Thursday, September 14, 2006

Creating Heat in Your Writing

I've got a wretched cold. I though it was just allergies but the aches and sore throat took hold today. Ugh. Anyway, I thought I blog about creating heat or sexual tension in your writing.

Let's face it. Heat is hot.

A behavioral scientist by the name of Desmond Morris decided to study why some couples stay together for life and why some divorce. It came down to this: the ones who stayed together were the ones who had followed a basic progression of intimacy, with sufficient time between steps before going on to the next. He theorized this gave the couple time to bond during the courtship part of their relationship. Couples who rushed these steps rarely had as strong a bond, and were much more likely to divorce.

Following the pattern of these steps can help you establish true heat between your hero and heroine. It's natural, believable and proven. If there's something lacking in the sexual tension, compare your storyline to these steps and see what's missing. I promise you, this works. Additionally, once you master these steps, you can move them around a bit to up the tension. Skip a step to put things in overdrive. Repeat a step to strengthen trust. You get the picture.

Here are the 12 Steps:

1. Eye to Body
- This step is almost insignificant. All it means is that one person has seen another. This stage passes quickly.
2. Eye to Eye
- Basically eye contact. Each person knows the other has seen them. Usually the beginning of flirting.
3. Voice to Voice
- The couple begins to talk to each other.
4. Hand to Hand
- Holding hands. The relationship begins to deepen from simple friendship to something more.
5. Arm to Shoulder
- Putting the arm around the shoulder of the other person signifies a deepening closeness and intimacy. With hand holding there is often still some space between the partners, but in the Arm to Shoulder stage closeness is intrinsic.
6. Arm to Waist
- This stage is indicative of a growing familiarity and comfort level in the relatonship.
7. Mouth to Mouth
- The couple begins kissing.
8. Hand to Head
- Touching other people's heads is highly intimate, partially because so many vital senses are concentrated in the head. This is a sign of deepening trust to allow someone else to touch your head. (This is especially true of men. If your hero lets the heroine touch his face, that's a pretty strong sign he's interested. For the heroine to allow him to touch her face, it's a great indicator of trust.)
9. Hand to Body
- Foreplay begins, although not always in a jumping-into-bed kind of way. The simple contact of hand to hip shows possesiveness, trust, sexual attraction and a willingness for greater contact.
10. Mouth to Breast
- Foreplay continues, obviously.
11. Hand to Genitals
12. Sexual Intercourse

One thingto keep in mind is Morris' research suggests that women particularly resent being rushed through the steps. Take your heroine through them too quickly and the intimacy will seem forced.

I hope this is helpful when it comes to building heat in your stories!


  1. This is really good. I like the progression and I am going to try to add elements of that to my latest. (No it isn't ya!) LOL

  2. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Good info, Kristen :)

  3. Hey cool!
    I had the list of twelve but not the explanations to go with them.

    Since I write erotic you think I should just go from #2 straight to #12?
    hee hee hee
    Just kidding.

    Hope you feel better soon.
    Let me know if you need any kleenex or chicken soup. :)

  4. Most excellent! Linda Howard did this one too and i keep in on a sticky on my pc.

  5. Good points. Thanks. Hope you feel better.

  6. Someone did a workshop at the Seattle conference on those steps last year. It was all about chemical attraction or somethin. Interesting stuff. I hope you feel better!

  7. I've read these before, but I like your addendums. Strange, but I've never really thought about them deliberately. Something else to check during revisions.

  8. This is too cool! Thanks for sharing!

    Hope your feeling better soon!

  9. I'll have to check out and make sure I've covered this!
    I love Desmond Morris. Ironically, I'm rereading "The Naked Ape" right now. It's very similiar but not so cut and dried as this.
    Thanks for sharing it. I think it will help.