erotica

Age, Sex, and Crossing the Line in Erotic Romance

When it comes to age, sex, and crossing the line in erotic romance I take that very seriously. In fact, I was once banned for a book (Skater Boy) that had the word “boy” in the title during the paypal censorship debacle a few years ago, and that book had characters that were all over eighteen years old, and it was stated very clearly in the book description. I did that on purpose so no one would get the wrong idea.

And because of search engines, the book was still banned. I have posted about this numerous times, and I’ve stated that I never have, and never will write a book or story with an underage character.

I assure you, there are no underage characters in this short book. I don’t judge those authors who decide to do things like this, but I’ve never done it and never will do it. In fact, the main character, Jared, the guy referred to as a the Skater Boy, is only a quasi skater boy. He’s in his twenties and is clearly a consenting adult.
But I am curious about something, and I’m hoping someone can offer an opinion. It’s not something I’m writing, but a friend asked me this question and I’m not sure how to answer. I hate censorship, but my gut instinct is to play it safe at all times with things like this. You can e-mail me in private at rfieldj@aol.com or leave a comment here or on social media.

What I’d like to know is this. If there is a character in a book or story that is twenty-two years old and that character has erotic thoughts about another character who is seventeen years old, would that be off limits? Would that be offensive and considered taboo? There are no physical scenes; it’s just thoughts. And that’s explained well, and the character even feels terrible about his thoughts and he swears he’ll never act upon them.

My gut instinct is to make the character eighteen years old instead of seventeen. I would rather play it safe, especially if it’s not going to make a difference in the story. But I could also be paranoid because of the things I’ve been through, and I could be wrong. In the same respect, it’s not something I would ever do in erotic fiction.

Any thoughts or e-mails will be appreciated.

Colin Farrell Sex Video and Erotica/Romance

I’ve posted before about what I think the differences between porn and erotic romance are. Though it can get more complicated because it is so subjective, I think erotic romance has sex with a storyline and the sex should move the storyline forward. Porn is just sex with no story. Even erotica that’s not romance should have a storyline, and the sex should move that storyline forward. How much sex is too much or too little depends on the author and the reader.

This is just my opinion, and I know there are some who will disagree with me. I know people who believe that whether or there’s a storyline or not if the sex is to detailed…or too much…they consider that porn. I’ll never argue with them because no one’s really come up with a set definition of porn, so I just do what I think is best with my own fiction and I mind my own business. I also follow the guidelines of what most publishers consider taboo and I don’t cross those lines. The only time I get frustrated as a reader is when something is marketed and promoted as erotica or erotic romance and there’s either no sex, very little sex, or some kind of vanilla pg rated sex that’s being passed off to sell books. Then, as a reader, I feel frustrated. I would much rather know what to expect and not be disappointed one way or the other.

When I released two versions of “Chase of a Dream,” with and without sex scenes, I tried to cater to both groups. I also wanted to see if  removing the sex scenes could actually be done without hurting the book. I found it not only can be done, but I only had to remove about 7,000 words from the book. I doubt I’ll be doing this again any time soon with erotic romance. One, because I don’t want to start self-censoring myself. And two, because I’m writing erotic romance and erotica and there are supposed to be sex scenes.

As I said, it’s hard to define what’s porn because so many have different opinions about it. But I’ve always been curious about it. When a friend sent me a link to that infamous alleged sex video with Colin Farrell recently, I was curious about it and I watched it in full. I’m not linking to it here because the woman in the video has already received more than what I consider her fair share of attention. And I don’t think Farrell ever wanted the video released in public. But it was interesting for me as an author who writes a lot of sex scenes because that video was a good example of what I consider porn. I’m not judging it. I’m just calling it that.

There was nothing romantic or emotional about it. And it wasn’t very good in more than one respect. The ridiculous woman in the video is either inept in bed or she wasn’t into Farrell, because I found myself eager to fast forward more than once. Actually, Farrell wasn’t bad at all and he lives up to his reputation. And though the things he did to the woman were far more detailed and accurate than what she did to him, it was enough to make any gay man scream and clamp his knees shut.

But I’m not reviewing Farrell’s alleged sex video here (I say alleged because who knows if it really was him…it sure looked like him, but I’m still not certain), and I’m not trying to define porn in a general sense. I’m just casting my own personal opinion about what I think the difference between erotic romance and porn is and anyone can feel free to disagree with me. I’ve always been open to discussion with this topic because I’ve always been so on the fence about it. In books, I just try to go with what I think the characters would do. If I think there should be a sex scene and it works with the story, I write it and I don’t hold back.

