Please welcome my guest, Cecilia Tan!
Why Writing Romance and Erotica Is Like Being Good in Bed
by Cecilia Tan
I was debating with a friend recently on what the “real” difference is between “literary” fiction and “commercial” fiction. What’s the difference between a literary novel that has a love story in it and a romance novel that is well written in a literary style? We know the publisher markets them differently, but at some inherent level are they different?
It occurred to me that they might be, and that the difference might be exactly the difference between making love with someone like a rock star who is into themselves, and with someone who is into you.
We call literary fiction “high art” whereas genre fiction is seen as pop art at best, hack work at worst. Why? It seems to me that all the things we consider high art are supposed to be “pure” somehow, and free of the influence of the intended audience. A master painter or sculptor or composer is somehow supposed to reach deep inside them for the art that is unique to them and produce a masterpiece without sullying themselves worrying about things like “writing to market.” We can argue later about whether this vacuum ever really exists and whether any of the great painters or composers actually produced their greatest work that way. But the impression that literary writers sit alone somewhere thinking deep thoughts (perhaps aided by consumption of alcohol) persists.
Meanwhile we hack writers who bang out romance, fantasy, mystery, et cetera are supposedly trying to please our voracious audience.
Wait a second. Why is that bad? How is it less artful for me to craft a story, characters, and plot that is satisfying for the reader than it is for me to craft one that is satisfying to myself as an artist? Is the endeavor any less creative? Does it take less of my brainpower or less of my craft? I would argue that it doesn’t. I can pull off the literary fireworks. I can write a story in backwards chronology. I can create prose poetry. I can use the ten dollar words, the high syntax, and cite the influence of various literary giants in my work.
I can do all that and please my readers, too. Ultimately I do not want people reading my books to be having an experience akin to having sex with a rock star where it is all about me and what a virtuoso I am, but to feel that they are receiving satisfying attention from me. They can trust me to give them what they need, to tease them a little, perhaps with an edge of kink, but to always give them what they want in the end. This applies just as well to my romances as my literary erotica. Whether I adopt the noirish feel of a thriller for Mind Games, the chick-lit tone for The Hot Streak, or provide adult readers with everything that was missing from Harry Potter in Magic University, I’m a very giving author.
And I can’t see that being a bad thing.
CECILIA TAN is the author of the newly launched erotic fantasy from Ravenous Romance “The Siren and the Sword,” (Book One in the Magic University series), the baseball-themed romance The Hot Streak, and the erotic paranormal suspense novel Mind Games, also from Ravenous. She is the editorial director of Circlet Press, erotic science fiction and fantasy, and also the author of Black Feathers, White Flames, The Velderet, and Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords. Visit her at http://blog.ceciliatan.com/ to find out more.
I LOVE this post, Cecilia! I LOVE readers, especially *my* readers! :) They deserve my attention.
Well said, Cecilia! Being a very giving author is a wonderful thing;-)
Very interesting and made me think. I will be borrowing this arguement in the future LOL
Glad you guys liked the piece! Sorry I couldn't reply sooner; I've been on the road and crazy busy!