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So, these past couple of weeks there has been the customary to-do about who-saw-what-done-where-and-to-whom during the last RT in Pittsburg, and who-is-reporting-what-someone-else-says-that-a-third-party-told- them-happened-there.

Here at Karen’s the discussion devolved into “old vs young” rather soon, and then it became “prudes vs sluts”. Pretty soon after there was the whole “look what trash you are letting into the romance genre!” vs “stop pretending you are all so pure, sex sells!” over at Dear Author (otherwise known as “is this what we want the professional image of the romance genre as an industry to be?”).

There have been first hand accounts of some minor and some oh-my-God-not-minor-at-all incidents where the line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour was carelessly crossed. I’m beyond furious about the abuse Kim was subjected to, and both Lori Foster and Shiloh Walker have shared some unpleasant experiences of their own.

Of course such things can, and sadly do, happen everywhere, not just at a romance readers’ convention, as Anya Bast points out in the discussion over at Dear Author. But that is not the point, really. The point (which GrowlyCub, and Jane and Robin and a few others, made quite eloquently over there) is that some environments are more likely to beget certain behaviours than others.

So far I had felt no overwhelming reason to comment, because people with different points of view and different agendas will have different opinions and perspectives, and they are all valid (duly noted exception for criminal behaviour, of course)

Then Emmy offers this:

Hate it when people make sweeping generalizations. What is romance? Does porn have to be two strangers oofing in a one night stand? Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?

And this:

Sex, as the cliche goes, sells. If people didnt wanna see or read about smexing, there wouldnt be this whole industry out there. The only way to get the romance industry more respect is to take the romance- and any overt/covert sexual references- out of it.

And Erastes adds,

Romance is not necessarily porn. But erotica can be and is, in a lot of cases. Romance is not heterosexual monogamous marriage, either, by the way.

Huh? Color me confused here.

And I have to wonder… what does monkey sex between consenting adults who care for each other have to do with porn*? Since when can romance be porn? Since when is romance reduced to sex?

Perhaps I live in a different universe…

See, I like romance—which to me means “relationship”. I like sex. What’s more, I like sex in my relationship books. Hell, I like well done** graphic descriptions of sex in my relationship stories. And on occasion, I like sex stories with no hint of relationship anywhere.

What I don’t like is other people’s sex lives and practices shoved in my face without a by-your-leave.

So, perhaps I am a prude after all, and a hypocrite to boot.

Because to me consent is a basic component of freedom—particularly freedom related to sexuality.

If a bystander doesn’t consent to witness some serious nookie, groping, necking, simulated sex acts, what-have-you, I believe that the rights of that person have been violated. Particularly when that bystander has the exact same right to share that space (elevator, hotel lobby, hallway, name your spot) as the people indulging in the public nookie.

If a convention that is touted to be about romance books—without specification as to whether there is or isn’t explicit sex in those books, or whether the relationships depicted are between two or three consenting adults of any specific gender, race, eye color, shoe size, chose your arbitrary line here—and for romance readers—without specification as to whether these readers have to be voyeurs, exhibitionists, prudish, deeply religious, left handed, tall, scrawny, rubenesque, fill in the blank here—then I believe that the organizers and sponsors of said convention should strive to make it possible for as many of the attendees to participate without being involuntarily subjected to offensive behaviour.

Should the organizers vet the background of every attendee? Not only shouldn’t they, but it is just not possible. But they should—and could—make sure that certain ground rules were laid down for the sponsors and professionals who participate. And by professionals I mean agents, writers, editors, publishers, models, what have you.

* pornography, from Merriam-Webster online: 1: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement 2 :material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement 3: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction ((the pornography of violence))

**“well done” is a subjective descriptor, obviously—what’s great for me may get a meh or a yuck! from anyone else reading it.

180 Comments »


  • Puppet Truth
    May 8
    2:49 pm

    I agree with you. I was at RT recently *not this year* and there were authors and readers there with CHILDREN in tow.If there were children around this year, I’m even more appalled. I went to RT to enjoy myself that year, to meet authors I love, find some more I could love and get to know the industry as a whole. RT is an institution, and something that widespread needs to act in a professional manner, even when its getting their “dirty” on. Hell the porn conventions have rules you have to abide by, NO TOUCHING of the talent is the first rule.

    So is it because we are women that its ok for us to get wild and let the “entertainment” get overzealous? Personally, no, especially at RT. I know that the majority of authors and friends I know went this year and are considering not going next year, because of all the bru ha ha (and the price but thats another problem I’m sure). I would expect to see what reportedly went on this year at RT at a 18 and over con that catered to the sex industry. Romance caters to women, yes, but while a good portion of us want it in our books, because reading is akin to escapism, If I wanted to see it at a conference I went to, I would hit up the AFAC (Adult Film Awards Convention). At least I know what I’m getting into there. At RT, a simple, meet the authors/meet your fans and promote your latest book can be ruined by this kinda behavior, and I think its safe to say by the numerous accounts, that it did.

    I think your right, that people forget that RT isn’t only the erotic crowd, but the sweet romance crowd and the sensual romance crowd as well, ie: ALL ROMANCE. Not everyone wants to be exposed to it. If you do it classy (Like i hear Jacquelyn Frank’s Stud Muffin Mixer was) then its one thing. When you blatantly allow for tawdry and unprofessional behavior then its something totally different. Though you cant blame the models too much. If you let a bunch of 20-something guys run amuck around a bunch of women, the majority of them don’t have any idea about being professional. From what I understand a real “Caveman” mentality of “look at me! Look what I can do!” was prevalent, and I don’t think that happens with the old school models, but of course, I could be wrong. a pack of guys anywhere is bad news, but at this kinda event its worse because of what they are allowed to get away with.

    The Puppet.

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  • Jesbelle
    May 8
    4:13 pm

    I completely agree with the above comments, and I think it’s a point that has been completely missed by those who felt EC did nothing wrong.

    While I believe the EC had every right to have their models entertain at their party (and by most accounts it was harmless entertainment, if a little tacky and, to some, ill-conceived), this defense that “sex sells as the driving force of romance” is doing more to keep me away from EC than anything else.

    I do not like the idea of the Cavemen in general. I even find the Mr. Romance contest a little bewildering. In a genre that fights everyday against negative sterotyping of it’s writers, readers, and female characters, I don’t like to support something that turns around and objectifies men.

    That said, I understand that there are many others who enjoy both the Cavemen and the Mr. Romance contest. It’s just not for me. If I do attend a future RT (which is likely) I would make the point of avoiding the EC party and the coronation. I would also hope that the conference publishers and promoters would make an effort to contain anything that they wouldn’t want their children (possibly in attendance) viewing.

    I understand there is no avoiding the campaigning for Mr. Romance, but I don’t want to cover models groping for a vote. And I don’t want to see women old enough to know better throughing themselves at those same models in desperate ways. Isn’t this exactly the sterotype we are constantly denying?

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  • KCfla
    May 8
    5:41 pm

    Perhaps I live in a different universe…

    See, I like romance—which to me means “relationship”. I like sex. What’s more, I like sex in my relationship books. Hell, I like well done** graphic descriptions of sex in my relationship stories. And on occasion, I like sex stories with no hint of relationship anywhere.

    What I don’t like is other people’s sex lives and practices shoved in my face without a by-your-leave.

    So, perhaps I am a prude after all, and a hypocrite to boot.

    Well, I must live in the same universe as you.*waves*

    I have no problem with sex in books. Or none- should the case be. Hell, I love Pride and Prejudice, and there was/is like 1 kiss?

    I do not like the idea of the Cavemen in general. I even find the Mr. Romance contest a little bewildering. In a genre that fights everyday against negative stereotyping of it’s writers, readers, and female characters, I don’t like to support something that turns around and objectifies men.

    I agree. We as readers fight that “OMG- you read that manttity smut” attitude everywhere we go with our books. I’m not an author- but I’m sure they get the “you write that…..” stuff as well.

    Having the RT convention not only NOT battle that misconception- but proliferate it by having the “Cavemen” and the Mr. Romance contests is just not helping matters.

    It’s in Orlando next year ( I live 1 hour away). I’ve always wanted to go, but right now I’m in a sort-of wait and see mode.

    No, your not alone out there Azteclady.

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  • If you are, then move over. I’m a prude and a hypocrite too.

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  • Emmy
    May 8
    6:32 pm

    And I have to wonder… what does monkey sex between consenting adults who care for each other have to do with porn*? Since when can romance be porn? Since when is romance reduced to sex?

    Huh. Well, by the definition of porn so thoughtfully provided, any romance book could be interpreted as porn. Especially the ones with sex scenes, since I cant imagine any other intent of inclusion in a book other than to excite or arouse. Romance and romantic relationships got reduced to sex when a close relationship with someone that doesn’t include sex or sexual attraction got stuck with the term “friendship”.

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  • You’re not a prude, Aztec. Just because somebody doesn’t want to see certain things, or read them, doesn’t make them a prude.

    Nor are you a hypocrite.

    We can choose what we read. If it pushes us outside our comfort zone in a good or bad way, we have the choice to stop reading before it gets too out of hand, or simply not buy the book, because most of us skim enough, ask, browse, research enough to have an idea what to expect. If it isn’t our cuppa, we just walk by.

    But having people act a certain way-yes, flogging in public counts-takes away of others.

    It’s a respect thing. People who do these types of things need to flip it around and think about how they would feel if something that made them uncomfortable got shoved in their face without them having a choice in the matter.

    Yeah, you can always get up and leave, but it doesn’t take back what you saw.

    Respect those around you-even if you don’t know them. If more people did that, the world would be a much better place.

    edited for spelling/corrections.

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  • veinglory
    May 8
    6:59 pm

    Is this a serious question: “Since when can romance be porn?”

    Porn is sexually arousing material. Ergo romance genre fiction that has sexually arousing material is porn. I write romance with sex scenes that I mean–very intentionally–to be hot and sexy. I write romance porn. If other people don’t like to use that particular word or define it that way (as many people and most modern dictionaries* do), well fine. But a lot of us do like to used it and proudly and I don’t like the implication there is anything wrong with that or it makes us not romance writers, by definition.

    Romance is not *only* pornographic any more tham porn is *only* romance. (or sex is only love and love only sex, but the two sure as hell tend to overlap for a lot of people).

    The use of the term ‘pornography’ to be purely insulting seems to be embedded in the idea sexually explicit fiction is shameful and unbecoming a romance writer or reader.

    And when it comes to how people should conduct themselves in public the whole thing is, IMHO, beside the point. I have meet many self-proclaimed romance pornographers and they are a very well-behaved lot on the whole.

    *See the defiintion from the dictionary 1 & 2, note 3 is a derogatory analogy not a literal meaning. Much like saying ‘romance’ to mean sub-par bodice ripper levels of literary quality, as I see writers do often.

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  • Robin
    May 8
    7:01 pm

    I was talking to a friend about this issue last night, and she was saying that the whole porn comparison distracted from the real issue here: that a sexually saturated atmosphere has come to dominate the major reader and author Romance conference to the point where it seems to be eclipsing other aspects of Romance. And that this atmosphere seems to have created a sort of “anything goes” mentality in some attendees, creating an environment more suited to a raunchy Vegas bachelorette party than a conference that is supposed to be based on a mutual love of romantic fiction. It’s not about whether sex is part of Romance, or whether people had fun with the Cavemen, or whether some of perfect gentlemen, or whether sex is good or bad, or whether Romance is porn (and vice versa) — it’s about the implications and consequences of having an increasingly sexualized atmosphere at a Romance genre conference where participants range from Inspirational Romance presses, authors, and readers to SF/F Romance to Historical Romance to, yes, Erotic Romance.

    And every time someone talks about how “sex sells,” I have to ask: why do you need to sell sex at a conference aimed at one of the most loyal, most enthusiastic, and most fan oriented readers in all genre fiction? Why do you have to sell anything besides books, and when it’s talked about in those terms, it emphasizes even more, IMO, the sense that this is all about money — that the conference is one big commercial transaction. And if that’s the case, then IMO RT needs to think long and hard about what ails it that it can’t draw readers and authors to a Romance conference with anything less than the promise of unfettered raunch.

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  • I really liked Jane’s example of how people would feel if folks suddenly started preaching, singing hymns at RT and handing out bibles.

    That would be just as inappropriate and misleading to the public as some of the overly sexual events and giveaways seem to have been this year and in the past.

    I’m still kicking myself that I missed Celebrate Romance this year when it was in my own backyard. Next year’s is going to be in the NW, but I’m going! And I’m heading up to Cinci to Lori’s gettogether in June.

    Btw, I’ve been thinking about attending RWA in SF. Does anybody still need a roommate by any chance?

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  • Robin
    May 8
    8:03 pm

    The use of the term ‘pornography’ to be purely insulting seems to be embedded in the idea sexually explicit fiction is shameful and unbecoming a romance writer or reader.

    I think there is a fundamental *formal* difference between Romance and pornography, in that Romance most definitely contains sexually arousing material, but its formal terms are intended to be a romantic relationship journey for its characters, whether they be gay or straight, a couple or a polyamorous triple. I know people argue all the time about what constitutes Romance, but to me those arguments are generally more about what people find *romantic*, because Romance is about the *form* of a story and the way it controls a central romantic theme. Pornography is aimed singularly at sexual arousal, so formally speaking, it follows a different structure and formula.

    Beyond that, though, I think one of the reasons people insist so strongly on the distinction is that pornography is such an enormous category with an incredibly diverse and broad definition. And because certain aspects of it are prohibited as a matter of criminal law (child pornography, for example), and because some pornographic materials have also been legally defined as obscene under US law and are therefore completely outside the protections of the First Amendment, there are, IMO, valid reasons for holding to the distinction as thematic as well as formalistic. I won’t say that the whole designation of “pornography” is so broad as to be meaningless, but I do think it’s less descriptive and helpful to characterizing certain forms of erotic expression than some want it to be.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 8
    9:53 pm

    I don’t write porn.

    I don’t think porn is bad. Unless we’re talking child porn, beastiality–or anything that isn’t between consenting adults.

    I see Romance as about the relationship–with or without sex.

    I see porn as about the sex–with or without the relationship.

    I’ve read sex scenes in King, in Sandford, in many, many other books in many, many other genres. I haven’t heard of anyone saying: That book has sex, therefore, it’s porn.

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  • Especially the ones with sex scenes, since I cant imagine any other intent of inclusion in a book other than to excite or arouse.

    Really? Then you’re reading the wrong books. Because I’ve read (and written) lots of stories where the sex is to further the relationship, the plot or the tension, or to reveal more about the characters.

    The use of the term ‘pornography’ to be purely insulting seems to be embedded in the idea sexually explicit fiction is shameful and unbecoming a romance writer or reader.

    It’s not becoming to anyone. Why would you willingly associated serious erotic writing with an exploitative and nasty industry, when there’s absolutely no need to?

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  • Anne
    May 8
    11:57 pm

    I’ve read sex scenes in King, in Sandford, in many, many other books in many, many other genres. I haven’t heard of anyone saying: That book has sex, therefore, it’s porn.

    What Nora Roberts said. She always says it so well.

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  • coginwheel
    May 9
    12:12 am

    FYI, there are many EC authors who think EC takes a ham-handed approach to sexual material and presents a tacky public image. Also FYI, plain old “sensual” romance doesn’t sell worth a crap — at least, not in the ebook community. (So where the hell are all of you who crave it?)

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  • I read e-books, but I much prefer paperbacks. So for sensual stories I go to the print publishers. I do buy erotic romance in e-book by authors I know will deliver a good story and whose books I cannot get in print.

