Monday, October 18, 2010

Talking Sexual Overtones with Author Rachelle Chase

Two years ago, I talked to author Rachelle Chase about writing sex scenes as part of a series on my blog All the Blog's a Page. For the talk, I asked two questions: Is sex an important component to develop in your writing, and how are you able to weave it into a work and also have a strong plot development? Her detailed response is still relevant because as Chase points out, it's not just about having sex in your story; it's about layering the sexual undertones into a fully developed story. As Chase is quick to point out below, sex is not the story; it is an integral, organic component to the story.


Below is Chase's take and a "lesson" on sexual development within a story...


I write erotic romance, so sex is VERY important. The way I weave it into the story and have strong plot development is by making sex a part of the story.

When my characters are doing nonsexual things or are talking about nonsexual things, there are sexual undertones. When my characters are having sex, the sex is moving the story forward – meaning, the hero and heroine are bringing their baggage, fears, dreams, etc. into the bedroom – and after sex, both are changed in some way. This change sends them down a new path, until their new beliefs about themselves are challenged up to and during the next sex scene, which then starts another change-and-down-a-new page chain of events, and so on. Until all the necessary change has occurred and my characters have become “new” people at the end.

So, while sexuality/sensuality is present in some way in every scene, it supports and emphasizes what is happening in the story. Sex is NOT the story.

Let’s take an example – this is something I teach in my Making the Mundane Erotic course. Because, a big part of making sexuality or sensuality part of the story is by making everyday, nonsexual instances, erotic.

It’s a technique I call “Layering” – where you add layers of sensuality to something mundane.

So, let’s say I’m starting Too Sexy for My Clothes, an erotic romance that reunites ex-jock, Zack Thomas, and ex-cheerleader, Samantha Hines in Sweetwater, Texas thirteen years after high school. They parted hating each other, with Zack leaving town. But Samantha’s called him back, because she needs his help. Zack insists she meet him at his motel room.

I’ve decided to open the scene in Samantha’s POV, because she’s the one with the most to lose. She’s angry, confused, scared, and filled with dread about meeting Zack. I know what I want them to say, so I jot down the dialogue:

-----

“Thank you for coming.”

He remained silent.

“Are you going to help Kevin?”

“What? No small talk? Fond reminisces of the past?”

“I didn’t come here to make small talk.”

”Then tell me what you want.”

-----

Okay. I’ve got conflict in the scene, which definitely sets up the tension. So now I go back and layer in thought, action, reaction, and senses, trying to make as many of them sexual in nature.

-----

“Thank you for coming.” Samantha’s words were forced.

Zack ignored her gratitude. Instead, his gaze raked over her, sweeping her face, resting on her lips, before moving down. Her breasts, stomach, hips, legs and back up.

“Are you going to help Kevin?”

His eyes returned to her face, expressionless. “What? No small talk? Fond reminisces of the past?”

“I didn’t come here to make talk.”

”Then tell me what you want.”

-----

Alright. A bit better, but it still needs more…

------

“Thank you for coming.” Samantha’s words were forced.

Zack ignored her gratitude. Instead, his gaze raked over her, sweeping her face, resting on her lips, before moving down. Her breasts, stomach, hips, legs and back up.

His look was meant to insult.

Her breathing became ragged.

“A-Are you finished?”

“No.”

His eyes took another tour, slower this time, covering every inch of her body. Probing, and invading. Insolent.

“Are you going to help Kevin?” Her voice pleaded. Her body thrummed.

His eyes returned to her face, expressionless. “What? No small talk? Fond reminisces of the past?”

“I didn’t come here to make small talk.”

“Then tell me what you want, Sammy.” The same tone. The same words. Only thirteen years ago, she’d stood on tiptoe and traced his lips with her forefinger, dipping inside. His tongue had circled her finger. He’d suckled. She’d gasped, the hot wetness causing a flood of moisture elsewhere. Lower. Where she’d wanted him to touch and kiss and lick. And her gasp had made his eyes narrow, darkening to jet black.

I want you, Zacky.

-----

© 2008 by Rachelle Chase. All rights reserved.

Do you see how the scene has a sexual undertone, even though it’s not about sex?




Rachelle Chase is an award-winning romance author, business consultant, speaker, and model. Her latest work, "The Firefighter Wears Prada," can be read in the anthology, Men on Fire, which can be purchased at Amazon.


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Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.


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6 comments :

  1. I write romantic suspense, and since it's shelved in the romance section of the bookstore, the basic conventions have to be addressed. I think the layering is critical, and that the characters have to "earn" that actual consummation moment. I was just working on a sex scene last night, as a matter of fact, and it's on page 195 of the MS. Yes, there's been sexual tension, and some tentative exploration of the budding relationship, but in any book, the sex has to have a reason to be on the page. If that's the only plot point, I either wait or figure out what else I need to reveal about the story in that scene.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good tips for anyone writing any form of romance and/or erotica. Thanks for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are good tips for people writing in this genre. I think all writers should remember the more layers we can incorporate into our writing the richer the result.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good advice. Layering is important in all scenes, but it clearly made a huge difference in your example.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great tips. Although, I don't write in this genre, I see how I can use this technique.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Layering is definitely key. We've heard a lot about not wanting to see sex just for the sake of it being in a story. There needs to be context, there needs to be that layering that leads a reader into the tension and make him or her want to stay there awhile.

    Shon

    ReplyDelete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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