Thursday, December 16, 2004

All you need to Know to write EROTIC ROMANCE

The Main Ingredients for an Erotic Romance

To create any story, you need interesting characters, things that Happen to those characters and a logical conclusion. Erotic Romance is no different, however, Erotic Romance has some special needs, one of them being graphically detailed and action-packed Sex and the other ~ ADVENTURE!

The Characters
The Heroine must be able to stand toe to toe with the hero and the Hero must be written in such a way as to have the readers fall in love with him. The Villain must actually be Villainous. A weak Villain makes for a weak plot. Realistic behavior and dialogue are the keys to strong characters.

The Plot
Something happens to fling the Hero and Heroine together. While dealing with the unusual circumstances, they fall violently in lust. Shortly before the main climax, they both realize that it's not just lust, its love. During a life or death climactic scene they admit their love. They finish out the story by straightening out all the rest of the story’s loose ends and close the book in one hell of a final sex scene that cements their relationship.

Happily Ever After
To make a Happily Ever After the Hero and the Heroine end up In Love and Together. How difficult is that?

The Genres of Erotic Romance
Simply put: ALL OF THEM. Every single genre you can think of can be turned into an Erotic Romance. Isn’t that cool?

Sounds simple, even easy, doesn’t it? Well, there’s just one little hitch…

Erotic Romance is NOT True Romance
Nor is it True Erotica
True genre Romance stories are driven by the DRAMA of Love and Angst; they’re read for their EMOTION. Because of this, most genre Romances don't bother with a whole lot of detailed action. What they have is detailed Emotional Drama – and the Emotional Drama in a Romance is Very detailed.

Erotica is driven by its sexual action. Drama is non-existent, because the ACT of sex is the centerpiece of the story.

Erotic Romance is a whole different story – literally.

Erotic Romances are read mainly for their Sexual ACTION, but Drama is not the other side of this coin.

Erotic Romances are Not just Sexual Action stories--like the average trashy men’s magazine. Nor are they Romances with added Sex. Trust me, the romance authors adding sex to their stories are discovering this the Hard way -- and the Publishers along with them.
In Erotic Romance the Sex STILL forwards the Plot, as it does in Erotica, but the sex scenes are true LOVE scenes. Physical Love is used to SHOW the progress of the Romance happening WITHIN another whole Adventure story.

Yes, I said ADVENTURE Story.

Erotic Romances are honest, and for true, ADULT Action-Adventure stories!

The reason for the addition of Action-Adventure, is that Sexual Action needs other types of Action to balance the story out, or the Reader skips everything in between "to get to the good parts". The Emotions of love and angst have to be there, or the story is not a Romance, but the Drama is not nearly as detailed as in a common ordinary Romance, because Drama bogs down Action.

And so Women’s Adult Action-Adventure Fiction was born – cleverly disguised as: the Erotic Romance.
The Heart and Soul of the Erotic Romance! 

Think of every cool adventure story in ANY GENRE you ever read, or saw in the movies that could have been spiced up with a bit of romantic hanky-panky.

Erotic Romance adds that hanky-panky in!

What If ~ We change a few names and details…?
    • In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Watson was in fact a woman dressing as a man, and Dr. Moriarity was rather cute (instead of old and wrinkly,) and had a kinky streak a mile wide?
    • In Frankenstein – Dr. Frankenstein lived in the distant future and was Female, and was trying to make a date for the upcoming Doctors’ Dinner?
    • In Dracula – The person knocking on the Count’s door wasn’t a man during the Victorian era but was instead a modern-day intrepid Lady Treasure Hunter?
    • In The Phantom of the Opera – The Phantom was seduced by an experience courtesan, before a certain seventeen-year-old singer could break his heart?
    • In Flash Gordon - Oh come on, you just KNOW Ming the Merciless was Kinky!
    • In any Western – Desperados and saloon girls, or better yet: School Marms!

      What favorite Movie or Adventure story would You like to see rewritten as: Women’s Adult Adventure Fiction?

      Erotic Romance
      Not just a story with Sex in it.

      Erotic Romance is more than one sex scene after another. Each event should signal and then trigger another event. If you intend to write something more than simple stroke fiction, (like Men’s Magazine fiction, stories that get people off and that's it,) you have to have a REASON for that Sex to be there - In Addition to titillation.

      Memorize this: 
      In any form of Erotic Fiction the SEX has to forward the plot, and to forward the plot you need Dramatic Tension. If all the dramatic tension comes from somewhere OTHER than the sex, then the sex isn’t necessary to tell the story. If the sex isn’t necessary to tell the story, it doesn’t belong in the story.

