I was given an interesting compliment today. “Please write more smut! You’re good at it. ;)” This was a reaction to my story “Naughty Puss”, which you can read here. I’m not sure that I’d consider it smut/erotica, per se (and I think that Lucie was being somewhat tongue in cheek). I have written a story or two that I think would qualify. Regardless, that got me to thinking.
If there’s one genre I do enjoy writing, it’s horror. I enjoy making people scared and/or creeping them out. It’s at the core of most of the stories I tell. Are the two really that different though?
Without question both horror (and its cousin the thriller) and erotica (with its cousin romance) are about eliciting a visceral response. They’re genres named explicitly after the reactions they intend to generate. It’s not by accident that the horror genre includes so much sexuality tied up in it. There’s also no shortage of horror tropes used in today’s erotica.
The question that came up in my mind was, what makes for a good story using these elements? For my personal tastes, the answers are similar for both. I’m of the school of thought that less is more. When either genre, or perhaps any writing, doesn’t leave room for imagination on the part of the reader then it can get sloppy. Don’t get me wrong, it can still generate the desired result. I just think that a reliance on buckets of blood or any other fluid to get that result doesn’t make for a good story.
I also thought a bit about why they work so well together. Romance can be used both to break tension a bit, before ramping it up again, or to increase a different sort of tension only to be released in a more gory fashion. I’m sure there are other reasons.
So I have a couple of questions for you. What is horror? What is erotica? And what do you think makes for a good story in either of these genres or in any crossovers/mashups? Give me your favorite examples.