What Does it Take to Write Erotic Romance?
Today’s guest post comes from author Violet Moon, whose newest novel Mesmerized was published in October.
I enjoyed the novel, so I invited Violet to write a guest post about what it’s like to write erotic romance novels.
I first broke into writing erotic romance in 2018, with my debut romance, Enigma. Before that, I wrote poetry, creative nonfiction, and children’s fiction. I enjoyed reading romance, so I decided to try my hand at writing one.
I soon learned that writing romantic/erotic fiction is a unique craft. Contrary to all the jokes about Fifty Shades and Fabio, there’s so much more to it than just sex. Of course, sex is a crucial element of erotic fiction, and there is no shame in that!
When done properly, sex scenes not only build tension that keeps the reader wanting more, but also are an opportunity to learn more about the characters and their relationship. It shows the reader the characters’ chemistry and desires, and offers a glimpse of who they are behind closed doors. Do they prioritize their partner’s pleasure as much as their own? How present are they? What makes their intimacy special?
At the heart of erotic romance writing is emotion and character. We want to feel what the characters feel, see what they see, get the sense that we’re in that world with them. We don’t want to be told they’re in love; we need to see it and feel it for ourselves. And to make us feel like we’re really there with them, the characterization has to be well-rounded. The writer must first answer the question of what they are like as individuals before answering the question of what they could be as lovers. If a character does not have enough agency to have a purpose besides being a love interest, then readers will not find them as intriguing. It’s also unrealistic; no one’s life revolves entirely around one other person. People are complex, and characters should be also.
Characters do not, in my opinion, necessarily need to be “strong” in order to have agency. I’ve heard the phrase “strong female character” thrown around in writing circles fairly often, and while I greatly appreciate the sentiment of writing more badass female characters, I do not think it is a requirement. Women do not need to kick butt or master a traditionally male-dominated field or be emotionally closed off in order to be interesting.
Whether a female character yearns for romance or never gave romance much thought until her love interest comes into the picture, whether she freely expresses her emotions or keeps them hidden, or whether she’s confident or shy, is okay. What matters most is that characters are diversely represented, and aren’t placed in boxes based on certain characteristics.
Something I appreciate about the romance genre is how men are given depth I don’t see addressed as often in most other genres. The stereotypical action hero is buff and stoic, and his ability to fight is emphasized over his ability to feel. In romance, the hero may be just as physically fit, but his emotions and compassion are what define him, even if he is trained in combat.
In romance, men don’t have to choose between being conventionally masculine and being tender. It’s not emasculating for men to pine and yearn for a woman they love and want a future with her. Men in romance are emotional and sincere in their words and actions, and their vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Romance fiction has the power to help shape how we see people, and how we understand love in relationships.