      In Erotic Romance, SEX is just as Important as the Romance and Adventure, and MUST Drive the Plot. Seriously. Erotic Romance is a Cross-Genre of Erotica and Romance in an Adventure plot. The Sex, the Romance AND the ADVENTURE Plot must all have Equal Importance to BE a true Erotic Romance.

      If the Sex and/or the Adventure are not as important as the Relationship in the story, then you have a Romance that is Erotic, but NOT an Erotic Romance.

      If the Sex or the Relationship or the Adventure can be removed without harming the actions of the Story - the Plot - then you did it WRONG.

      First Law of Fiction: 
      If you can tell the Story without it
      then it SHOULDN'T be in the Story.

      Adding Sex to an existing story 
      is a BAD IDEA
      You should never put anything into a story that does not belong there - INCLUDING SEX.

      Sex should NEVER be something put in simply to make a Romance Hot. The same goes for adding Romance to a Sex Story simply to sell it to an Erotic Romance Publisher.

      Sex should NEVER be Gratuitous--something added for decoration, like sprinkles on a cake. Adding ANYTHING gratuitously (a little sex just to make it hot, a little romance, a little mystery, a little fantasy, a little Sci-Fi, a vampire...) to appeal to an audience or a publisher, is CHEATING! It's the sign of a Lazy Writer, someone who didn't bother to find a way to make everything work together.

      Doing it RIGHT

      The easiest way to generate an Erotic Romance without making the mistake of Gratuitous Sex or Romance, is to decide on what you want for your climactic sex scene where the Hero and Heroine declare their love – then build a story and characters around it to make it VITAL for that scene to happen.

      All Too Common PLOT PROBLEMS

      Plot Problem ONE
      ONE sex scene in the entire book.

      If your Erotic Romance only has one sex scene, then that story had better be under 20k (twenty-thousand words). If the story over 20k then it's not an Erotic Romance. It's a romance with an Erotic Bit.

      Having only ONE sex scene does not mean that the story isn't worth reading or even Erotic, especially if the sexual tension is there throughout. However, the bulk of the Erotic Romance buyers are looking for Sex first.

      Sexual Tension is NOT enough

      A book over 20k with only one sex scene (no matter how much sexual tension is in the rest of it) is NOT what the largest ratio of buyers in this market are Shopping for. The biggest ratio of Erotic Romance buyers are Shopping SPECIFICALLY for Sexual Adventure Stories. A story over 20k should have at least 2 sex scenes.

      There ARE exceptions; readers who prefer Story to Sex, but they do not represent the largest ratio of BUYERS. If you want to make decent sales numbers, catering to the smallest denominator of buyers is NOT the way to do it. If you want to make Big Sales you have to catch the attention of the largest ratio of buyers - and they want SEX. It's ugly, but it's the TRUTH.

      There ARE top-selling authors whose stories Do Not rely on Sex. Mary Janice Davidson writes spectacular romantic paranormal comedies and Brenna Lyons weaves epic adventures, for example, but they are VERY GOOD, and they are Very Established. If a newcomer wants to compete with them, they had better be good enough to tempt the readers who are shopping for sex-books.

      - Plot Problem TWO
      Boy Gets Girl - IS the plot.

      If boy and girl getting together IS the plot, then that story had better be under 20k. If it's over 20k then you better have a LOT of Sex to make up for it. If all you have is two people falling in love and nothing else, your story lacks MEAT. If the story is over 40k you have a Serious Problem, sex or no sex, you have NO PLOT. Sex alone does not sell to this market; they want a STORY too!

      NO PLOT = Bored Readers -- Bored Readers = NO SALES.

      In this jaded market, boy and girl STAYING Together --NOT Getting Together-- should be the plot in ADDITION to the story's actual Adventure plot-line. Technically, the sexual Romance should be a Sub-Plot with the rest of the adventure story trying to keep them apart.

      In Conclusion -

      This is a Choosy market and there are too many really talented authors that know how to weave a attention-grabbing STORY with their sexual Romance. If you expect to compete for those buyers, you had better have a Meaty Plot - in addition to lovingly detailed Sex.

      References ~
      For: The Twelve Steps to Intimacy
      Go to: Making ROMANCE 
      For: How to Write Sex Scenes
      Go to: Writing SEX - Technique & Structure 
      Morgan Hawke


      1. This is good stuff to know about. Thanks for putting it online!

      2. Not an erotic writer myself, (regular historical/inspirational is great for me) but had to say thanks for such an insightful, informative article. You've got a great voice.

      3. Hi Morgan!
        I have been haunting your site for a while now. Thought it was time I started by own. I did put you on my Best Of list because you really do have some great stuff here. I tutor ESL/EFL when I'm not writing, so I do know good info when I see it!
        Thanks again!

      4. What great content! I'll have to come back often to make sure that I follow your advice. Thanks so much for sharing!