Friday, February 2, 2007

Book With Trish - Pt 8 - Building the Sexual Tension

So now we’re starting to think about building sexual tension…

So soon? Yes, you may well ask that question. And the answer is a resounding YES. Because if that attraction, that spark, that pull isn’t there between your characters from the get go then all your hard work is wasted. Cos this is a romance – and you want the reader to keep turning the page to find out what comes next, right???

So, straight away we want to start to layer that attraction in and to build on it!

Different lines will take different approaches to this. Both in the way it’s worded and in the phrasing. I know when I jump from one line to another it’s something I have to be very cautious about… Modern Extra’s should be a fast, fun, sexy read – Romance’s can afford to be a slower build, a more emotional involvement, more time for ahhh and less time for ooohhh I guess would be the simplest way of putting it. Not that there isn’t room for both in both of the lines!!!

Let’s have a look see if I can make it any clearer. We’ll take one Modern Extra and one Romance:

Back we go to Breathless! And the attraction is there from the very very beginning:

“What can I do for you?”
Cara stared up into the darkest eyes she had ever seen while her subconscious mind formed an X-rated list of answers to that particular question.
He had the eyes of a devil. Mid-night black, but with sharp sparks of light, like diamonds sprinkled on a coalface. And that voice! A deep baritone grumble that sent tremors through the air, ripples that washed over her body and called out to every pheromone she possessed. Men like him weren’t supposed to exist.
He hadn’t been there before. Had he? Oh no, she’d have remembered if she’d seen him before. And the sight of him now made her falter.
“Erm, hi.”

Now as we go into the chapter we learn that being lost for words is not something that Cara is notorious for. So add that to the continuing heightened awareness she has of how he looks and sounds and how her body reacts to him – all in the space of the first chapter (!!) and we have very definite sexual tension in place… right from the start... so that we can build on it...

Then let’s look at my April Romance release Rescued: Mother-To-Be and we can see a different approach:

“Welcome home, Eamonn.”
Colleen McKenna pinned a smile on her face and tilted her head back to look up at him where he stood, leaning against the doorway of the yard office. She had managed to keep her voice calm – even thought she’d come across as welcoming. Which was the least he deserved, on his first visit home after so long.
He hadn’t changed a bit, had he? Still disgustingly good-looking, still able to dominate by sheer presence as much as size. And still, after fifteen years, capable of making her mouth go dry and butterflies flutter their wings erratically in her stomach. It really wasn’t fair.
Surely a thirty year old woman should long since been over the unrequited love she’d felt as a fifteen year old? Shouldn’t she?
She felt a sudden ridiculous urge to raise her hand to her hair, to straighten it, tuck a loose strand behind one ear. As if those simple actions would somehow make her look less dishevelled than she felt. But it wasn’t as if Eamonn Murphy had ever cared how she looked before, was it?

It’s a very different *feel* isn’t it? And yet we still have had it made plain that there is an attraction there. Before we even get the description of him on the next page we can tell how Colleen is effected by him – we know on an emotional level that she was crazy about him a long time ago – we know that subconsciously there’s maybe still something of that there in the way she is worried about how she looks…

And it might interest you to know that both of those excerpts are taken from the opening of both books. They are the first page, straight after the words Chapter One. So the attraction is established from the get-go and we have jumped straight into the action and made it plain that it’s the beginning of a relationship - and we've started to lay our characters personalities out for the reader to see…

So Part 8 of the workshop is to look at getting the beginnings of the Sexual Tension onto the page as soon as possible too. There’s a lot to be packed into that first couple of chapters – but its vital we do – because every little layer that we have at the beginning can then be built on and expanded as we get deeper into the story…

And take a moment and look at both those examples and see if you have been drawn out of the story? Would you have read on? Do you have an initial impression of the characters? Think about the steps we have taken so far – and remember – when you’re actually writing, try not to get bogged down on these details! Write first – critique and edit second!!! Otherwise your story may become stilted along the way..

The characters and the story come first….

We’ll pause for questions here as usual and then we’ll move on again…

1 comment:

Janet said...

"...more time for ahhh and less time for ooohhh."

What a great way of summing up the difference in the 2 lines.