Trope Tuesday: stroke fiction vs romance

I didn’t get a chance to write a proper Trope Tuesday post today, but I read this interesting blog post over on Dear Author about the dangers of emphasising the erotica aspect of m/m over the romance angle. I urge you to go read the comments as well as there are some fascinating points raised.

Now, I started out writing erotica, and the sexual relationships between the characters are still integral to most of what I write even now I’ve mostly migrated to m/m romance. I can enjoy reading stroke fiction, and I can enjoy reading romance novels with a fade to black on all sex scenes. What ultimately matters to me is the quality of the writing and characterisation.

This is why I was so disappointed in myself when I read a story I’d purchased purely because it was an m/m/m erotic short (because as the saying goes, if one man is hot, three must be exponentially hotter!), and discovered the writing was so poor I couldn’t enjoy it. Three characters who were never fleshed out beyond the hair colour/eye colour/size of bodily appendages level, and who laughed, smirked and rolled their eyes so often I just wanted to smack some sense into them. In fact, I wanted them to stop shagging and have a real conversation so I could find out a bit about them. They didn’t act like any men (or women) I’ve ever met, gay, straight, or bi. This is the real problem – reducing a character to nothing more than a sex drive and a willing body. No need to engage brain – his dick’s taken over.

Anyway, I wanted to find out what you all think about the distinctions between porn, erotica, erotic romance and romance, and if there are any you wouldn’t read or write – and most of all, why? And have you ever been led by a favourite trope to buy a book that really disappointed you? You don’t need to name it (in fact, I’d probably rather you didn’t as I don’t want to name and shame here), but I’d like to know I’m not alone!

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