The enraptured sigh, the long staring gaze, or a quick hop in the sack to test multiple positions is not what writing sexual tension is all about. For each type of romance there must be a draw between your lead characters. If you don’t have the tension, you don't have a sale-able romance.
Sexual tension can be broken down into the explicit meaning of each word.
SEXUAL: of or involving sex which equates to wanting it.
TENSION: mental or emotional strain which equates to not being able to get it.
So what you have here is a great emotional strain to have sex with a specific person, but it’s not happening.
Consider sexual tension a form of reader foreplay. This is what you must create between the lead characters in your story. The longer you delay the actual act, and increase the attraction, the better readers will love your book.
How do you build Sexual Tension? In one word - awareness. Each of your leads needs to notice small things about the other.
Sure Cassie can appreciate the bulge in Clive’s jeans while he’s admiring her breasts, but it’s not all tits and ass.
You must tease your reader while your characters slowly become more aware of each other. Such as;
Cassie glanced down and was startled by the bulge in his jeans. Her eyes widened in admiration. Clive tweaked a smile, knowing what she appreciated, though she wouldn’t admit it, even to herself.
It’s more than body parts. You also need to write more than the physical. Each character must be aware of the others values, good and bad;
A warmth spread through Clive as Cassie clasped the tiny hand of the lost child.
Cassie’s lips tightened when Clive cursed at the driver who had successfully run them off the road.
Our couple has become more aware of each other and therefore we have successfully drawn them closer.
Think of it this way – Do you remember when you first fell in love? Did you notice everything about this new person all at once? Or did the scent, strength, and mannerisms dribble into your conscientiousness a drop at a time? More than likely the nature and character of your other half slowly made itself known to you.
This is how you need to write sexual tension, a bit at a time. As your story progresses the awareness increases. It may go on for pages, even chapters, until Clive and Cassie are so attuned they have to make love.
Another important key is that by now your reader is begging for Clive and Cassie to make love and live the happily ever after. It’s up to you, the author and the genre you write, to decide how explicit the love scene will be.
If you’re shy, or a private person, you can bring your couple to the location – bed, couch, floor – then write a few lines before the door closes and provides them with the privacy they deserve. Or you can write it all, leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination. Either way, it must be fulfilling to the characters and more importantly, to your reader.
Do not cheat your reader. They have invested both their hard earned money to buy your book and their valuable time to read it. As the author, you are obligated to provide your reader with their desired afterglow.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day. I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...