    I’ve read quite a few offerings (mostly EC but not exclusively) that were less than stellar in story telling and execution. I’m not a native speaker and so I’m really hyper sensitive to bad grammar and bad spelling (which doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, natch), but I seem to see them and be disturbed by them more than other readers. (What’s with people forgetting that there’s more than one past tense in the English language, btw?)

    So, there’s one answer why the the sensual stuff sells less well in e-book.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    1:45 am

    I’ve read sex scenes in King, in Sandford, in many, many other books in many, many other genres. I haven’t heard of anyone saying: That book has sex, therefore, it’s porn.

    Once again, Webster seems to define porn as any depiction of a sexual act…therefore, what romance authors write is, by that definition, porn. Outside of the illegal, I don’t see why porn has to have such a negative connotation, but apparently it does.

    If you have to redefine what ‘porn’ constitutes to make yourself more comfortable with what it is you’re writing, go for it. The actual definition still stands.

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  • I’m going to preface my comment by saying that what I have heard about goings on at RT has left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve never been one to squee over man-titty, and the man who gropes me without at least dinner first (his treat) is gonna get a bunch of broken fingers for his trouble.

    However, regarding porn/romance.

    We’re really aguing denotation versus connotation, here. According to the strictest dictionary definition of pornography, pretty much any sex scene in any romance would qualify, even though the form (or purpose) of the story, as Robin mentioned, is romantic rather than strictly sexual.

    Both Emily and Nora have valid points, even coming at the issue from seemingly opposite sides. I’m beginning to think it’s an impossible question to answer, given that the generally accepted difference between “erotica” and “porn” tends to be about style rather than content, and style is an entirely subjective issue.

    I do think the attitudes of Ann Somerville and others are needlessly judgmental. To claim that every sex scene (or the level of explicitness of every sex scene) they write is necessary in the service of plot, tension or character development is disingenuous to say the least. Which leads me to wonder, WTF is wrong with liking to read (or write) sex for its own sake–in the context of a romantic relationship or otherwise?

    I have no problem with affectionately labeling the sexy scenes I write (or like to read) “porn” or “smut” or “dirty”. Jeez, I think everyone could just lighten up a bit.

    Course, that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be rubbing oil all over some caveman’s chest at the next convention, thanks.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    3:07 am

    If porn is defined as “any depiction of a sexual act,” does that mean that medical or veterinary textbooks are pornographic? Or diagrams for sex education? Or the trial testimony of a convicted sex offender?

    Here’s an interesting discussion of pornography from Stanford’s Encylcopedia of Philosophy.

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  • . To claim that every sex scene (or the level of explicitness of every sex scene) they write is necessary in the service of plot, tension or character development is disingenuous to say the least.

    Don’t appreciate being called a liar, actually, speaking of being judgemental. I can’t speak for every writer, but I know a few, and to a woman (and a man) we all *hate* writing sex scenes, and hate reading meaningless ones. I only include them when they serve a purpose other than titillation. That’s not being disingenuous, that’s just honest.

    the generally accepted difference between “erotica” and “porn” tends to be about style rather than content

    No, you’re wrong. It’s about *intent*. Why is the sex there? What is the story for? Are the characters props or real people?

    Those who want to ‘proudly’ claim their writing is porn, are the ones who are making it so easy for critics of romance to denigrate it and dismiss it. Why they’d be proud of dragging the genre down to nothing more than a series of sex scenes decorated lightly with plot, I have no idea, but I can tell you, they’re not doing writers like me in the GLBT side of the business any damn favours at all.

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  • d
    May 9
    3:37 am

    I can’t speak for every writer, but I know a few, and to a woman (and a man) we all *hate* writing sex scenes

    Then maybe you shouldn’t?

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  • we all *hate* writing sex scenes, and hate reading meaningless ones.

    Why would anyone write something they hate? And no one said your sex scenes were meaningless, or that they did nothing to advance your story, but when an author goes into graphic detail of two (or more) characters enjoying a sexual act, I would hope they are at least attempting to titillate the reader. If I want to read sex that doesn’t titillate me, I’ll read Norman Mailer, blech.

    Speaking as a writer, I think plot should be the potatoes, sex the gravy. Sometimes I like my potatoes fine without gravy, but never my gravy without potatoes. When I do choose some gravy, I’d rather it be made by a cook who loves his work and takes pride in the flavor and texture of his product, than one who resents having to make it at all.

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  • Emmy,

    The thing with the word PORN is that it has a negative connotation in society-I certainly view it with negativity. Most people do.

    It may be defined it as just anything depicting sex, but if that’s the case, then health education for middle and high schoolers can also be called porn-me talking to a nervous thirteen year old at the MD’s office who doesn’t really understand how she got pregnant…porn.

    And most people are going to agree that health ed isn’t porn.

    Explaining the birds and the bees isn’t porn.

    But I don’t think ‘sexual depictions’ is the whole definition.

    According to Merriam Webster Online…found here

    Main Entry:
    por·nog·ra·phy Listen to the pronunciation of pornography
    Pronunciation:
    \-f?\
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from porn? prostitute + graphein to write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, poros journey — more at fare, carve
    Date:
    1858

    1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement 2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement 3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

    You may interpret it differently, but here what I’m seeing is that something becomes porn when the sole purpose is to elicit a sexual response.

    Romance, even erotic romance, isn’t about a sexual response. It’s about an emotional one. It’s all subjective so what I think is nothing but trash, somebody else may disagree. What I love and think of as sweet, hot, sexy, romantic, somebody else may think…eeeewwwww…..

    But it’s subjective. As with all subjective things, it’s best to respect the other person’s viewpoints and not expect them to change theirs to suit yours-or vice versa.

    If using the word porn to describe things with sexual acts doesn’t bother you when referred to romance, that’s fine. That’s your call. That’s your right.

    But it’s also our call, those who don’t like it, to feel a little insulted when it’s thrown at us. Considering how often it happens, I can understand why some get up in arms.

    Personally, I don’t care. I decided some time ago that some things aren’t worth getting that upset over. If somebody wants to call my work porn, that’s fine. I know it isn’t. Not in my eyes, and probably not in the eyes of my readers. That’s what counts to me.

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  • If porn is defined as “any depiction of a sexual act,” does that mean that medical or veterinary textbooks are pornographic? Or diagrams for sex education? Or the trial testimony of a convicted sex offender?

    Here’s an interesting discussion of pornography from Stanford’s Encylcopedia of Philosophy.

    LOL. I just used a similar reference in my comment before I even got to yours, Robin. :)

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  • Then maybe you shouldn’t?

    In many of my stories I don’t. In the last story I released, the lovers didn’t even kiss.

    But equally, if you have a lengthy story revolving around the ‘will they/won’t they’ scenario, readers feel cheated if you *always* cut to black. If you’ve spent 150,000 words describing two men dancing around their mutual attraction, writing ‘and then they had sexual intercourse’ isn’t very realistic. Sex is an integral part of a happy, loving relationship and it’s often necessary to show it in some degree, however tiresome it is to write it. But just slotting in a sex scene every other scene, as is the formula with too many of the ebooks, is sex for sex’s sake.

    My readers are happy with the level of sex I include in my writing. I know they tell me and other writers that they basically skim over lengthy, torrid scenes because they’re interested in the *plot*. Other readers read for the smut. I’m not writing for that kind of reader.

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  • Robin, porn is defined as any depiction of a sexual act whose purpose is to sexually arouse.

    So medical textbooks, no, Viggo and Maria doing it in A History of Violence, yes.

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  • The thing with the word PORN is that it has a negative connotation in society-I certainly view it with negativity. Most people do.

    A lot of words have negative connotations. And a lot of people use them intentionally to remove the negative power of the word.

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  • Kirsten, I hate writing sex because it’s *hard* to get right – much harder than dialogue, for instance. It’s not because I loathe sexual content, or despise readers who enjoy a well-written scene (which, actually, is a lot rarer than the ‘romance porn’ crew think.) I’ve written stuff which gets me happy in the pants to write and to reread, but that’s not the norm.

    Writing good sex means you have to appeal to the senses and the intellect, keep it in character, keep it interesting, and keep it well paced. It’s like action scenes, which I also hate writing. Sex and fights are the two hardest things to write and do properly. I’m not a prude – just lazy!

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    4:01 am

    health education for middle and high schoolers can also be called porn-me talking to a nervous thirteen year old at the MD’s office who doesn’t really understand how she got pregnant…porn.

    Well, no. The intent there is to educate. The intent of a sexual scene in a romance took is to titillate, excite, and/or arouse. Ergo, porn. Unless you are going to call all your romance books training manuals now, LOL.

    Incidentally, I comment for the sake of providing another side to the discussion. I’m flipping back and forth between this and the romance book I’m reading. And yes, I feel free to call that porn too, since…”He grabbed [the other character’s] prick and squeezed. “Come back here, pretty baby. Sit up and ride my cock.”…can’t possibly do anything else but excite, if you happen to like gay romance. Oh hell yeah, I do.

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  • A lot of words have negative connotations. And a lot of people use them intentionally to remove the negative power of the word.

    Which is fine for you. Doesn’t mean others have to like it. When they make a point to mention that they don’t care for it, however politely, and request that they not have it thrown at them, yet it still keeps happening? Sorry, but it’s flagrant disrespect.

    Doing such things ‘remove the negative power’ is all too often some sort politicosocietal (yes, I make up words-I like this one…is it trademarked?) crap, doing more to make an issue or a statement, just for the sake of doing so.

    Sometimes there doesn’t need to be an issue.

    Sometimes there just needs to be respect for fellow man/woman.

    In my opinion, this is one of them.

    Again, I don’t care if somebody does refer to my work as porn. I know what it is. I know what it isn’t. I’m satisfied with what I write and since in the long run, if I’m not satisfied, I’m not going to try and sell it, then that’s what counts for me.

    However, I can understand the insulted feelings of others. It’s been made clear. The repetition of that insult after it’s been clear shows little more than disrespect. Whether it’s intended or not, it is there.

    edited, type’os, clarifications.

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  • But it’s sexual depictions-not trying to be difficult, but that’s the version you’re using.

    But that version, even the Bible could have porn inside it, for sex is referred to in the Bible as well. (to be clear, I don’t believe that…at all) but by just saying sexual depictions?

    That’s too vague to slap on any and all things referring to sex.

    Romance isn’t about the sex. It can be. Some romances do come off to me as porn in masquerade.

    But the whole of the genre?

    No. It’s about emotion, characters. The intent is to elicit an emotional response. Personally, I couldn’t care less if my writing gets a person off-if it does, I don’t want to know, thanks.

    Romance is about love. If it’s truly about love, calling it a name that is applied to kiddy porn, home-made amatuer videos about a guy raping his sister, is a huge insult.

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  • And I’m for all taking words with negative connotations back and making them our own, a la Smart Bitches Who Read Trashy Books.

    It’s a bit easier though to do it with a word that describes activities or products whose possession doesn’t potentially land you in jail.

    But it’s not just about taking a word back, it’s also about definition.

    As you have seen from numerous replies, people feel there is a distinction in the definition of romance and of porn.

    Romance = focus on relationship, sex may or may not be part

    Porn = focus on sex, relationship not required and most often not even desired

    You can say all you want that they are the same to you, they are not the same to many others. That has nothing to do with wanting to make ourselves feel better, but about what we see to be the differences.

    I’ve read porn (most often accidentally in the sense that I bought an erotic romance only to find out that that’s not what it was), it may have been sexually exciting but it left me cold nevertheless. The problem is that there’s quite a bit of writing out there right now that calls itself erotica or erotic romance but is indeed porn (meaning sex scene after sex scene, character development or plot not included).

    And the decision of what people consider erotic versus pornographic is indeed an very individual one and the threshold varies with each person.

    But the fact that you like calling every romance porn or that you want to label your own writing porn doesn’t automatically require that others have to agree and be happy with your decision.

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  • The intent of a sexual scene in a romance took is to titillate, excite, and/or arouse.

    According to you. I guess writers telling you otherwise means nothing. Arouse *emotions* sure. Not always to make readers hot.

    But one, or even several hot scenes in a book doesn’t make it porn. You have to look at the overall piece. Even the Miller Test for obscenity takes the entire work into consideration, not just excerpts. Pornography has as its sole aim, excitement and arousal of a sexual nature. A porn film or story or image isn’t about engaging with any part of the viewer/reader than their front bottoms. Romance novels are more than that, and if they’re not, then I am personally certain they’re mislabelled.

    Reclaiming terms which have been used derogatorily against a group, is fine. But the members of that group have the right to say, actually, no, I’m not okay with that. And I am not okay with the term ‘porn’ being co-opted for every single story which includes a sex scene. It degrades the currency.

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  • The intent of a sexual scene in a romance took is to titillate, excite, and/or arouse.

    Actually, no. It’s not. It might be for some writers, but not for all. And that’s the thing that is probably bothering most romance writers.

    I could care less if one of my sex scenes turns somebody on.

    However, sex is a part of life. It’s certainly a part of romantic love. Leaving it out for many people doesn’t work–because that’s short-changing the story. It’s not telling the whole story.

    Sex scenes most definitely can be used just to turn people on.

    But they SHOULD be used to further the story. If that isn’t happening, then it would likely fall under the definition of porn in my opinion. However, that’s my opinion-that’s how I view things.

    The way I view things isn’t the same as others view it. I don’t expect that. Nor should anybody else.

    I can understand providing a flip argument, but when the argument comes off as ‘chill out, it’s just sex/sub porn, what’s the big deal’ it’s dismissive of others. Then it becomes insulting, not offering another viewpoint.

    And to be clear myself, I very often offer another view point. Objectivity is high on the ladder of priority for me. So I’m not taking offense here. I could care less if somebody thinks I write porn-already explained that, don’t need to again.

    But I can see why others are.

    edited…sigh. too tired for this.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:16 am

    My Webster’s doesn’t define pornography as ‘the depiction of a sexual act’ But as ‘the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement.’ You could, of course, pull any love scene out of ANY book–not just Romance–and label it porn if you feel it was intended to cause sexual excitement, rather than depict character and story. You could also do the same with a lot of TV commericials and so on.

    I suppose I don’t interpret this definition quite so broadly–or narrowly–depending on you pov.

    I also know that I don’t write a book, or a scene ‘intending to cause sexual excitement’. I write every scene to further story and character, and relationship.

    So I don’t write porn.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:21 am

    You know, Emmy, I’ve been writing Romance for a really long time, and doing so very comfortably. I don’t need to redefine anything to continue to write and be comfortable.

    Your statement is based on leaving out an essential portion of Webster’s definition–which to me is you doing the redefining–and interpreting that partial definition in your particular way.

    INTENT is a powerful word–in law, in morality, in society. My intent, when writing, is to tell a good story that will pull an emotional response from the reader.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:26 am

    ~The intent of a sexual scene in a romance took is to titillate, excite, and/or arouse. Ergo, porn. ~

    And you know this is the intent of every writer how?

    I don’t write to titillate or arouse. I write to entertain, to give the reader a good story about the emotional journey, including sex, of a couple.

    I will disagree with Ann here. I don’t hate writing love scenes, and don’t find then any more or less difficult to craft than any other scene. They’re all hard to write well.

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  • I’m not saying – and I don’t think I called – anyone else’s work porn.

    I did say that under the blanket dictionary definition (in which the phrase “solely to sexually arouse” does not appear) many if not all the explicit sex scenes in romance novels could be defined as porn.

    I did express incredulity over some claims by authors that their sex scenes are not written to titillate, because that would make them porn. I personally don’t write sex for the sole purpose of titillating the reader, but it is one of my goals (sometimes the main one) for any consensual sex scene I write.

