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Jessica
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From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

I've heard many people state that erotic romance is all about the sex -- the hero and heroine should be having it from the first page (and consistently thereafter) in a myriad of positions and in dozens of exotic locations.

So this means that lots of hot, imaginative sex is erotic, right?

Before we answer that question, let's get real for a minute and talk about sex -- bad sex. What are some of the components that contribute to bad sex? Off the top of my head, I can think of:

  • A partner who skips foreplay -- of satisfying your needs -- in the race to get to the big "O"
  • A partner that you have no emotional connection with
  • A partner that you're not attracted to

Now, let's assume that you agree that the above qualities contribute to bad sex and that bad sex is not erotic. So why would a book that opens with two people the reader hasn't had a chance to connect with or be attracted to having sex from page one onward be erotic? Hasn't the reader's needs been forgotten here? In other words, wouldn't this be the written equivalent of real-life bad sex?

I'm not saying that if a book opens with sex between strangers or is chock-full of sex, it's not erotic. Many authors have successfully done this and kept the story erotic. What I am saying is that lots of hot, imaginative sex does not, by itself, make a romance erotic -- or make for good sex, for that matter. Leigh hit the nail on the head - sexual tension is a key ingredient that makes the story -- and sex -- erotic.

But what, exactly, is sexual tension? Once again, Leigh accurately and succinctly defined sexual tension as "the unsatisfied attraction of the hero and heroine for each other."

But how do we apply this to our writing?

Well, let's pretend we're working on Too Sexy for My Clothes, an erotic romance that reunites ex-jock, Zack Thomas, and ex-cheerleader, Tiffany Hines in Sweetwater, Texas twenty years after high school. They parted hating each other and they run into each other in the local hardware store. Which of the scenarios below, if we used them in our story, would fit the definition of sexual tension? Why or why not?

  • As Tiffany and Zack talk about the past, they realize they hated each other for childish reasons. Normal conversation gives way to sexual innuendos, which makes them so hot for each other that the slightest touch arouses them so much that they can hardly wait to get out of the store and make up for lost time.
  • When they speak to each other, Zack's words annoy Tiffany, but the timbre of his voice arouses her.
  • Tiffany can't help but notice that Zack looks even better than he did twenty years ago. Six-pack abs have replaced the scrawny chest she'd loved running her hands over, silky hair has replaced the short spiky cut of the past. She keeps her face expressionless and her tone neutral, while imagining what it would feel like to caress his skin or run her hands through his hair.
  • Tiffany challenges Zack to admit he wanted to have sex with her because she was the only girl who said 'no' to him. Zack challenges Tiffany to admit that she said no because she was scared of falling for him, that she's still scared of falling for him. She denies this vehemently, even though he's right. "Prove it," Zack says.
  • As Tiffany and Zack talk about the past, they realize they hated each other for childish reasons. Normal conversation gives way to sexual innuendos, which makes them so hot for each other that the slightest touch arouses them so much that they can hardly wait to get out of the store and make up for lost time. But Zack only stopped to get a jack in order to fix his flat tire so he can catch his flight back to New York for an important meeting.

The "correct" answers above are just a few examples of ways we could incorporate sexual tension in Too Sexy for My Clothes. But the important thing to remember is that sexual tension must be present consistently, seamlessly woven into paragraphs and scenes throughout the book, even when they are not sexual. This is what puts the 'erotic' in erotic romance.

Rachelle Chase

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lavenderlass
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

Tiffany can't help but notice that Zack looks even better than he did twenty years ago. Six-pack abs have replaced the scrawny chest she'd loved running her hands over, silky hair has replaced the short spiky cut of the past. She keeps her face expressionless and her tone neutral, while imagining what it would feel like to caress his skin or run her hands through his hair.

Hi Rachelle, nice to 'meet' you, I'm looking forward to learning loads more about writing with you. I really liked the scenario above - but with an added extra that keeps the couple apart a good long time and gives them real issues to get over. what makes a book more sensual for me (well, at this moment anyway, my favourites do change) is a couple liking each other like made but overcoming difficulties together before they can end up in bed.

Lynne.
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Hollyabbie
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

Tiffany can't help but notice that Zack looks even better than he did twenty years ago. Six-pack abs have replaced the scrawny chest she'd loved running her hands over, silky hair has replaced the short spiky cut of the past. She keeps her face expressionless and her tone neutral, while imagining what it would feel like to caress his skin or run her hands through his hair.

be interesting to see how Zack is feeling about Tiffany.

I too like this one best.

H


Out on the edge you see all kinds of things
you can't see from the center.
--Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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dixielandgrl
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

# Tiffany challenges Zack to admit he wanted to have sex with her because she was the only girl who said 'no' to him. Zack challenges Tiffany to admit that she said no because she was scared of falling for him, that she's still scared of falling for him. She denies this vehemently, even though he's right. "Prove it," Zack says.


Now I liked this one. Plenty of emotion and tension. I tend to fall for those emotional challenges in novels myself, so I may just be a sucker. lol
"If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armor should not be:" Thomas Campion
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Hollyabbie
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

That was my other favorite, just read a book where that is basically what was going on was fun and on the lighter side.


Out on the edge you see all kinds of things
you can't see from the center.
--Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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RachelleChase
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex



lavenderlass wrote:
Hi Rachelle, nice to 'meet' you, I'm looking forward to learning loads more about writing with you. I really liked the scenario above - but with an added extra that keeps the couple apart a good long time and gives them real issues to get over. what makes a book more sensual for me (well, at this moment anyway, my favourites do change) is a couple liking each other like made but overcoming difficulties together before they can end up in bed.

Lynne.




