My Twisted Writer Brain…

Do You know the Difference Between Romance, Erotica, and Porn? Literarily speaking.

One of the most popular fiction genres is Romance. It’s a trope filled genre that can border erotica, and even porn–which are stereotypical and not surprisingly also full of tropes.

The tropes are similar between the three but what actually makes these three genres different and unique?

Is there overlap? Yes, for sure. All three can play pretty close to the edge of the next genre. When you’re writing and submitting your work you need to know what genre you’re writing in. I hope this helps.

Let’s look at the definitions:

Romance Genre:

This type of writing focuses on love and relationships between two individuals. There is usually a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happy For Now ending which leaves the reader feeling emotionally satisfied and believing in love.

There are many sub-genres like teen romance, Christian themed romance, LGBTQ, Western, –it goes on and on. Each is unique in it’s story and audience but the bases are similar.

The steamy meter can go from zero to ten but the genre is about romance and love–not sex (which may or may not be a part of the story).

Common Tropes:

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  • The dreaded love triangle–hmm…who will she choose?
  • The high school sweethearts who marry others only to comeback to each other–how romantic!
  • The pretend lovers–a shared goal makes them co-conspirators who, then of course, fall in love
  • The stranded on an island couple–usually start out fighting or ignoring each other (or similar–locked in a room, ski chalet, or someone’s dark basement–probably on a holiday weekend where no one is expected back for days.)
  • Don’t forget destiny– the two are ‘meant’ or fated to be together.
  • Then there’s where she pushed him away and now it’s too late because he’s with someone else. Sigh…
  • The I’m not who you think I am… Surprise–you fell in love with a pauper but I’m really a Prince!
  • The forbidden love. Whether different race, religion, wrong side of tracks, family fued–there’s always something in the way but will love conquer all? Think Romeo and Juliet.
  • The reacquainting–a husband and wife don’t like each other and are headed for divorce until something happens and they get to know each other again. Is it a sick child? Maybe one of them is sick? Old photos? What brings them back together?
  • Don’t forget about the sworn enemies…I’ll never speak to you again…yeah sure.

The thing romance novels do is lead the reader through the build up of a relationship.

There’s tension and conflict and lots of plot twists–which may or may not be predictable.

The reader is rooting for the characters and the promise of sex looms in the distance–perhaps after they fall in love.

But only perhaps.

Erotica Genre:

As per Wikipedia:

“Erotica is any literary or artistic work that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotically stimulating or sexually arousing but is not generally considered to be pornographic. Erotic art may use any artistic form to depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, drama, film or music.” 

One of the most famous contemporary erotica examples would be Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

While erotica is still romance, it’s also got other elements like fantasy. It’s intended to arouse desires and fantasy within the readers.

The target audience is both male and female but when Fifty Shades came on the scene it was dubbed “mommy porn” (Wikipedia).

The leap from romance with the HEA to erotica where the main focus is the sexual acts. Many consider this soft porn or smut. Some see it as entertainment.

Unlike the romance genre, you know there will be descriptive sexual and erotic scenes but will there be love? That really is the question.

Sometimes there is and sometimes not.

And then of course there’s

Porn Genre:

This is writing about sex, specifically for sex.

There’s little to no story line, character development, HEA, or really anything–except sex.

Porn is lurid, explicit, and cares about nothing except sex.

It’s one dimensional with the same conclusion every time.

There are varying degrees and some pretty frikken sick crap out there–so long as there’s no children/teens or brutality/snuff and the sex is between consenting adults–then whatever.

So to Conclude:

The Romance genre covers a huge spectrum.

On one end, there is squeaky clean/chaste romance stories and on the other extreme we have lurid suggestions and implications. There’s also everything in between and many heat levels.

The key though is the HEA and the love story.

With Erotica the next step is taken.

There’s a story line and characters but is there HEA or love? Sex or sexual fantasy comes before we know whether there is any romance or love. That’s what makes it distinct between Romance and Porn.

Porn, well, what is there to say? Even a “story” is told its goal is to arouse and lead to sexual acts. There’s no mention of HEA or love.

I’m not here to judge or tell people what to read or write. That’s none of my business–whatever floats your boat.

Writers should know the difference between the three though so you know where you fit on the genre spectrum.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

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