Suspension of Disbelief in Romance Novels versus Short Erotic Stories

I’m not making a huge point here, but I think it might be a significant one for how I approach writing erotica as opposed to longer romantic works. I think the reader of a short erotica story is more willing to make assumptions from little evidence. They know where the story is leading; it is leading to two characters having sex; so for that to happen, the relationship (romantic, purely physical, whatever) must exist, so it does exist, at least so long as the writer has given the reader a tiny, tiny hook on which to hang their belief.

In a romance novel, things have to ring true for a long time, sinking into the reader’s mind bit by bit, like building a wall. Sure, a reader of Romance knows the genre, knows what’s expected, knows how things will turn out; but as I’ve said before, because of that, process (how the relationship progresses) is often more important in a romance novel than outcome (happy ending). So if the process isn’t believable, the story falls apart and the reader falls out of that world.

Related Posts: Making It Good and Preliminary Thoughts on Two Types of Erotic Novels.

Published by Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s writing showcases her voracious lifelong love of books. She reads over 120 new books each year, especially historical romance, fantasy, and space opera, and incorporates these genres into her erotic fiction. Her first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. When not writing, Victoria conducts research in libraries and graveyards, lectures about writing and selling erotica, and speaks at literary conventions on topics such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic science fiction/fantasy, and the empowerment of women through unconventional means. Her daily writing blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and author interviews. She also guest blogs for Heroes & Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element. She lives in Philadelphia.