Passionate Plots – What is Sexual Tension?

I wrote my new book, Passionate Plots as a guide to writing sex scenes both for emerging erotica writers and writers looking to branch out in this area, or who feel that their current story might benefit from some added heat. The main thrust of the book – as well as specific advice on writing a good sex scene and writing exercises to help you do this – is that sex scenes, whatever your genre, need to be integral to the overall plot and make sense in terms of your characters. One way to ensure that your erotic scenes don’t just pop up out of nowhere is to ensure that there’s some build-up of sexual tension between the characters involved. Here’s a little extract from the book on conveying those tension levels….

‘What is sexual tension? It’s that simmering between two people who are attracted to each other but are fighting it, or can’t be together for whatever reason, or the first time you talk to someone and you look at each other and just know you’re going to end up between the sheets, but you’ve only just met and you’re in public/company so it wouldn’t be polite to say anything. If the couple becomes long-term, sexual tension evolves into chemistry, where you’re finishing each other’s sentences and even your friends sense the simmering heat between you.

Sexual tension is crucial for your story if you’re writing an erotic romance or erotica; think of it as foreplay. In these genres sexual tension will be one of if not the major source of conflict. It sounds like an obvious point, but I’ve read a few erotica novels where, although the sex scenes come fast and furious, there’s little or no sexual tension, which results in the reader not really caring about the characters or even what happens next, flicking through to the sex scenes and discarding the book.

Even if you’re writing in another genre, if you’re planning on including erotic scene, it’s still important to have some levels of sexual tension that give the reader a build-up. Otherwise the sex scenes appear to come out of nowhere and can jar the reader out of the story. Sexual tension serves to give the reader a hint at the scenes to come, so by the time they reach the first love scene they’ll be not just expecting it but looking forward to it. It can also serve your plot in other ways; a little sexual tension simmering away can work with other points of conflict in the story to up the overall rising tension and drama. Particularly in thrillers and action-adventure novels, two characters battling outside conflict while sexual tension simmers away between them really adds to the levels of excitement and urgency. Just look at some Hollywood films for examples of this. The same principle can work in horrors and Westerns too. Historical fiction can also benefit from a good dollop of sexual tension and done well it can really add to the plot; think of the restrained and corseted Victorian era with all that passion bubbling under the surface for example.

Of course sexual tension is subtle and hard to describe; like that all elusive chemistry you know when it’s there but it’s almost impossible to pin down and define. Therefore, although our stories might need this form of tension, it’s not the easiest thing to convey in words, unlike a film where you can practically see the sparks fly between characters. Here is where you really need to be able to ‘show not tell’. Telling your readers there’s sexual tension between your characters, even in the first-person, won’t let them feel it.

So how do you do it?…..

Passionate Plots

This post and it’s conclusion can be found at http://www.kdgrace.co.uk

 

 

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