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Kelly Lawrence Talks ‘Passionate Plots’ – Using Dialogue to Convey Sexual Tension

Kelly Lawrence Passionate Plots postI wrote my new book, Passionate Plots as a guide to writing sex scenes both for emerging erotica writers and writers looking to branch out in this area, or who feel that their current story might benefit from some added heat. The main thrust of the book – as well as specific advice on writing a good sex scene and writing exercises to help you do this – is that sex scenes, whatever your genre, need to be integral to the overall plot and make sense in terms of your characters. One way to ensure that your erotic scenes don’t just pop up out of nowhere is to ensure that there’s some build-up of sexual tension between the characters involved. Here’s a little extract from the book on conveying those tension levels….

‘What is sexual tension? It’s that simmering between two people who are attracted to each other but are fighting it, or can’t be together for whatever reason, or the first time you talk to someone and you look at each other and just know you’re going to end up between the sheets, but you’ve only just met and you’re in public/company so it wouldn’t be polite to say anything. If the couple becomes long-term, sexual tension evolves into chemistry, where you’re finishing each other’s sentences and even your friends sense the simmering heat between you.

Sexual tension is crucial for your story if you’re writing an erotic romance or erotica; think of it as foreplay. In these genres sexual tension will be one of if not the major source of conflict. It sounds like an obvious point, but I’ve read a few erotica novels where, although the sex scenes come fast and furious, there’s little or no sexual tension, which results in the reader not really caring about the characters or even what happens next, flicking through to the sex scenes and discarding the book.

Even if you’re writing in another genre, if you’re planning on including erotic scene, it’s still important to have some levels of sexual tension that give the reader a build-up. Otherwise the sex scenes appear to come out of nowhere and can jar the reader out of the story. Sexual tension serves to give the reader a hint at the scenes to come, so by the time they reach the first love scene they’ll be not just expecting it but looking forward to it. It can also serve your plot in other ways; a little sexual tension simmering away can work with other points of conflict in the story to up the overall rising tension and drama. Particularly in thrillers and action-adventure novels, two characters battling outside conflict while sexual tension simmers away between them really adds to the levels of excitement and urgency. Just look at some Hollywood films for examples of this. The same principle can work in horrors and Westerns too. Historical fiction can also benefit from a good dollop of sexual tension and done well it can really add to the plot; think of the restrained and corseted Victorian era with all that passion bubbling under the surface for example.

Of course sexual tension is subtle and hard to describe; like that all elusive chemistry you know when it’s there but it’s almost impossible to pin down and define. Therefore, although our stories might need this form of tension, it’s not the easiest thing to convey in words, unlike a film where you can practically see the sparks fly between characters. Here is where you really need to be able to ‘show not tell’. Telling your readers there’s sexual tension between your characters, even in the first-person, won’t let them feel it.

So how do you do it? There are a variety of ways, from body language to interior monologue, but dialogue is one of the most powerful ways to convey that simmering sexual tension….

The use of banter between two characters trying to fight or avoid their attraction to each other is a strong device in romance novels, and if this is an area you’re not familiar with I suggest you read a few and see how other writers do it. ‘Banter’ can be used to refer to flirting, teasing, even a heated debate if it’s already been made clear the characters would rather be ripping off the others’ clothes than their head.  Whatever the context, banter is witty, fast-paced dialogue with a sexual edge. You can make this sexual aspect quite clear with the use of flirting or innuendo, or subtle with the use of subtext.

How do your characters flirt? Think about their personalities and don’t make your heroine turn into a pouty-lipped giggling hair flicker if she’s usually quiet and serious, or a ballsy no-nonsense kind of gal, or your down-to-earth guy metamorphoses into Mr Charmer. Let your characters lead.

Sexual tension between characters often arises due to some interpersonal conflict between them. This may be because of the situation they’re in, one a cop, the other a fugitive, to give an obvious example much beloved of Hollywood screenwriters, but is at its most effective when there is a conflict between their personality types. As we all know, opposites attract.

Innuendo is a great way of injecting an element of simmering sexual attraction into a conversation without the characters blatantly saying ‘I really fancy you.’

The only thing to be careful of is that your dialogue doesn’t become too obvious, with your innuendoes becoming blatantly sexual in a 1970’s skin flick kind of way. No ‘gun in the pocket’ jokes, please.

Sub-text is a subtler way to show tension of any kind in dialogue – it’s the reading between the lines, what the characters don’t say – and it only works in the context of what has gone before. For example, look at this simple exchange;

John ‘I’ve always liked to dance.’

Jane ‘I remember.’

