Ah, anticipation...the breath before the kiss...accidental touches that stir the embers...the boundaries yet to be crossed...the art of sexual tension. Just like in real life, flirting needs to be a part of every romance novel. The give and take, lean in, lean away, to kiss or not to kiss, the glance, the biting of the lip, the inner debate between yes and no...all of that is integral in fueling desire.
Think about how you first know you’re attracted to someone. It’s usually a physical reaction that you can’t quite put into words, right? Sure, it’s easy to say someone is attractive, but I’ve met quite a few attractive people that I don’t feel sexual toward. Desire is a purely physical and emotional response to someone else. Conveying that in written word is best done through non-verbal cues or physical responses.
As the saying goes, show don’t tell. In the beginning, I’ll often have my characters acting nonchalant with their dialogue while conveying desire through nonverbal actions like squirming in her chair, tapping a pen, biting her lip, loosening the buttons of her shirt. Or internal fantasizing about what the other person would be like naked. That’s overt, but I’m trying to make a point.
Kindling the fire between main characters is all about the subtle dance of seduction. Here’s a brief excerpt from Riptide where Lauren meets Noah face-to-face for the first time. Notice her non-verbal cues that let you, the reader, know how she feels.
“You nearly killed me, you know,” a deep voice said from over her shoulder. “That was you on the Jet Ski, right? Reckless.”
Lauren turned her head and blinked several times. Merman in the flesh stood within inches of her left shoulder. Little earthquakes rocked through her body until she thought she’d fall off the stool.
“Noah, good to see you,” Austin said with a smile. “Lauren, meet Noah Reynolds. Noah, Lauren.” Austin pushed a beer in front of him. “I thought you were writing all day. What’s up? Procrastinating?”
“Mostly.” His wet hair curled against his forehead and into eyes that reminded her of expensive whiskey. A faded red T-shirt stretched across his chest. Moisture seeped through at the shoulders and neckline. He resembled a pirate—the Hollywood kind that makes every woman crave the bad boy.
“Mostly.” Austin snorted. “I’m beginning to think you’re never going to write again.”
“Be more concerned with your sister’s reckless moves on that Jet Ski. She nearly took my head off.” A smile tugged up the corners of his mouth while he took a long drink from the beer bottle without looking at her.
“I didn’t come close to you,” she said after finding her voice. “What were you doing way out there anyway? Danger zone.”
Watching a droplet of water slide down his neck made her squirm and lick her lips. Okay, so maybe island mode was a bit too much to handle her first day. She held the cold glass of sangria against her skin.
“Hey, Erin, Larry booked a private charter tonight. Want to ride along? He needs another dive master.” He ignored her and spoke to Austin’s manger slash girlfriend.
“Why aren’t you doing it?” Austin said.
“I’m not up for it. Bad day.” He shrugged. “What do you say, Erin? We’ll pay you.”
“Will you hold the boat for me if I’m a little late?” Erin asked. “I promised Austin I’d stay until he gets back from taking Lauren home.”
“No problem. Do you dive, Lauren?” His whiskey-colored eyes focused on her face.
She had a sudden craving for a shot of Jack Daniels. “No, I prefer seeing fish in an aquarium, especially the ones with big teeth.”
Sexual tension is the key to any romance novel, regardless of sub-genre. There needs to be heat, but believable sizzle so that the reader is engaged in the dance as well.
The best way to fan the fire in fiction is to have it mirror real life. If the characters don’t seem human or if they seem too good to be true, then there is a disconnect. The glances, the lean in, the brush of knees beneath the table and subsequent physical reactions are all integral to character and plot development. If the love story is believable, there is plenty of sexual tension along the way.
About Our Guest Author:
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry. Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking courses on a wide variety of subjects when time allows. Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges, but who ultimately persevere.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."
You can find out more about Amber Lea Easton, Riptide and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/a2azncg
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com