Welcome to BRB, everyone!
As an author, how do you know when you've crossed the line? Can too much sex overshadow the story? After reading hundreds of books throughout my life, and writing since I could pick up a pen, I do have an answer for each question, but I'm positive not everyone will agree with me.
In any business, there are fundamental rules, but the rules in publishing are constantly being pushed to the limit and, in some cases, completely ignored. It seems what's acceptable for one author isn't for another, and if you're a big name, the excuse is you've paid your dues (made the big bucks); you've amassed a certain amount of privilege. So, in other words, if one author has too much explicit content in their book it could wind up labelled as smut where for another author it turns into a best-seller.
With "erotic romance" the reader expects and accepts that there will be graphic sex in the story and, generally, there will be more of it than in a regular romance. But, even in erotic romance, the author can cross the line, where the book is only about the intimacy, in which case it should be tagged under a different (appropriate) genre.
As an author, how do you know when you've crossed the line?
For me, it was shortly after I'd published my first two novels (a long, long time ago). I realized that the sex had become the focus. I was more worried about adding enough intimate scenes than character development or anything else, despite the fact I thought I'd written a well-balanced story. This doesn't mean the books were bad, but I'd used the sex as filler, and there was too much of it. Now, things are different. I've honed my skills. I'm able to write a good cohesive story with strong characters and what I feel is the correct, or necessary, amount of sex.
Can too much sex overshadow the story?
I have to say, definitely. Unless, that is your goal. Smut is smut. Romance is romance. And there is a distinct difference between the two. According to the Wikipedia: Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Which is so true. No matter the sub-genre when I read a romance I assume there will be an emotionally satisfying ending at the very least, or else, what is the point. Don't get me wrong, lots of hot and steamy sex is awesome, but it can also provide the most satisfying moment in a romance, especially when the two people finally get together and consummate their love for one another. For me, I find less is more, and that big build up is the best when it ends with Jimmy and Johnny so crazy for one another they can't stop.😍 One of the best gay romances I've ever read had this twisted and upsetting plot, but the last chapter made up for all the emotional upheaval. So the plot and character development do matter, and the sex is secondary.
Happy Yaoi Hunting!
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