This could mean anything. John and Jane could be old friends having a casual conversation at a school reunion, with no further implications. However if we already know that John and Jane are old flames that are still attracted to each other, and that this is the first time they’ve seen each other since a brief night at a friend’s wedding where John asked Jane for dance that turned steamy and ended up with him sweeping her out of the ballroom onto a balcony for a passionate embrace, then the exchange takes on a different meaning. We know they are now both thinking of that last frenzied embrace, and that the tension is growing between them.

What isn’t said can be as powerful as what is.

About Kelly Lawrence:
Kelly LawrenceUnconditionalRei Bennett Photography - Kelly 10Kelly Lawrence is a writer, teacher and mother from the West Midlands. She is the author of the bestselling erotic memoir ‘Wicked Games’, New Adult romance ‘Unconditional’ and two writing guides, of which ‘Passionate Plots’ is the first, to be followed by ‘Building Your Story’ in August 2014. She is currently working on a book aimed at young adults called ‘The Anger Games’ exploring teen trends in digital activism, and also writes historical romance and contemporary crime for Harlequin as Michelle Kelly, with ‘Sins of the Children’ her first major crime novel being released later this year.
You can contact Kelly here:
@lotuswriter
Buy Passionate Plots Here: 

 

 

 

 

Smut by the Sea 14th June 2014: Come Join the Fun

I’m very excited to give a little advance invite to Smut By the Sea, Year Two! Last year was so much fun, and this year promises to be even bigger and better and smuttier. Stay tuned for more smutty news as the time gets closer.

SBTS image 3When you think of Scarborough, many good things jump to mind. From the beach and many arcades to fish, chips and ice cream but I don’t suppose erotica is automatically one of those things. Well on the 14th June this year for the second time Smut by the Sea will take place at Scarborough library and it’s going to get really smutty.

What is it? Good question. It’s a gathering of authors and readers of erotica and erotic romance. There will be talks on Inspiration from Victoria Blisse, Writing Better Erotica from KD Grace and Social Media and promotion with Lucy Felthouse.

There’s also an afternoon stuffed full of sexy snippets read by the authors themselves, a free lunch and the unique and much loved Erotic Tombola and book stall, to feed your need for smut! If you ask nicely you can get your favourite authors to sign the books for you.

SBTS post1It’s a fun gathering of like-minded folk and if you want to attend you can pick up your tickets here. It’s £20 for all day and that includes your buffet lunch. A complete bargain.  All the details you need can be found at http://smutbythesea.co.uk . There is still room in the reading slam, so if you’re interested in joining in with a 5 min reading (not a moment more or you get spanked!) then drop Victoria a line.  Victoria @victoriablisse.co. uk (no spaces) and she’ll pencil you in!

If you live in a far flung corner of the world and can’t make it to Scarborough you can check out the advertising options so you can be with us in spirit. We’re also still looking for sponsors, if you or someone you know wants some fabulous, focused promotion then check out the Sponsor options.

The smutters look forward to seeing you there!

SBTS2 image

 

 

My Writing Process

I’d like to thank the fabulous Primula Bond for inviting me along on The Writing Process blog hop. It’s a nice opportunity to share with my readers what I’m up to and how my writing process works. I’ve been asked to answer four basic questions and then pass on the baton to three fabulous writers. Here’s a peekie-weekie into my writing process.

What I’m working on

At the moment I’m working on the final rewrite of book one of an epic fantasy trilogy. This WIP is a longwriting image 2 time coming and not in my usual genre, which means I’m more than a little bit nervous about putting it out there. But I’m also very excited because it’s been dear to my heart for a long time now, and something I’ve not had the time to spend with because of my full schedule of writing erotic romance. Now I’m in between novels and decided in the new year it’s time to take the plunge and finish up The Choosing.

How my work differs from others of its genre

Though The Choosing is completely out of the erotic romance genre in which I usually write, it’s not a genre in which I’m inexperienced. It’s just one in which I’m not yet published. What I love about writing epic fantasy is that I totally create the world which my characters inhabit. Though I’ve written paranormal erotic romance where the rules of reality are changed, in fantasy, the world itself is changed, and that world often exerts as much influence on the characters as the characters do on each other. Though there are erotic elements in the novel, and sex is one of the driving forces, The Choosing isn’t an erotic novel.

Why I write erotic romance

I write erotica and erotic romance because I enjoy it. I started out writing erotica because it was something I was good at and there was a market. Nine novels, three novellas and countless short stories later, I write it because I enjoy it, and I love the fact that I can ‘leave the bedroom doors open.’

How my writing process works

I used to have a very specific writing process. I walked in the morning and I wrote the rest of the day. That’s a simplification, but that’s pretty much it. Now my method is much more fluid. I write when I write. I’ve never had any trouble writing anytime, anyplace. I don’t need specific conditions. I’ve written on the train, on the bus, in the loo, on a walk, and every place in between.