    I think that (at least in the erotic romance genre) to write a sex scene only to serve the story and not to arouse the reader is just foolish and self-defeating. The only sex scenes that should not arouse the reader are those that do not arouse the characters.

    I also see a huge difference between “hating” to write sex scenes and finding them “hard to get right”. The one is self-punishment, the other a challenge. Although I can see perhaps Ann was exaggerating in the first case, and if that is the case, some of my incredulity is misplaced.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less if my writing gets a person off-if it does, I don’t want to know, thanks.

    I hope my writing gets a person off. Because, judging by my own *ahem* reading habits, well developed characters, an emotionally involving relationship and an engaging plot all contribute to the intensity of the experience when it’s time for that sex scene. The most well-written sex scene will fall flat for me if I don’t give a shit about the characters.

    As for the denotation/connotation debate, maybe it’s time someone lobbied the lexicographers to update the definition of pornography.

    I’m flipping back and forth between this and the romance book I’m reading. And yes, I feel free to call that porn too, since…”He grabbed [the other character’s] prick and squeezed. “Come back here, pretty baby. Sit up and ride my cock.”…can’t possibly do anything else but excite, if you happen to like gay romance. Oh hell yeah, I do.

    What book is that? Do tell…

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  • Nora: My problem is that I write GLBT stories so the Tab A is the same as in a het scene, but Slot B usually isn’t (and the erogenous zones are somewhat different too.) I know a lot of writers can toss off a scene (pun intended) in very little time but I do find them difficult for all kinds of reasons. Same as I find humour almost beyond me, but some of my friends can write terrifically funny stuff as easy as breathing.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    4:35 am

    I’m just going to re-recommend this really interesting outline of the debates around the definitions of pornography.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Here is a second definition. Pornography is sexually explicit material (verbal or pictorial) that is primarily designed to produce sexual arousal in viewers. This definition is better: it deals with the problem of anatomy textbooks and the like. Indeed, this definition is one that is frequently employed (or presupposed) in discussions of pornography and censorship. (See e.g., Williams 1981.) Of course, it is important to distinguish here between sexually explicit material that is wholly or primarily designed to produce sexual arousal (i.e., whose only or overriding aim is to produce sexual arousal) and material whose aim is to do this in order to make some other artistic or political point. The film, Last Tango in Paris arguably aims to arouse audiences, but this is not its primary aim. It does so in order to make a broader political point.

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  • Kirsten: I hate to write sex scenes because they’re hard for me to write. Is that so difficult to understand?

    ”He grabbed [the other character’s] prick and squeezed. “Come back here, pretty baby. Sit up and ride my cock.”…can’t possibly do anything else but excite, if you happen to like gay romance.

    I love gay romance and all that does is make me go “Jesus, what stupid dialogue.” It’s about as sexy as have a toothpick shoved up my nose. But then sadly that’s the standard of writing that’s acceptable in the gay genre, particularly with the less picky e-pubs, so I’m not surprised this is considered ‘sexy’ by some.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:38 am

    ~Robin, porn is defined as any depiction of a sexual act whose purpose is to sexually arouse.

    So medical textbooks, no, Viggo and Maria doing it in A History of Violence, yes.~

    I disagree. That scene was about so much more than sex or arousal. It was about anger, despair, violence, need, fear AND sex. It so deeply spoke about character, relationship and strongly moved the plot.

    If ANY scene that arouses equals porn, then the dance scene in Zorro–Bandaris and Zeta Jones–must qualify because it always starts my engines.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    4:42 am

    My intent, when writing, is to tell a good story that will pull an emotional response from the reader.

    Ok, I can accept that. I loved Tolkien’s LOTR series. I was absolutely emotionally involved in Frodo’s trip to dispose of the ring. Or Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

    However, I don’t see why a book can’t convey a loving, romantic relationship without including something like “He drove into her, felt her clamp around him, a wet, velvet vice, as she came. Still her hips pistoned, taking him in deeper, driving him brutally on.” (Gacked from Survivor in Death)

    What kind of emotional response do you think an average person would have to reading that?

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:45 am

    Kirsten, I have to say, honestly, that I don’t write a sex scene with the intent–or even the notion–of arousing the reader. The scene, like any, is about the characters, and my focus is solely on them. I want the scene to read true to them, emotionally and sexually.

    I certainly want the reader to be satisfied–ha–but I’m thinking more along storyline satisfaction than arousal

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  • I would agree with the view expressed in that excerpt, Robin. And though I do affectionately call some of what I write “porn”, I do so with those I know will take that label in the spirit in which it’s intended. To the JW woman who brews my wine for me, I hasten to assure I do not write porn, though it is explicit and racy and probably not what she’d enjoy reading.

    But I was arguing denotation and connotation. According to the generally accepted connotation of the word pornography, most romance would fall far short of the mark.

    As to the intention to arouse a sexual response versus an emotional one: since when is sex not emotional? I want the books I read to excite me, to evoke a deep response. Best feeling ever, being in tears, my stomach in knots over the tension between two characters, then they come together and I’m thrown into that perfect state of vicarious emotional/sexual bliss.

    I just kinda get annoyed when authors who write sex scenes, especially hot ones, act as if the last thing on their minds is to arouse (emotionally and sexually) the reader. If that’s true, most sex scenes could be “fade to black” and no one would care one way or the other.

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  • If ANY scene that arouses equals porn, then the dance scene in Zorro–Bandaris and Zeta Jones–must qualify because it always starts my engines.

    And that was probably the intent of the person who wrote it!

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:49 am

    Emmy, I would hope that out of context paragraph, as part of the whole story, when read with an understanding of the characters and their emotions would bring a strong emotional response from the reader–and they’d believe these two people not only sexually satisfied with each other, but wildly in love.

    A book can, and many certainly do, convey a loving relationship without including specific sexual scenes. But including them as part of a love story doesn’t make the story porn.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:50 am

    Seriously, Kirsten, because they writer intended to write a sexy scene–with a couple of gorgeous sexy actors–it’s porn?

    I just don’t think you mean that.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    4:51 am

    Yeah, what Kirsten just said, lolz. Incidentally, the m/m romance I’m reading is JL Langley’s Without Reservations. I’m catching up on my insanely full TBR list since I have a day off.

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  • Nora, what I’m saying is that it isn’t porn.

    I’m trying to get across that there IS NOTHING WRONG OR DIRTY OR TO BE ASHAMED OF in writing something that is meant to arouse the reader.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:55 am

    ~If that’s true, most sex scenes could be “fade to black” and no one would care one way or the other.~

    No, because the sex scene SHOWS what these people mean to each other, bring to each other–emotionally and sexually. It’s part of the journey of the romantic relationship.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    4:58 am

    Sorry, Kirsten, misunderstood. It’s difficult to keep up.

    I absolutely agree it’s not dirty, and nothing to be ashamed if to write something meant to arouse.

    I’m just saying not everyone who writes a good, solid sexy scene is doing so with that specific intent–and many certainly not with that sole intent.

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  • Kirsten,

    people keep telling you that they do not write scenes to arouse their readers sexually, but emotionally and while you equate these two things, they do not.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    5:01 am

    No, because the sex scene SHOWS what these people mean to each other, bring to each other–emotionally and sexually. It’s part of the journey of the romantic relationship

    Which goes back to the original question of ‘when did romance get reduced to sex?’ Uh..right then. This all seems to be a circular discussion, bringing us right back to where we started.

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  • I guess maybe I’m not getting my point across.

    I personally believe there is nothing wrong with sex–even gratuitous sex. There is nothing wrong with attempting to arouse a sexual response as well as an emotional one–indeed, that the two are largely interlinked. I think labels like “porn” are generally ridiculous when applied to what we write, as is the dictionary difinition of the word, which has not evolved with the times.

    I just get a bit annoyed when people (some of the very people who write in the sam egenre as I do) would call what I write porn (in a derogatory rather than an indulgent, affectionate sense) because one of my goals is to write a smokin’ hot scene. I’m proud of my “commando” rating from Madame Butterfly. I’m also proud of the fact she found my story emotionally fulfilling and the relationship tender and believable.

    I guess it just pisses me off that some authors would judge others because of the intent (real or imagined) behind a scene in a romance. I write to arouse the reader, both emotionally and sexually, and I’m not ashamed of it.

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  • And one more thing before I get back to writing (famous last words): I pity the person who does not relate sex with emotion.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:07 am

    ~Which goes back to the original question of ‘when did romance get reduced to sex?’~

    I don’t understand how you could interpret the answer that way. A Romance novel isn’t just a series of sex scenes–at least not the ones I write or the ones I enjoy reader. So they’re NOT reduced to sex, by any means. Sex is simply often a part of the story–the love story and developing relationship between the characters.

    You took a paragraph out of one of my books. Would you say the book was all about sex?

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    5:08 am

    Growly…then the question becomes is sexual arousal an emotion?

    If you accept emotion as “a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body”, then we’re right back to the whole porn thing. People are trying to elicit an emotional response, and arousal is one such emotional response that one could reasonably expect an emotionally involved reader to experience when reading a sexually explicit scene.

    Again with the circular discussion.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:11 am

    Kirsten, I agree–again–that sex (at least good sex) is emotional. I agree that writing to elicit both emotion and arousal in a reader is nothing to be ashamed of.

    But you can have sex without emotion, emotion without sex. I think a good Romance shows characters having both. I think we agree there, too.

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  • Nora, it’s not that I don’t agree with you. I’ve just come up against too much supercilious holier-than-thouism when it comes to romance authors who write to arouse, and those who are “better than that”. Perhaps I’ve encountered that attitude so often that I’m seeing it where it isn’t.

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  • And yeah, growly, I’d have to say sexual arousal is an emotion, same as anger or happiness.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:18 am

    So, if a love scene is written with the purpose of drawing an emotional reaction out of the reader, that makes it porn.

    Emmy, you’re going to need to write your own dictionary.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    5:21 am

    You took a paragraph out of one of my books. Would you say the book was all about sex?

    Nope. I’m saying that I would have liked it, and the rest of the series-all of which I unashamedly admit to having read- equally well without the gratuitous sex scenes.

    *amused sarcasm* People are subjectively trying to split hairs as to what constitutes porn or emotional response and I’m sticking with objective definitions out of the dictionary. I don’t have to write my own when Webster has done it so well for me. If you disagree with the definitions, petition them. So sorry for confusing the issue with logic. /amused sarcasm

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  • Kirsten,

    naturally sexual arousal is an emotion. I’m getting a bit frustrated here. And I’m not even a writer just a reader.

    I can see when a sex scene is gratuitous and it can still be hot and sexually arousing, but it will leave me cold emotionally.

    Does that clarify why I made a distinction between those two and why others have all over this thread?

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:25 am

    Kirsten, I don’t go along with the ‘better than that’. I think we all do what we do, and we have our own way of doing it.

    I know my own process. And the fact is, I don’t think about the reader when I write. Just don’t. I certainly want the reader to feel, to experience, to be involved with the characters when they get the book. But I’m not thinking of the reader reaction when I’m working. That’s just my process.

    I know myself. If I thought: Oh, this will make them cry or laugh, this will make them hot or piss them off, whatever, I’d go barking mad.

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  • But that’s just the thing, Nora, the dictionary is already written. And the fact that the dictionary makes no qualitative distinction between what I write and movies like Max Hardcore and the Adventures of Suzie Superslut is just stupid. That’s what enables detractors of the reomance genre to “accurately” label what we all write as porn, regardless of the connotation attached to the word.

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  • Growly, I would hope no sex scene I write would leave you cold emotionally. But sometimes sex is about sex. That doesn’t mean it isn’t about emotional closeness or trust or love. To me, sex is largely about those very things.

    Just because a sex scene is written primarily for the sake of the sex, does not make it meaningless.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:29 am

    I don’t feel any of the scenes in the series are gratuitous. You do. That’s your right as a reader.

    You have not stuck with dictionary definitions, or logic, however. You’ve shorted one definition, and used logic I certainly can’t follow, to try to make your point.

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  • I certainly want the reader to feel, to experience, to be involved with the characters when they get the book. But I’m not thinking of the reader reaction when I’m working. That’s just my process.

    I think about myself when I write. Is this making me cry, laugh, grin like an idiot, get hot? That’s why I could never write a hot scene that wasn’t intended to arouse–if it doesn’t arouse me, I’m doing something wrong. I have written sex that is not intended to arouse, but that’s another matter entirely.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    5:34 am

    But I was arguing denotation and connotation. According to the generally accepted connotation of the word pornography, most romance would fall far short of the mark.

    Kirsten, I *think* we’re on the same side of this argument (see my response to Emily Veinglory above, as well as my first general response in this thread). Although I’m getting completely confused about who is trying to say what anymore, so I might be wrong, lol.

    I do think that the whole concept of pornography is all twisty and complicated beyond the superficial use of the term, but I also think that Romance can be and is sexually arousing without it being coded as pornography, either in denotation or connotation. That it’s *primarily something more*, is what IMO distinguishes it from pornography. And I don’t find the idea that Romance can incorporate porn convincing, either, because the sexually arousing aspects of Romance are *part of* the something more, and to call them porn is to make the term (pornography) virtually meaningless, IMO.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    5:37 am

    Honestly, the only people who’ve claimed I write porn in year, YEARS, have been a couple of people on blogs who claimed ALL Romance is porn, but that was a good thing because they were all about ‘reclaiming’ the term.

    I disagree.

    I haven’t run into anyone labeling all Romance as porn in interviews, or among other writers, or readers.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    5:41 am

    Has anyone checked the OED definition of pornography? One of the problems with the run of the mill online dictionaries is that they sometimes differ from each other, so when we argue over them, we’re arguing over a definition that isn’t universal to begin with. I pretty much only trust the OED, but am too lazy to get into my account to check it.

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  • Robin, I don’t think it would matter how many definitions you came up with, some people would always pick out the bits that suit them and avoid awkward words like ‘intent’ which invalidate their argument.

    At this point, I wonder if a translator would be more use than a dictionary. I can’t believe the same thing can be said by so many different people in almost exactly the same words, and still ignored/creatively interpreted to mean the exact opposite.

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  • Robin, I have a hard time disagreeing with anything you say. Sometimes I have to wonder whether it’s because I really agree with you, or because your arguments are so coherent and well-presented, lol!

    I do think we’re mostly on the same side here. I believe the term pornography, as defined by Webster et al, is virtually if not wholly meaningless.

    But. But, but, but. Whenever these discussions arise, they descend into the inevitable, “Anyone who writes sex scenes intending to make the reader feel hot is a pornographer, and they’re just bringing down the whole genre and playing right into those litfic snobs’ hands!”

    I’m not saying romance=porn.

    I am saying, sex is fun, IRL and on the page. It’s fun to read and it’s fun to write, especially if you’re deeply emotionally involved with the characters. Sometimes I write a sex scene that could arguably be cut as unnecessary to the story. That does not mean it has no value. That does not mean it can’t engage the reader at an emotional level as well as a physical one.

    I would agree that emotionally uninvolving sex scenes are boring as hell. I would agree that in the context of romance, or even erotica, the sex can be *ahem* stimulating and tell you something about the characters, life in general, yourself.

    But mostly I’d just agree that everyone should just chill out a little.

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  • Ann, I’d offer my services, seeing as I’m a professionally trained translator with a graduate degree, but for a translation to work both sides must have the intent to understand each other. As you pointed out, that’s not the case here.

    I’ll end my contributions to this thread with a quote: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
    Some men you just can’t reach…”

    Substitute ‘women’ and voila, we have described Emmy.

