Monday, August 8, 2011

Where's the Love?

I've been thinking a lot lately about tension within writing. There are many different kinds...but what I want to work on at the moment is romantic tension.

I know I'm a girl and all that jazz and I should love that ooey-gooey kissy stuff, and I like to read it, but I'm more of a jaw-dropping, blood-pumping, scared-stiff kind of girl when it comes to what I enjoy writing. However, I recognize that the romantic tension can be every bit as gripping as the scary bits. Thus, I'm setting some of my focus on that part of the whole process.

While I've been doing my research, I came across this very awesome post by Roni Loren. It was so brilliant I had to share it with you. So enjoy the following tips for making your steamy scenes as heart melting as possible. 

To build tension:
Make the attraction that each feels for the other obvious to the reader.
--The characters are hyper aware of all the little details of the person when he/she is around. Use all the senses not just sight.

No conflict=no tension
--Make sure there are good reasons why these two can't be together--internal and external. Bella and Edward can't get together because, well, he may kill her.

Use internal dialogue
--The hero may be clenching his hands at his sides, but tell us why. The urge to reach out and touch the heroine's hair is overwhelming him.

Always on each other's mind
--If your hero and heroine aren't together in a scene, then have their thoughts go to the other so that we know he/she can't get the other off his/her mind.

Patience, grasshopper
--Don't relieve the tension too quickly. Frustration must build and build. There's a reason why the first love scene doesn't usually happen until 2/3 the way through a book.

Here we go, wait, not so fast
--Give your characters a taste of what they could have, then make them stop. This is the famous device on sitcoms where they start to kiss, but then someone burst in to interrupt. It doesn't have to be that obvious. One of the characters could be the one to stop (usually for some internal reason related to the conflict between them.)

It's addictive
--Once you do let the two get together the first time (be that a kiss or full out lovin'), leave them wanting more. Instead of satisfying their need/curiosity/etc., they want each other even more. Now they know what they could have if not for all that pesky conflict. Damn those mean authors who put so much in their way.

When all looks like it's going to work out, pull them apart again.
--Romantic comedy movies do this all the time. The characters seem to resolve some conflict and get together. Oh but wait, there's more! Some conflict wedges between them again.
--Don't resolve the relationship until very near the end. Otherwise, the reader will lose interest.

Thanks, Roni! :) What about you? Any other tips you'd like to add?


  1. Love these tips! Thanks, Jenn and Roni!

    Maybe one thing I'd add is "avoid the obvious". Like, just when you think that perfect "moment" has come, your reader is going to think that, too. So maybe to build the tension, avoid the moment, due to internal or external reasons.

    This genre has seen it all, so I'd also add: avoid any plot or device you feel is overdone, unless you can put a new/unique spin on it.

  2. These are awesome tips!

    I especially love the "here we go, wait, not so fast" idea. There is NOTHING better than anticipation. :)

  3. Great tips. I love romantic tension. Happy sigh. :)

  4. Excellent ideas here. I'm all about the tension. And I agree that the longer it can be held out, the better. I love reading a book where I'm going crazy for the love interests to JUST KISS ALREADY! ;)

  5. Those are wonderful tips! Keeping the angst and the magic going at the same time will work for any kind of romance.

    Good post! ;)

  6. Thanks for featuring my post! :) Glad you found it helpful.

  7. I think we all really did! Thanks for stopping by, Roni! :)

  8. Great tips. I don't do romance very well (imagine that) and this helped.

  9. Cool. Thanks for this. Actually one of the next steps in revising my WIP was going to be to build up the romantic tension, so, having never written a romantic scene in any of my other books, I thought I was going to have to do a lot of research. And you just saved me from that.

    But I still don't forgive you for besmirching my SGU.

  10. Thanks for the tips, Jenn and Roni! This is something I really need to work on in my writing.