Saturday, April 28, 2012

Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction

I gave a workshop for ARWA on writing sexual tension. Enjoy and Happy Writing!

Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers’ Satisfaction
by Sarah Kades
I love writing sexual tension. It’s fun, it’s dynamic, and you get to create a storm of feeling within your characters. Your characters dance around each other and their feelings for each other and wrestle with darn near everything under the sun trying to ignore the burning heat that is threatening to scorch them if they don't give in to the passion exploding through their system.
But they can’t give in. Not yet. Something is stopping them from grabbing that other person and rocking their core. And not just any something. Nope. It has to be a big enough deal to stop this rocking attraction. And sexual tension isn’t soft and fuzzy. Soft and fuzzy has a place, mind you, but it is not when the stakes and the passion are so high somethings got to give and your characters have no idea what they are going to do because they can’t act on the attraction (insert plot element here where acting on it would be the dumbest thing in the world, internal or external conflict) and they can’t not act on the attraction (because the attraction and passion are so real, so intense, so burning that not acting on it is the most unnatural and dumbest thing in the world).
Sexual tension has very little (sometimes nothing) to do with the actual act of sex. Sexual tension is passion unsatisfied. It is emotion and conflict, both internal and external, with anticipation and frustration thrown in the mix. 
It is that passion, that attraction that makes your characters’ life impossible because they cannot stop feeling their beloved (or be-lusted) everywhere. It’s distracting and oh-so-fun to write your characters going through it. It is up to you how you put it in there.
Sexual tension scenes grip your reader. I want my reader to feel what my characters are feeling, feel the sexual tension, feel the sexual frustration, feel the heat that is the no holds bar, intense, crazy attraction that can exist between two people.
The core of writing believable, charged sexual tension, is to feel it. Feel that fire and translate it to your reader. Have you ever met someone and were rocked to your absolute core? Have you ever felt completely consumed by passion? Have you been floored that you could feel that much? 
Write it. Make your characters feel that. 
And if you haven’t experienced, no worries. As writers we create. Create that feeling, that passion, with so much clarity that your readers are caught up in the maelstrom of emotions and conflict, both internal and external, the anticipation and frustration, that they are squirming in their seats desperate for release, too.
We write sexual tension by overstimulating our characters’ senses with each other. We have (at least) five senses to work with. Go play and have fun working your characters into a frenzy over each other. Remember, sensuality trumps sexuality in the sexual tension game, so work with your characters’ senses!
Love (or lust) amplifies everything, it takes ordinary situations and experiences and blitzes the system with feeling. Everything is more intense because there is an underlying feeling that is inexplicable, and impacts everything, it amplifies everything. Sexual tension is part of that. Write it.
A few things to note:
Direct the sexual tension where you want it to go, not where you don’t. Don’t ‘conflict’ your characters into a corner they cannot get out of. Or a corner where your reader looses interest.
Throw your readers enough bones. Teasing your readers and characters is one thing, but they need something to tide them through. Sexual tension ebbs and flows. Heightening satisfaction includes the sensual dance of push and pull. Keep your reader actively engaged in this drama by keeping it rolling. Too much pushing with no pull will disengage your reader. Keep them engaged and wanting more.
Check otherwise “non-sexy” scenes and see if there is opportunity to heighten your hero and heroine’s awareness of each other. Sexual tension builds. Utilize the opportunities for it to build in your story.
Condom are sexy. Romance novels now include responsible, safe sex. Have fun writing condoms into your sizzling scenes.
Exquisitely craft your sexual tension scenes. Your characters, and your readers, will thank you. Happy Writing!
For more information, check out:
Juliet Burns, Sexual Tension – You want his WHAT to go WHERE? ©
Connie Flynn, Creating Sensual Tension 
Marg Riseley , The Exquisite Heat of Sexual Tension

1 comment:

  1. Good points Sarah thanks. I love writing the 'sexual tension' scenes more than the sex scenes.