Romance and Erotica and Smut Oh, My!

It seems like the literary community struggles coming  up with objective definitions for various terms specifically in the Romance Genre. I'm here today to clear things up from my humble perspective. 
Some people are under the impression that Romance novels are all porn in disguise when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth.  There is a large percentage of romance novels that are considered "sweet romance" and maintain a PG to a PG-13 level of "steam". Some kissing, some light making out, nothing described in detail and any sex scenes are phased to black.
​For a work of fiction to qualify as a romance novel, the plot simply has to focus around the main characters' romantic relationship. That could take many different shapes and forms. In general, it's about their journey the ups the downs and how their love wins out in the end. 
What is erotic fiction in general? Well, erotic fiction is meant to sexually arouse or sexually excite the reader. Mind that this doesn't have to be achieved with sexual explicitness, although it often is, and it doesn't have to be penetrative sex. Oh there are so many ways to "get 'er done".
Erotic Romance: Is a romance novel where sex plays a large role in the characters' romantic journey.
Erotica: Doesn't necessarily have to be a romance, but sex does play a leading role in the events that transpire.
And then there's smut.
​Smut, in the prudish portions of the literary community, is used interchangeable with written pornography. Pornography has a simple plot: Have sex and lots of it for the sake of getting off. Little to no characterization. The quality of writing is typically sub-par on a good day and it's often simply about what parts go where.
​Some readers consider anything with sex in it as smut but I don't. I personally don't say I write smut. Does my work contain explicit sexual scenes? Often, ABSOLUTELY! But if we rewind what I just wrote we will see the word "contain". Which implies that the stories also contain other plot elements and scenarios as well. 
​​My stories are all character focused and I always want my characters to grow. It's not about sex for sex sake, but it's about the journey that they are going through and sexual interaction, exploration, and discovery is apart of that journey.

Examples from my work and elaboration:
Damsel's Tattoo Temptation - Romance OR Erotic Romance (depending on who you are) The story is centered around how Damsel and James who are so different from each other find clarity and encouragement in the other until they determine they don't want to be apart. This I would say is a Romance Novel that has some steamy scenes.
Lacey's Sinn - Erotica | This short story is about prude, idealist Lacey allowing herself permission to have worry free sex with someone she would never consider as a partner. Sex plays a major role in this short, but we still see Lacey grow and discover things about herself that she didn't know before. Which means this isn't just sex for sex sake there is character development, emotion, and well to be honest lots of sex ;)
Lust - Erotic Romance | Sex takes a leading role in this story as our female MC fears moving past sex and into a committed relationship. The exploratory sexual interactions that she has with West open her up to the idea that maybe she can achieve the sex life she wants in a committed relationship. She also learns that sex with West is only phenomenal because they both are getting off. She finds that she enjoys his sexual satisfaction as much as she likes her own. Sex is not just sex and it matters who it's with. |
Tell me!
Am I full of ish? Is all romance just porn in disguise? Share your definitions of the Erotic Romance, Romance, Erotica and smut.

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