Ask The Writing Coach

Ask The Writing Coach: Romance vs Erotica

In this series, we put our own writing coach on the receiving end of your questions. This is the third question for Mia Botha who will answer questions you have. This one is all about romance versus erotica.

Hello Writers

I get asked many interesting questions by writers and thought you may be interested in some of them. Here is a great question from K about the difference between romance and erotica.

If you have any questions, please send them to and I will do my best to answer them.

Hi Mia, 
Have enjoyed so much of what you have taught since I started writing. 
I started writing almost 3 years ago. I write main-genre Romance with heat. When does ‘heat’ or ‘steamy’ step over the mark to erotica? I don’t think what I write, heat filled scenes, that they are crossing over, not considering what I read in my genre (Alien abduction, aliens rescues, etc). And I work to only have one scene that is hot and heavy, the rest are looks, touches, and implied. I never do dark stories. 

Hi K

Thank you for your question. Romance is a very big genre with many subcategories. To quote Romance Book Writers of America, romance books ‘have varying levels of sensuality – ranging from sweet to extremely hot.’

What’s sweet? What’s extremely hot? It’s subjective. For me, I always ask myself: would I watch this with mom? Romance, yes. Erotica, no. Hehe.

It’s also not just about Romance and Erotica. We need to consider the different between erotic romance and erotica.

With Erotica the sex is central to the plot. With romance or erotic romance, it can be the central plot or simply form part of the storyline.

As always, we write what we read. That is still the best way to understand a genre. Read the books in the category and compare them.

I think about it as, ‘levels of description’. You decide what and how much description you want to include.  You can read about it here.

I hope this helps.


Mia Botha

by Mia Botha

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Posted on: 20th July 2022