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  • some people would always pick out the bits that suit them and avoid awkward words like ‘intent’ which invalidate their argument.

    Oh, I don’t avoid it. It is my intent to arouse the reader. It isn’t my sole intent, but the idea did cross my mind…

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  • I don’t know, growly, I think Emmy is perhaps being purposely obtuse to prove a larger point. Playing devil’s advocate, if you will? She does seem to enjoy it, much the same way I enjoy needling my boss until he throws his hands up in defeat.

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  • Sometimes I write a sex scene that could arguably be cut as unnecessary to the story. That does not mean it has no value.

    Maybe not, but with my amateur editor hat on, I’d have to say that’s not good writing. It’s also the thing the readers who tend to skip sex scenes because so many are gratuitous, find irritating.

    If you’re writing erotica, the sex scenes are integral to the overall effect for the reader. The sex is the plot, almost. But in a general romance (or fiction generally), if you can honestly say this or that scene offers nothing other than sex for the sake of it – it doesn’t advance the plot or characterisation or tension in some way – then including it just makes for a flabby read. It will just bring the story to a screeching halt while the characters have sex. We don’t tolerate that kind of pacing slow down or halt in movie making or television, so why is it acceptable in fiction? I don’t think it is.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    6:04 am

    Kirsten, as an aside, I think you do yourself and your work a disservice when–as you said upthread–you affectionally term it as porn or smut or dirty on occasion. Doing so, imo, plays into those–to which you say you object–who want to label all Romance as porn, or claim anyone who writes a sex scene in a book to arouse is a pornographer.

    I don’t agree with those labels and claims. But I think it makes it harder to argue against them when you use the term for your books.

    I haven’t read you, but from your comments here you talk of story and character and relationship as well as sex. That doesn’t say porn to me.

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  • that scene offers nothing other than sex for the sake of it – it doesn’t advance the plot or characterisation or tension in some way

    I’m saying that a scene can be “unnecessary”, and still be meaningful, whether it’s action, dialog or sex. That is, it advances the character development, the tension, etc, but that that advancement may not always be technically necessary to the outcome of the story. That’s why some authors offer cut scenes on their websites–because the scenes had meaning and value in the context of the story, but didn’t necessarily survive the constraints of word count or editorial dictate.

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    6:14 am

    Kirsten kinda proves my point by saying that authors depict explicit sex scenes to their books with the intent to arouse the reader, which, based on the definition posted above, would constitute porn. I can’t believe you can’t convey romance without adding any of the excerpts also posted above. I do believe most (not all) authors wouldn’t be able to sell their romances if they deleted said scenes.

    Feel free to disprove me by writing a book without sex scenes that makes it to a romance bestseller list.

    PS- she’s also correct in saying that I’m playing Devil’s advocate. I have already admitted to having a huge library, and own pretty much all the books of some of the people I’m arguing against, particularly Nora Roberts and Shiloh Walker. Porn or romance, their stuff is good.

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  • Nora, because my books are explicit in nature, and because my family and friends are supportive and understand the difference between erotic romance (or erotica) and filth, I have told them, “I write dirty (or trashy, or smutty) romance” or even “I write chick porn” in a tongue-in-cheek manner. But as I clarified further on, I would never describe my work in such terms to those I felt would take the label to heart. Having watched my share of porn, I perhaps don’t find the term itself as offensive as some do, and I would never go so far as to call what Ann or Shiloh write as porn, even though it may be as explicit as my own work.

    But that’s the thing. The word is weighed down with all these implied values that have nothing to do with its dictionary definition– a definition which is, in my opinion, rather innocuous. And I’m not remotely as offended by an outsider to the genre labeling all romance as porn, as by some sanctimonious members of the romance reading and writing community who would call what I (or Ann or Shiloh) write porn, because we have sexually explicit scenes in our books which may or may not be written in part to arouse the reader.

    And I think it is a little disingenuous (in erotic romance) to claim that very arousal is the last thing on an author’s mind. Why write erotic, then?

    “Oh, well, I write explicit scenes, but I’m not actually attempting to titillate anyone so that makes it okay. That other author, she writes teh pr0n!” That just looks to me like authors making excuses or apologizing for something they have no need to be ashamed of in the first place. I just want to ask, one more time, WTF is wrong with wanting to read or write material that arouses sexually as well as emotionally?

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  • Robin
    May 9
    6:24 am

    Whenever these discussions arise, they descend into the inevitable, “Anyone who writes sex scenes intending to make the reader feel hot is a pornographer, and they’re just bringing down the whole genre and playing right into those litfic snobs’ hands!”

    I haven’t seen this argument being made in this discussion, although maybe someone has said this and I missed it.

    My own evaluation of the RT situation (which started all this) is pretty basic: it appears that the conference has become infused with a sexually saturated atmosphere that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Romance fiction, but is still being sold as a Romance event. And some stuff has been going on in that environment that a) isn’t inevitable in a sexually overt environment, and b) isn’t related to Romance at all. So it looks like a bait and switch to begin with, and then something beyond that in terms of the aggressive and inappropriate behavior (the flogging, the non-consensual groping).

    And within all the behaviors that aren’t really connected to Romance fiction, there are some that are just plain inappropriate and some that are inappropriate in public in a hotel at a Romance conference. And so it is difficult not to have some negative connotations associated with the environment at RT because it seems to have spilled over to an inappropriate venue (regardless of how legitimate the behavior outside of a hotel lobby or bar during a Romance conference) and to inappropriate behavior (non-mutual groping and fondling). The porn association has become a convenient shorthand because, I think, because in the same way Romance points out its distinctions from porn, those who aren’t thrilled with the direction of the RT Romance conference are trying to explain their point by relying on those same distinctions.

    So it’s not so much about what porn is, only that it is distinct from Romance fiction, just as the kind of environment that seems to dominate RT is now, in the view of some people, distinct from Romance fiction (as represented at a Romance reader and author conference).

    To reduce it way down, in the same way that Romance isn’t supposed to inspire rape, a Romance conference isn’t supposed to inspire sexual aggression or harassment.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    6:33 am

    One more thing: I don’t think the porn connotation is inherently negative, and I also don’t think that the sexually aggressive behavior described at RT is inherent to porn, either. But because there are negative associations connected to pornography (especially because, as I said above, it encompasses material that is illegal and potentially designated as obscene and outside First Amendment protections), it has become a convenient shorthand. IMO the response to that isn’t to “reclaim” the term porn, because I don’t think it’s a particularly helpful or specifically descriptive term to begin with, and also because the whole point, again, is to distinguish what’s happening at RT from the erotic content of Romance fiction, whether it be extremely explicit or merely hinted at.

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  • I think it was Ann who kinda made the comment that really rankled me, although I could tell she was angry at the time. Emily said something that irked her, something along the lines of “According to the dictionary definition of porn, we pretty much all write it, but since the dictionary definition is so far-reaching and innocuous, who the heck cares enough to be bothered by it?”

    I just get annoyed when authors say “yeah, I write the graphic sex, but I’m not actually trying to get anyone hot in their pants over it. It isn’t porn, for heaven’s sake!” Because that implies that everything I write is, well, the equivalent of Max Hardcore and his lovely lady Suzie Superslut. That implies that there is something intrinsically wrong or evil or immoral in sex scenes. And I think that apologist attitude can be just as harmful to the genre as anything else.

    I write hot scenes to get people hot–first me, then hopefully the reader. It isn’t my only goal, but it is there in the back (or front) of my head as I’m writing. If that makes me a pornographer, then so be it.

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  • I joke among friends that I write “trashy romance” because c’mon, when you’re up against the snooty “Literati” crowd, you’ve got to have a sense of humor in this industry. However, you would never see that claim in my tagline or a query letter!

    I certainly want the reader to be satisfied–ha–but I’m thinking more along storyline satisfaction than arousal

    Nora, I get turned on just reading Roarke’s name. Consider me titillated and aroused by your proficient skills at character development. ;)

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  • whatever
    May 9
    8:05 am

    The two things that some here seem to be ignoring (and even when playing Devil’s Advocate, you can’t just ignore the points that work against your arguments) are the following. [And though they have already been made by some of the ladies above (much more eloquently than I am likely to make them), I’m including them again since a couple of you seem to be so vigorously ignoring them.]

    1. You cannot parse the definition of a word in order for it to fit your own personal purposes and then expect people to take you seriously. The 3 dictionaries that I referenced all include the creator’s intent portion of the definition.

    2. You cannot parse the work in determining the creator’s intent in order to make it fit within the definition. The definition applies to THE WORK, not a portion of the work. So even if every single romance author’s sole intent in writing every single sex scene they’ve ever written was to arouse every single one of their readers, that is NOT the overall intent of the WORK and therefore the WORK does not fit within the definition of pornography.

    And you can argue these two points as much as you’d like, but your arguments will simply continue to be without logic or reason.

    See now, this is why I no longer read these blogs and posts!! I get all annoyed at the lack of logic and reason in those who are posting just to get a rise out of people and I break down and post myself. A friend MADE me read this thread, but now that I’ve posted, I am finished!!

    And I’m sure you’re all quite glad about that… :)

    -we

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  • Geez, Azteclady, see what you started?

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    9:18 am

    I am, apparently, entirely too subtle for the average bear. I thought the entire subject of porn vs romance was silly and one side was never going to get the other to agree, and successfully illustrated that with my remarks.

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t have commented at all, had not portions of equally subtly sarcastic remarks made at Dear Author not been posted here and taken out of context and misinterpreted. What I actually said was this:

    ~” Romance is not ever porn”~

    Hate it when people make sweeping generalizations. What is romance? Does porn have to be two strangers oofing in a one night stand? Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?

    I personally prefer to not read an explicit description of Tab A going into Slot B, but I don’t see why it couldnt be romantic too.

    Re: the whole ‘if you know what happens at the con and you don’t like it, dont come’…why not rent a suite and have the hookers and strippers perform there for the delectation of whomever might be interested rather than the common area everyone has to share? You can make it official and turn it into a workshop. Groping/Flogging/Lap Dancing 101: Ur Doin it Wrong.

    ~”…why do we have to have half-naked men involved at all? They’re on the covers…I think if we just got rid of the half-naked men period the romance genre would be taken a lot more seriously and garner a lot more respect.”~

    I agree. We should have full on nekkid men. I have yet to read a ‘romance’ book that didn’t include nekkid manflesh- either stated or inferred. Why stop at mantitty? Show the rest too, dang it.

    Seriously, what do you want on the cover? A plain piece of construction paper with the title and author?? They make those too, yanno, for peepo who wanna cover up the fact that they reading romance on the bus or train. Sex, as the cliche goes, sells. If people didnt wanna see or read about smexing, there wouldnt be this whole industry out there. The only way to get the romance industry more respect is to take the romance- and any overt/covert sexual references- out of it.

    I thought it was obvious that I was being flippant. For the record, I don’t actually want to see nekkid mens on covers. Book covers, that is. Nor do I really think RT should employ prostitutes to give private flogging lessons. Lighten up, people. Life really is entirely too short to let comments on a frickin blog mess up your universe. Promise. Thanks to everyone who amused me today.

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  • That implies that there is something intrinsically wrong or evil or immoral in sex scenes.

    It would be so helpful if people would stop talking about individual *scenes* in books, which may indeed be ‘hot’ or arousing or whatever (I may have written one or two myself but it’s not my strong point) and talk about whole *stories*. I get angry that anyone would call any story of mine ‘porn’ because there’s sex in it (it’s particularly a problem for writers of GLBT romance because we’re already fighting a perception that anything with teh gay in it must automatically be unsuitable for children.) I keep banging on the *intent* but I’m talking about the entire story.

    No, I am not writing fiction to make my readers happy in their pants. Some parts of my stories may do that, but when a reader assesses anything I write by the amount and type of sex in it (and they do), I feel really quite offended that they decided to focus on the 1-5% of the text which may be sexual, and ignore the rest of the carefully crafted plot, dialogue and characterisation. But just because some readers do that, because that’s all they really want from a ‘romance’, doesn’t make my writing porn.

    I don’t believe for a minute “there is something intrinsically wrong or evil or immoral in sex scenes”. But I do believe some stories have no other purpose than to act as a vehicle for such scenes, and I would call those pornography. If a story has more substance, then it may be erotica or it might be romance.

    Emmy – you can’t be a devil’s advocate and joking at the same time. No, it’s not obvious you were being flippant (and I don’t believe you were at the time) and I still take issue with the same statement I took issue with over at DA. If you *were* posting all these comments to wind people up and amuse yourself, we Aussies have a technical name for you, and that’s ‘shit stirrer’.

    But see, I was only saying that to amuse you, so you don’t have to pay any attention to it.

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  • Wow.

    Emmy, you were first being flippant over at DA and now you were just playing Devil’s advocate? Gee.

    Next time, do the rest of us a couple of favors and (a) make sure you are clear on that. You could even use you “amused sarcasm” tags if it makes you happy. (b) Make sure your logic is the one accepted by most of society–you are more likely to “win” (which seems to be your main aim from where I am reading) in the eyes of those arguing with you, if you actually make sense to them.

    kirsten, I would apologize for starting this except I didn’t intend to start anything. I was, and still am, puzzled by the unqualified use of the word porn–with all the negative connotations it already has for wider society–to refer to all romance.

    Further, I have been amazed at the individuals who seem to say–of course, I may be misunderstanding them, and if that is the case, what follows is moot–who seem to say, “Since erotic romance has explicit sex, and this is a convention for readers of erotic romance as much as for readers of any other subgenre of romance, then it’s okay to be graphic and explicit (in a sexual manner) with our behaviour and language in all venues within the convention, and those who don’t like it are prudes, hypocrites, and free to never darken our convention again”

    If that is what these individuals are saying, and if that is okay with the people who organize and sponsor RT, then perhaps it would behoove the latter make sure everyone around the con–from attendees to hotel staff to other guests at the hotel–are made aware of this.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    1:31 pm

    Emmy, all you successfully illustrated with your remarks was that you would amend definitions, ignore examples and other well-constructed arguments or opinions to try to make a point. Which you now say was based on silliness.

    And did so for your own amusement, apparently.

    I think you underestimate the power of blogs, and of perception. Those of us who’ve built a career writing Romance actually care about the issues under discussion. Many readers care as well.

    So on DA you say: “Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?”

    And on this blog you claim: “However, I don’t see why a book can’t convey a loving, romantic relationship without including something like “He drove into her, felt her clamp around him, a wet, velvet vice, as she came. Still her hips pistoned, taking him in deeper, driving him brutally on.” (Gacked from Survivor in Death)”

    I don’t see you as being too subtle to be understood. I see you as contridicting yourself.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    1:35 pm

    ~I just want to ask, one more time, WTF is wrong with wanting to read or write material that arouses sexually as well as emotionally?~

    Absolutely nothing. I hope my responses didn’t indicate I felt there was.

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  • Good grief. Get some shut-eye and looks what happens.

    Do none of you sleep? :-O

    Personally, I couldn’t care less if my writing gets a person off-if it does, I don’t want to know, thanks.

    I hope my writing gets a person off. Because, judging by my own *ahem* reading habits, well developed characters, an emotionally involving relationship and an engaging plot all contribute to the intensity of the experience when it’s time for that sex scene. The most well-written sex scene will fall flat for me if I don’t give a shit about the characters.

    Kirsten, I think we’re at cross-purposes here.

    Nothing is wrong with wanting to write a well-written, sexy scene that elicits a strong emotional response. But I don’t just want MY writing to serve as the grown-ups version of the JC Penney lingerie section for some ‘personal stress relief’ time.

