Next month, I’ll be teaching an online class on writing erotic romance with Dee Ann Palmer w/a Carolina Valdez. Passion, Heat & Ecstasy: Writing the Erotic Romance is sponsored by the Yosemite chapter of RWA and runs from Feb. 1 to 26. Details are at http://www.yosemiteromancewriters.com/6.html; scroll down to find our class.
I’ve been compiling my section of the bibliography for the class, and decided to pull out a couple of books to recommend here. Both books are available at Amazon.com if you can’t find them in the bookstore.
Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Angela Knight, Loose Id, LLC, 2007. In my opinion, this is the best book to get if you want to write erotic romance. Knight understands the genre and has some useful tips, like her â€œromantic conflictâ€ chart.
Knight distinguishes between sensual and erotic romance by looking at what drives the story. In her opionion, what drives sensual romances â€œisnâ€™t sex, but not having sexâ€. In order to maintain sexual tension between hero and heroine, the writer devises external and internal reasons why going to bed with each other is a bad idea. The actual act of making love often signals a significant drop in sexual tension and the writer then has to find a way to make the conflict kick in again.
Erotic romance is driven by what she calls “romantic tension”, in other words the central conflict that makes the HEA ending seem problematic. This means strong conflict, esp. in a full-length novel.
Conflicting Desires: Notes on the Craft of Writing Erotic Stories by Han Li Thorn, Velluminous Press, 2007. A good how-to book geared to mainstream erotica but not romance. Chapter 4 on The Erotic Promise is particularly useful and there are several appendices, including an Erotic Lexicon.
In the above chapter 4, Thorn posits that writers of erotic literature make three promises to their readers: to arouse, to entertain and to offer something deeper, whether in depth of charaterization, complexity of plot, or eliciting an intellectual or emotional depth. In erotica, the first promise must be kept, but if you can deliver on the other two promises, you work will stand out.
He also states that â€œerotic conflict is at the heart of erotic storyâ€. Otherwise itâ€™s a spiced-up romance or mystery or whatever, but it doesnâ€™t qualify as â€œeroticaâ€. This is often easier said than done.
If you’ll forgive a bit of blatant self-promotion, I think my novella Alliance: Cosmic Scandal is a good example of erotic conflict. Here’s the blurb:
When Myrek, heir to the Ziganese throne, becomes ambassador to the planet Mhajav, he hopes to find a cure for his sonâ€™s hereditary illness. Then he meets a lovely young geneticist and passion overwhelms his sense of duty. All he can think of is making Khira his own.
Khira is a rarity, a Mhajavi virgin of 25. A child prodigy, she skipped several grades and was underage when most of her classmates went off to sex camp before attending university. Though hopelessly in love with Myrek, she knows their love is doomed. Under Ziganese law Myrek must wed a virgin, but Mhajavi law forbids virgins from marrying.
An erotic encounter in a brothel leads to a fateful decision that defies the laws of two worlds and causes a cosmic scandal.
In this story, the couple fall in love but are unable to marry because of the respective laws of their worlds. Prince Myrek is legally required to wed a virgin, something prohibited by Kira’s world Mhajav. Their solutions to the problem are creative as well as sensual.
As the title of our class says, erotic romance calls for Passion, Heat and Ecstasy.