#2. Realistic Military Romance
Along with billionaires, sheiks, and doctors, male soldiers are a popular target for today's romance novel. But did you know that several studies have shown that, of all the romance genres about categories of people that actually exist, military romance is the most unrealistic?
There's at least 17 uniform violations in this picture alone.
You probably didn't know that, because I made it up. But a quick glance at the leading military romance titles will uncover a cesspool of un-verisimilitude. Most glaringly, the majority of these books focus solely on the challenges the couple in a military romance must overcome in order to fall in love and get together. Anyone who has had even the slightest brush with life in the military knows that this is like a feature-length movie focusing entirely on everyone building the mecha-suit that humanity needs to fight the giant alien monster, and then ending the film right before the monster actually comes on screen.
Think about all the other obstacles these novels could be portraying. The feisty, college-educated heroine following her love to a military base in the middle of nowhere, and discovering that the only local jobs available are babysitting for $3 an hour. The long, boning-free deployments and awkward nude Skype sessions where his roommate walks in. The subplot where they fight because he never listens to her, only for it to turn out that gunfire has given him 60 percent hearing loss at age 23. The part where their steroid-addicted neighbor on base starts screaming death threats at them because he thinks they looked at his dog funny. I'm willing to bet not a single one of these issues has even been explored in military romance, let alone eroticized for profit.
Emma's thighs trembled as Cody, her new Navy SEAL husband, pulled off his shirt, his well-defined muscles glinting in the candlelight as he stepped forward to consummate the romantic encounter they'd been planning for months. Suddenly, Cody's cellphone rang.
"Whoops!" Cody said. "I have to go somewhere. Can't tell you where. Sorry!"
"When will you be back?"
"I don't know. August, maybe? See you!!"
Emma went looking for a vibrator on Amazon but realized that with Cody's E-3 salary, she could afford only an inferior product that had electrocuted the wives of several Amazon reviewers. She spent the rest of the night crying alone into her husband's pillow.
#1. Sex With Abstract Concepts
Back in this article, I wrote about a new romance genre involving the Grim Reaper, i.e., the personification of the abstract concept of death. Since then, apart from a few new reaper-themed romance novels, the wider genre of Abstract Concept Romance has somehow failed to take off.
He's a hard man to compete with.
But abstract concepts are a strange thing to eroticize, you say! Except that there is a long tradition of doing just that. For centuries, artists have been creating allegorical art and sculptures that characterize concepts like Philosophy and Justice as almost-always-female figures who aren't wearing many clothes. This is partly because these nouns are feminine in a lot of languages that have grammatical gender, and partly because it's a way of allowing people to feel smart and cultured while looking at boobs. Look at this 16th-century "allegory of happiness":
Most paranormal romance novels are aimed at heterosexual women, so the abstract concepts will need to be male. But that's no problem at all. English nouns lost their grammatical gender centuries ago, so there is no reason your abstract concept of Philosophy can't have a dick, or that your heroine can't be seduced by the virile personification of Liberty. There are literally thousands of abstract nouns in the English language, and we could be boning all of them.
Sandra's insides tingled as she felt herself swept up into the embrace of Poverty. His skinny arms and ragged clothing did not detract from his harsh, masculine beauty. Yes, since she started seeing him she had lost her job, her apartment's roof had caved in, and she was pretty sure her downstairs neighbors were cooking meth. But their love could overcome all that ... couldn't it?
She kissed him passionately. "Poverty," she whispered, "I want you inside me."
Soon after, Sandra felt a part of him inside her. One of his teeth had fallen out. Discreetly trying to spit it out of her mouth, she felt his stubble graze her skin as his low voice rumbled sexily in her ear: "Do you have 20 bucks you could lend me?"
So there you go. Writers, feel free to use all these ideas at no cost. You don't even need to credit me when you make your first ebook million two months from now.
For more information that'll make your genitals feel funny, check out The Sex Ed Lessons You Wish They'd Taught You and 14 Realities of Romantic Relationships in Chart Form.