Sweet, Sexy, or Smokin’: What Makes A Story Hot?
At a recent book signing I attended, I stopped by the table where one of my writer friends was stationed. Wanting to lend my support I told her I’d buy one of her books and suggested she recommend one among the several available. She drew one out and said, “Well, you read a lot of erotic romance. Try this one. It’s hot, but without the words.” Saaaay what?!
I haven’t read the book yet, but a quick flip through the pages revealed plenty of “erections” “nipples” and “spilled seed.” Those are the words I’d expect to see. So it got me thinking: what exactly makes a story hot?
The book signing took place at the New Jersey RWA annual conference, and at one of the panels an editor talked about an upcoming book that had her squiming in her seat because of an erotic hand washing scene. That’s right. Hand washing. No kissing, no petting, no nudity, just a girl and a guy washing their hands together. The editor said the description of the slippery soap and the hands intermingling and sliding around could’ve lit a bonfire in her office.
So if a story is hot “without the words” – and without the sex! – what’s an erotic romance author to do in order to appeal to the widest possible audience? To get her readers squirming in their seats? Tastes and perception of what turns someone on vary from one reader to the other. One gal’s desire for a hero’s six pack abs gets her as revved as another girl does from full, soft lips.
When I think about what makes a scene hot, I also consider the length . . . of the scene. 🙂 Erotic romance love scenes are generally more descriptive and longer than those in sweet or sexy romances. They are also, often, more graphic. That, too, is something to ponder. Is it hot if the scene includes a detailed description of the heroine’s juices flowing down her thighs? If we’re informed that the head of the hero’s aroused cock is so hard that it’s purple? For me it can be . . . as long as the emotion is there. If I know how much the couple is really into each other, on an emotional level, that in itself is arousing. I understand that they’re hardly going to be in love if they’ve just met, but if there’s an emotional connection on some type of level, the desciption of their sexual experience can be arousing in lots of different ways.
In the end, I imagine there’s a tipping point in any given erotic romance in which the description is too long, or too graphic, and the scene fizzles faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriage. The challenge for the writer is to walk that fine line and get our motors running without making us run away.
Have a great weekend, everyone!