictions of the genre, adn that’s why I was encouraing them to go ahead and break them, even if they find themselves in new territory.

    susie

  16. 16
    sybil says:

    I thought I had posted this here but I must have hit the wrong button or something… since I am at work and scared to click on your links ;)

    Who is susie bright?

  17. 17
    Jaci says:

    Salmon? Are you kidding me? I could euphemize a pussy or dick with a salmon reference if my very life depended on it.

    OH man….I wanna read some of the submissions in E.D’Trix’s rejection pile. Or maybe I don’t *g*

    Jaci

  18. 18
    Maili says:

    “They have no idea that interracial romances, which are banned from Hollywood moives and mainstream women’s magazines, are very popular in romances.”

    Banned? News to me. Off my head: SAVE THE LAST DANCE. LOVE, ACTUALLY. MONA LISA. FLIRTING. LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING. EAST IS EAST. BEND LIKE BECKHAM. And so the list goes on.

  19. 19
    Candy says:

    Hey Susie,

    Thanks for dropping by! I did contemplate leaving a comment on your site, but as you see, I feel so strongly about what you wrote that I would’ve glommed up all the space on your blog.

    “I thought the main point of my story wasn’t that “all romances are bad,” but rather that women’s sexuality flourishes in Romances, to a degree that the mainstream is completely ignorant of.”

    That’s not at all the impression I received from reading your article. The purpose of your article seemed focused on delineating the ways in which erotica is different from romance, and in the process you made NO mention of the bad points of erotica while continually pointing out how limited—indeed, how puerile—romance novels are. You also continually referred to erotica as literary, hammering home that romance novels are constrained by formula while ignoring that erotica is constrained by formula as well. You also didn’t speak about specifically sex in romances; you spoke about romance novels in general, and you specifically addressed realism in romance novels too.

    Anyway, I quoted you point-by-point as a I rebutted you. If I mis-read or misinterpreted anything you said, let me know.

    “I met dozens of writers at the RT convention who were REALLY UPSET about the restrictions of the genre, adn that’s why I was encouraing them to go ahead and break them, even if they find themselves in new territory.”

    The romance novel industry is by no means perfect. Hell, go through my “Ranty McRants” section and you’ll see me poking plenty of fun of virgin widows, orgasmless widows, secret babies and other beloved romance novel plot devices. But I never, ever tell people who enjoy reading these plot devices that they’re engaging in mental masturbation because I DON’T KNOW why people read these books, or why they appeal to them. All I know is what appeals to ME, and hell, I have a hard enough time elaborating why I love pirate romances while finding sheikh romances distasteful.

    Authors are wanting to branch out in romance? Excellent. I am glad to hear that. Variety is essential in any enterprise. While there’s room to grow, the romance genre has also grown so much, changed so much in the last 20 years that it’s not even recognizable any more. The explicitness of the sex scenes certainly isn’t the only wiggle room romances have any more, and realism of a certain sort is certainly welcome in romances—or at least certain very popular sub-genres. You’ll see plenty of blood, guts, grit and glory in certain types of romance novels, mostly romantic suspense and certain types of historicals.

  20. 20
    Candy says:

    Maili: I’m pretty sure inter-racial romances are much more common in Hollywood AND in real life than in mainstream romance novels. Which is a damn shame. I mean, hey, look at me. Though since my husband works outdoors, he ends up much darker than I am during the summer, heh. I also know several inter-racial couples in real life, for whom dating inter-racially was really no big deal. The parents would’ve *preferred* that they stay within their race but no big stink was made. In urban areas, I’m not sure that dating inter-racially is much of a taboo any more. I have an Indian friend married to a German, a white Catholic friend married to a Chinese atheist [kind of like me except with the genders reversed, heh heh—and no, I didn’t know the Chinese guy first, I actually met the white girl years before she met the guy], a white girlfriend who dates mostly Africans, Latinos and Asians, a Senegalese friend engaged to a white girl, a white girlfriend married to an Iranian, an Iraqi friend dating a white girl, a Puerto Rican friend who has a fetish for skinny blondes (well, what hetero male doesn’t, really?), and shit, my own sister likes her meat pretty dark, which means she’s dated Indians and Africans from various nations. My parents squawked briefly but shut up once they realized the futility of the exercise.

  21. 21
    AngieW says:

    “I was writing this story for people who don’t know a darn thing about romance genre.”

    If indeed someone who didn’t have clue one about romance read that blog, would they think you were trying to sell them on the idea of reading a romance or would they believe you were trying to dissuade them?

    It appears that you, as the author that created an uproar with her self-proclaimed diatribe did earlier in the week, are saying you’re delivering a message that isn’t readily apparent.

