I’ve promised many I’d write about my experience in developing this erotica manuscript and now that I’ve caught up with deadlines and submissions, I’m tossing myself completely into it. My goal is to be finished with the piece by late summer and be able to submit it to “Mr. Insatiable” by early fall.
As many know, I write mainly in the genre of romance, specifically focusing on the categories of contemporary, suspense, and paranormal. I’ve got eight completed stories under my belt, two published, and two more under contract. In my books I do have erotic content. So what’s the big deal about writing an erotica, you ask? In case anyone missed it, I gave examples and definitions of the differences in this blog post a few weeks back. Erotica is everyone’s little indulgence, their secret pleasure, and something that isn’t discussed in public.
Well, I’m taking the behind the scenes making of, and turning it very public in my blog. *winks* I have no shame, that’s right.
What I want to address is this won’t be specifically a project about “How to Write” a book or an erotica novel. More so, this will just be my path of discovery, research, and development to show how my piece came together. Again, if you have any questions on exactly what I’m writing, make sure you check out this post before you read any further.
So, that being said, I have my plot (because yes, there really is one in an erotica), my characters, and my opening scene outlined. The initially question that popped in my mind was, “Just how quick do I want to introduce sex to the book?” If you cringe when you think about sex, then maybe an erotica isn’t for you. To me, sex is sex. It’s fun, it’s normal, it’s a connection, and most of all, a part of life.
Again, no shame. ;)
I opened my untitled erotica with sex. Hey, just get it right out there in the open right away. That way, in case you were wondering what kind of book you’re reading, you now know. In this scene, though, the sex isn’t between my two main characters. My hero is having some fun, but the female he is with is only a secondary character. And I doubt she’ll make another appearance after this.
With the opening scene out of the way, sex introduced, and the basic story set up, my mind raced to discover how best to proceed. Here’s where each romance author struggles. The Art of Sexual Tension is no joke. You can’t have it go on too long, and you can’t make it come on too quickly. (Pun intended) The build-up needs to be just right. This is important to me in an erotica novel as well. I don’t want to just see two characters pound into each other, erotica or not. To me, that doesn’t make for good writing, and more so, for a good read. Yet, in an erotica, I can’t take the speed of tension at the rate I normally would for a romance. This creates a problem for me.
How can I build the tension between two characters and still keep them likable, and still keep my reader interested?
Well first, what is sexual tension?
Sexual tension is the buildup of attraction between the hero and the heroine. Sexual tension is NOT the act of consummation between the two. No, that is called sex.
Sexual tension, however, can be present even in a sexual relationship. So even after the two have sex, keeping the tension going is very real, and an important part of the character building process. Say she’s the only thing he can think of, and I’m not saying thinking in terms of he’d like to take her to dinner with his mother. No, more so fantasizing about what she’d look like stripping for him, or *coughs* that little secret move she did with her hips last time they had sex.
In order to make the sexual tension, both before and after sex, real and unforced, you need to have two characters that are attracted to each other. Believe it or not, this is tougher than it sounds. If you have to keep forcing the two together, then not only will your editor pick up on it, but your readers will as well.
So say you have your two characters who are attracted to each other; how do you move to start building that tension?
Well, what is the ultimate goal of your characters? They each need to have one, and it can’t just be that they are horny. Dig into their heads, and show your reader just who they are. Make your reader connect with the character on a primal level. Get them understanding just why sex is popping into your character’s head each time they come in contact with the hero or heroine. Give your characters a reason to need the sex, as this is still an erotica, and start the growth of their relationship based on desire.
Some ways of building sexual tension:
Attraction or desire
Simple touches/turned erotic
While my novel starts with sex; that may not be the best way to establish your developing plot. One could also argue that sex can be repetitious, so to start off my work with a sexual scene might not be the best. Well, this is all true. However, as a writer, I’m going to give one more piece of advice in Phase 1 of Operation Between the Sheets: Avoid, avoid, avoid clichés. In writing we must come up with new ways to describe the same things over and over again. Erotica is about sex. Thus sex needs to be in it. And often. Over-using the same descriptions or explaining things over and over again with the same words will have your reader rolling their eyes and your editor cringing. Dig deep—as you ARE a writer—and find fresh material. Put yourself in your character’s shoes and experience the scene through their eyes.
If you understand your character, the rest will come that much easier.
Next post, Phase 2 of Operation Between the Sheets: The reactions of desire between a man and a woman