Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sensuality Ahoy

This isn't just a pet peeve of mine that arises from my being an editor, but it bugs me as a reader too. Where's the sensuality anymore? What happened to the backstory to the heat? That moment when the characters connected, perhaps not on an emotional level, but on a physical one. Yep, I'm looking for the spark.

I suppose first the 'spark' has to be understood. It's that jolt of electricity you read so many times in not only erotica but romances. The moment when the characters' gazes find each other and lock. The spark is, well, the spark that leads to the bedroom or the kitchen counter. It's the catalyst.

Okay, so not every publisher wants that. They want to have the heat upfront and in your face. That's fine for them. As a reader, I'm like – okay, so every character's crotch is at this moment making one hundred percent of their decisions – good for them. Still, there is a physical reaction I look for.

And there is proof it actually is how human beings feel out sexuality.

Desmond Morris' 12 Steps to Intimacy

Now I don't use all of these, normally I mix them up and skip a few to give the sex scene thrust, but this is all about how sensuality and sexuality physically occurs in normal human behavior.

There's another part that has been let go of in recent years – the five senses. Even in a sex scene, the lead can and should react to the other senses. Sex isn't just friction or woogie woogie – aha – all's good in crotch land. It's the atmosphere, the aura the writer builds around the character. Setting and smelling and feeling the emotions that come from gasping breaths, carnal kisses, heavy petting. This is what embellishes the sex scene and makes it hot.

The thing about the above list is about intimacy. It's not the immaculate perception that all of a sudden the characters are in love. It's the immensity of an act that can lead to love. How you draw it from there is up to you.

Your turn, is intimacy missing in sex scenes or do I just have lousy taste in books? Do you think using all five senses can help a sex scene or hurt it?

Until next Tuesday, cheers and happy writing,



Diana Castilleja said...

OMG!!! I swear you are psychic!! This is exactly what's missing in the book I'm reading right now. I live for the sensuality in a physical sense in the relationship. If it's missing, the whole book is a dry basket of bread for me.

This one is as dry as croutons. *sigh*

Sandy said...

I definitely think using the five senses makes a sex scene hotter.

Very helpful post, T.J.


Dawn Chartier said...

So what books would you recommend a writer to read that would give us a great example of the sensual build-up?