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What makes romance strictly romance, and what makes erotica strictly erotica?

What is "noir" ?

Hi, Desi!

Ah, you've chosen a bit of a tough question. But fortunately, there's a pretty simple answer to this one.

What makes a romance strictly romance is what's known as the "happily ever after" or "happy for now." In the romance genre, the reader has an expectation that the hero and heroine (or any combination thereof) has romantic feelings for each other that extend past the physical and will continue into their life past the end of the story plot. Their goal at the end of the story/book is to remain together and the reader should feel that. They intend to make this person part of their life, introduce him/her/them to their family and have a relationship.

Erotica, on the other hand, has no such expectation. In erotica, the physical should be part of the story--not just random couplings, but actually part of the plot. The parties can part at the end with no guilt, shame or intention to remain together. Yes, there is emotion in erotica. It's what turns the story from the written slap of flesh on flesh into an emotion-driven coupling. Emotion must be a large part of it, but that doesn't always equal "love" enough to create a relationship.

Now, there is a third option, which is "Romantica". This is a trademarked concept of Ellora's Cave publisher. They've tried to bring the romance back into erotica by turning romance ultra-sexy. This is the basis of the "Red" or "Spice" lines of various publishers. Hot romance turns up the volume of the physical, but keeps in the romantic feelings. In other words, the nice thing with the industry now is that you can write what you want and still have a place to sell it. :)

"Noir" is a tone, really. It's a dark, grungy sort of feel to the story and characters that reminds the reader of old 50's black-and-white detective movies. Think "Dark Knight" Batman over the television series. The movie is noir. The series is slap-stick or dramady.

Does that help? Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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