It takes a special writing skill set to create top-quality short stories. Try squeezing plot, characterization, and goal-motivation-conflict-resolution into maybe only a dozen thousand words. Not even novella length—a short story. Not every author can accomplish it, or even wants to—many prefer the development space within a lengthier novel, they want to create fuller stories.
And the write-a-short-story task is even more complex if you happen to be writing erotic romance. Now you not only need the characters and plot, those characters have to be getting hot and heavy very fast, and keep the heat going to the end. So here's some advice from one of our excellent ECPI editors on the primary elements of an erotic romance short story.
QUICKIES – A GUIDE FOR AUTHORS
by Sue-Ellen Gower
You’re with the man of your dreams/your lover/your husband/your knight in shining armor, and suddenly the lust overtakes you. You have to fuck, and do it now! Up against the wall, in the alley, in the apartment stairwell… You don’t care where you are, if anyone sees you, the only thing that matters is that you need him—inside you—now!
Or perhaps it’s morning… You’re going to be late for work, but you woke to the feel of a large pair of warm hands cupping your breasts, pinching the nipples, a hard, hot erection nudging you with a tantalizing thrust and withdraw from behind. A husky, sexy, sleep-roughened voice whispers in your ear, your man’s warm breath sending shivers all over your body. And it’s so delicious. You just have time…Who cares if you miss the train—you can catch the next one. The only priority you have right now is getting that gorgeous cock inside you, feeling your man take you, hard, fast, driving you over the edge into a climax that sizzles your brain!
It’s fast, it’s intense, it’s over quickly and it leaves you breathless, flushed, but exhilarated!
That, folks, is a quickie.
That is also the concept behind Ellora’s Cave Quickies®. They’re a quick story, intense, but leave the reader breathless. Like the other kind of quickie, they’re all about the sex. Hot, fast, driving up your excitement to a shattering climax.
Tina Engler, Ellora’s Cave founder, said it best: a tight plot with intense emotional stakes… The keyword for Quickies® is intense.
Here are some suggestions on what we’re looking for in the limited word length of an erotic romance short story:
o Think vignette. Definition: Vignettes are the literary equivalent of a snapshot. That means not trying to cram “too much story” into it.
o Because of the short length, the story needs a limited number of characters and a very concise, clear and simple plot. The setting should not require extensive explanation or “world building”. A very concise, clear and simple plot means AVOID too many scene changes, too many characters, or too much non-sensual-based plot. These stories are meant to be highly erotic between a couple or threesome. If you want to bring in more characters, more back story, or more “getting to the sex”, consider writing a novella instead. A Quickie® is meant to be just that—quick.
o Get to the sex quickly. We can’t stress this enough. You have 15,000 words to tell your story. What do you consider “quickly”? If you’re thinking of the 10K mark, think again. A very high degree of sexual tension between the hero(es) and heroine is acceptable in lieu of getting them horizontal—or vertical, if the wall is more their spot ;-) —in the first dozen pages, but unless the sexual tension from the first word is off the charts, you’ve left it too long if they don’t do the hot and sweaty until the final 5K. You not only missed the first train, but the second and third ones too. 10K of “getting to it” would make it a slowie, not a quickie.
o Even though Quickies® need to have explicit and graphic sex, there still needs to be an actual story (plot). The best way to fit in both sex and plot is to have the plot driven by or revolving around the sex!
o There isn’t the length/time for portraying a detailed relationship development—remember vignette—so fated mates or love-at-first-sight situations, or a story where the hero and heroine already know each other, work well.
o The sex needs to be HOT and INTENSE and PLENTIFUL. Two scenes of “man on top” will not qualify as an erotic romance. (Unless, of course, the heroine is tied down and spread-eagled, and has a vibrating dildo in whichever passage the hero isn’t currently occupying.) A quickie can be vanilla sex between a monogamous couple and still be hot. The sex, though, needs to be plentiful, with very graphic descriptions and words—and be very high in emotion and intensity! That means ALL of those things—not just one or two of them.
o We’re not just looking for quantity of sex, but also QUALITY. It has to leave the reader (and your editor!) hot and panting. Mechanical descriptions (step-by-step) or a shop full of sex toys and bondage won’t work unless the author also conveys the characters’ emotions and sensations. That’s what makes it intense.
o In real life, quickie sex focuses totally on the sex, not “how was your day, dear?” over a glass of wine to get in the mood—it’s a case of gotta do it, and do it now!
o Quickies® should always, always be an excellent example of the author’s style, something they consider some of their best writing.
In summary, an erotic romance short story needs ALL of the following:
~ intense emotional stakes
~ a limited number of characters and a tight, concise, clear and simple plot
~ lots of highly erotic, graphic and intense sex that leaves the readers (and your editor!) hot and panting. Get that reader’s heart rate escalating within the first half dozen pages and keep it there!