Those who know me well, or have been to my website and flipped through my works know I write both mainstream and erotic works. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion—how far is too far? Where is the line between a racy mainstream story and a softer erotic work?
Some days...I have no idea.
Sounds odd coming from one who writes in both lines.
Actually, it’s not. I’ve read some books classified as erotic, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I didn’t find them as erotic, but more like spicy. Conversely, I’ve read some books that I thought, holy moly, this is mainstream? I bought this at Walmart!
See? I’m no expert. I just call it like I see it.
So where is this imaginary thin blue line?
Wording. (Among other things).
There are about fifteen different ways to write any given love scene (for me—for you there could be an infinite amount). There is the downright smutty way that uses every dirty word and risqué descriptor in the book. Is it hot? Depends on the mood. Risqué and dirty don’t always translate into an emotional sentence.
Think about it. He rocked into her. Big deal. That had no emotion whatsoever. Yes, I kept the line G-rated, but you get the idea. But try it this way: Dante’s eyes blazed with passion as he gazed into her eyes. Sariah shivered, but not from chill. The raw need emulating from his body overwhelmed her. He was the one man she’d waited for all her life.
Doesn’t that sound hotter? Heck yeah. It drips with sensuality, but there’s the catch. It’s sensual and spicy and doesn’t disclose that it takes place in the bedroom. This line came from a scene in a restaurant with everyone fully clothed.
You might be wondering at this point, why I called this post Take It Off. Simple. In erotica, the idea is to have the characters naked and expressing their desire for each other. Mainstream is the same way, but with clothes fully in place.
I beg to differ.
If written well, with a hearty plot, an erotic work can be as emotional and powerful as the sweetest mainstream story. Then again, if the mainstream story has a weak plot, simpy characters, and lines like: they went to bed—that’s not going to make it a great read, not to me. I’d count it as more scandalous that the book was published rather than the lack of fornication.
So in the spirit of taking it off, where is the jumping part? The line separating the mainstream from the hardcore?
In the eye of the reader.
If the book is sweet—they lay together—then you still get the idea that the character are knowing each other on a biblical level. You don’t see them naked, but you know they were (especially if there is a baby involved—and it’s not paranormal, so immaculate conception can’t occur). On the other hand, I don’t need every single detail about the act to know the characters have made whoopee.
What am I going to do about this, since I am an author? I’ve come to the conclusion that the characters in my head are sexual creatures. They like to get naughty. So I embrace it. I encourage them to take it off, but I also look at the audience the book is aimed towards. If the character needs to be reined in to make the book better fit a hot label rather than an erotic label, well, then I’ll do it, but I won’t say the characters like it.
They give me the what-for later, but that’s where I get the ideas for the other books.
Speaking of which, I think it’s time to get to work.