It isn’t romance

I recently posted an interview with author Rusty Blackwood.  A few days ago, Rusty posted the following, which I found interesting, on her website, and she has graciously allowed me to copy it here:

Posted on September 28, 2012 by Rusty Blackwood

What does it take for human beings ( in this case the reading public) to  possess even the slightest possibility of a brain cell in the area of reading genres to FINALLY realize, let alone understand that erotica is NOT romance? What is the matter with everyone? Are you just one of the millions of mindless brain-washed zombies who have just got to have the latest hype in words regardless of what that might be, or how utterly mistaken the branding is? Honestly!

As a writer of romance I, and countless other writers – hard working writers who actually strive for something worth putting our name on; something to be proud of, something which carries our emotions, hard work and sweat in order to obtain a well crafted piece – only to find this continued outrageous nonsense surrounding this ‘erotic story’ – yes, that’s all it is – erotica – NOT romance – far from it – the two are in no-way connected nor are they the same. For crying out loud people if you can’t get it straight then at least get a clue!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion – just as I am – but as the title of this post says:  PEOPLE — ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! When it comes to actual romance, erotica, and the writing of such is 50 Shades AWAY!

As always, support your local authors ( regardless of genre) as well as all local talent in the Arts.


Unfortunately for writers such as Rusty and I, many people don’t want to read something that will require them to use their brain, they’d rather have things spelled out for them. The quality of the writing does not enter into the decision of what to buy and read. That decision is mostly influenced by word of mouth – what everyone’s talking about. All they want is titillation, and 50 Shades apparently provides that in spades, although from reviews I’ve read, the quality of the writing itself isn’t that good. The popularity of this series seems to be based more on the effectiveness of the hype and the rumoured kinkiness in it than any literary qualities.

Thinking again about what Rusty wrote yes, romance novels may contain elements of erotica but only if it comes as a natural progression of the romance. On the other hand, books that have the main characters simply jumping from bed to bed, possibly stopping along the way for some , umm … “interesting” diversions contain no elements of romance and very little in the way of plot development.  They are “erotica”, in other words what some would call “soft porn” or “smut”.  But one thing they are not are romance novels.

There are many examples of romance novels and romance writers, Rusty among them, who do not see the need to resort to “erotica” to make their novels more acceptable.  Their writing holds the readers interest and, unlike books like “50 Shades”, they require the reader to use their imaginations.  Writing in a fashion that leaves things unsaid, left to the readers’ imaginations, isn’t as easy as it sounds.  It is actually easier to describe events and locations in detail than it is to just hint at what’s happening.  That ability to entice readers with subtle clues as to what is going on and make it sound believable is the mark of a good writer.  Anyone can describe in detail, but that isn’t writing, that’s just reporting.

As a writer, I credit my readers with intelligence – after all, they are reading my writings – and therefore feel they are capable of using their minds and imaginations.  Here is a description from a piece I’m still writing:  The city was one of those anonymous places that comprise what politicians and pollsters commonly refer to as “the industrial base.”  The signs at the city limits proudly proclaimed population figures from the last census, but several minor recessions and a major depression had taken their toll and the signs were wildly optimistic.  I could have gone into much greater description, for this was based on an actual place, but by leaving it as I did, I’m encouraging the reader to “fill in the blanks” with scenes from their own lives.  And that is also the main difference between romance and erotica.  In erotica, there are no blanks to fill in.

As Rusty wrote above “People – enough already”.  Learn to tell the difference.



One thought on “It isn’t romance

  1. I really can’t understand why people appear hesitant to comment on this topic, for I feel it’s a good one, and not only that, but a topic worth discussing because of the impact, positive or negative, that this recent hype is causing. I don’t know whether people feel by voicing their opinion that it sets them in a light they’d best not be seen in, or whether it’s admitting they actually bought 50 Shades and don’t wish it known – like a teen reading a dirty book in the closet so their mother won’t catch them – I don’t know, but I wish people would start opening their glazed-over eyes.

    When a writer creates a romantic love story the physical actions, often with very graphic description, is a requirement to make it real between the two involved and bring it alive in print such as it would be in actual reality, it is sought after life between two human beings in love, it is ‘not erotica’, and I want it known that I have nothing against erotica as it too has its reasons for being written and enjoyed, what I take issue with, is the fact that the reading public, because of the likes of 50 Shades and its author – who in my opinion has a totally misconstrued conception of actual love, especially if she thinks what she wrote is a just a ‘good old fashioned love story’ as I heard her say in a recent interview I watched – are beginning to confuse the two genres as being one in the same, which they are not, and because of this unnecessary misconception it is hurting the way actual romance is written, and could possibly attribute to the demise of the beautifully written novels that center on ‘actual romance between two people whose souls are truly connected,’ as opposed to cover to cover porn written under the guise that this is love, it is what one does in love – and not only that, but that degradation of women ( even men) is totally acceptable by the masses, and then actually try to pass this nonsense off as ‘romance.’

    I wish more people would come forward with their opinions on this topic such as you have, Cat, and I again thank you for standing up and letting your voice be heard.


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