Today's before-and-after is the first erotica blurb I've doctored (cue the "let's play doctor" jokes now, let's just get it over with). It's for Spanking the Teacher (NSFW) by Lane Masters. Lane won a contest at EroticaForum.net, and here's what we came up with. Because this is NSFW, I'm putting a break in. (No naughty words, but definitely some naughty concepts.)
Strong, dominant high school principal,
Rodger Wilkerson, must punish a disobedient teacher, his wife, Linda. As
Linda licks the seductive traces of dark chocolate from her fingers,
Rodger walks into her classroom and catches her in the act. It might
have been no big deal, but she is supposed to be dieting, and she knows
better than to disobey her husband. Will a wickedly fierce spanking,
followed by hard and furious sex teach this teacher how to obey the
Warning: This 3500+ word short story, is intended for
readers over the age of 18 only! It contains material that may be
objectionable to some, including: a sizzling hot spanking and extremely
Linda Wilkerson has given in to a forbidden pleasure even though she
knows her principal--and husband--Rodger will punish her if he finds
out. Just when she thinks she's going to get away with it, Rodger
catches her...eating chocolate when she's on a diet! Now Linda faces
Rodger's discipline: a wickedly fierce spanking in her own classroom,
topped off with sex hard enough to show her the principal's in charge.
This 3,500-word short story is intended for readers 18 and over only!
It contains material that may be objectionable to some, including a
sizzling hot spanking and extremely graphic sex!
some interesting things I've noted in working with this blurb:
used an exclamation point! Usually I tell people not to use them in
blurbs, but in this one I wanted to bring out the almost playful nature
of Linda's infraction. I don't know how many of you have been in
(somewhat) similar situations, but in my 19 years of connubial bliss I have, and they're funny and playful. At the time they may be serious as hell,
but underneath you've both got the giggles. Hence the exclamation mark.
Next: Some language for erotica blurbs has to be cliché. "Forbidden pleasure"
and especially "who's in charge" are not phrases I would normally use in
a blurb, but in this case Lane's appealing to discipline fans. Erotica
readers more than most are looking for code words and
phrases because they're looking for specific kinds of material. They
don't want to try something new. They want M/M/F. Or spankings. Or
public sex. Or age play. While readers might consider a different kind of
science fiction story than they normally might read as they browse the virtual stacks, when they're looking for
erotica they know what they like, and
that's all they're looking for. I still won't
use "In a world..." kinds of clichés, but in erotica code words are go.
The trick is not letting them take over the blurb.
paragraph falls under the same special case. Normally for books with
adult content I don't do this. As I was telling Lane, I don't put them
on my own books because I'm increasingly questioning whether I'm even an
erotica writer. My sex scenes, while sometimes quite hot, are often
awkward. (Yes, I'm pioneering a sub-genre: awkward erotica.) Anyway, for straight-up erotica I think they do work despite my
misgivings because they are the most blatant of cues for the reader: "I
want sizzling spankings and extremely graphic sex--oh, look!"
The final reflection came in the email back-and-forth between Lane and me, and it was on the wisdom of ending with a question. I say no. To my ear it always sounds both clichéd and soapy: "Can Jessica find happiness with Roger even though Marianne is having Fred's baby?" I prefer a call to action--a reason why the reader is going to want to click through to the sample and ultimately buy the book. A question seems to be a setup for a yes or no answer. The answer for that soap question is "No, otherwise there's no continuing story." The answer to the question in Lane's original blurb is just "Yes, otherwise there's no hot sex." I don't want readers thinking about yes or no. I want them thinking about how, because that's where the story is.
Anyway, thanks to Lane for being my erotica blurb guinea pig!