I have three variations of the same storyline and cannot decide which one I want to write:
erotic story turning dark and dangerous
A young adult man and woman fall in love. It is the woman's first time to have sex, and the narrative focusses on the sexual feelings and desires of the protagonists. As the couple discover the woman's sexuality, they find more and more dark and disturbing needs that eventually threaten the life and sanity of the two characters.
This is the original variant of the story. I abandoned it because the end is too risqué (involving massive sexual abuse and rape). I think it is a great story with intriguing character development and some relevance to current psychosocial developments, but difficult to write and easy to fail as well as hard to publish.
erotic story turning into a spy thriller
A young man and woman are sexually attracted to each other, slowly tease and approach each other, but before they can have sex for her first time, the progess of their relationship is interrupted by spy thriller complications. Lots of action and a scyfyish plot turn almost destroy their love, but they overcome their emotional difficulties, reconcile, have her first sex, and solve the thriller plot.
This is the variation I had decided to write instead of the original one. But the problem with this variation is that the first part of the novel would be an erotic story and the second a thriller with love story, and I'm not sure if the two parts fit together. I could write this and see how it turns out, but in my mind there is this disparity and I need to overcome it because the doubt hampers me.
love story turning into a spy thriller
The same story as no. 2 but without the more sexual tension at the beginning. Could be marketed as YA.
To solve the disparity of the sexualized first part and the turn to a more loving and supportive relationship during the evolving thriller plot I attempted to describe the desire of the man and woman for each other in more romantic, Young Adult terms, but this removes all the exitement from the story's beginning and I would have to condense it and incite the action more quickly, moving the focus away from the relationship and to the thriller plot.
I like all three variations of the story and would be equally exited to write them all. My question is which variation would be more attractive to agents, publishers, and the reading public? That is, which variations would sell best? The erotic novel, the erotic spy thriller, or the YA love thriller?
I have been struggling with this decision for weeks while outlining all three plots in parallel. How can I decide?
I found two related questions on this site that don't answer my question. The first questions asks about writing and publishing all variations, which is not what I want to do. I do want to decide and write only one. And the answers to that question do not deal with how to decide between variations so they apply to my present problem.
The second question does deal with how to decide, but the answers don't help me because I have done what the accepted answer suggests and not been able to come to a decision.
But thinking about those related questions made me realize that my question is less about deciding between equal variations than about deciding between variations with more or less sex.
So very likely the true questions behind my difficulty to decide are: How much sex can I write if I'm after mainstream success?