    If people use it as such, hey…fine. I don’t want to know about it, but I could care less. That’s not my intention. My intention is to tell the story as it plays out in my head.

    Some of those stories have some seriously hot sex. Some, not so much. But I’m writing the story as I see it-I’m not going focus on the sex scenes any more than I focus on any other part of the story, because they are all equally important.

    That’s me.

    If others want to use their sex scenes to add more heat, to get the reader off, that’s fine- if there’s focus on the emotion as well as the sex, then I wouldn’t have any issue calling it a romance.

    The thing most of us are getting at, though, from what I can tell, is that because a book has sex, that’s make it porn. That’s the message Emmy is handing out. It’s one many romance writers are going to take offense to.

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  • I thought it was obvious that I was being flippant. For the record, I don’t actually want to see nekkid mens on covers. Book covers, that is. Nor do I really think RT should employ prostitutes to give private flogging lessons. Lighten up, people. Life really is entirely too short to let comments on a frickin blog mess up your universe. Promise. Thanks to everyone who amused me today.

    Geez, Emmy, there’s that disrespect thing again.

    The implication here is that because you don’t see why people are irritated/upset/disgusted/whatever, that makes them a bunch of frickin morons and why does it matter if you go poking at them for not seeing whatever your point was?

    That’s the message you’re handing out. We see things from a different angle, but since you can’t make people see things from your point of view, instead of just shrugging, letting people have their point of view, respect it even if you don’t understand it, you laugh.

    Totally your call, there.

    But I’m also getting the impression that you’re irritated nobody sees your point of view-which makes me think that maybe you want others to respect your point of view, even they don’t agree.

    Since you made it very clear that you don’t respect the point of view of others, why should they respect yours?

    You’re on a blog here that’s pretty well known for discussing things. Sometimes down the nitty-gritty, miniscule details-it’s part of why a lot of us comment here. We like that interaction, even when we don’t necessarily agree with the opposing point of view.

    If you don’t want your comments dissected down to that level, or if you don’t see the point of such discussions, why are you participating? Seriously, I just don’t understand it.

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  • So on DA you say: “Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?”

    And on this blog you claim: “However, I don’t see why a book can’t convey a loving, romantic relationship without including something like “He drove into her, felt her clamp around him, a wet, velvet vice, as she came. Still her hips pistoned, taking him in deeper, driving him brutally on.” (Gacked from Survivor in Death)”

    I think I do get Emmy’s point, because it’s largely my point. She’s basically saying a lot of the graphicness of sex in romances could be construed as gratuitous. But what’s wrong with that? Just because it isn’t necessary to have the level of *ahem* anatomical detail in a sex scene to make it emotionally satisfying, that doesn’t mean hot, graphic, gratuitous sex scenes are bad.

    There really is nothing wrong with hot monkey sex in a romance, even if it isn’t entirely vital to the story. And no one can convince me that the level of detail in every sex scene in every romance is 100% necessary to the story.

    Good grief. Get some shut-eye and looks what happens.

    Do none of you sleep? :-O

    Sheesh, Shiloh, not everyone lives on the east coast. The party shut down before midnight over this way. I was awfully disappointed.

    The thing most of us are getting at, though, from what I can tell, is that because a book has sex, that’s make it porn. That’s the message Emmy is handing out. It’s one many romance writers are going to take offense to.

    I don’t hink Emmy (or even Emily, necessarily) is calling romance porn. I think they’re kind of saying the definition of porn is so broad and so innocuous, it’s wouldn’t be such a bad thing, even if romance was porn. Because in the most broad sense of the term, commercials for Axe body spray qualify. So would that dance scene between Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Banderas.

    Perhaps I’m getting Emmy’s point more than others here because I, deep down, am a shit-disturber, too. Mostly I’ve heard her say she loves both Nora’s and Shiloh’s books, and even if they were porn, she’d still like them. I just don’t see much wrong with that.

    If her debating style is provocative, well, I’m often guilty of that, too. We can’t all be Robin. Who I still haven’t been able to ever find a way to disagree with–if anyone can help me there, please let me know!

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  • Emmy
    May 9
    5:47 pm

    I was debating two separate points, solely for the sake of debating them. I’m weird like that.

    On DA, the question was can explicit sex be romantic. I chose the stance that it could.

    On this blog, people suggested they included sex scenes in their books to show romantic relationship, and I took the opposing view that one could convey a romantic relationship without having to detail the actual thrusting and velvet vices.

    I enjoy discussing things for their own sake, and don’t actually have a dog in the fight either which way. Yes, it amuses me when people get incredibly self righteous and try to bring the hammer down on anyone who dares oppose the popular viewpoint. It temps me to argue the other side.

    As Kirsten pointed out (you *get* me! I ? u), I readily admitted that I enjoy books in general-to include romance- and have purchased the majority of the books several of the authors I was debating against have published. I didn’t disrespect anyone or call people names…largely because I didn’t actually disagree with anyone’s point in the first place. I simply presented different, unpopular views.

    At the end of my day (yeah, its finally my bedtime), I couldn’t care less what you call the books I read. I’m still going to read them, and enjoy them every bit as much. Or not. Read alot of sucky ones lately, lol.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    5:52 pm

    I think I do get Emmy’s point, because it’s largely my point. She’s basically saying a lot of the graphicness of sex in romances could be construed as gratuitous. But what’s wrong with that? Just because it isn’t necessary to have the level of *ahem* anatomical detail in a sex scene to make it emotionally satisfying, that doesn’t mean hot, graphic, gratuitous sex scenes are bad.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, but it still doesn’t make Romance the equivalent of pornography. I see the argument made here to be just as defensive as the one it is supposed to be refuting. And neither of them, IMO, have anything to do with pornography.

    The etymology of pornography is that of writing about the sexual activities of prostitutes, with the pornographer as the writer. Which, when I think about it, makes me understand better why so many people have been using it in reference to the antics at RT. NOT that these beefcake guys were prostitutes (and, of course, the non-mutual groping, flogging, animal torture stories, etc. are something else again), just that there seems to be the perception of selling sex as the dominating focus of the conference.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    5:56 pm

    On DA, the question was can explicit sex be romantic. I chose the stance that it could.

    I didn’t see anyone seriously arguing that it couldn’t be. But again, I don’t think this necessarily implicates pornography at all.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    6:10 pm

    I consider ‘gratuitous’ not called for by the circumstaces. And so does Webster’s.

    The level of sexuality and description in a love scene, or the scene at all, is not gratiutious if it serves a purpose. Shows character, moves plot, meets reader expectation (even should that expectation be for the hot).

    The circumstances called for in many, many Romance novels is for the writer to show the relationship, including the physicality of the relationship.

    If a mystery novel shows a murder, in detail, it’s not gratiuitous violence if it, again, shows character, moves plot, etc. Why would a sex scene in a Romance be considered so?

    ~I think they’re kind of saying the definition of porn is so broad and so innocuous, it’s wouldn’t be such a bad thing, even if romance was porn. Because in the most broad sense of the term, commercials for Axe body spray qualify. So would that dance scene between Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Banderas. ~

    I guess I so completely disagree with this that I just can’t get the point. I simply don’t share the opinion that the broad–and perhaps even dated–definition of pornography cited would equate the examples given as porn.

    And yeah, I am offended when someone attempts to label my books, or the entire genre, as such.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    6:30 pm

    If a mystery novel shows a murder, in detail, it’s not gratiuitous violence if it, again, shows character, moves plot, etc. Why would a sex scene in a Romance be considered so?

    I have read way more than a handful of Romances that feature sex scenes that IMO as a reader are gratuitous. That doesn’t mean the author didn’t have a certain intent in including them, yet to me they’re superfluous. But not even with these books would I say that they aren’t Romance if as a whole they fit the formal definition of a Romance. Because that’s about me as a reader and how I perceive a scene. Now, if an author intends to write a work of pornography, and it doesn’t fit the formal definition of a Romance, yet the author tries to sell it as a Romance, that’s different, IMO.

    But even in Romance, I don’t think that every single sex scene has to be some emotional revelation or crucial plotting device to be perfectly okay. Because it’s not about one scene or a sentence or even a handful of scenes; it’s about the whole work, the “material” that is the novel.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    7:40 pm

    ~But even in Romance, I don’t think that every single sex scene has to be some emotional revelation or crucial plotting device to be perfectly okay. Because it’s not about one scene or a sentence or even a handful of scenes; it’s about the whole work, the “material” that is the novel.~

    Robin, I agree with all of that.

    I guess what I’m saying is I don’t define a scene as gratuitous (finally got the ‘u’ in the right place!) when it has something to say. It doesn’t have to be a revelation, doesn’t have to be crucial. It just has to speak to character–even if it’s just those characters enjoying jungle sex.

    But if the reader’s reaction is: God, they’re having jungle sex AGAIN, that reader is going to see that scene as gratuitous, whether or not the writer intended it to be. Another reader might say: Hot dog, they’re having jungle sex again, and be just fine with it.

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  • I didn’t see anyone seriously arguing that it couldn’t be. But again, I don’t think this necessarily implicates pornography at all.

    Allow me to explain with an example from this thread.

    I also know that I don’t write a book, or a scene ‘intending to cause sexual excitement’. I write every scene to further story and character, and relationship.

    So I don’t write porn.

    Much as I hate to hold anything Nora says against her, it’s very easy to conclude from this statement that she believes writing a scene with an intent “to cause sexual excitement’ is the equivalent of writing porn. Since almost all the sex scenes I write have as one of their many goals the intent to cause sexual excitement, that statement kinda got my back up.

    I wouldn’t have been annoyed if she’d used the word porn in an indulgent way–as I sometimes do–or in an ambivalent way–as Emily does. But the tone was “porn=eeew, trash, yuck”. Viewed in this way, it would be hard for someone like me not to feel insulted.

    I guess I so completely disagree with this that I just can’t get the point. I simply don’t share the opinion that the broad–and perhaps even dated–definition of pornography cited would equate the examples given as porn.

    “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction”

    I would agree, it is a very dated definition that has not caught up with the generally accepted connotations applied to the word.

    I have read way more than a handful of Romances that feature sex scenes that IMO as a reader are gratuitous. That doesn’t mean the author didn’t have a certain intent in including them, yet to me they’re superfluous.

    Again, I think we’re talking connotation. When I say gratuitous, I’m not implying there’s anything bad or undesireable about a scene. What I mean is, the level of detail is “not always entirely necessary” to convey what the author is trying to convey. I would apply this to a lot of writing, not just sex, but description of scenery, action, dialog, even a grisly murder scene. There are other ways to convey mood and grab a reader’s emotions than to get into minute detail. I, personally, love minute detail when it’s done well. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily necessary, lol!

    But even in Romance, I don’t think that every single sex scene has to be some emotional revelation or crucial plotting device to be perfectly okay.

    There you go, Robin, saying what I wanted to say in a much more succinct and coherent fashion. You really need to give me lessons!

    And I would like to add, in Emmy’s defense, that she had an opportunity on this thread to really embarrass someone, and she didn’t take it. And no, I’m not going to, either. Those who noticed will know what I’m talking about.

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  • in Emmy’s defense, that she had an opportunity on this thread to really embarrass someone, and she didn’t take it. And no, I’m not going to, either. Those who noticed will know what I’m talking about

    Oooh, now I’m curious.

    I suspect, like the racism in publishing discussions, the porn v erotica debate will go on and on.

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  • Oooh, now I’m curious.

    Do your worst! I’ll never talk!

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  • Robin
    May 9
    8:02 pm

    I think what NR is saying is that she doesn’t write sex scenes *merely because she wants to arouse the reader*. That doesn’t mean they aren’t sexually arousing (depending on the reader, of course), just that her sole or primary intent isn’t to write them as arousal aids. Because she’s working off the definition of pornography that its primary or singular intent is to cause arousal (and I think you could argue persuasively that the unqualified “intent” in the definition cited here means that it stands alone as either primary or sole — it doesn’t say, “partial intent” or “one of the intents,” for example). So she’s not equating sexual arousal as something bad; she’s just saying that since she goes into the construction of a sex scene focused on her book as a whole — on a Romance novel — it’s not, by definition, pornographic.

    Which also doesn’t mean that someone who writes a sex scene partially wanting or hoping to arouse the reader is writing pornography, either. If they are writing it as a part of a work that is not intended to be pornographic, then the larger intent is what controls, IMO. I mean, this is how we legally distinguish the provocative from the obscene, because otherwise you could call anything sexually provocative obscene, right? Like some people do with Romance, especially erotic Romance.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    8:05 pm

    OT: am I the only one for whom this site loads like 99% instantly and 1% delayed, allowing me to start commenting, but then throwing me out of the thread when that last 1% loads (I think it’s something on the sidebar). Sometimes I get thrown totally out of the thread, sometimes only to the top of the original post.

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  • You know, Karen, the more I think about it, the more I realize: It would not insult me for Emily to call what I write porn, because I know she defines the word as something that can have value, and not something to be ashamed of.

    It does insult me when people call my work porn if they define the word to mean filthy garbage that ought to be outlawed, get it away from me, ick, yuck, nasty.

    For me, it really is less about the word itself and more about the intent behind the label.

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  • But that’s just it, Robin. The dictionary doesn’t make any distinction between “intent” and “primary or sole intent”. That is, the intent being there is enough to apply the label.

    Likewise, Nora did not make any distinction between the two, at least not until later in the thread, which made me feel much better. I only brought it up as an example to illustrate a point. As authors, we should be aware that the words we leave out can often be as powerful as those we include.

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  • Robin
    May 9
    8:43 pm

    The dictionary doesn’t make any distinction between “intent” and “primary or sole intent”. That is, the intent being there is enough to apply the label.

    I think we’re just reading this in opposite ways. I read it that because intent stands alone there, it stands alone in evaluating the work in question. As in ‘the intent is sexual arousal’ rather than ‘the intent is sexual arousal, character growth, plot coherence, and emotional bonding, etc.’ I’m also factoring in the etymology here, too, though.

    Same with the connotation issue. To me, because the term pornography has negative associations for some people, why use it to describe Romance fiction when you’ve got a word like “erotic,” for example? That’s a word that just sounds like a turn-on all by itself, lol. Under the best circumstances, the word pornography strikes me as an attempt to be provocative, to pull someone’s chain or imply prudery, when it’s used in tandem with Romance, especially erotic Romance (that is when it’s not being hurled as an insult). I mean, if people really think what they’re writing is pornography, and see that as meaningful and positive, then market the work that way.

    And FWIW, Im not fully convinced that the SB’s have successfully reclaimed either “bitch” or “trashy” either.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    8:44 pm

    Kirsten, you misunderstood me, and obviously I wasn’t clear or detailed enough in my post. I was, I think, responding to if it’s this, it’s porn kind of thing.

    I certainly didn’t mean–and really don’t think my tone said: Porn–eeww or yuck. Just that I didn’t write it.

    I guess I assumed ‘only’ intent was understood–because that’s what *I* understood–and shouldn’t have assumed that.

    Frankly, I think you’re overly defensive here, and projecting what others might have said to you onto some of the things said here.

    I will absolutely cop to neglecting to say ‘sole intent’, but will not cop to posting with the tone of porn bad, porn nasty.

    And personally, I absolutely think porn can have value–esp good porn. But I don’t write it. And I don’t like being told by someone else that I do.

    I’ve had some people tell me I write Women’s Fiction (mostly because they don’t want to use the R word), and that annoys me, too. Because I don’t write Women’s Fiction.

