Sex on the Page: Porn vs. Erotica

Warning: This discussion will feature frank talk about graphic literary descriptions of sexual acts. If you are under 18 years old, or offended by frank discussions of a sexual nature, do not read further.


Drawing the line between pornography and erotica is, as with anything in literature, a very subjective thing. While we can perhaps agree on a general description of each, one person’s emotional attachment is another person’s cold encounter, so it’s not something that can really be definitive, in my opinion.

The point of both pornography and erotica is to arouse/stimulate the reader. Porn does that through very visual means, while erotica appeals on an emotional level. Whether words or images, porn is always graphic. Porn is meant to arouse the instinct to mate rather than the emotional connection between two people – physical stimulation is the primary goal. Men typically prefer porn to erotica due to the very visual, instinctual nature of pornography, because they tend to be more visual overall. Pornography needs no plot or story – the very act of sex is the story.


In contrast, the primary goal of erotica is to arouse the mind, thus arousing the body. Erotica does not have to be graphic to be effective (though it can be and often is). It’s different from romance in that while the characters have an emotional connection, it’s not always love – it can simply be a strong attraction, or lust, but there is story, a plot that develops the attraction between two (or more) people. There is no requirement for a “happily ever after” (HEA) at the end, though plenty of erotic stories do include an HEA.

For an example of my definitions of porn vs. erotica, I’m going to share part of a draft scene from the erotic short story I just finished. I rewrote it into more of a porn scene so you can see where I personally find the differences. Your opinion may be different, of course. 

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Here’s the original draft scene from The Entertainer (erotic romance):


Running her fingers through his hair she arched up as he laved at a hard nipple. The action sent electrical impulses straight down to her core, and she squirmed, her clit begging for attention. As if he could read her mind, he reached between them and pressed a finger against her heat, fanning the flames higher.


“More. Please.” She wiggled against him, frustrated by the barrier of her jeans and panties. Then the pressure was gone, and she nearly cried out in frustration.


He kissed her lips, smiling against them as his fingers worked at the button of her pants. “Shh…it’s okay. Patience, sweetheart.” Leaving a trail of kisses down the center of her body, he moved lower until he could shimmy the offending clothes off her hips and onto the floor. Fabric rustled and Brynn let her legs fall open as she waited for him to return. Not disappointed for long, soon she felt his fingers tickling up between her legs, pushing them apart as he stepped between them. A finger traced her inner lips, smoothing over and around lubricating her with her own cream. Then she felt his breath on her core and time all but stopped as his tongue licked her most sensitive nub and sent her nerves soaring.


She reached down to run her fingers through the thick curls on his head as he pushed one finger inside her. She moaned low as he worked in and out, adding a second finger to stretch her passage. His tongue swirled round and round, sending her higher and higher, as his fingers pumped in and out, bringing her closer to something she’d never quite been able to grasp.


Then he turned his fingers just so and curled the tips at the same time he sucked down hard on her clit, and the world exploded into a million different colors as her whole body spiraled out of control.


And the same scene, rewritten with a more porn slant:


Running her fingers through his hair she arched up as he tongued a hard nipple. She squirmed, her clit throbbing with need. He reached between them and pressed a finger between her legs, swirling it around fast, the rough denim biting into her labia.


“More. Please.” She wiggled against him, pressing her mound harder against his hand. Then the pressure was gone, and she nearly cried out in frustration.


“You want more?” He kissed her lips, his tongue demanding entrance as he ravaged her mouth. “I’ll give you more.” He moved away, his fingers diving into her waistband to shimmy the rest of her clothes off her hips and onto the floor. Brynn let her legs fall open as she waited for him to return. Soon she felt his fingers sliding up between her legs, pushing them apart as he stepped between them. A finger traced around her hot, wet pussy, lubricating her with her own cream. Then she felt his breath on her clit, and time all but stopped as he licked and nibbled at her inner lips, his tongue pushing inside her tight entrance.


She grabbed the thick curls on his head as he pushed one finger inside her. She moaned low as he worked in and out, adding a second finger. He spit on her clit, his tongue moving the lubricant around as he thrust his digits in and out of her tight hole. Her inner muscles clamped around them, moist sucking noises punctuating his every motion.


Then he turned his fingers just so and curled the tips at the same time he sucked down hard on her clit, and she arched high, screaming his name as the orgasm rippled through her body.


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I’m the first to admit I’m not good at writing porn, because I normally prefer erotica, personally. But I think you get the basic idea – very frank terms, and very little emotional connection between the characters. Porn is raw, and often messy. They’re on screen solely to have sex, and it doesn’t really matter if they have a relationship or not. In erotica, the sex is an integral part of the story, but still moves the plot along in some way.

So now you know my basic definitions for porn and erotica – are yours different? How do you distinguish between porn and erotica?


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4 comments on “Sex on the Page: Porn vs. Erotica

  1. Brooklyn Ann

    Great post! Still, I love it when they try to include a plot in a porn movie. The botched results are hilarious. 🙂
    On a more serious note. Your writing is so hot!

  2. Jamie D.

    It is pretty funny, in a sad sort of way. LOL

    And thanks. 🙂

  3. Carol Buchanan

    Good job showing the nuances, Jamie! I finally understand the differences between porn and erotica. You taught me something valuable with this post.

    Carol

    PS Sorry I’m late commenting, but I’ve been out with foot surgery. Hobbling much better now. 🙂

  4. maul

    Just a great resource, congratulations!