    The post to me appeared to be a slam against “regular” romance while building up erotica.

    On another not- E.D.- your salmon story made me think of the romance I read years ago where the hero released a goldfish into the heroine. I think it might have been one of those sheik type romances that Candy so adores *g*

  22. 22
    Gail says:

    Interesting comments, Candy, and I totally agree with them. If her intent was to praise romance for expanding women’s sexual horizons, it sure didn’t come off that way. Comparing a XXX pornfest DVD with a romance novel isn’t exactly praise (though I find a large difference in the fact that the romance novel doesn’t require any third party—like the people in the pictures/video—to create the fantasy…)

    ALL genres have a formula, including the literary (Navel gazing.)(which despite their denial is a genre of its own). What makes her think that romance doesn’t already have authors who “write authentic, emotionally truthful, graceful prose,”? Or that we ever “experience a moment of artistic regret”? I sure don’t.

    I read a lot of things (not scientific non-fiction if I can help it—sorry, but I do read big fat histories like DREADNOUGHT) but I LIKE romance.

  23. 23
    Beth says:

    I heart Candy.

    (I’d say more but am at work, shhh!)

  24. 24
    Selah March says:

    Between those who refuse to consider erotic romance to be romance at all, the “soulful” erotica writer who calls those of us using the classic Anglo-Saxon terms for body parts purveyors of “erotic crack,” and now Ms. Bright—whom I respect and enjoy under normal circumstances—telling us we’ve FINALLY got the sex right—now if we could only lose that formulaic happy ending…

    …I’m feeling just a little squeezed this week. My husband thinks I should go back to non-fiction, where the worst thing anybody ever said about my work was that it “didn’t fit their needs at the present time.”

    Is the moon in ca-ca this week, or what?

  25. 25
    Amy E says:

    This is the second article I’ve read this week about romances that made me sit back with a resounding, What the fuck???  You know what, I’d like to see an article, intelligently written, about the state of romance fiction today.  One without name-calling, insults, and especially the superior condescendion. 

    I am a reader and I am a writer.  I love the language and have always been fascinated with words.  I read for information, for pleasure, for self-improvement and yes, for escape into a world with stories end Happily Ever After.  Real life sometimes sucks ass.  Books offer an escape, however temporary, from the asshole husband/boyfriend, the difficult child, the job from hell, the money woes, etc, etc.

    I greatly dislike being called a “mental masturbator” or, as the other article/diatribe put it, a “verbal crack-addict.”  Please!  Reading takes work, it takes brainpower, it takes concentration and imagination.  Jacking off or shooting up take no brainpower at all. 

    I think those phrases apply to the “typical American evening” much more aptly.  For example, I could sit in front of the TV for hours and have the producers and actors do all my work for me—tell me what everyone looks like, how they sound, how they move, all the scenery.  I could listen to slapstick, predictable, low-brow humor.  I could veg out while watching high-tech-produced gore, sex, and murder. 

    Or, I could read a book and do all the imagining.  This sounds so much better to me.

    Well, call me a childish crack-addicted mental masturbator if you must.  I haven’t had a TV in my house for 2 years.  I’m too busy reading.

  26. 26
    Sara says:

    I’ve used this before, but I’m going to repeat myself because I’ve found this little formula useful when trying to get through to people who persist in misrepresenting romance vs. erotica.

    variants on romance:
    LOVE sex; sex LOVE; love sex; LOVE

    variants on erotica:
    SEX

  27. 27
    Maili says:

    Candy, Susie does acknowledge that interracial relationships exist in real life, e.g. “Even though they are an exploding statistic in American life,  they are still frowned upon- to say the least.”
    Having said that, if Susie was referring to Ellora’s Cave, she’s also right that there are a few interracial romances. But everything, I don’t agree with Susie. :)

    Returning to Susie’s blog entry:

    ”[…] She offered sex-positive encouragements one minute, but then made protective, conservative warnings in the next. She is in favor of S/M explorations, but against what she called “casual” sex. She was delighted to investigate kinky practices for her stories, but she warned her fans not to look at the web pages she’d devoured in her research.

    I’ve never heard an author try to protect her fans like that before, while simultaneously titillating them.”

    She’s right. There are some authors who are like that with readers. Wild sex is fine, but one night stand isn’t [the large percentage of category romances start with one night stands, and most end with accidental pregnancies, but that’s all right because you just know the hero will return and “do the decent thing”.]. Explorary sex is fine, but without condom is not fine. If sex is truly wild, the heroine has to be a candidate for sainthood. I do believe that there is an invisible rule that with romances, more hotter sex is, more noble or Good Girl the heroine is. As if to justify v. steamy sex scenes. 