    ~It does insult me when people call my work porn if they define the word to mean filthy garbage that ought to be outlawed, get it away from me, ick, yuck, nasty.~

    I can’t, just can’t read this whole thread again, but I can’t remember anyone saying this. I know damn well I didn’t.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    8:50 pm

    ~Under the best circumstances, the word pornography strikes me as an attempt to be provocative, to pull someone’s chain or imply prudery, when it’s used in tandem with Romance, especially erotic Romance (that is when it’s not being hurled as an insult).~

    Exactly so. In my experience the vast majority who want to say Romance is porn are trying to rile you up, or provoke. Disagree, and they’ll often say you’re elitist or prudish.

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  • Frankly, I think you’re overly defensive here, and projecting what others might have said to you onto some of the things said here.

    Nora, it’s not that I don’t agree with you. I’ve just come up against too much supercilious holier-than-thouism when it comes to romance authors who write to arouse, and those who are “better than that”. Perhaps I’ve encountered that attitude so often that I’m seeing it where it isn’t.

    Yeah, I did admit that earlier, lol!

    I will absolutely cop to neglecting to say ’sole intent’, but will not cop to posting with the tone of porn bad, porn nasty.

    No, you didn’t, you’re right, but your comment did come on the heels of others that did, and when that’s the case it’s easy to see criticism and judgment everywhere, even where it isn’t.

    From Emily: The use of the term ‘pornography’ to be purely insulting seems to be embedded in the idea sexually explicit fiction is shameful and unbecoming a romance writer or reader.

    From Ann: It’s not becoming to anyone. Why would you willingly associated serious erotic writing with an exploitative and nasty industry, when there’s absolutely no need to?

    As I said, Nora, you did clarify later, and I did feel much better, and wasn’t hugely hurt by your initial comment. To tell the truth, I told myself the same things you just said and made myself fill in that glaring blank–but I did have an initial reaction to it that kinda stung.

    And personally, I absolutely think porn can have value–esp good porn.

    That’s a very refreshing attitude. :)

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 9
    9:10 pm

    Kristen–and others–I think this is something you’ll appreciate.

    A zillion years ago, I helped out at my sons’ elementary school spaghetti supper. I was behind the counter dishing up sauce for the attendees–parents, grandparents, kids.

    My first book–a Silhouette Romance–had just come out.

    So, there I am, ladeling sauce, when one of the mothers says to her husband, this is the writer I was telling you about. Dan’s and Jason’s mom.

    He looks over at me, cocks his head and says–right there in front of all the other helpers, all the other people in line: Oh, so you’re the one who writes the pornography.

    Jesus. I mean Jesus! A Silhouette Romance to begin with, and an elementary school spaghetti supper to end with. What a fuckhead.

    All I did was dump the sauce on his pasta–counter was too wide to dump it down his pants–and say: No, I’m not.

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  • d
    May 9
    9:18 pm

    Ann: How about your lasted Samhain release? Why the explicit sex there? If you hate to write it, that is.

    Is it okay to say romance is my porn? Or will that just bring the legitimacy of all romance down?

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  • Too freaking funny!

    Some people really are dumbasses.

    ETA: I’m referring to Nora’s comment, although d’s is kinda making me giggle, too.

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  • D: You’re either trolling or just being an idiot. I have said *numerous* times that sex in a story, particularly a romance, is often necessary. In Interstitial since it drives the entire character conflict between the two male leads, well, yeah, it’s kinda necessary. And yes, writing that scene was a pain in the arse, no pun intended. Can you not wrap your mind around the concept of someone not liking to do something but doing it because it serves an ultimate goal which they want? Like an athlete doing hard practice before the Olympics?

    If you want to treat Romance as porn, you go right ahead, dear.

    ‘Interstitial’, for your information, was turned down by a publisher for not having *enough* sex in it. If all I wanted was to publish it, I could have chucked more smut into it.

    If you really want to go at me, how about not trolling me over a review copy, and reading something already freely available, like Time Out? That’s widely recommended as stroke fic, even though that’s not why I wrote it. Or you can paddle me for Remastering Jerna when it’s rereleased. Interstitial is practically G-rated compared to them. If you’re only going to judge a story by sexual content, man, you could be amused for hours.

    Only, it would mean you’d have to actually learn to read and not just do a search for naughty words. Good luck with that.

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  • Kirsten: I’m not the only person in these discussions who thinks porn has negative connotations. If you want to claim it as something positive, go for it. I *don’t* have positive associations with the word, and while there may be individuals involved in the industry who see it as empowering, there are many who are being exploited and abused within it.(I’m talking about the visual product here.) I do use the word as a joke, mainly because my writing is pretty notorious for the low sex:text ratio. But I would never seriously use it for the same reasons as Shiloh said she wouldn’t.

    The more people in these dicussions are determined to claim all sexual content is porn, the more I’m going to dig my heels in and say bollocks to that. It seems to me the people who want to ‘claim’ the word for romance are actually defensive about the fact they read stories with sex scenes, and want to be able to say ‘oh well, everyone is reading porn, there’s nothing wrong with me’ when the only people who think there’s anything wrong with it is *them*.

    Have the courage to say, ‘yes this contains hot monkey sex, and no it’s not porn’ – defend what you read as proper writing and not something to be ashamed of, rather than slapping an inappropriate label on it. Actual pornographic writing is a genre all of its own, and unlike visual porn, exploits no one. Why conflate it with other genres for no reason?

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  • d
    May 9
    10:33 pm

    Mostly trolling. It amuse me to see just how pompous you really can be.

    Thanks for the free read offer, but I’m going to have to respectfully refuse. I am just now getting past picture-board books, but I tend not to read authors that don’t annoy me.

    Is it wrong for James Lear (_The Back Passage_) to call his work porn? Though that wasn’t pure romance, so maybe it’s okay for him?

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  • Ah, an idiot with a grudge. One wonders, if I annoy you so much, how you got an advance copy of Interstitial and why you even bothered to read any part of it, but it makes me deliriously happy to know you won’t be reading any more of my writing. Please don’t. I absolutely hate it when morons get it all mucky.

    James Lear can call his stuff whatever he wants. You don’t get to call *my* writing porn. And if that’s too pompous for you, too fucking bad. Now back under your bridge.

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  • *sigh* just *sigh*

    I only really entered into this discussion when authors started claiming that sexual arousal was the last thing on their mind (or not on their mind at all) when writing sex scenes. That’s like saying you only drink beer for the taste. Okay, maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who genuinely like the taste of beer, and for them, there are lots of non-alcoholic choices available now. I think the fact that most still go for the old 5 % brew is telling.

    I also think it’s silly for someone who writes what you write (judging by your website and your Samhain blurb) to say writing sexually explicit fiction is unbecoming to anyone. If you don’t think you said that, I’d invite you to go back and read it again.

    Personally, I think porn is a very broad term. Like “food” can mean bread and water, stuff the homeless find in dumpsters, greasy burgers, beef tenderloin or truffles. Like I’ve said before, whether I find the word itself insulting or not lies in the intent (ha! intent, again) of the person using it.

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  • And Ann, why are you assuming d has read Interstitial? It says right on the blurb that it contains explicit sex.

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  • Kirsten: Silly me, I assumed if someone was going to make assumptions about the content of a story, they would have read the story. Only confirms to me that she’s a tool.

    “If you don’t think you said that, I’d invite you to go back and read it again.” Yes, I did say that, and I now very belatedly realise that my poor wording could have lead to misunderstandings (I apologise to you or anyone who was insulted because of that,) though I would say in my defence it’s very obvious from the rest of the comment, (and subsequent remarks) I was referring to people calling sexual writing porn.

    But since you want this spelled out again, let me say this. Writing and reading sexual content isn’t shameful, wrong or demeaning. Telling any author who includes sexual content in their writing that they write porn, is. If an author wants to label their work that way, fine, but I consider this a negative thing to do because porn has negative connotations. But what I am seeing in this thread is an attempt to blur the lines quite unacceptably, refusing to accept any distinction between romance and porn, and sex scenes in a story intended to do a lot more than titillate being called gratuitous and pornographic.

    Tell me, as I write sex scenes, why would I call it demeaning? I read and favourably review stories with very large amounts of sexual content, such as the amazing BloodRaven by PL Nunn, one of the hottest damn things I’ve ever read (and I will happily reread it for the hotness factor), but also one of the most involving political and emotional journeys too. Without that added value, I’d have never read beyond the first three chapters.

    I’m not anti-sex. I just want good sex in good writing. I’ve watched porn (for research purposes and for other less refined ones) and been ‘meh’ about it, and the more I read about the industry, the less appealing it is. Porn movies don’t make me hot. Pornographic writing doesn’t make me hot. Erotic romance generally leaves me cold because the standard of writing is so lousy and the ‘erotic’ elements are so cliched and dull. I want my sex in stories that grip my brain as well as the metaphorical balls.

    The reason that I find writing sex a pain and hard, is that I’m reaching for that ‘sweet spot’ that I find in someone like PL Nunn’s writing, and I can’t, mostly (especially now that I’m on medication which has reduced my libido to zero.) Not because I find it disgusting.

    I don’t know why I’m being caned for being honest about my writing process. I only mentioned it to defend myself against the charge “To claim that every sex scene (or the level of explicitness of every sex scene) they write is necessary in the service of plot, tension or character development is disingenuous to say the least.” My point was that since I find writing good sex scenes (and by that, I mean a scene which is hot as well as not gratuitous) harder than hell, I’m not going to whack them into a story if they’re *not* necessary for plot etc. I find it hard enough to write the ones that are. Other writers love writing sex scenes and they do it well. Good for them – they’re lucky. I wish I did find it easier. But we can’t all be good at everything.

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  • d
    May 10
    12:45 am

    I was just going by the warning on Samhain’s site. I haven’t read it. As Ann so eloquently stated, I was taking out my ass. I guess she felt the to scold me again…at length…the sad, illiterate degenerate that I am.

    Ann’s statement about hating to write sex came with with such force, I couldn’t resist poking the bear. Childish, but entertaining. Look at how many more times she felt the need to smack me down. You’d think an idiot would be easier to dismiss.

    Personally, I don’t want to read erotic romance from person that hates to write sex scenes. That says to me you are just doing to for the money/market. If you are one of those writers, please don’t say it publicly. A little mystery isn’t a bad thing. Much like I don’t want to hear about your Master or your most recent swingers party. Lie to me, say it came from your own little imagination.

    Honestly, I can see the need for romance to distance itself from the word porn. The reality is for most people porn=bad, of little value and at times exploitive. I can see that. And I would never call all romance porn…publicly. :-P

    But, I don’t have a problem with porn. I like porn. Porn can be good. I object to people telling me it’s bad & I shouldn’t like it. Yet, wall-to-wall monkey sex, can be okay, if you didn’t use the P-word. I think there’s a real need for intelligent, romantic porn. For me that doesn’t equal wall-to-wall monkey sex. I need some emotion, a real story to go with the monkey sex. And if done well, it can have literary merit and be a romance. Although, I don’t have an editor’s hat to wear, so YMMV.

    In answer to Azteclady’s original post, I don’t think you are a hypocrite. I think it has to do with manners/social graces. Didn’t your momma teach you right? I think you can be sex-positive and still be PG-13. If RT want’s to be more of an R or NC-17 event, they should say so up front. They & EC also need to make it clear to the models what’s appropriate behavior & when it’s okay to be a little more raunchy….if it is ever okay. And deal swiftly con attendees, that do have problems. How is it okay to just say, many of the attendees want more with an assault-like situation? I do find it funny, that the people who said their readers aren’t ready for gay & lesbian romance reviews, are saying their readers want more man titty & simulated sex. Or are those only the RT readers that go to the conference?

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  • Robin
    May 10
    1:00 am

    Personally, I think porn is a very broad term. Like “food” can mean bread and water, stuff the homeless find in dumpsters, greasy burgers, beef tenderloin or truffles. Like I’ve said before, whether I find the word itself insulting or not lies in the intent (ha! intent, again) of the person using it.

    I have elsewhere argued against condemning porn out of hand (like here, for example), and I get nervous when porn is condemned in a blanket way while the sex in Romance is held up as inherently somehow “better.” But even still, I don’t think reclaiming porn as a comparison or a label is going to accomplish the task of empowering and/or liberating sex and sexuality in Romance; in fact, I think insisting on the comparison can do the opposite.

    One of the real differences that I think is worth paying attention to is the way that in some circles the porn label is sought because it guarantees a certain marketability for, say, a film. And if you’ve ever listened to the interviews with some of the industry’s top mainstream adult film stars and directors (thank you Pornucopia, lol), they aren’t talking one little bit about the artistic value of their films. The actresses are talking about how much they love to have sex on film, and the directors are talking about how hot the actresses are, etc. Now that doesn’t mean that “Not the Bradys XXX” doesn’t rate as a spoof the television show, but they aren’t going to be marketing it that way, because the spoof is merely the vehicle for the sex. At the point where the spoof takes over, the film would arguably no longer be porn at all.

    IMO if we didn’t have so much social conflict around sex (especially for women) being healthy and okay, we wouldn’t even be having this argument. But I think when you look at the diversity of pornographic content, and when you look at the differences in the industry between the highest paid actresses who talk about how powerful they are on the set, etc. and the women who are doing porn to support a drug habit or because of some scummy boyfriend, I think the problems in trying to assert the independent value of sex in Romance *as porn* become more salient. I mean, I think there are real arguments to be had around how sex is portrayed and valued in some pornography, and about how it depicts and utilizes women. So if the goal is to liberate the sex in Romance from some pretense of a “higher purpose” or something like that, then I think the porn comparison is *more* not *less* problematic.

    Although the debate can sure provide an effective temporary distraction from the RT conference, lol.

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  • That says to me you are just doing to for the money/market.

    You keep telling yourself that. If it keeps you away from me and my writing, I’m happy for you to delude yourself in any way you want.

    Pathetic of me to reply to the troll, certainly. But is it more pathetic than someone who takes pride in being a troll in the first place?

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  • Robin
    May 10
    1:12 am

    I don’t think loving or hating writing sex scenes determines the quality of those scenes. I wish more authors would admit that writing good sex is difficult, or at least it seems that way given how much badly written sex there seems to be all across Romance and erotica. I am not a fiction writer, but there are things in my own work that I hate writing, as well, because they’re hard, because they’re a chore, because they take a long damn time, because they suck my energy. I struggle and fight through them, and it’s not pleasant. But often that’s my best work.

    Likewise, I’ve seen several fiction authors say that the books that are most praised are those they had the hardest time writing, those that, in some cases, they said they hated during the writing process. Similarly, I know of several authors who do pretty much write for the market, but they do it quite well, whereas there are other authors who I can tell care so very much about doing more and who just don’t have the magic. Now I like to think I can often spot the prose that seems to pander, but I never really know whether the author him/herself is trying to pander.

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  • Robin: One of the problems I have with the labelling of erotic writing as ‘porn’ is that most of it is false advertising. So many ‘erotic’ writers like to pretend their stuff is omigod so hot and edgy, and actually, it’s dull as dirt. Take the ‘gay erotica’ genre – if you give a lot of this crap to gay men, they find it boring, unexciting, and definitely not ‘porny’ enough for them. A lot of women who read this stuff, feel the same even about the most popular writers. Claiming this label means that the reader can reasonably expect to get off on it, and honestly, no. It’s not just incompetent writing, it’s incompetent pornography.

    I mean, authors, seriously – don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you want to write porn, then at least do it right.

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  • Miki S
    May 10
    1:28 am

    Well, the post I wanted to comment on is from so long ago it’s going to sound as if it came from some other conversation!