I can tell you one thing: not everyone agrees and I don’t think there will ever be a clear concise definition of porn…or even erotic romance for that matter. I posted about Levi Johnston’s Playgirl photos a while back and how Sarah Palin thought they were porn and he didn’t even show full frontal as far as I know. For Playgirl Magazine, I actually thought his photos were artistic.

I have been slammed more than once for writing sex scenes that some find too explicit, and sometimes I even understand where they are coming from. I’ve also written parodies of sex scenes that were intended to be funny and have been taken way too seriously…and I’ve always been stunned that someone would take them so seriously. I joked around once in a book about a burping penis and you’d be amazed at how seriously THAT was taken. There’s one sour old woman author who is still talking about it. But I’ve never tried to define either porn or erotica, and I’m not going to start now. And the only rule I have is that I try to stay away from people who do.  

Definition of Erotic Romance?


Here are several definitions of erotic romance, with links to verify at the link I’m posting here.

Erotic romance novels, as defined by Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) special interest chapter, are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. …

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotic_romance

A novel where the sexuality goes beyond that of a most romance novels and may use sexually explicit language, but the romance is still the core of the book. Can be either contemporary, historical or paranormal.

http://www.okrwa.com/NRCA/nrca_categorydef.htm

Erotic romance blends traditional erotic fiction with a romantic backdrop. Erotic romances tend to be fairly graphic and explicit in describing scenes of intimacy between adults; they usually have strong sexual content and incorporate frank language into the storyline. …

bestromancestories.com/romance-book-subgenre-definitions/

I have a few reasons to post about this now, and one of them is that I’ve been asked this question many times and I agree with all of the above.

One thing I don’t see talked about is what I’ve always consider my own personal definition, which I like to keep concise:

An erotic romance is a romance with strong sex that moves the book and story forward. And if you take the sex out of the story there will still be a plot and a good solid book.

Whenever I release a book, or submit a book to a publisher, I usually do a final edit where I highlight all of the sex scenes to see if the book and story will stand up on its own without the sex. I know that sounds mechanical, but it works for me. The books always do stand up. In other words, if I were asked to rewrite “An Officer and his Gentleman,” with all the sex scenes removed (or toned down to an R rating without strong sex scenes) I know without hesitation I would still have a book and a story. One of the interesting things about AOAHG is that when I first submitted that book to the publisher, it was returned and I was asked to add more sex scenes. I didn’t mind. No author minds adding more. They just don’t like having to edit things out. I think it worked out well and I’m happy with the book as it stands. But I also take comfort in knowing that I could still release that book today without the strong sex scenes and still have a novel.

It’s a little harder to do with short stories. But again, I could tone the sex scenes down in every short story I’ve ever written to R rated scenes and I know I’d still have a story there.

I think the same standard applies to erotic fiction, too, not just erotic romance. In erotic fiction there should always be a storyline that can stand alone without the sex.

Of course a lot of this varies according to individual opinions. I’ve been told too much strong sex is porn by people who actually had the audacity to define porn themselves. That’s not even a place where I would venture. The definition of what’s considered porn has been fought about for ages and no one is any closer to getting it right.

But in erotic romance and erotica the story comes first and I like to think the sex moves the love and the story forward at all times. I will admit that I usually add a great deal of sex, and that’s because I’m writing for an erotic romance audience. It’s what they expect when they spend their hard earned money. I think the discreet readers of erotic romance and erotica are disappointed when they buy books that don’t have sex scenes…I’ve heard some say they feel cheated. Of course that can be a tricky place, too. The definition of what’s considered too much, or too little, sex can vary from reader to reader and author to author.

But I do think it’s safe to go by all the definitions above in a general sense. And for those who don’t agree, at least you know that authors and publishers are making it clear what’s contained in an erotic romance. That is for the most part. I’ve bought a few and sat there wondering, “Where the hell are the sex scenes?” I thought “Fifty Shades of Grey” was tame compared to other erotic romances. But I have a friend who thought it was “scandalous.”

I’m going to post more on this topic because I’m curious about it. And any comments, assuming they will be civil, are welcome on the thread. I’m open to other opinions, even if I might not agree with them.