Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sex Appeal by Terry Spear

I was listening to an audio book where the contemporary romance characters have just met and are ready to jump each others' bones. And then the comments made in their heads: "I shouldn't think this way. I'm crazy."

Sex, sex, sex. No, not doing it. Just thinking it. They have no past, no history. And I didn't "feel" the reason for the urgency that they needed to have sex with one another no matter what, right this very minute.

So what's wrong? There's absolutely no sexual tension. Nothing to make this feel like it could reasonably happen. Sure, I've read books where the sexual tension is right up front and it feels right, and it seems reasonable, and hot, oh, yeah. But in this one, it's more of I see (and there's nothing to see that makes me feel like jumping his bones) and I want (same scenario.)

And there's a small child involved. Maybe that's what is giving me such a hard time with the adults desiring to have hot sex, now! There's also this falling in love with the child, which is fine, but it doesn't feel right to mix that up with--I want to do it with the hot adoptive father.

Which leads me to the point that it's not always easy to create sexual tension between characters, particularly when they don't have a past, to make it seem real, to make the transition from just met to hot lovers and make it feel right.

Sexual tension is so important for that build up of anticipation of will they do it or won't they, but it can't feel contrived, or forced.

Then once they've "done" it, that's it, no more conflict, the end, but it can't be the end. It's only the beginning of a burgeoning relationship that has taken the intimacy a step further and the conflict between them, keeping them from making some kind of a real commitment has to continue. It's like the beginning again but not, because they've breached a barrier that now no longer exists between them.

They can't go back. We can't go back. We have to surge forward and see how they can overcome and be triumphant, finding that happily ever after.

In the beginning, I set up the way I want the hero and heroine to meet. It always has to be really different for each of the stories. Sometimes there's a past, like between the hero and heroine in HEART OF THE WOLF, WOLF FEVER, and SEAL IN WOLF'S CLOTHING. But in most stories, the hero and heroine have just met.

Because of their enhanced animal senses, wolves tend to be more drawn to each other, more aware--yet even with werewolves, the tension has to build, the brakes have to be applied, the question as to whether a forever mating will work between two consenting adults has to be answered--because for them, they mate for life. No changing their minds. No divorce. For life. Which for them is a very long time.

I had a fan mail the other day where the reader said (and these are in my own words)--she loved how I didn't make the characters waffle forever about whether they wanted each other throughout most of the book, like plucking the petals off a flower--he loves me, he loves me not, only in: I love him, or maybe not.

And yet, we can't make them fall in love from the onset and end the conflict right there. So it's a real balancing act--the SEX appeal, the longing, slowing the forward motion, driving it forward again, the push, the pull, the panting and...wait...

Okay, the building love and acceptance and making a commitment between two adults that seals the promise of forever more...


Anyone want some wolf love??? I mean, tell me you can look into Jake Silver's eyes in Dreaming of the Wolf's cover and not think: Hmm, I'd like to jump his bones, and that the way he's looking back at you, he's not of the same mind. :)

If you have read about him in earlier stories, you already have a past with him, so go for it! :)

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."


  1. Great post! I think this is why a lot of erotica doesn't appeal to me. I just don't get why these people are in bed together on page 3. I need to want to see them together, and it's the author's job to make me feel that way

  2. I could just say AMEN and that be it. However, give me a blank page and I want to talk so:
    You nailed it!
    Yes ma'am!
    And there must be something more I want to say but I don't have coffee yet!

  3. I agree, Shana! I love the build up sexual tension! It has such a justifying climax! :)

    Carolyn, lol, I thought that when I was writing too...and writing, and writing! :) Enjoy your first cup of coffee!!!

  4. Terry, I'm with you. I want a dramatic arc built on the external conflict, two character arcs built on backstory and personality, and a romantic arc built on all of the foregoing plus the characters' unique chemistry. Not too much to ask, book after book after book.... And as you say, the resolution to ALL of the tensions has to be creative but credible, something the reader couldn't predict but can accept easily. Are we crazy or what to take on such a challenge?

    I do love your covers--plural--each and every one.

  5. Terry, great post. I'm with you--I want the SLOW build up. I want the palpable sexual tension page after page. I want to yearn for their first intimate touch. I'm so demanding!

  6. Grace, I so agree! The build up is so exquisite, it has us reading and reading to see when they have the first big bang! And to have non-resolution so we can build up to it again! :)

    Tracey, lol, we are sooo demanding!!! But when it's done right, it's sooo right!!!! :)

  7. Very true. Getting the tension between the main characters right is a gift. Everyone knows when it's there, but how to write it is the challenge!

  8. There are so many things we juggle when writing, Terry. Great post!