    Also FYI, plain old “sensual” romance doesn’t sell worth a crap — at least, not in the ebook community. (So where the hell are all of you who crave it?)

    We’re picking books up at the grocery story. Or Wal-Mart. Or Borders. Maybe stocking up at the neighbor’s garage sale or the local charity’s fund-raiser. Or maybe even borrowing them from our friends with their strong recommendations! Or, for the true ebook-loving readers, we can go to Fictionwise or eReader or SimonSays or any place else that sells mainstream romance.

    My opinion about sweet or sensual romance not selling in ebook format as well as erotic romance is because readers of sweet/sensual romance have more choices.

    If I want to read a hot book about a m/f/m menage, well, I’m mostly going to look at half-a-dozen epublishers.

    If I want to read a sweeter romance (with or without explicit sex – so that covers the truly “sweet” and the sensual), I can pick those up almost anywhere!

    And when I’m done with them, I can pass them on or resell them without threat of bankruptcy and jail time. I’m personally getting tired of paying too much for too short a story – and then being stuck with it when I’m finished. If I do finish it.

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  • Robin
    May 10
    1:46 am

    So many ‘erotic’ writers like to pretend their stuff is omigod so hot and edgy, and actually, it’s dull as dirt.

    I think this is true across fields of erotic writing, Romance, and porn, actually.

    I wonder how many authors who think they’re writing porn but are being marketed as Romance or erotica would rather be marketed overtly as pornography. In other words, are they seeking the “respectability” of Romance or erotica, or do they feel limited by those labels? My sense is that there are more authors trying to capitalize off of the Romance label (even more than erotica) than there are trying to escape it, but that’s a conclusion arrived at from purely anecdotal evidence.

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  • d
    May 10
    2:08 am

    And if you’ve ever listened to the interviews with some of the industry’s top mainstream adult film stars and directors (thank you Pornucopia, lol), they aren’t talking one little bit about the artistic value of their films. The actresses are talking about how much they love to have sex on film, and the directors are talking about how hot the actresses are, etc.

    Because porn producers have found that a huge chunk of their market, prefers extreme gonzo-style “movies” and the illusion of sex loving performers, that defines all porn?

    Because it’s too difficult & expensive to produce an intelligent, well written & acted porno, that defines what is porn?

    Maybe it’s a bad analogy, but should we define all restaurants by McDonalds? A very popular, but IMO lame food. Why can’t I have the French Laundry of porn? :-D

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  • Robin
    May 10
    2:31 am

    Because porn producers have found that a huge chunk of their market, prefers extreme gonzo-style “movies” and the illusion of sex loving performers, that defines all porn?

    I’m not sure what your point is, but all I was trying to say is that the porn industry knows what it’s selling and sells it directly. If a porn film happens to be intelligent, that doesn’t mean that it’s not porn, because porn isn’t inherently smart or dumb — it doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence or good writing or good acting; it has to do with the intended focus and effect of the work.

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  • And when I’m done with them, I can pass them on or resell them without threat of bankruptcy and jail time. I’m personally getting tired of paying too much for too short a story – and then being stuck with it when I’m finished. If I do finish it.

    Miki, I absolutely agree with you. Recently I was told that a 25k story was reasonably priced at 5 bucks. I don’t consider that reasonable. A SSE category runs 55k and costs $4.50. How’s half the electrons for that price reasonable, especially if you consider no paper, ink and no distribution and warehousing costs?

    I’ve mostly stopped buying e-books, except for a few authors I really like. While paperback prices are going up, too, I do not see anybody trying to sell these extra short stories for beaucoup bucks in paper and in the end I much prefer a paperback in my little paws. Guess I’m old-fashioned.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    4:20 am

    ~only really entered into this discussion when authors started claiming that sexual arousal was the last thing on their mind (or not on their mind at all) when writing sex scenes. That’s like saying you only drink beer for the taste.~

    Since I was one of these I’ll add that I said the ‘reader’s’ sexual arousal wasn’t on my mind when writing a sex scene. Because the reader isn’t on my mind when writing ANY scene.

    The characters are on my mind. That’s my process.

    I think it’s very, very difficult–and usually a mistake–for any one writer to assume or project their process or intent onto any other writer. It’s a very individual art or craft or job. However you chose to define it.

    Am I thinking about sex when writing a sex scene? Yeah, you bet. But I’m thinking of and for the people in the scene, their emotions, reactions, needs. Not the emotions, reactions, needs of the people who may open the finished book down the road. I don’t know the reader. I know the characters.

    And crafting a sex scene is, for me, the same as crafting any scene. It’s hard, it’s fun, it’s tedious, it’s liberating, it’s misery and it’s work. Often all at the same time.

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  • It’s hard, it’s fun, it’s tedious, it’s liberating, it’s misery and it’s work.

    Oh noes, Nora, you done took all the mystery out of your sex scenes! How can anyone think you have any credibility ever again since you clearly only write sex for the money?

    [/sarcasm]

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  • Take the ‘gay erotica’ genre – if you give a lot of this crap to gay men, they find it boring, unexciting, and definitely not ‘porny’ enough for them.

    Like my husband said to me: “You call that porn? I’ll show you some porn that’ll make your retinas detach!”

    I do love the way Ann has reversed the argument. First, romance is too “good” to be considered porn, then it’s not good enough, lol!

    Now that doesn’t mean that “Not the Bradys XXX” doesn’t rate as a spoof the television show, but they aren’t going to be marketing it that way, because the spoof is merely the vehicle for the sex. At the point where the spoof takes over, the film would arguably no longer be porn at all.

    I think pretty much any movie that features graphic sex complete with full contact and close-ups would be considered porn, no matter how good the acting or how well plotted it was.

    it doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence or good writing or good acting; it has to do with the intended focus and effect of the work.

    There ya go, said it better than me again, Robin, lol!

    Miki, I absolutely agree with you. Recently I was told that a 25k story was reasonably priced at 5 bucks. I don’t consider that reasonable. A SSE category runs 55k and costs $4.50. How’s half the electrons for that price reasonable, especially if you consider no paper, ink and no distribution and warehousing costs?

    That really bugs the crap out of me, too. And it bugs me even more to see print pubs offer me the “convenience” of their latest releases by download, for pretty much the same damn price as print. Arrgh! 11 bucks for a bloody ebook??? The sad part is, they’re not kidding.

    Since I was one of these I’ll add that I said the ‘reader’s’ sexual arousal wasn’t on my mind when writing a sex scene. Because the reader isn’t on my mind when writing ANY scene.

    Sure, but you go out of your way to make the scene sexy, no?

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  • I do love the way Ann has reversed the argument. First, romance is too “good” to be considered porn, then it’s not good enough, lol!

    Man, you suck at reading comprehension, you really, really do.

    If I buy a vibrator, I want it to make me orgasm. I won’t be happy if the ‘vibrator’ turns out to be a hairbrush with a ‘vibrator’ label on it. But I’m not going to brush my hair with a vibrator either.

    You’re absolutely bound and determined to cast me as the anti-sex campaigner. I guess your arguments are too weak to stand up on their own, so you have to invent an enemy against which you have to be seen to fighting the good fight.

    I realise there are lots of comments and big words, but really, you’d do yourself a favour if you weren’t so keen on misinterpreting every fucking thing I say.

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  • You need to lighten up and realize when someone is teasing.

    ETA, I thought the lol would have given it away…

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  • You need to lighten up and realize when someone is teasing

    You need to realise that when someone is repeatedly trolled, deliberately misunderstood, called a liar, and generally cast as the villain in a discussion, they’re not likely to pick up or being appreciative of teasing, LOLs or not. Especially, since the people trolling this discussion have liberally sprinkled their idiocy with emoticons and smilies and LOLs too.

    My mistake is to assume until someone shoves their obvious ill intention in my face, that their miscomprehension is just that and to treat their comments seriously. Strangely, I thought that was how one behaved respectfully in a discussion of this kind.

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  • Um, I was unaware of any serious disrespect I’ve offered you. Unless simply disagreeing with someone constitutes disrespect.

    I know I am not always the most eloquent of speakers in a debate–and have come out and said this a few times here–but I don’t think I’ve called anyone here a liar.

    I expressed my doubts as to whether you write sex scenes without actually intending them to be sexy. I was genuinely curious as to why someone would do this, and was a bit incredulous that anyone would write a sex scene where the character are supposed to be enjoying themselves without intending it to be sexy. I’m willing to concede that there may be some out there who do, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t in the majority of erotic romance writers.

    Perhaps my word choice before was off–intent to cause arousal. My choice of words here is probably more indicative of my views on the matter–intent to write something overtly sexy.

    As with any form of communication, the internet has its flaws. One is the inability to covey nuance of tone–hence everyone but me seeming to miss Emmy’s gleeful shit-disturbing and taking it for genuine antagonism.

    But it’s one thing for someone to be stubborn and apologetic in her opinions, mistaken, mischievous or even just plain thick. It’s another thing entirely to react with hostility, rudeness and insults to every person who challenges your viewpoint. I will say, even if I called what you write “porn”, which I did not, it would not be intended as an insult. But there is clearly no doubt about your intent when replying to some people here who oppose your view.

    What I’m trying to say is, if you’ve been singled out, there is a reason, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with what you’re saying, so much as how you’re saying it.

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  • Kirsten, tell you what – how about you don’t blame me for your behaviour and I won’t blame you for mine.

    I will say, even if I called what you write “porn”, which I did not, it would not be intended as an insult.

    But I would perceive it as one, as would several other authors in this discussion alone. I’m not actually interested in how you interpret the word ‘porn’ because the word itself is not something you can just slap on someone else’s work and expect them to accept it because *you* don’t find it a problem. It’s how the recipient views it that’s the issue.

    Yes, I deliberately insulted Emmy when she admitted she was playing moronic games with the entire group, and d when it was obvious that she was (as she admitted) trolling me and trying to get a reaction. No one else has been deliberately insulted, and those two deserve all they got. You have been determined to find personal insult in my view that romance is not porn, and have refused to read or listen to any amount of explanation. Clearly it’s pointless to try to prove that I meant and said nothing insulting about your writing – how can I when I’ve never read it and have not the slightest knowledge of what you write?

    However, if you want to say I’m the nasty bitch here, I wonder who it was who called me ‘needlessly judgmental’ and ‘disingenuous’, ‘silly’ for apparently writing sex and denouncing it despite numerous attempts to make it clear I was doing no such thing, and thought d’s trolling of me was so terribly amusing. You’ve strongly implied authors who claim they don’t write sex for the titillation are liars, and you’ve flat out questioned my right to write sex scenes when it’s something I find difficult. You make an insulting and offensive misrepresentation of my views, then claim you were only teasing, that it’s somehow my fault for not being psychic, and I should ‘lighten up’ because your deliberate attempt to annoy, actually worked? The argument of every bully that ever was – it’s not their fault for being provocative, it’s the victim’s for falling for the trap.

    From your very first comment, you have made this a very personal argument with me, singling me out by name even though I am only one of half a dozen people to hold exactly the same view re romance and porn, and to be honest, since I have no idea who the hell you are, I don’t know why. But since I don’t actually care any more what your views are about romance, porn, or me, I won’t continue to discuss this with you. You don’t want to talk about the substantive matter, you want to make this ad hominem. Nothing productive can come out of this.

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  • the word itself is not something you can just slap on someone else’s work and expect them to accept it because *you* don’t find it a problem. It’s how the recipient views it that’s the issue.

    to which I would reply:

    even if I called what you write “porn”, which I did not,

    Perhaps I singled you out by name because from your very first comment you seemed angry and hostile–and yes, judgmental, too, and if that was not the case, I am sorry. But I will tell you Emmy and d aren’t the only people you intentionally insulted, although I will grant you that you may not yet realize just who you did insult with some of your comments.

    I did appreciate that you find writing sex scenes to be difficult–I even acknowledged there’s a world of difference between a blanket “I hate writing sex scenes” and “I find them difficult and a challenge”. I even conceded that there just might be writers out there for whom arousal (theirs or the reader’s) is the last thing on their minds when writing sex scenes.

    What I have not done is claim that anyone else’s writing is “about as sexy as have a toothpick shoved up my nose”. I haven’t made a judgment on your writing ability, or on anyone else’s. And I’ve managed to not get angry through this entire discussion, something a few people are unable to do.

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  • and thought d’s trolling of me was so terribly amusing.

    I’m only just figuring out this bit now–I was referring to this part of d’s comment:

    Is it okay to say romance is my porn? Or will that just bring the legitimacy of all romance down?

    I could have been clearer, and I apologize for that.

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  • Kirsten, if you can’t separate a comment about someone’s writing from a comment about the person themselves, then you’re in the wrong game. In any event, unless you’re a sock puppet for the author in question, let them be the one to tell me off. That excerpt was anything but sexy to me and yet Emmy stated flat out that anyone who loved gay romance, would have to find it ‘exciting’. Bullshit. It was a lousy line. It could have been in a fabulous story, and it would still be a lousy line.

    I even acknowledged there’s a world of difference between a blanket “I hate writing sex scenes” and “I find them difficult and a challenge”.

    Again demonstrating a total lack of reading comprehension. I *said* I hate writing sex scenes *because* I find them hard. These are not irreconcilable comments, and your fixation on this point is truly bewildering to me.

    So I intentionally insulted people without having any idea I was doing it. Gosh, I’m clever.

    Do, please, give it a rest, dear. At this point, every time you comment to me, I feel like kicking a puppy. So I’m really not going to find your observations of any value.

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  • That excerpt was anything but sexy to me and yet Emmy stated flat out that anyone who loved gay romance, would have to find it ‘exciting’.

    I don’t think she was saying that at all. I think she was saying, “if the intent of that is not to arouse a reader, I don’t know what it’s there for.”

    As for the “hate” versus “difficult” thing, in your first comment on the subject, all you said was you hate to write them. After you clarified, I acknowledged there was a difference between hating them and finding them hard. In the first comment, you come off like the sex scene is some detested chore that you wish you never had to do, like scrubbing a toilet. After you gave your reasons, I conceded the point. Sorry if you missed it.

    And yes, you can intentionally insult someone without realizing it. Like if you’re loudly expounding on the social deficiencies of folks who live in trailers, without realizing several trailer-dwellers are sitting within earshot. You are intending to be insulting–you just might not realize who you’ve dissed.

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  • And please, for the love of all that is good and pure, do not kick a puppy!*

    *editor’s note: the above was intended as benign humor. Any criticism inferred is solely on the part of the reader.

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  • Ladies, methinks it’s time for you to agree to disagree, because quite simply, the conversation isn’t actually going anywhere.

    Robin, the downloading thing happens to me all the time, I’m going to try to fix it.

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  • I joke with people in my circle that I write ‘gay porn’ but I would never seriously describe what I write as pornography (as I always say, if I wrote porn, I’d make more money out of it!) I write love stories about gay, lesbian and bisexual people, focusing on plot and relationships, which may or may not include some explicit sexual content in the context of their relationships, which almost always end in a Hopefully for Now or Happy Ever After. That to me is romantic writing.

    This is from a comment by Ann at DA, and it’s pretty much exactly the way I feel about my own writing. Part of me wonders why we’re arguing, unless it’s simply a conflict of personality? I will admit that I have a hard time letting someone else have the last word–especially when they don’t seem to get my point at all.

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  • d
    May 10
    9:26 am

    If I stop the page load when it hangs near the end, my browser says this didn’t load/was canceled

    http://easy-web-stats.com/counter/hitcounter.php?id=WWW.KARENKNOWSBEST.COM

    Everything else has loaded. Not sure if that helps.