Nice to 'meet' you, too, Lynne. Ask away! I'll share whatever I know. :-) And I share your feelings about what makes a book sensual - stories where the couple has to go through a lot of conflict before landing in bed together are my favorites!

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
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RachelleChase
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex



dixielandgrl wrote:
# Tiffany challenges Zack to admit he wanted to have sex with her because she was the only girl who said 'no' to him. Zack challenges Tiffany to admit that she said no because she was scared of falling for him, that she's still scared of falling for him. She denies this vehemently, even though he's right. "Prove it," Zack says.


Now I liked this one. Plenty of emotion and tension. I tend to fall for those emotional challenges in novels myself, so I may just be a sucker. lol




Dixielandgrl, that was my favorite example of the bunch, too. I love playing around with control games, and this sets the scene up nicely - and also gives them a reason to prolong the sensuality.

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
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RachelleChase
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex



Hollyabbie wrote:
be interesting to see how Zack is feeling about Tiffany.

I too like this one best.

H




Yes, showing the male reaction to the same situation is always fun. :-)

Okay. There's one example in the bunch that really doesn't work well (or doesn't have as much potential as the rest), in my opinion. Can you guess which one it is? Or, is there one - or more - that don't work for you?

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
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ChristineM
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

The only one that really didn't work for me was the second one. That I hate you - I hate you - I love you thing always makes me want to slap someone. I work with a guy who has a great voice and he's quite nicely shaped, but he's universally hated by every foreign teacher on staff because he's a conceited jerk who won't condescend to say hello unless he needs something.

I quite liked the one where she was the only one who would say no to him in high school too, but I was a little icked out over the idea of where he might have been. I think there would habe been a lot of "I can't believe you slept with her!" I might have to notch that down to she was the only one in school who wasn't chasing him.
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Hollyabbie
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

Rachelle,
After reading this thread, believe I have to buy an Erotic romance.
Holly


Out on the edge you see all kinds of things
you can't see from the center.
--Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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RachelleChase
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

When I asked the question about which one didn't work, I was wearing my 'writer hat' and thinking about it from a technical/writing technique standpoint. But you've made me think a bit about this from a reader perspective, ChristineM ...

I think you've raised a really good point - that experiences in real life that leave a strong impression on us affects what we're willing to believe or disbelieve in what we read. The way you feel about the I hate you/I love you situation, well, I have somewhat similar feelings about the couple who have been best friends forever, then suddenly fall in love. There have been some really great guys that I've been friends with that I truly wished I could care about romantically, but it's never happened to me. So, books with these story lines are not the most appealing to me and sometimes I have trouble suspending disbelief when I read them.

Conversely, I really like the I hate you/I love you story line. Now, this hasn't happened to me, either. But I haven't had a negative experience with this situation and the fine line between love and hate concept intrigues me, so I willingly suspend disbelief.

Does that make sense? Do you agree/disagree?

And I quite agree with you on the "ick" factor - no one wants to believe they're just one of many. But the fact that Tiffany believes this (though it isn't true) can be used to increase the conflict.

Great comments, ChristineM!
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RachelleChase
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

That's wonderful, Holly. So glad that we could 'convert' you. :-))

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
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ChristineM
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Registered: ‎12-31-2006
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

[ Edited ]
It does make sense and I can see the attraction. Really the first romance storyline that was significant to me was Han and Leia in Star Wars which was the I hate you - I love you, but that developed slowly and was well crafted. I think a lot of authors grab that plot line as a gimmick and don't do it well.

Now from the real life perspective, and I'm sorry but all my experience lately comes from 4 year olds, but honestly, do men progress much beyond that? I have noticed that the students are more fond of the stricter teachers. Too strict and the kids are afraid of them. Too loose and the kids run all over them. If you hit a balance just to the strict side of the spectrum, the kids love you. This basically bolsters your argument for the hate/love plot, but it does argue for delicacy and Acme plotting.

The friends forever this is another one that can be handled well or poorly. I read a story once (oh this is awful to admit but I swear my Grandmother bought the True Romance magazines) about an overweight girl who was mooning after a boy so much that she got a house washing job with him and spent the summer in huge baggy coveralls trying to be his pal. At the end of the summer he loved her for her personality and when she took off the coveralls, viola, she'd lost weight too. It was probably really badly done, but it has obviously stuck with me.

And thanks, I do my best. Once the Mother's Day show is over I hope to write again.

Message Edited by ChristineM on 05-17-200710:29 AM

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RachelleChase
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: From Rachelle Chase: Good vs. Bad Sex

Hi ChristineM - I think it's been a long day and my brain is fried - could you explain the strict teacher analogy to me? I didn't quite catch the connection to the love/hate plot. I do think I got the part about progressing beyond 4 years old, though. LOL



ChristineM wrote:
I read a story once (oh this is awful to admit but I swear my Grandmother bought the True Romance magazines) about an overweight girl who was mooning after a boy so much that she got a house washing job with him and spent the summer in huge baggy coveralls trying to be his pal. At the end of the summer he loved her for her personality and when she took off the coveralls, viola, she'd lost weight too. It was probably really badly done, but it has obviously stuck with me.

Message Edited by ChristineM on 05-17-200710:29 AM






But see, the reason why I would be able to buy into that story is because it's not about BOTH of them really being just friends. The heroine is in love with the hero but pretending to be his 'pal.' And if I were reading the hero's POV and I was getting glimpses that the hero liked her for more than just a 'pal,' even though he didn't yet realize it, then I'd really be in to it. Then, throw in the whole Ugly Duckling/Cinderella fairy tale angle, and I'm really hooked. :-)

I do hope you're able to return to your writing.

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
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