Having said that, my writing process for a novel is still pretty structured. I begin by walking the story. Then I write a blurb and a very loose chapter by chapter synopsis, which can be very fluid and subject to change as needed. When that’s done, I write the first draft fast and furiously. The second draft is much more detailed, in which I sculpt and shape the story so that it’s tight, pacey and every word is what I want it to be. My final draft is simply an out loud read-through of the entire novel. If what I’ve written doesn’t read out well, then it won’t flow well to the reader’s eyes either. It’s the best way I know to pick up problems before the manuscript gets sent out. I never send anything out that hasn’t had a complete out loud read through.

Next Monday, check out the writing process of three of my very fave writers over on their sites and get the latest of what they’re up to.

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Tabitha Rayne has been told she is quirky, lovely and kinky – not necessarily in that order or by the same person. She writes erotic romance and as long as there’s a love scene – she’ll explore any genre.

Her short stories are included in anthologies from Xcite, Oysters & Chocolate, Cleis, Burning Books Press, Ravenous Romance, Mischief, and House of Erotica. She has novels with Beachwalk Press and Xcite Books.

Victoria Blisse is a Mother, Wife, Christian, Manchester United Fan and Award Winning Erotica Authoress. She is also the editor of several Bigger Briefs collections, and the co-editor of the fabulous Smut Alfresco and Smut in the City and Smut by the Sea Anthologies.

Victoria is also one of the brains behind the fabulous Smut by the Sea Event taking place at Scarborough Library (UK) on the 22nd June 2013. A day dedicated to Erotica with a mini erotic marketplace and lots of Author Readings, Fun Giveaways and Exciting Talks.

She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker (She is TEB’s Resident “Naked Chef”) and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories. Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life.

You can find often find Victoria procrastinating on Facebook http://facebook.com/victoriablisse , Twitter http://twitter.com/victoriablisse  and Pinterest http://pinterest.com/victoriablisse

To find out more check out http://victoriablisse.co.uk

 

BDSGym?

Recently I was asked to write a guest post explaining what I thought the appeal of BDSM is in erotica. As I wrote that post and sent it off, I found myself thinking about my workouts at the gym and drawing parallels.

I work out with a personal trainer twice a week. My trainer pushes me hard, much harder than I would be able to push myself, and I have a reputation for pushing. But I don’t trust myself. There are boundaries I’m afraid to push on my own. I’ve had too many injuries from pushing in the wrong way and overtraining. Though I love working out with my husband, and we have a great time together whether we’re practicing martial arts or whether we’re lifting, or even on a long walk, he can’t really push me like my trainer does because he’s not a trainer and because I’m his wife and he’s careful with me. Also he doesn’t want to be around the bitch I can be if he tries to push me too hard.

unnamedSo what’s different with a personal trainer? First of all, my trainer is an expert. I knew his credentials when I started working with him. Secondly, and most importantly, long before he could push my limits like he does now, we had to develop a relationship of trust. I went into that relationship with an injured knee. I had to trust that my trainer knew what he was doing enough to help me reach the level of fitness I wanted while not injuring me further, but strengthening me and facilitating healing. He had to trust that I would be honest with him and give myself over to his training. Once that trust was established, I knew that anything my trainer asked of me, no matter how impossible it seemed at the time, I would push toward. As time has passed he’s given me challenges that have driven me harder than I’ve ever been driven, challenges I would have never believed myself capable of finishing. And he’s also given me challenges that I’ve not yet finished, challenges designed to make me aware of how much farther I want to push those boundaries. During the year and a half we’ve been working together, we’ve developed a relationship of trust and camaraderie.

Today I hurt. I even have a few bruises from the boxing part of yesterday’s workout. I’m pretty proud of those, actually. It doesn’t matter how badly my body hurts or how exhausted I am — I keep pushing, and I know that I can push because my trainer’s looking out for me; he’s in control. What makes a situation that would appear to any outsider like torture something that I revel in is what happens inside my head. What I experience when I’m pushed to the edge of my endurance is somewhat similar, I imagine, to what practitioners of BDSM call subspace, which is the headspace in which submissives may find themselves when they’ve been pushed to their limits by their Doms.

I’ve been thinking about headspace a lot lately, about the place where I go, during a hard workout, when I’ve moved beyond tired and beyond pain. Pushing myself to the limit changes much more than my body. It feels like I go through stages. First there’s determination, and when the pain sets in (I’ve learned the difference between good pain and bad pain) and my body starts to rebel, the emotions start to well up – sometimes anger at the intangible, at some nemesis I neither have a name for nor can define. Sometimes that anger morphs into a child-like state that brings me close to tears, a state in which I want to turn on my trainer and ask him why the hell he’s being so mean to me – even as I push myself harder, even as I respect him more for believing I’m worthy of this challenge. When I get past that ‘why are you hurting me’ stage, what happens next is the most amazing part of all.  Somehow my body pushes the pain back. Endorphins, adrenaline, and all the chemical soup flooding into my brain and body take me to a place that feels far removed from what’s going on physically, and yet also feels right there at my very centre.

