Presentation on theme: "W HAT ’ S S EXUAL T ENSION G OT TO D O WITH I T ? H OW S EXUAL T ENSION G IVES Y OUR N OVEL S ELL A PPEAL Kerri-Leigh Grady and Candy Lyons."— Presentation transcript:
W HAT ’ S S EXUAL T ENSION G OT TO D O WITH I T ? H OW S EXUAL T ENSION G IVES Y OUR N OVEL S ELL A PPEAL Kerri-Leigh Grady and Candy Lyons
SIX TOPICS RELATED TO SEXUAL TENSION What is Sexual Tension? Dialogue, Body Language, and Push & Pull Internal Dialogue, Emotional Barriers, and Internal Conflict Steps to Intimacy How to Apply Sexual Tension in Your Genre The Language of Love
W HAT IS S EXUAL T ENSION ? “If I had to define sexual tension, I’d say... ” “Sexual tension looks like... ”
W HAT ’ S S EXUAL T ENSION G OT TO D O WITH I T ? W HAT ’ S THE BIG DEAL ? Think about your favorite books, movies, and television shows. How many of them contain at least a hint of a romance or attraction between two characters? What does this attraction do for the plot?
S EXUAL TENSION ISN ’ T JUST A ROMANCE WRITER ’ S DEVICE. Other genres use sexual tension all the time
S EXUAL T ENSION : A WORKING DEFINITION sexual tension - noun ( idiomatic ) Physically induced libidinal unrest arising between two individuals when aware of each other's presence. Allwords.com - English Dictionary
S EXUAL TENSION : A WORKING DEFINITION Sexual tension is a phenomenon that occurs when two people interact and one or both feel sexual desire, but the consummation is postponed or never happens. It is a common feature of plot and characterization in works of fiction.desireconsummationfiction wikipedia
S EXUAL T ENSION : A WORKING DEFINITION “Sexual tension is the unsatisfied attraction of the hero and heroine for each other. The key word here is unsatisfied.... Sexual tension begins at the moment the main characters meet, with their first awareness of each other. They might be angry, interested, wary, or tense, but their heightened sense of awareness of the other person provides the first stirrings of sexual tension.” Leigh Michaels, “Creating Sexual Tension and Love Scenes” from On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells.
S EXUAL T ENSION : A WORKING DEFINITION “Sexual tension is the inevitable result of making your hero and heroine physically attracted to each other but unable to act on that attraction. They want to act, but they can’t.” ~ Leslie Wainger, Harlequin editor-at-large
B UILDING S EXUAL T ENSION The External: Push and Pull, Dialogue, and Body Language
P USH / PULL Create a sense of distance and attraction between the characters Create a rhythm of movement and perception that makes the reader sense friction Set this up through: Body language Symbolic action Physical distance Emotional/mental distance
S YMBOLIC ACTION Push Stabbing food Slamming a door Pushing away an object that was of interest Pull Savoring food or drink Leaning against a door (the exit) Tracing the edge of something with a finger
M ENTAL / EMOTIONAL DISTANCE Push Negative emotions Misunderstanding Lack of coordination in plan/action Pull Positive emotions On the same page Working as a team
P HYSICAL DISTANCE Unintentional Intentional is a component of body language How might you use physical distance in a scene to heighten sexual tension?
D IALOGUE Conveys sexual tension through: Frank discussion of attraction or sex Innuendo Subtext Use the dialogue itself to convey the tension: Fast exchanges with short words Drawn-out conversations
D IALOGUE EXAMPLE - M ANHUNTING How does Crusie’s dialogue guide the sexual tension?
D IALOGUE EXAMPLE – A IN ’ T S HE S WEET “Is this bothering you?” The erotic peep show continued, one button giving way to another, his eyes watching her. “Only because I saw that book you’ve been reading.” His shirt fell open. “Which book would that be?” “ The Erotic Life of a Victorian Gentleman. Some gentleman. All-around dog is more like it. There are entire chapters devoted to masters and servant girls.” He slipped a thumb into the waistband of his slacks, looking arrogant and dangerous. “You think I might be getting ideas, do you?” “I know you’re getting ideas. You were using a Hi-Liter.” How does Phillips use dialogue here to convey sexual tension?
B ODY L ANGUAGE Use to show attraction and to support escalating intimacy The most obvious cue to push and pull Small Group Discussion (3-5 minutes) How might you convey the following through body language: Curiosity Frustration Irritation Longing Predatory attraction
W RITING EXERCISE Write dialogue between two characters. Use it to establish sexual tension for the first time. You may support the sexual tension through character body language and other push-pull techniques.
B UILDING S EXUAL T ENSION The Internal: Emotional Barriers, Internal Dialogue, and Internal Conflict
I NTERNAL DIALOGUE Build sexual tension by layering external factors with the internal dynamics. Sexual tension is heightened when the external (body language, dialogue, action) doesn’t match the internal (thoughts or feelings). Cluing readers in to the true thoughts and emotions of a character increases tension.
I NTERNAL DIALOGUE AT WORK He stood there without moving. The scent of her—spice, sex, obstinacy—lingered in the air even after the front door shut. That ugly kiss should have put an end to it. Instead, it had started things up all over again. Colin in Ain’t She Sweet?
