Romance and Erotica: How Do They Compare?
The genres of Romance and erotica are similar, but also very different. Romance tends to have a plot that centers around a relationship. Erotica may or may not have a plot, depending on the author. There's a subgenre called romantic erotica, which contains the same plots as a traditional romance book but the sex scenes are explicit as if it were an erotica book.
Romance typically centers around a relationship. The standard plot is char A meets char B. They fall in love, but one of them can't have a relationship right now. Then, later, they can have a relationship. There may or may not be sex in a romance book. However, if it does exist, it's usually at the end after the relationship has been fully developed and a formal commitment has been made by the characters. Romance also has an incredible number of subgenres, including historical, western, fantasy, sci-fi, ect. Romance books can even be subdivided by types of main characters, like bad boys, cowboys, doctors and billionaires. In short, there's nearly as many variations of these books as there are authors that write them.
Erotica is all about the sex. These books can contain plots or no plots, meaning it's just a series of sex scenes. Though, the longer books tend to have some sort of a plot to hold them together for 40,000 to 80,000 words. Erotica books tend to have the same types of main characters as romance books, including bad boys, cowboys, billionaires, doctors and bankers. They also tend ot feature BSDM, anal sex, fetish sex and same-gender sex. I've even seen erotica books that feature bear and dinosaur sex. The big difference between erotica and romance is that erotica books don't need to develop any type of relationship between the characters. They can meet and fuck and develop the relationship later or not at all.
Is there a Threshold for Sex in a Book That Would Make It Erotica?
Erotica contains descriptive sex scenes. You'll often see words like pussy, cunt, dick and cock. Romance may use euphemisms to describe sexual organs or gloss over the fact that those organs are being used. The most obscure one I've ever read was where someone used the phrase "love lasagna' to describe a vagina. Other euphemisms used for vagina and other female genitalia have included, sex, center, core, between the legs or thighs, entrance, womb, mound, box, groin, flower, river, mons (for mons pubis), honey pot, folds, inner lips, crevice, sheath, nub, canal, clit (clitoris), womanhood and labia.
Words often used for penis and other areas of the male anatomy in romance books can include groin, sex, manhood, arousal/aroused, package, family jewels, length, erection, rod, shaft, sword, appendage, organ, balls, sacs/sacks, testicles and scrotum.
Now, while the words used to describe sex organs can give you a clue as to whether it's romance or erotica, it's not a concrete definer. The number of sex scenes, how descriptive they are and whether or not the book has an actual plot along with character development can also be determining factors.