As you probably know by now, I write erotica and erotica romance. For many people, there isn’t a difference between the two…for others, the differences are dramatic.
In general, in my mind, I use the following as loose definitions:
Erotica – Lots of sex but little in the way of romance and commitment.
Erotica Romance – Lots of sex but with a romantic element and a commitment.
Yes, it’s a fine line.
The fact is that women prefer the concept of erotica romance. We like the idea of the commitment and the hero romancing us. Yes, we find the sex hot, too, but it is the romance and the commitment that really grabs us.
On the other hand, men tend to find the romance part a bit sappy. Maybe silly is a better word. Some men will freak-the-fuck out over the very mention of a commitment. They do like the sex, though.
And that brings me to the real subject of this blog…
Can erotica romance be written to appeal to men as much as it does to women?
Let me toss in a caveat here…for this discussion, I am assuming straight men. Well, I am also assuming straight women. There are entire subgenres of erotica romance aimed at gay/lesbian readers, but for this post, we are looking at straights.
In some ways, men already like erotica romance. As I mentioned, they like the sex. Who could blame them for that? But there is an easy way for your man to enjoy the rest of the story as well…
While we never really start off in this direction, Jack and I have found that we can share one of my stories by reading to each other. That invariably leads to acting out the various scenes. Yeah…particularly the sex scenes. There was a time when I thought Jack was simply tolerating the romantic parts to get to the naughty bits, but I have become convinced that he has grown to like the romance, too. Oh, he has admitted that for a while he would read or listen to the romance as a means to an end (i.e. having me folded over the chair like a taco), but he has come to enjoy the romance, too.
So you can get your man to enjoy the books you read. Just read to him, or let him read to you. Yes, girls, it really is just that simple.
But, what about the other side of the book? I mean, what can authors of erotica romance do to make their stories more attractive to men?
That’s equally easy, though the readers really have no control over this half of the equation.
In a nutshell, all an author need do is to write some scenes from the male point of view (POV). Most authors do this, but it is from the idealized male POV that the heroine of the story has. In other words, the male POV used in most erotica romance stories is not a real male POV. It is the use of a real male POV that will make the story work for a man.
The trick is to make the realistic male POV something that will also work for the female reader. Think of the real “bad boy” alpha male, and you have the idea. No, not the idealized bad boy that we see so often in stories…you have to think like a man to pull this off.
Ask yourself this question, writers…you have the hero and heroine together in a romantic setting and the heroine is naked. What would a real man be thinking? Odds are a real man would not be thinking too much—if at all—about how gorgeous she is or how her skin is so soft or other such feminine nonsense. He would think instead about how to get his cock inside of her until he gets off. When you’re in his POV, really be inside his head.
The majority of authors of erotica romance for straights are women. By definition, we have problems actually thinking like a man, but if you want this to work, you need to make that jump. Talk with your husband/boyfriend/SO and get their thoughts. Revise the scene based on their input. In other words, think like a man.
The big thing in erotica romance today is the idea of what most people call ménage. I hate that word when used in erotica romance settings. In erotica, ménage is fine because, in my mind, the word implies simple three or more way sex without a commitment. I much prefer polyamory…this implies a committed, loving relationship.
Anyway, what do you do with a story that has polyamory as a part of the plot? This is a tough one.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s limit the discussion to just three people. You have two possible combinations: Two men and one woman or two women and one man.
The latter combination is easy. Pretty much every straight man on the planet has fantasized about having two women in his bed. The few who haven’t are liars. There is a fairly large and common belief that most straight women harbor a secret desire to make love to another woman. I’m a bad one to ask about that…I am, at heart, bisexual. Been there, done that, liked it. The bottom line is that you can work in the two women having sex fairly easy. This will fit with the concept of many women being at least bi-curious and the men will love the scene.
From the view of a straight male reading the story, the former combination is problematic. If the two men in the scene have any contact, many men will completely miss the fact that the characters are bisexual and immediately label them as gay and their homophobia will turn on like a light bulb. Once you trigger that reaction, you have lost the male reader. But all is not lost…you can introduce the relationship between the men slowly. Start off with them as friends and comrades. Have them do a little three-way with the heroine where there is no contact between the men. Escalate things from there until the trio is making love to each other. If done slowly and carefully, this will work. The trick is to focus on the men making love to the woman and bring in the two man having sex as almost an aside. A good thing that I have used in stories is to have the heroine and one of the heroes fellate the other hero. Most men can handle that image without going into a homophobic fit.
And then there is an idea I have played with for years but never found the time to actually write the story…
I envision a story written in two different POV…one from the female and one from the male. This would be harder than it sounds because the timeline is very critical. The same things must happen in both versions at the same time and in the same order. The difference is that the POV is from two different angles. The authors reading this can see how this would become a nightmare. And the editors reading this probably already have slight throbbing behind their left eye.
I even have a name for the idea…Bedtime Stories for Him and Her. Remember the books that had two stories in them with one starting at each end? You turned the book upside down to get to the story at the other end. Yeah, that printing style would be perfect for this.
The aim would be for the male reader to read the Her version to his lady and the female reader to read the Him version to her man. Ideally, the couple wouldn’t get through more than a page or two a night, so the stories could be fairly short. I suspect that the sessions after the reading lamp went off would be much longer.
So, why all this talk about getting straight men to read erotica romance? Simple…
We can double the target market.
Now all we authors have to do is get the publishers to look at the idea!
But that’s another blog.