Writer Wednesday: You Write WHAT!?!?!

Okay, so a while back, I mentioned something about new features here. Since then, I’ve done absolutely nothing about it. Until now.

Starting today, on Wednesdays, I’ll post something related to writing. I have several topics in mind, from networking, writing queries, to writing craft and adverbs. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, leave a comment. Some of these topics will hopefully be of interest to readers as well as fellow writers.

Now, on to Writer Wednesday:

You Write WHAT!?!?!

When I tell people who’ve known me for a while that I write fiction, they’re usually not too surprised. After all, I’ve been writing since elementary school, one way or another. Then comes the ‘What kind of books do you write’ line of questioning. Depending when a person first became acquainted with me, they expect different things: western, horror, YA, fantasy, picture books, and some even seem to expect literary of me. But they almost NEVER expect the real answer.

Their surprise when I say paranormal romance runs the gamut from the fascinated ‘Oh?’ to the outraged ‘WHAT?’ with boggled eyes. The next question almost always seems to be about whether sex scenes are included. Apparently that sort of thing is entirely unexpected of me. Maybe because all through school, my primary interests outside school mainly involved horses, and then I became a preschool teacher. If I add that my most recent work is erotic paranormal romance, I get anything from stunned silence to moral outrage that I’m writing ‘porn’.

If I can get them to listen, I try to explain the differences between erotic romance, erotica, and porn. Sometimes it all falls on deaf ears, but not always. I’m offering my explanation here, in the event any of you need to use it. Not that I’m an expert, or anything, but this is what works for me. Sometimes it even convinces people that I’m not a social pariah to be kept away from civilized people. Oh, and this is pretty much just my opinion, not hard and fast rules, but at least some other erotic romance authors share similar opinions.  Even if you don’t write any sort of erotica or romance, maybe it’ll clear up some misconceptions for you, or someone you know.

First of all, porn is just sex. There are no relationships, or if there is, it isn’t the central focus. There is no story. No emotion. Just one sex scene after another. If there is some sort of story, it is very rudimentary, and only serves to connect the sex scenes. There is little or no character development. The words used are often crude, and the sex acts might not even be physically possible. Let’s face it, readers of porn are not looking for great story or character growth. They’re looking to get off.

Erotica has a lot of sex scenes, too. The language may not be as crude, and the sex scenes might be a bit more physically possible. There may be a relationship, or not. There is a story, with fully developed characters. Maybe the main character is female executive sleeping her way to the top. Maybe she finally realizes that she could have gotten to the top without spreading her legs. There may be some emotion. She could be angry that she chose sleeping her way to the top. In well-written erotica, the story is complex and the sex is woven intricately into it, and the characters are fully developed.

In erotic romance, most of the sex is between the characters involved in the relationship that is central to the story, though there may be scenes involving other characters. Like any romance, the main focus of the story is the relationship and its progression to a Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now, ending. The sex scenes must move the story forward, or show character development. The emotional aspect of the sex is shown, and the scenes may range from violent desperation to achingly sweet. The words used are more often the slang of the time period of the story. An erotic romance has all the elements of any other romance, and it explores the sexual activity between the characters in a more graphic and explicit way than other romances.

My first two paranormal romances had a pretty high heat level, but they didn’t quite cross the line into erotica. As I wrote them, it was a struggle to keep them on the right side of the tracks. Currently, as I contemplate rewriting them, one of the things I plan to change is to allow the characters free rein with their sex lives. If I don’t like the results, there’s always DELETE.

There were a couple of reasons for keeping my earlier books on this side of the erotic line. First and foremost, I live in a very small, very conservative community. I don’t want my family members being looked down upon because of what I write, and that would absolutely be the least of the consequences. I was also uncomfortable with writing sex scenes. But the books and characters kept insisting they needed more heat.

After a long conversation with hubby, I decided to give it a try anyway. I practiced writing sex scenes until I was able to do more than Tab A goes into Slot B scenes. Finally, I concluded I could write erotic romance, and BLOOD DRAGON was born.

What about you? Does your writing ever offend the sensibilities or morals of others? Because you write about sex, or violence, or mythical beings, or something else?

© Copyright Kenra Daniels 2011

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