Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Tipping Point: Creating Sensual Tension in Scenes

Fellow ROSA member Anthony Ehlers shared some useful tips for creating sensual tension in scenes at ROSACon 2016. Here's what he had to say.

"In my workshop on writing scenes at ROSACon 2016, I spoke about the need to build sensual and emotional tension in each scene. This is probably the real reason readers come to romance novels – whether they’re erotic or sweet, modern or historical. That’s why it’s so important to keep the reader in mind when you’re writing a scene."

Top Tips for Creating Sensual Tension
  • ·        Don’t bog the scene down in plot – give just enough to keep the story going.
  • ·   Focus on the developing relationship between the characters – play on their fears, vulnerabilities, etc.
  • ·        Use as many of the senses as possible – touch, taste, smell, sound, sight.
  • ·       Sometimes you don’t need a lot of dialogue – wordless tension and a sense of mystery can work well.
  • ·      And most of all, slow down: don’t hurry the scene and you’ll keep the tension drawn out.

 A lesson from the pro's

image credit: abebooks.co.uk
Anthony says, "One my favourite Mills & Boon titles, the classic 70s Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather, makes imaginative use of the timeless Beauty & the Beast theme. Helen, our heroine, is trapped by a snow storm at the country retreat of Dominic, a racing car driver the world believes has died in a crash. And because she knows his identity, he forbids her to leave!

In one of the most memorable scenes, Helen sneaks down into the basement of the house where a naked Dominic lies prone in a sauna room. He is expecting his manservant, Bolt, to administer his afternoon massage to his damaged body – instead Helen creeps in and starts to touch him. The tension here is off the charts. Will he discover it’s not Bolt? How will react to Helen seeing his vulnerable body? 
image credit: goodreads.com

In Jane Porter’s awesome Modern/Presents title, Christos’s Promise, Alysia has been secluded in a convent and is rescued by wealthy Greek magnate, Christos. Theirs will not be a marriage of convenience, he declares, and while he will never force her into intimacy, they will share a bed.

On their honeymoon yacht, Alysia lies awake while her new husband slips into bed beside her. As he falls asleep, he cradles her and becomes aroused. The tension between the natural state of sleep of Christos and the hyper-awareness of his bride make this one of the most breath-stealing scenes in romance fiction – even 15 years after reading it!"

What are some of the amazingly sensual tension scenes you’ve read or written?

image credit: bookslive.com
Anthony Ehlers is a writer, scriptwriter and creative writing teacher. In 2014, his scripts were shortlisted for the Jameson First Shot competition, as well as the European Independent Film Festival. In 2010, his story “Limerence” was a runner-up in the annual Woman & Home short story competition. He is one of only two authors to appear in the first two Short.Sharp.Stories collections. His story Breaking the Rules was published in the Adults Only collection in 2014.

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