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  • Yanno, things have been a little wonky loading around here lately–wobbling up and down onscreen and taking for freaking ever to load the comment edit feature.

    And there’s nothing more annoying than being in the middle of reading something only to have it zip to a “page not found” message. What do you mean, “page not found”??? I was just reading the damn thing!

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  • Emmy
    May 10
    10:59 am

    Kirsten..I’m in love..in a platonic, non-pornographic, I-really-dont-know-you way. I quit the discussion when it devolved into name calling. *yawns* I outgrew naner naner boo boo in grade school, unfortunately.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    12:46 pm

    ~Sure, but you go out of your way to make the scene sexy, no?~

    Well, of course, but that wasn’t the question or the answer. If I’m writing dialogue, I try to make that dialogue fit the characters. But I’m not thinking of the reader, or the reader’s reaction to the dialogue.

    I feel like I’m not getting my point across, and just can’t figure out how to do so.

    I think it just comes down to my process being different than yours–as it’s probably different from most if not all of the other writers posting here, and their process is probably different from each other as well. It’s hard to understand how someone else works.

    For whatever reason you seem to have interpreted my response that I don’t write the sex to arouse the reader as some sort of moralistic statement. What I mean was exactly what I said. I’m not thinking of the reader or the reader reaction when I’m writing.

    I don’t think you’re wrong if you do.

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  • Robin
    May 10
    4:52 pm

    Robin, the downloading thing happens to me all the time, I’m going to try to fix it.

    Oh, good, it’s not just me. Usually I just hit “stop” before I start writing my post, but that doesn’t always work. Thanks, Karen.

    re. the sarcasm/shit stirring/mutual antagonism thing, I think it has to do, in part, with the faceless internet thing. I’ve gotten acclimated to the way Ann presents her comments, but before I did, they sometimes seemed overly harsh to me. And I’ve had to reassess Kirsten’s tone like ten times during this thread, because sometimes it seems like deliberate needling and sometimes not. I think the outright needling is obvious.

    I have a good friend who loves to play practical jokes on people, in part because she grew up in a household where an older sibling tortured her in a similar way growing up. And even though I don’t think there’s anyone with a bigger and more generous heart than my friend, I can never look at those practical jokes without seeing some element of hostility behind them, even if it’s just resentment over being the object of those jokes as a kid. I think using sarcasm online is much the same way; it can be easily misunderstood and taken personally, *especially* when you don’t have an existing bond of trust with someone. Sarcasm can be meant to infuse humor, to make fun, to attack, to sustain a defensive posture, to shield one’s feelings, etc., but I think it’s definitely one of those things that can create misunderstanding, especially when the subtext — if there is any — isn’t clear.

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  • Shayne
    May 10
    5:05 pm

    Can’t say I know why other authors write what they write. Just in my case, I write what the characters give me. In one book the character simply wouldn’t have sex until 3/4 of the book was done, and he decided he was ready. Another wouldn’t until he was married. Another had no problem jumping into it the moment he met the other character. The sex itself is dictated by the characters. They dictate everything since when I start a work all I have is a name.

    So as to how many sex scenes go into a book, that would up to the characters. Yes, I have had to fight with a few to get the plot in too, so I’ve been occasionally known to disregard their opinion on it.

    Nora is right. Readers aren’t at my shoulder as I write, the characters are. The story, words, everything flows however it will. The only sense of a reader I carry is I hope to engage all of the reader’s senses, not just their genitals. I hope they laugh, cry, love and live with the characters.

    Whatever anybody else wishes to claim as to why and what I write, go for it. I already know why I do. *shrugs*

    I don’t believe this is the only way to write, but one way to do it.

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  • For whatever reason you seem to have interpreted my response that I don’t write the sex to arouse the reader as some sort of moralistic statement. What I mean was exactly what I said. I’m not thinking of the reader or the reader reaction when I’m writing.

    I do concede the point (I think I actually did a while ago, though it may have been lost in the larger morass of verbage). I know it’s not a moralistic statement–I’m having a hard time expressing what I mean here, but I think it’s more “when you write a sex scene, are you writing it to be sexy, as well as meaningful to plot, characterization, conflict, etc”. I would hope the answer to that is yes.

    And I’m largely wondering about erotic romance specifically. I would find it hard to believe (not impossible, but hard) that the sex scenes in erotic romance aren’t written intentionally to be erotic. And when you’re writing something erotic, shouldn’t one of your intentions be to arouse? I know if I’m writing a hot scene and it isn’t *ahem* affecting me at all, there’s probably something wrong with it if not the story leading up to it.

    I’ve gotten acclimated to the way Ann presents her comments, but before I did, they sometimes seemed overly harsh to me.

    That’s probably–well, it’s pretty much exactly why I singled her out by name, which in hindsight was obviously a stupid thing to do. Her very first comment seemed to be about berating others and putting them in their place. There is a reason a few people have singled her out here.

    And I know I can come across as smug sometimes (as well as stubborn, Nora, sometimes purposely obtuse, or even downright blockheaded), but I do draw the line at certain behavior, and others clearly don’t. Ann kinda just got under my skin, and I definitely got under hers, considering even when I concede a point she still seems to want to smack me down.

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  • Oh, and I just wanted to clarify something I said way above: when I use the word gratuitous, I’m not necessarily saying anything bad.

    It just seems in these discussions, there is a huge outcry about how every detail in a sex scene is integral to something. Like if just one “clenching pussy” or “erect nipple” was cut by an editor, the whole story would collapse.

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  • Robin
    May 10
    6:10 pm

    Ann kinda just got under my skin, and I definitely got under hers, considering even when I concede a point she still seems to want to smack me down.

    Oh, it’s obvious you got under each other’s skin, but I wasn’t offering my comments as a scalpel for anyone to pick up, either.

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  • Yeah, you’re right. I will say, Ann isn’t the only person who can feel ill-used in a situation like this.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:18 pm

    ~And I’m largely wondering about erotic romance specifically~

    I can’t speak to that, as I don’t write erotic romance.

    I think you’re just having a hard time understanding my particular process–and maybe trying to equate it or find some common ground with yours.

    I don’t think: Now I’ve got to write sexy. I just don’t. I don’t think: Now I’ve got to write scary if I’m doing a scary or suspenseful scene. I just write, and I write with the characters and the scene and the storyline front and center.

    Frankly, sex isn’t the priority in my work, or in my characterization. It’s an element, an important one as I’m writing a love story–but emotion’s much more essential to me than motion. The sex is going to reflect that emotion. And since–depending on which type of book I’m writing–I’d have anywhere from 400-700 ms pages, with maybe (at a guess) 10-15 of those actually dealing with sex, it’s just another part of the whole for me.

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  • Okay, here’s maybe an easier way to understand what I’m getting at: If you (not you specifically, Nora, but a general you) were asked to tone down the sex in your book, or switch to a fade-to-black, would you be able to find other ways to convey what you want to convey?

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:29 pm

    ~It just seems in these discussions, there is a huge outcry about how every detail in a sex scene is integral to something. Like if just one “clenching pussy” or “erect nipple” was cut by an editor, the whole story would collapse.~

    Kirsten, again I think maybe you’re being to literal, or just projecting. EVERY scene may have something cut in editorial. And most likely, when it was written, the writer thought it was integral. We’re often wrong, which is why we need editors.

    The whole story doesn’t collapse if the nipple and pussy gets the blue pencil–but it doesn’t collapse if a paragraph about the sunset gets cut either. But I bet the writer felt that paragraph was important when she turned in the ms.

    I can’t speak for others, but I certainly never meant, and don’t think I said, every single line or every single scene MUST be essential. We must (or I must) think it is, or why did I put it there, but an editor, or a reader, may not agree.

    But I do think, when we write a sex scene, or a confrontation scene, or a funny scene, we should do so because it moves the plot, shows characterization, has relevence, does SOMETHING other than take up space on the page. Others may certainly disagree.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:32 pm

    If someone told me to tone down the sex in my book or switch to fade to black, I’d tell them to write their own book. But that’s just me.

    If my editor asked me to, I’d discuss it with her–and if I understood why she wanted that done, and that made sense to me, I’d find a way to do so.

    I would absolutely be able to do so. It’s my job.

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  • I can’t speak for others, but I certainly never meant, and don’t think I said, every single line or every single scene MUST be essential.

    I just think it’s permissible to say “it’s essential to me because I like it”, and for no other reason.

    I only offered that comment because I’ve used the word gratuitous upthread, and I wanted to make sure people know I’m don’t mean it as an insult.

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  • If someone told me to tone down the sex in my book or switch to fade to black, I’d tell them to write their own book. But that’s just me.

    Yeah, but you can pretty much tell them where to go, can’t you? *g*

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:40 pm

    ~I just think it’s permissible to say “it’s essential to me because I like it”, and for no other reason.~

    I wouldn’t argue with that.

    I would say I’ve seen of my stuff I thought was essential because I liked it mercilessly cut.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:41 pm

    ~Yeah, but you can pretty much tell them where to go, can’t you? *g*~

    As long as they’re not my editor. I have to listen to her. :)

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  • I haven’t got to quite that point yet, although I have been asked to make the odd painful decision.

    I’m really kind of wondering about level of graphicness, which in my contracted stuff tends to be quite high, and what would be considered strictly necessary far a higher purpose, and what is sexy for the sake of sexy.

    It’s like wine. I certainly would rather drink something that has excellent body and a nice finish, but if I didn’t want that alcoholic kick, too, I’d be drinking tea. I read erotic romance largely for the eroticism. And I write it for the same purpose. I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the possibility that any reader of ER would not read it for the eroticism, since a sex scene that doesn’t turn me on (to some degree) is really, to me, not worth reading.

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  • Just to add–to some degree, above, could mean nothing more than butterflies in my stomach.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    6:56 pm

    I like the taste of wine, generally, more than the taste of tea. But I understand you.

    I don’t write erotic romance, and don’t read much of it because it’s not my glass of wine. But I would assume that readers of erotic romance read it for the eroticism AND the romance. If it was just for the sex, they’d read erotica or–there’s that word again–porn. So the romance to me would be as essential as the sex.

    Just as I think the suspense is as essential as the romance–or should be–in romantic suspense.

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  • Shayne
    May 10
    7:09 pm

    kirsten, the thing is just because you do something for a certain reason, doesn’t mean all 6 billion other humans do as well.

    Just a thought.

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  • Shayne
    May 10
    7:15 pm

    I probably should just stay out of the conversation. *disappears to write*

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  • ETA: Can’t believe I almost missed the opportunity to yell, “Shaaayne! Come back!”

    yeah, I’ll give you that, Shayne. But as Nora said, when she writes a romantic suspense, she thinks it should be suspenseful as well as romantic.

    No one would ever claim: “all that suspense is just gratuitous and unnecessary” because they’re reading it for the suspense as well as the romance. I just have a hard time believing that a reader would choose to read erotic romance without actively wanting the eroticism. Or that a writer would write it, if eroticism was unimportant to them.

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  • Shayne
    May 10
    7:29 pm

    *L* Kirsten, you have to remember you’re talking to an author whose work is pigeonholed in ER. No matter how eroticless it might be.

    So readers who read my works, while they look for the more graphic, get that…just not a whole hell of a lot of it in some of my works. Luckily, most are used to the way I write, but I’ve had a few complaints there wasn’t enough sex and it is ER. *sighs*

    I would agree that readers of ER do read it because of the more graphic nature, but I’ve heard some say they skip the sex parts if there is too much for them, but will read the story because it’s good. Reasons may vary, because it’s a favorite author or the blurb and excerpt really got their interest, etc.

    I’ve been guilty of the ‘skip some of this and get to the story’.

    And I may make no sense whatsoever, so please feel free to disregard everything I said. Lots of people do. Heh.

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  • I actually try hard not to disregard anything anyone says, although I’m sure it doesn’t seem that way at times, lol!

    I’ve written a lot of non-graphic (even non-romantic) stuff, myself, though my books under contract are ER. Notably, I have some longer works that have only a few pages of very graphic material that would genuinely hurt the work if it was cut, and which will be difficult to place with a publisher because of that.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay to write something sexy for the sake of sexy, and not have it merely serve some ultra-necessary higher purpose. That a scene, or the level of detail in a scene, can be unnecessary, even gratuitous, but that doen’t mean it has no value.

    But you would think, from the barrage of disclaimers over how every sex scene an author writes must serve the story, that doing this is frowned upon. And that kind of makes it feel like I’m being judged, because though I would hope every sex scene I write has value in the larger context of the story, sometimes my main goal is just the sexiness. And I would think, in a genre like erotic romance, that would be allowed, but there are some, here and elsewhere, who don’t seem to think so.

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    7:55 pm

    ~I just have a hard time believing that a reader would choose to read erotic romance without actively wanting the eroticism. Or that a writer would write it, if eroticism was unimportant to them.~

    So would I, but I’m not really seeing anybody say that. At least that’s not how I’ve interpreted the comments.

    Unless, as Shayne said, it’s a favorite author who’s trying her hand at ER, and some readers follow her over simply due to her past work. I could see those readers may not be reading for the erotic nature so much as they’re picking up the book because of who wrote it. And some may think Wheee! while others mutter, what’s she done?

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  • Nora Roberts
    May 10
    8:03 pm

    I think it’s okay to write anything you want for any reason you want. It’s your book.

    For my work, my process, I need every scene to have a point. It may not have a point to my editor–who’ll tell me so. It may not have a point to an individual reader. But I do, in my process, require the scene to serve a purpose (higher may be debatable). That doesn’t mean every writer must do or feel the same.

    So I’d have to say, no, I wouldn’t write sexy just for the sexy. But if that works for you, then it’s right for you. And whoever else it works for. Just as this element of my process would be right for any other writer it works for.

    There just isn’t any right or wrong way, as long as the final product is as good as the particular writer can make it. The paths we take to get there are our own.

    Honestly, I don’t think anyone has been judging you. I think because you have this strong pov, you’ve tended to personalize the comments.

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  • Shayne
    May 10
    8:17 pm

    kirsten,

    You might have taken something personally that the poster didn’t mean to be taken that way. Who really knows. This is the internet. Then you said something that got taken personally, etc, etc. Yeah, I’ve seen people get judgmental, and I don’t know if that’s the intent or not.

    I know I’m not judging, and with what Nora is saying, neither is she. *G*

    You write for your reasons, I write for mine, and others write for their own. And Nora is right. If it works for you, then it’s right for you. Whatever anybody else can come up with is their own thing.

    And yes, I once misunderstood something Nora said and called her on it. But then once it was explained, I realized I read more into it than was meant and apologized to her.

    Things like that happen all the time and might be the case here.

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  • So I’d have to say, no, I wouldn’t write sexy just for the sexy.

    Nora, I’m not thinking so much of you, here. And all of my scenes, even the ones written mainly to be sexy, serve purposes other than that.

    I will say, in regard not only to this particular discussion, but to discussions in general:

    I do tend to personalize things. People might not intend to insult me or my work in particular, or to insult anyone for that matter, but when they make their opinions known–especially in a strident manner–and I realize, “hey! She could be talking about my book, or my writing style, or my political affiliation, or my day job there!” it’s hard not to feel insulted.

    Likewise, I think many people take what I say too personally, or perhaps not in the manner it is intended (ie: when I say gratuitous, it isn’t intended as an insult at all). Or they can’t see my tongue planted in my cheek, and when they respond with rancor, I have a hard time letting it go.

    And many people don’t realize how much I bite my tongue when it comes to things I could say that could really hurt or damage someone (personally or otherwise), even if I have a secret love of needling those who give me a reaction.

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