"The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting."
I follow different blogs because, let's face it, there are people out there doing what I'm doing and doing it well. On some of the romance blogs, people comment about how they often skip books tagged "erotica" because they're just about sex. Not true. But it's not entirely their fault for feeling that way.
Depending on which site you go to for a definition, erotica is pornography. The good people at thesaurus.com think so, and one of the synonyms for erotica there is "dirt". They even underline it and put a star by it to make it stand out (although it's meant to indicate it's slang, but still, it's on the net so of course it's true, right?) But dirt? Really? Unless your leads are gettin' busy in the garden or are suffering a post-danger adrenaline rush after they've just had a near-death experience haulin' ass through the Florida mud pits and decide now's a good time to screw even though the killers are still tracking them, dirt kinda shouldn't be in the picture. Where was I...? Gardens...mud pits...killers...Oh, right.
Now, a search for a more refined definition calls erotica sex as art. (Paraphrasing) Doesn't that sound more high-brow? Sex as art. Sa-weet! But some people won't take the time to find the art and lump together all works of this sort, dismissing an entire sub-genre. Oddly enough, it's a genre that seems to be overtaking the eBook medium. So what's the difference between erotica and porn? What sifts art from dirt? Where's the "lighting" in books? *shifts eyes left then right* It's a secret, but I'll whisper it if you come closer...closer...little closer...TSA close, people...*cups your ear*
Now remember that's a secret. Don't tell anyone I told y—huh? This is on the web for everyone to see? Oh. Well, secret's out of the bag I guess. ;) Plot separates literary porn from erotica. It's not the exotic characters, it's not the extravagant setting, it's not extreme subject matter. It's plot, well-written plot. Of course that's just my opinion, but this is my damn blog and I can say whatever the hell I want. Sky's not blue, it's orange, dammit!
I read a lot of erotica. Research, I swear. What separates the gems from the half-glossed stones are stories with a point. That's not to say there has to be multiple storylines going on, but there has to be a reason I'm reading.
Erotica is meant to be, well, erotic. It's supposed to arouse, but in order to do that you can't just go around inserting Tab A into Slot B all willy-nilly and expect explosions. You can't even insert Tab A into Slots B, C and D, go back to B and then finish off in or on E and call it good erotica. Chances are, after doing all that, you still might not get a spark. It has to be more than making the connection(s); there has to be a plan for making those connections. That's all plot is, a plan. You're at point A, you need to get to point B, how're ya gonna make it happen?
As an erotica writer, traversing that path can be difficult to resolve book in and book out. And a lot of authors find that after writing in the genre for a while, each story becomes harder and harder to INK, so by book 5 they either hint at the sex or abandon it altogether. When we sit down to our laptops we have to ask ourselves "How do I get my leads from Hello to the Big O in a new and exciting way...that doesn't defy the laws of physics?" ('Cause if we could defy the laws of physics, it would be a hellva lot easier.) I once had my characters on the floor, completely naked and rarin' to go, and after ten minutes of inaction screamed at my screen "Commence with the fornicating already!" (I'm not lying, I actually did this). I figured, birthday suits and same location, they'll work it out. NOT. The problem? No plan.
Which brings us back to the blog title, ePLOTica, Sable-speak for stories of erotica that have a plan. (ePLANica doesn't have quite the same ring). Do we need a new sub-genre to help the reader weed out those stories without "lighting"? I don't know. I'm not sure how we get consumers who are reluctant to delve into the erotica genre to give us a chance, and it's kind of a pity they don't because there are some really good erotic stories with sexual content that is very well-written. Don't believe me, just read my book. *All the talk of Tabs and Slots, I had to throw in a plug :)*
Do I think ePLOTica as a tag will catch on? Will Webster add it to the dictionary? I don't know, but if O.M.G. can get in, maybe I've got a shot. All that to say this, if you haven't checked out erotica because you're the "read Playboy for the articles" type, do some research and give it a chance. Might be surprised at what you find. And then do the author a favor and tag the book on amazon with "ePLOTica" for shits and gigs. Maybe it'll catch on. Like Zoe Winters would say "we're starting a revolution, bitches."
Got something to add? Drop me some INK.
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After writing this a friend found out there was something called "eroplotica", which is basically what I just yammered on about above. I like my word better, 'cause I thought of it and 'cause eroplotica is a huge mouthful...there's a pun in there somewhere, I'm sure. Keep licking the ink!