Friday, July 11, 2008

Erotic or Sensual

Erotic Romance Vs. Sensual Romance. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t completely sure of the difference. I know that is horrible thing to admit as I am making my living as a writer of romance, but it’s true. Up until about a year ago I didn’t even know what I wrote fell into the romance category. I just wrote dark fantasy and horror stories. Sure there were always relationships and yep… a fair amount of sex, but for whatever reason, my thick brain wouldn’t make the connection until it was pointed out by one of the publishers I submitted to. I’m still playing catch up with the wide (and sometimes confusing) world of romance writing.

So, I went to Wikipedia for clarification. Let’s see what they have to say about Erotic Romance first.

Erotic romance novels, as defined by Romance Writers of America's (RWA) special interest chapter, Passionate Ink[1], are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline.

The subgenre, which is sometimes referred to as romantica, a trademark of Ellora's Cave Publishing [2] got its start in ePublishing/small press. High volume sales showed New York publishers there was an untapped market for erotic romance that they could fill and since 2005 they have incorporated new imprints to meet the demand of readers. [3] for erotic romance are difficult to verify as publishers tend to lump erotic romance in with established categories such as historicals, contemporaries, paranormals and other subgenres.

Erotic romance novels take the reader beyond the bedroom door where more traditional romance does not breach that barrier. The sex scenes, while explicit, are there for the purpose of character development. Erotic romance should not be confused with pornography. Works of pornography consist of sexual acts without a plot line. Erotic romance however includes well-developed characters and at least one primary plot with the possibility of subplots. The primary and/or subplots can stand alone without the explicit sex, but the characterizations in the story will suffer dramatically if the sexual content is removed.

Well, that was quite enlightening. I wonder what they have to say about sensual romance? Oh, wait… the search turned up no usable definitions. It had the word sensual listed as a hit in other definitions, but not a direct hit could be found anywhere.

I broadened my search to the entire web and found several references to sensual romance (complete with review sites and all), but still couldn’t find an actual definition. So, I turned to the posts of my fellow bloggers for the answer.

From Anny Cook: It seems to me that is the best of both worlds. In our world sensual just indicates that sex is less frequent and perhaps less adventurous.

Ah, now I see the difference and I have to say, that my personal preference would be sensual over erotic, but I’m quite sure I’m in the minority. What sells better than sex?

After reading the other posts this week, I think it is painfully clear that erotic romance is by far the most popular of the two.


  1. If I'm the sole authority on sensual romance, that just goes to show you there must not be much difference. Good blog, James!

  2. Here's my deep meaningful thought. Sex is sexy. I don't ever see it not selling when sensual, as great as it is, doesn't have the same boiling kettle reaction.

    Good blog.

  3. Sensual romance is just "perfect" for many readers. They want to leave much up to the imagination. Some sex but not extreme. There's not a thing wrong with that but maybe we're becoming too more jaded. We want it hotter and faster.Fortunately for those of us who write romantica, what we do is in great demand these days.

    Great post James!

  4. I guess therein lies the difference between meaningful sex that involves love and soul and which can be called a communion ( sensual) and Basic Instinct sex, which tantamount s to ardent need and hunger of mankind ( erotic) .

    I guess that sensual sex involves soul and body, while erotic sex involves the mind and body...


    That is an enlightening post James. Honestly I never gave it a thought before either!


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