This weekend, I participated in an all day writers’ workshop featuring Leslie Wainger, book doctor and author of the fabulous Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies. I gave a presentation with Blaze author Kira Sinclair about sexual tension.

Do you know what sexual tension is? As a romance writer, this is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Sexual tension can be described as the sparks and sizzle, the wanting/yearning that occurs between the main characters. It’s a tension they cannot give in to because it would complicate their situation, thwart their goals, or make things worse.

It’s awareness of each other on every level. It’s the thoughts, the eye contact, the yearning to make love, all while knowing that giving in would be an absolute disaster. Not a disaster because of the physical, but a disaster because it would make things worse.

Remember “Moonlighting”? The sexual tension between Maddie and David was off the charts. Likewise, think about Princess Leia and Han Solo. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. What about the new show “Castle” that so many of us like? Sexual tension is the key. We think Richard Castle is sexy, and we think Beckett is nuts for not giving in to her attraction to him.

Think about your favorite romance novels. Think of the tension between the characters, about how you kept turning those pages to find out when the hero and heroine would kiss, when they would make love, and what would happen next. How did that author do that? How did she make you want to keep turning those pages?

In your own writing, think in each scene how you can increase the tension, and use all the senses to do so. Touch, smell, taste, sound, and visuals. Ramp it up and make it sizzle. 🙂 And remember that sexual tension springs from your characters’ conflicts, their internal issues, and not simply from you saying they want each other. Instant attraction, without conflict, is not sexual tension. And I mean deep conflicts that spring from who they are and what they want, not arguments because one of them likes the Dallas Cowboys and the other is a Washington Redskins fan. If your characters are arguing simply for the sake of arguing, that’s bickering — and it’s annoying.

So make sure your characters have goals that are opposing in some way, and then let them want each other. Now try to keep them from acting on that attraction. Yum!

The winner of Trish Morey’s book is Stephanie! Yay, Stephanie! You’re gonna love this yummy story!!