    And: We had no dispute about sex— I appreciate their unapologetic fantasy life. It’s funny, no one finds it “dangerous” when women have taboo fantasies, only when men do. There’s this sense that women have realistic boundaries, no matter how cockamamie their fantasy life may be. But if a man reveals a taboo fantasy, everyone assumes that he’s about to run out and perform it.

    Again, I agree with her on this one. In a romance, a 38-year-old hero gets down and dirty with a 17-year-old heroine, and it’s all right, espec. in historical romances.  In an erotic novel that is clearly for male audience, characters involved are at same ages, and some of us would react badly to this.

    Rape? The word itself is no longer acceptable, but there are different perspectives of *forced seduction*. Some view it as it is, and some view it as forcible sex, e.g. rape. Forced seduction may be a rarity in mainstream romances, but it IS quite popular in romantica, espec. in ebook world. Anal sex, too. :D

    When I read Susie’s commentary, I had a feeling that she focuses on one aspect of the romance genre: romantica – where it DOES have anal sex, ‘rape’, interracial romances, bondage, etc. I think that she took that aspect as part of mainstream romance, hence the confusion. Some authors of that aspect – as well as some authors of mainstream romance – HAVE said that they are frustrated with mainstream romance for having so many restrictions.

    Having said all that, I still think that Susie needs to do a bit more homework before making her comments because a lot of her comments does not make sense, e.g.

    If they break formula, they’ll be a better writer. There is no literary future in subservience to cliches.  The commercial choice, to go with formulaic demands, may or may not prove to be a money-maker. You can’t count on it. I don’t know what the path to superstardom in Romance is, frankly.

    A recipe for a cake is a formula, but it does not mean one shouldn’t add an ingredient or two to make it ‘different’. And how you make the cake also makes it different, e.g. writing style.
    But if you start screwing with the recipe by, say, adding beef. The cake would be awful. And pointless.
    This applies to ALL genres. That’s what make genres popular.
    It does drive me nuts that people confuse formula/genre with “writing style”, though, e.g. <style of the writing (genre vs. literary fiction).”
    Hm. This is getting long. Sorry, Sarah and Candy! I’ll tape my fingers to my forehead now. :D

  28. 28
    Maili says:

    Lovely. I screwed this one up: “It does drive me nuts that people confuse formula/genre with “writing style”, though, e.g. <style of the writing (genre vs. literary fiction).”

    Clarification: It does drive me nuts that people confuse formula/genre with “writing style”, though, e.g. <style of the writing (genre vs. literary fiction). Every romance has a ‘happy, monogamous ending” while BAE stories are more diverse, without that guarantee.

    I’ll go and have some of that fabled coffee now.

  29. 29
    Maili says:

    &%@£!! *whine* Candeeeeeeeeeeee! Saraaaaaaaaaaaah! Trying again:

    It does drive me nuts that people confuse formula/genre with “writing style”, though, e.g. “The biggest difference between my Best American Erotica and one of the “Sexxxy” Romances isn’t the sex… it’s the style of the writing (genre vs. literary fiction). Every romance has a ‘happy, monogamous ending” while BAE stories are more diverse, without that guarantee.”

  30. 30
    Stef says:

    My five and a half cents here from the erotica side.

    The simple fact is—and some people mentioned this during the flaming of the soulful writer—ALL genres have crap. 

    And I admit, erotica does lend itself to the accusations more than most sometimes. I saw a book yesterday in the erotica section of Fictionwise called “Nuns in Love”. I really wish I hadn’t, especially after I read the blurb. But I digress.

    And a side note: erotica can be romantic, have HEA, etc. It’s not always all about the sex. One of my books finalled for an award in the contemporary romance catagory, not in erotica. We have a romance line. We have mainstream books with little or no sex. They’re on our side because the content is harsher than true mainstream can accept. I believe EC just launched their own mainstream line. Anyway, back to my point.

    I used to get upset when people referred to my books as “porn” or “Penthouse letters”. I’d rant, I’d complain. But none of it did any good.

    It’s the same thing that’s happening to romances. People whine about formula, about cliche, etc. Some of whom have never read one in their life.

    You can fight back forever. People just don’t get it.  Like the faction who thinks everyone using print on demand technology is subsidy/vanity, which equals crap. Not true, and they’re presented detailed facts, but they still keep yapping about it.

    The only way to fight this mentality is to simply not write or publish crap. For the readers, to show them there are good books out there. Period.

    Glean what you can, see what bugs them, and learn from it. Then when the rants start, you can nod, say “Not pertaining to me, I don’t do crap”, delete, and move on. 

    You can lead a reader to quality, but you can’t make them think.

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