September 1, 2015

In the Headlines: How Do You Know it's "Good" Erotica?

How do you know when you're reading good erotica?


An article this week proposed 5 ways to know you're reading good erotica, based on a discussion panel on sex from the Philippine Literary Festival. Commenters included Pammy Godoy, Bambina Oliveres, and Mina V. Esguerra. Looking into these women, I think the latter two at least should be going on my TBR list.

But the article's suggestions for what makes good erotica seem to revolve around a somewhat "apologetic" view of writing about sex. With the exception of the second point which points out the benefits of frank language as opposed to flowery metaphor, quite a lot of this article advocates separating erotic content from pornography, including deep emotional impact, and being sure to include the "consequences" of sexual acts as well.  While these points certainly have their place in the right romance, does it really make for good erotica?

In my opinion, erotica is a style of pornography and shouldn't apologize for that. Pornography isn't latently evil, after all, in written form or otherwise. Obviously there is poorly written and poorly acted pornography, but the existence of it doesn't reflect on the concept or genre as a whole. There is some lovely, romantic, engaging, and passionate pornography out there, as well as some excellently presented fetish, kink, power exchange and even instructional pornography (Nina Hartley puts out some great instructionals). So contrasting erotica against porn to indicate one is better than the other or one benefits by not sinking to the other's level is, to me, a bit short-sighted.

Add to that the fact that not all erotica really needs to be "emotionally fulfilling" -- at least, not in the sense this article seems to indicate, that being a romantic emotional fulfillment. I find some of the most powerful erotica is that which teaches us to be more emotionally invested and fulfilled in ourselves and our desires, rather than seeking some legitimizing emotional connection with a partner every time.

Finally, I find quite a lot of fault with the final premise of the article, that one must also consider the "effects" and "consequences" of sexual engagement (unplanned and teen pregnancies being specifically referenced). I don't personally think that's what erotica is about. The article points out we should remember sex as a procreational activity first and foremost--a premise that sounds unsettlingly like pro-life arguments against abortion and birth control. Not only do I find fault with this point in an article supposedly defining good erotica, I find it borderline offensive.

What say you? Do you think this article touches on good points for erotica authors to consider? What do you think makes erotica "good"? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments, I'm excited to know what you think!
Pammy Godoy, Bambina Olivares, and Mina V. Esguerra - See more at:
Pammy Godoy, Bambina Olivares, and Mina V. Esguerra - See more at:
Pammy Godoy, Bambina Olivares, and Mina V. Esguerra - See more at:
Pammy Godoy, Bambina Olivares, and Mina V. Esguerra - See more at:


  1. As a reader, I read to escape. Its the cheapest vacation you can find. I don't agree with the articles thought that sex is first and foremost about procreation. I would have to wonder how his/her spouse might feel around midnight or one am if said urges should strike, do they pencil it in? A good erotic novel pulls me in, hell for that matter, I might take notes and compare skills at a later date if it sounds doable. :) As an adult, I know the consequences. If an author can pull me into someones intimate moments and I can share in their hot monkey sex~ That is the safest threesome a person can have. An authors ability to pull me into the story, and make me feel as if I am there, is what I consider. If you can't hold my attention past the first few pages, much less paragraphs, then I won't bother to find out about the characters you have taken your time to develop. I love when you can make me scream, yell, cry, and get a hangover at the end of a book. A book is a fantasy, a very good, very vivid imagination. As an author you make it ok to explore possibilities in a safe, healthy and fun way. If you can do that, and I continue to buy your books, then you are doing something well. Please carry on and bring on the alpha's. I see that as a job well done.

    1. I love your point about erotic stories being a threesome (or in some cases a foursome or moresome!). Now THERE'S something I would include on my own list of Ways to Know It's Good Erotica. You're absolutely right, I think, that part of what makes a book good is it's ability to welcome you into the story and make you a part of the fantasy. Sex, sexuality, and erotic escape are all about pleasuring the self in some way, in my opinion. It's creative fantasy allowing us to explore parts of our own personality and desires, and to simply enjoy the experience.

  2. Erotica is no different from any other story. What makes it good is the same thing that makes any other story good. Plot, character, setting. Beginning, middle, end. Sensory detail. Emotional impact. Stakes, conflict, resistance, and resolution.

    That's what makes a story good.


What do you think?