The thing about the change that takes place when my trainer has pushed my boundaries and tested my skill level is that, even when the workout is over, the change remains. I’ve gone where I’ve not been before. The reservoir inside me that makes me who I am seems deeper. I feel more real. I write this because I’m always seeking ways to understand what’s going on in the stories we writers tell, and when P1000816BDSM takes up such a large space under the Erotica Big Top, why wouldn’t I be seeking parallels, searching for ways to understand, ways to help my readers understand and identify. I do the same with all of the many components of erotica. Having said that, I hardly think it’s a surprise that gyms and physical fitness figure so prominently in erotic stories.

If I could put the experience I share with my personal trainer into a phrase, that phrase would be ‘power under control’ — my power, his control. And that power is power I didn’t know I had, power I would have been afraid to access without his control. I think we can’t overestimate the body as a teaching tool for knowing ourselves. We’re all our own biggest mystery, power unaccessed, depths unexplored, and most of us tend toward the path of least resistance. Moving off that path into the Undiscovered Country, accessing our power, is often easier when someone else is in control.

 

Acting Like An Erotica Writer

P1000816Writer Jane Wenham-Jones insists that most erotica writers she’s met look more like librarians. Most of us would happily admit to writing in our sweat suits or jeans or jammies. I don’t even own a corset and my feet are most often bare or in fuzzy slippers. Most of my erotica writing friends simply smile at the thought of writing in a basque and stilettos, and when we’re making a public appearance, I suppose we do look more like librarians than sex goddesses.

Most of us don’t mind so much when people say we don’t look like erotica writers. I confess the mental picture of me stretched out on a chez lounge with a feather boa and nose bleed heels scribbling away in a velvet notebook with quill is amusing, and it doesn’t bother me that I might look like a librarian when I’m out in public. I think librarians are hot. What does bother me, however and, what bothers most of my colleagues, is when people just assumed that we have DONE all the things we write about. Even that I could live with in a wink and a nudge sort of way, if it weren’t for the fact that sexual experience – especially for a woman – is sadly still stigmatized as something only ‘bad people’ have.

No one assumes Thomas Harris is a cannibalistic serial killer. No one assumes Anne Rice drinks blood and sleeps in a coffin. No one assumes Tom Clancy spent time being a terrorist. And yet, there are those who assume erotica writers have done everything we write about. For people who make that assumption, I have just one question; what part of ‘FICTION’ don’t they get?

Fiction writers don’t have to experience what they write in order to write about it. In fact, that’s why it’s fiction. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN — at least not outside the fertile mind of the writer. Erotic fiction is no different.

Fiction allows the reader, and the writer, to safely experience situations and worlds that, in reality, would not be safe or even be possible. In a world where safe sex has become a battle cry, as well as its own form of bondage, that has never been more true than it is with erotica. The erotica writer allows the reader to participate safely in an experience that can be both very wonderful and very dangerous. It’s no more necessary for erotica writers to have an orgy in order to write about one than it was for Thomas Harris to kill and eat a few folk before he could create Hannibal Lector.

Though it may add another layer to the psycho-sexual fantasy for the reader to imagine the erotica writer experiening first hand her orgy, bondage, or sex in a bus before she writes about, though that fantasy may be very sexy. It’s just that, a fantasy. In reality, what the writer has created it still fiction.

All that being said, I’m here to say that I do, indeed ACT like an erotica writer. In fact, I’m going to be even more general and say that I simply act like a writer. I see a world in my imagination and I recreate it on the written page. Some of what I write on that page involves sex, but not all of it. In fact most of what I write on that page is a story with an intriguing plot in which sex happens, in which sex helps drive the story. THAT is how an erotica writer acts!

writing image 2Like all other fiction writers, the world of an erotica writer is about plot, characters and setting. Unlike most other fiction writers, we allow human sexuality to be a powerful driving force in our stories, and we don’t shy away from the explicit when it serves our purpose. That erotic fiction is set apart from the rest of fiction simply because of its free and explicit use of sex saddens me deeply, as the stories being told by erotica writers are as relevant and as powerful as the stories told in any other genre.

Ultimately, if an erotica writer writes a good story with an intriguing plot, interesting characters and strong setting, then yes, she or he is acting like an erotica writer, behaving in character with all good fiction writers, using the same tools that writers in all other genre use – imagination, research and dedication to the craft. Erotica writers are just willing to give our readers a little extra heat — even if we do it in our jammies.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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