Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Just a Little Kiss by Susan May Warren

Hey everyone, Annette here. Welcome to Manuscript Monday. If you're like Dawn or me, you probably have lots of sources for craft material--magazines, ezines, writing groups. is one of those sources for us. As members, we receive articles from Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. Recently, Susan sent out a fantastic article on sexual tension for us inspirational romance writers. Now, not to worry, it's a wholesome treatment, of course. If you're a romance writer, get set for some great tips on honoring God while writing that love story. With Susan's permission, I've trimmed up her article and I'm sharing it here. Have a great writing week!

It's Just a Little Kiss
by Susan May Warren

How do we create sexual tension in a book, and when do we use it?

The components of great sexual tension start with the Wishing – or the Desire. The more our characters wish for romance, affection and a happily ever after, the stronger the tension will become. I usually put it in terms of the PULL toward the object of their affection. The pull takes on three different forms:

The Wanting – The characters must enjoy spending time together. Sure, they might have sparks, but even those sparks should be enjoyable. As the romance progresses they should have an increasing awareness that they like each other. They will also become more physically aware of each other. Increase the Wanting – emotionally and physically.

The Work – The characters will continue to discover the “layers” of each other, and find the “treasures” inside each layer. As they discover the increasing value of each other, the idea of not being with each other – even if they still have considerable obstacles, will seem more and more horrible. The key to the Work is a slow “unlayering” of the characters – and an appreciation of each layer.

The What-if – Your hero and heroine should also begin to picture what a future might look like with the other person. What it might be like to have them in their life (in a positive way – we’ll get to the negatives in a moment!) They need to talk to their friends about this, and even visualize it to the point where they thirst for it.

The Pull is just one half of Sexual Tension. We also need the Push if we want to create adequate pressure. I also call it The Waiting.

The Waiting is that time period where you are building the Wish….but are keeping the hero and heroine apart. This first element of keeping them can be termed The Walls.
The first set of Walls between your hero and heroine are those External Obstacles – or Why Nots that we’ve set up between the hero and heroine. What physical elements in the plot keep these people apart?

These obstacles are key to keeping them apart. However, as the story progresses, these external obstacles will feel less important than their love . . . and this is where internal obstacles come in. Underlying the external obstacles will be the hint of a bigger issue, usually something from the character’s past that make them afraid of love. Whatever the internal obstacle it is, it conspires to keep them apart on an emotional, and even a spiritual level.

However, eventually (usually around half-way through the book), they can’t hold back any longer, and . . . well, they have what I call . . . The Wink. This is that tentative, or quick, or accidental, or even purposeful-but-mistaken first Kiss. It acts as a taste of what could be. Now, here’s a secret – the timing of this kiss is essential because once you allow them the kiss, tension deflates. I often wait for that moment when the tension feels unbearable…and then I hold them back! I wait until the next chapter. And then I give them just a taste, so I don’t deflate the tension.

Now, we’ve had the taste of the happy ending, The Wish becomes overwhelming.
About three chapters later, I then have The Wow. This is the amazing, we waited for it kiss! The one to cement in their minds that Wonderful ending they’re hoping for. But they still need to Wish for it.

Hold them back with a final Warning. The Warning is that internal obstacle that suddenly becomes so overwhelming that it feels insurmountable. Often the Warning happens right before the black moment. The hero and heroine have to believe that they can’t overcome the internal obstacle to love.

To find that internal obstacle, ask your character: What holds you back from love? What inner element keeps you apart?

Of course, true love will win the day – they’ll know that the Why of their relationship is stronger than the Why Not, and armed with some truth that overcomes the black moment, and they are set free to have The Wonderful, foot-raising happy ending kiss.

See with the right kiss, all that tension was worth it.

Susan May Warren
is the founder of My Book Therapy, a boutique fiction editing service for writers, and runs A Writer’s Blog. See her Web site to learn more about her award-winning fiction.

Here's info about Susie's January, 2010 release: Double Trouble

With one solved case under her belt, PJ Sugar is ready to dive into her
career as a private investigator. Or at least a PI's "assistant" until she can prove herself to Jeremy Kane, her new boss. Suddenly PJ's seeing crime everywhere. But is it just in her head, or can she trust her instincts? When she takes on her first official case-house-sitting for a witness in protective custody-Jeremy assures her there's no danger involved. But it soon becomes clear that there is someone after the witness . . . and now they're after PJ, too.

The next book in the PJ Sugar series, Licensed for Trouble, will release in August, 2010. Thanks, Susie, for visiting these past two months. We've loved having you here and can't wait to host you again!

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