The Sex Between the Lines
(this is probably a slightly inappropriate post at best, 18+ at worst)
This post was inspired, almost entirely, by the first episode of series two of Sherlock, the BBC series. (which is streaming in Netflix. Go. Watch it. NAO. Report back.)
In this episode Sherlock is somewhat captivated by a dominatrix who is pretty much also a criminal. Sherlock isn’t ever captivated by anyone, which makes it all the more interesting to watch his reactions to The Woman (as she was called.)
There’s a moment where she has her hand in his, and he’s looking at her. It’s a non-sexual touch, really. And yet, it’s smoking hot. Why? The tension. And why else? The character.
Sherlock, if you don’t know him, allow me to make an introduction, is a fascinating character. Brilliant, emotionally disconnected, prone to addictive behaviors, out of touch with social norms and completely immune, so it seems, to sexual attraction.
This makes his fascination with The Woman all the more intriguing, and the moment of attraction, all the more intense, even though it’s just the touch of hands. They never kiss. But because he felt anything at all, it seemed…torrid to me as a viewer.
This to me underscores the power of character, the building of tension and the importance of the moment where a kiss does NOT happen in romances.
A hot scene doesn’t have to have sex in it. It doesn’t have to have a kiss. It doesn’t even have to have a physical touch.
I have an upcoming book where the hero is a virgin. This means that for him, simple touch is so much more than most of the heroes I’ve written. He lives a very isolated existence and touch, the kind we take for granted just having people in our lives who care – a hug, a touch on the shoulder, whatever- is something he just doesn’t get. Ever.
It’s the build to that first love scene that makes the scene hot. The knowledge of the characters that makes it matter. The goal is to make the characters burn, and to make the reader burn too. To have everyone at the breaking point by the time your hero and heroine make it into the bedroom.
If you write closed door romance, that doesn’t mean you can’t show the building of tension, of attraction.
Attraction and love scenes aren’t just about telling us about her heavy aching breasts and the pooling desire in his groin and fireworks and cresting waves. Though those things are nice. 😉 Who are your characters? How do THEY feel about this attraction? What does making love mean for them? What are the implications unique to them?
Is your hero inexperienced, so each touch is fascinating and special, so he trembles when she puts her hands on him, even in a non-sexual way? Is your heroine experienced, but used to men cutting to the chase, so your hero going slow, touching her with reverence, rocks her world before their lips ever touch?
Make the reader care. Show them what’s building between these two people so that they can’t wait for it to pay off. In fireworks and cresting waves.
Remember, love scenes aren’t just there to be there. They aren’t meant to be Tab A into Slot B, each one should be unique for the characters, and the attraction building between your characters should be unique as well. We need moments to draw us in, to make us stop breathing. Even when it’s just hands touching.
It’s the sex you’re reading between the lines that can really captivate your audience. Make the most of it!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them for me!
And for those of you entering SYTYCW…good luck!