E MOTIONAL BARRIERS What’s really keeping your characters apart? The stronger the inner turmoil or conflict a character experiences, the more intense your sexual tension. Leslie Wainger says: “The reasons why they can’t act are limited only by your imagination--you can place physical, circumstantial, or (best of all) emotional barriers between them. They want to act, but they can’t.”
H OW D O YOU C REATE E MOTIONAL T ENSION ? Use internal dialogue to show the awareness. Create a source of emotional conflict and tension for your hero and heroine. Twist this emotional conflict and complicate it. Manipulating emotional tension makes readers hold their breath and worry about the outcome.
INTERNAL & EXTERNAL AT CONFLICT Sugar Beth and Colin in Ain’t She Sweet? - romance pp. 30 - 32 (handout) Edward and Bella in Twilight - YA pp. 138 - 140 (handout) pp.186 – 192 (handout) Patrick and Angie in Dennis LeHane’s Drink Before the War (book one of a series) - mystery pp. 26 - 28 (handout)
E MOTIONAL BARRIER – A IN ’ T S HE S WEET ? Look at Ain’t She Sweet? What was the emotional barrier that kept Colin and Sugar Beth from acting on their attraction, initially? Then after they have sex? What are the emotional barriers that pop up later? Emotional barriers can be overcome, but newer, bigger ones need to emerge as the story progresses to keep the sexual tension high.
W RITING EXERCISE Write a scene where a character’s dialogue (external) is totally opposite of his/her internal (thoughts and feelings). Show the tension that builds in the scene because of the disparity—the tug of war between the attraction and the obstacle that stands between them.
B UILDING S EXUAL T ENSION Through Escalating Intimacy
F IVE C ARDINAL R ULES OF B UILDING S EXUAL T ENSION Make the Attraction Obvious but Forbidden Always on My Mind Prolong the Agony Delay Gratification Leave Them Wanting More
L INDA H OWARD ’ S 12 STEPS TO INTIMACY 1. Eye to Body 2. Eye to Eye 3. Voice to Voice 4. Hand to Hand 5. Arm to Shoulder 6. Arm to Waist 7. Mouth to Mouth 8. Hand to Head 9. Hand to Body 10. Mouth to Breast 11. Hand to Genitals 12. Genitals to Genitals
I NVITATIONS TO INTIMACY We constantly give out signals Some signals invite intimacy, others repel it We’re always assessing social situations to determine these signs Shaking hands and smiling are basic invitations Begin to look at some of the other signs of attraction
I NVITATIONS TO INTIMACY The hair The face The mouth The eyebrows The eyes Eye movements The cheeks The jaw Skin The breasts Shoulders Knees The belly The waist The legs The feet Buttocks The naval The crotch
M AGIC TO THE B ONE Allie Beckstrom and Zayvion Jones pp. 8 – 10 (handout) pp. 60 – 61 (handout)
W RITING EXERCISE Take a couple in your work in progress... Put them in a scene where they need to work together on something, but they are fighting attraction... Escalate the physical intimacy or have them interpret an invitation to intimacy from this other character.
H EY, YOU GOT M YSTERY ON MY H EAVING B OSOMS ! Romance has a huge market, and sexual tension is a major component of romance novels Increase your readership Add layers of conflict Increase character depth through emotion Make Donald Maass cry tears of joy from the rampant and varied tension in your novel
I N FANTASY Excerpt from Trash Sex Magic by Jennifer Stevenson How can sexual tension help fantasy writers?
I N S USPENSE /M YSTERY Excerpt from Tess Gerritsen’s The Mephisto Club. How can sexual tension add to a mystery/suspense plot?
I N H ORROR Jack Ketchum’s T he Girl Next Door. How can sexual tension add to a horror story?
S CIENCE F ICTION Excerpt from John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. How can sexual tension add to a science fiction plot?
Y OUNG A DULT Excerpt from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely. How can sexual tension add to a YA book? Y OUNG A DULT
T HE L ANGUAGE OF L OVE Considering Word Choice
W HAT C AN K ILL S EXUAL T ENSION ? What kills any kind of tension? Loss of focus Plodding prose Inconsistent or boring tone Purple prose Euphemisms The Love Scene
T HE W ORDS Y OU C HOOSE Decide on the feel of the sexual tension Fiery, with sparks and high-paced excitement Long, slow, smoldering burn Check your word choice as it fits the tone Watch for purple prose
P URPLE P ROSE AND B ULWER -L YTTON Adventure Winner, 2009, Joe Wyatt: “How best to pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the demonic Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy's full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife's holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape.” http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2009.htm
S EX K ILLS T ENSION Introduce a new complication or obstacle – emotional or physical – to push them apart Make the reader question whether the characters will have another opportunity to hook up Continue to use push/pull in your scenes
W RITING THE S EX S CENE Make a few decisions ahead of time: What’s the point of the scene (besides the obvious)? Whose point of view will you use? How much will you show? Vocabulary Know your comfort level! Know your audience!
G ROUP E XERCISE What are your favorite euphemisms for body parts/sex? A few to get you started: Purple tulip Aching buds Manroot/Manhood
S EXUAL T ENSION O VERVIEW Defining and Identifying Sexual Tension External Sexual Tension: Dialogue and Push/Pull Internal Sexual Tension: Emotion and Conflict Building Intimacy Sexual Tension for All Genres Writing Sex Like an Adult