July 27, 2009

Guest Author - Nicole North

Heat it Up With Sexual Tension
By Nicole North

Devil in a Kilt (in Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures): A trip to the Highland Games turns into a trip to the past when modern day psychology professor Shauna MacRae touches Gavin MacTavish's four-hundred-year-old claymore. What she finds is a Devil in a Kilt she's had erotic fantasies about for months. Can Shauna break the curse imprisoning this shape shifting laird and his clan before an evil witch sends Shauna back to her time?

Since Devil in a Kilt is erotic romance, I needed to include several hot sex scenes in the story. But today I want to talk about what comes before sex—sexual tension.

Sexual tension is the “want it but can’t have it” factor. The intense attraction and heightened awareness of another person. The excitement, the anticipation, the passion. Chemistry. When two people feel a mutual, unfulfilled desire. In most cases, the longer they wait to fulfill that desire, the more the sexual tension increases… until it is almost unbearable.

If your hero and heroine have sex on page one, fall in love and have no more problems with each other, then you don’t have a romance story to tell. This is where sexual tension ties into the deep-rooted conflict of your story and plot. Why can’t they have it? “It” can be sex, love, or commitment, etc. What is keeping them apart sexually or emotionally?

Sexual tension is a combination of psychological, emotional and visceral reaction. Your character will get sexually aroused when they’re around that special person, but the emotional excitement and the heart-pounding anticipation are the most important. That’s where the real power punch is. That’s why the reader keeps reading. “Will they or won’t they?” Will they or won’t they have sex? Will they or won’t they admit their love for each other? Will they or won’t they be able to resolve all their conflicts, get married, and stay together forever?

When your heroine experiences sexual tension, she yearns for the hero. She craves his attention, his gaze on her. She wants to breathe in his scent. She wants him to touch her, talk to her, kiss her, make love to her. But he isn’t; not yet. This yearning is strongly emotional and that’s what makes it so powerful.

Sexual tension is like psychological foreplay because it mentally prepares the characters for sex. It also prepares the reader.

Often in erotic romance, the sex happens earlier or more frequently so the tension usually comes from something else, like keeping the characters apart emotionally. They won’t admit their feelings for each other or they won’t make a commitment. But the sexual tension still has to be there and it has to be rebuilt often.

I’ll be teaching the online workshops Writing Hot Delicious Love Scenes in September and Turn Up the Heat! (about how to increase sexual tension) in October. Please check my website for details. www.nicolenorth.com

Do you enjoy reading or writing sexual tension? What about love scenes? In the books you’ve read, do you notice a difference in the amount of sexual tension in erotic romance vs. regular romance? I’ll be giving away a pair of handmade sterling silver and semi-precious stone earrings (made by moi) to one commenter.

Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009; Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29; and (contemporary) Kilted Lover. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, but wishes she lived in the Scottish Highlands at least half the year. Though she holds a degree in psychology, writing romance is her first love. Visit her at http://www.nicolenorth.com/

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1oOOvTomv4

Newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nicolenorthnewsletter/

Book is available at:

B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Secrets-Volume-27/Leigh-Court/e/9781603100076/?itm=1

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-27-Pleasures-Leigh-Court/dp/1603100075/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241557838&sr=8-1

Red Sage: http://www.eredsage.com/product.php?productid=138


Anonymous said...

Wonderful Post, Nicole! And just when I need it most...upping the tension is exactly what I'm trying to do with my wip!!



Nice post! I was just trying to explain sexual tension to someone. This will help.

Nicole North said...

Thanks Tessy!! I'm glad I was able to help.

Thanks Kelly!! Sexual tension is my favorite element of romance.

Nicole North said...

Here's something fun (and exciting for me!) Our cover was shown on NBC Nightly News and one of the authors in the anthology, Leigh Court, interviewed briefly.

Denisse Alicea said...

Hi Nicole! Good to see you on here!
Do you enjoy reading or writing sexual tension? What about love scenes? I love reading and writing them. I do need a bit of help writing, but thats what your workshop is for. :) I love reading it because it does prepare you for the characters coming together and sharing their emotions with each other.

Nicole North said...

Hi Denisse, I love writing sexual tension and love scenes! They're my favorite parts of the story, in both reading and writing.

Kathy Otten said...

I personally like lots of tension between the characters and less sex. I also like romance between them. Though when they do make love I don't really want to read pages and pages of sex, because I find myself skipping over it looking for more story and more tension between them.

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderful post, Nicole. I enjoy both reading and writing sexual tension, though I'm not a fan of explicit sex scenes. Some of the best sexual tension I can recall are in non-explicit books. Same with films. When writing, I prefer to offer the recipe and let the reader cook in accordance with his/her own ideas. Good luck with your new release, and with your class!

Eliza Knight said...

Great post Nicole! I love sexual tension :) Reading and writing love scenes are a lot of fun. The spicier the better.

Congrats on your release!!!!

Kelsey Browning said...

Nicole - I enjoy both the tension and the love scenes. However, I feel like I'm better at writing the actual sex scenes than the tension leading up to them. Any suggestions for how to create "fresh" sexual tension?


robynl said...

I notice a difference in the amount of sexual tension in erotic romance vs. regular romance; suffice to say I read mostly contemporary romance.

I enjoy reading sexual tension but like when the end comes and the two of them 'get it on'. Then there can be more sexual tension again if it is part of the story.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Belated welcome to my guest today. Thanks Nicole for blogging. I enjoyed the post and great information.

I squealed at my husband when I saw your cover on the news..."hey, she's blogging with me tomorrow!" I know someone famous!


Nicole North said...

Kathy, I agree with you. Pages and pages of sex can get boring. Also sex without tension.

Nicole North said...

Thanks Pat!!!

Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Super post, Nicole! You do it right when it comes to showing great sexual tension. Loved the story, and can't wait for more!

Nicole North said...

Thanks Eliza! I like them spicy and sensual too. ;)

Nicole North said...

Kelsey, thanks! There are several wonderful ways to create sexual tension. My internet is down and I'm borrowing a friend's, otherwise I'd have more time to give you some ideas. But you might want to check out one of my classes this fall about sexual tension. Thanks!

Nicole North said...

robynl, thanks for dropping by! I like contemporary too at times.

Anna, thanks for allowing me to be here today! Sorry I haven't been around much. My internet went down.

Terry, thanks!!! I appreciate it so much!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Nicole,

I couldn't agree with you more.

Sometimes I think I'm better at sexual tension than the actual sex (though my sex scenes generally get high ratings!) I just finished a story where the build-up seemed to go on -- and on -- I couldn't seem to get my characters to actually get in bed together!

Of course when I finally did, the results were explosive.

Sexual tension does more than build suspense. It heightens the reader's identification with the characters. I think it is critical that readers have a sense of who the characters are and how they react sexually before you put them together in a clinch.


Nicole North said...

Lisabet, yes, it's important to listen to the characters and get a feel for what they're ready for. For me and my stories, it seems some characters get to the physical stuff much earlier. Plus I always keep my market in mind. Erotic romance seems to need more and/or earlier erotic content (but not before the characters are ready.) Thanks for commenting!

Nicole North said...

Hi, I've drawn a winner for the sterling silver handmade earrings. Kathy Otten! Congratulations! Please email me your address to nicole (at) nicolenorth.com (without the spaces and with the @ sign.) Thanks Kathy and everyone for commenting!!! And thanks Anna Katheryn for allowing me to be here!!!