Last month, our theme was sex and romance. I was talking about the 12 Steps to Intimacy which romance author Linda Howard adapted from Desmond Morris's book, Intimate Behaviour. There wasn't enough room for all 12 steps in that post, so I'm continuing them here.
If you missed that first post, you can find it here. However, if you missed that post, then you missed the link to the foundations for human sexual behavior, so you might want to start here.
A quick recap of the steps, for those who simply want a refresher without the details:
1. Eye to Body
2. Eye to Eye
3. Voice to Voice
4. Hand to Hand
5. Arm to Shoulder
6. Arm to Waist
Moving on to the last 6 steps:
7. Mouth to mouth
Kissing. The first kiss is a milestone in any romance novel. Both parties are vulnerable. Look at the romance books you've read and see how many of these 'first kiss' encounters are cut short. The author is creating tension by pulling the characters apart. How is the kiss described? Is the author pushing the characters together with their reactions to the sensations?
In an erotic romance, this might be the first step. It's also going to happen very early in the book. However, for a believable HEA ending, the couple needs to backtrack and lay the foundations for the relationship beyond the scope of sex.
8. Hand to head
This is done by both men and women. Whereas the initial kiss may have been only a touching of lips, as the relationship develops, the woman may run her fingers through the man's hair. The man may cradle the woman's face. Allowing someone to touch one's head shows a deepening trust. Does the woman allow the touch, or does she pull away?
9. Hand to body
This step moves the couple into the beginnings of foreplay. This is another area where the author is likely to use the external plot to pull the characters apart. The phone rings. Someone knocks on the door. However, it's still quite possible for the emotional pull-apart. Is the character having second thoughts? Is there too much guilt?
10. Mouth to breast
This step shows a great deal of trust. It's still possible for the woman to pull back, although this is another step along the foreplay route.
11. Hand to genitals
Most of the time, this is the point at which there's no turning back. The commitment has been made. If the woman does change her mind, it will be very frustrating for the male (a MAJOR conflict). It's also likely to label the woman as a "tease."
12. Genitals to genitals
This is the sex act. It may happen on or off the page. However by now, the reader should be at least as anxious for the relationship to be consummated as the characters are. Perhaps more.
After this point, the author is challenged with maintaining tension. Just as the ratings plunged when the stars of "Moonlighting" finally slept together, once the hero and heroine have had sex, the author is likely to be spending more page time on the plot conflicts. In non-erotic romance, further sex scenes tend to be less detailed.
I hope these two posts have helped you understand how to show a relationship develop, and how to insert that all-important tension into your scenes. Remember, it's not just in a romance novel that these stepping stones to a relationship are important. It can work in any genre where you have characters in a relationship.
|Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She's the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.|