The Secret to Erotic Romance – The Erotic Premise
I’ve been writing erotic romance from the very beginning of the genre—1995, in Volume 1 of Secrets from Red Sage Publishing. By happy mistake, I learned from the start that for a story to have that extra sexual edge that puts it over the boundary from hot into super-sensual, it must be about sex in a way other stories aren’t. In other words, the very premise of the story and/or the plot centers on sex.
I stumbled on what I thought was a luscious idea—a male sex slave. I called him a lady’s handsome man, and his only function in life was to satisfy the daughter of the noble house in which he served. Obviously, this was a fantasy story. He’d escaped from his master and was on the run. Whose cabin should he stumble into? A priestess who’d fallen from grace by having a sexual liaison with her mentor.
Given the tension between this couple, the story was about sex, even when they weren’t actually engaged in the act. The man, who’d spent his life learning how to satisfy a woman, was sex in a basic way.
I often judge writing contests, and I’ve found that some authors think all they have to do is create a story and put a lot of sex in it. In my experience, that doesn’t work. A general test for whether or not you have a sexy premise is to try to imagine the story as a sweet romance. If you could take the sex out of it and still write the story, you don’t have an erotic story.
For comparison purposes, let’s think of a few premises and see which ones are sexy.
Story 1: A woman needs a fake fiancé for a weekend at a friend’s wedding.
Story 2: A woman needs a fake fiancé for an “explore your sexuality” weekend.
Story 3: A man wants to win back his ex-wife, knowing that he was the only man who could satisfy her in bed.
Story 4: A man wants to win back his ex-wife by using his company’s latest acquisition, the exclusive fantasy sex club she’s been attending.
Story 5: A woman is trapped in a snow storm in a mountain cabin with a man she’s always been attracted to. Story 6: A woman is trapped in a snow storm in a mountain cabin with a man who offers her the opportunity to act out all her sexual fantasies.
I think you can see that the even numbered stories maintain a sexual tension throughout the pages. Virtually every moment is going to be sexually charged.
As an exercise, try to think up some sexy premises. You’ll find a treasure trove of story ideas.
By the way, I wrote Story 4. It’s called Cox Club, and it’s out now in Secrets, Volume 30 from Red Sage. Here’s an excerpt:
Blake Crawford went from the back entrance of Cox Club up the narrow stairs to the control room. If an employee—now a former employee—hadn’t acquired a place like this, he would have never set foot in it at all. He sure as hell wasn’t going to risk any of the patrons or staff recognizing him and alerting the media that Crawford Hotels and Entertainment, Inc. owned a sex club, even one as exclusive as this one.
A small man with a balding head and a bit of a paunch over the belt of his slacks greeted him at the top of the stairs, extending his hand. “You the new owner?”
Blake shook. “Temporarily.”
“Don’t know why Becker sold. This place practically mints money,” the man said. “I’m Howard, by the way.”
“I recognized you. Come on in.”
The man led Blake into a dimly lit room full of control panels and video screens like the ones used in high-tech security. One showed the front of the building and another the dance floor. Various other monitors captured more remote corners of the club.
“You tape your customers?” he asked.
“We don’t tape anyone, but we watch.”
“In God’s name, why?”
Howard laughed. “You’re the first guy ever to ask that. Everyone else just volunteers.”
“Seriously, don’t the customers complain?”
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