Thursday, June 28, 2012

Welcome Jennifer James! Engaging the Senses...

Please welcome Jennifer James with a lovely post on the art of writing erotic romance!

Engaging the Senses: Increasing The Heat Between The Sheets 

What makes a love scene stand apart from the rest? How does an author make your breath hitch, make you squirm in your seat, and tip your book to the side if you’re in public so the people around you can’t see what you’re reading?
It isn’t just the sexual prowess of the hero or the heroine’s willingness to fly in the face of decorum for him. The physical beauty of the characters and their interplay adds to the hotness of a scene, but again, that’s only part of the recipe. Some people enjoy “naughty” language, some don’t. We’re told all the time as writers to show, don’t tell. 

In a sex scene that means not only do you have to describe the sex, you’ve got to do it in a way that engages your reader on every level possible. You have to pull them in with words that make them believe they are right there, in the moment, physically. 

Sight: What do the characters see when they look at their lover? Is the heroine’s skin flushed? Sweaty? What about her eyes? Are they dilated? What’s she wearing and how does that make the hero feel? What’s it make him think about? How does she move? What color are the sheets and how does that color offset the color of a negligee or tanned skin or even lipstick? Are there windows in the room large enough for people outside to see in? Bring that into the mix and now you’ve introduced an element of exhibitionism. 
Taste: When the H/h kiss, what do they taste? What about the taste of other body parts? Are they feeding each other? Licking a stray rivulet of juice from a cute piece of fruit from their lover’s forearm or even abdomen? (In K.M. Moning’s Fever series there’s a scene with Mac and Barrons involving this, and the scene is very much PG-13. But it is hot as heck because of the way you are drawn in physically. Your imagination happily fills in the blanks.)

Smell: Often there will be a line or two about the smell of the hero’s cologne or the heroine’s perfume. But what about the smells in the room they occupy? That adds to the environment too. Are they on a tropical beach populated with heavy floral scents and exotic fruits, freshly cut open? Smell a ripe mango sometime. A kiwi. They have very distinct smells. What about the odor of a hospital? Not a pleasant smell, but if your characters have ducked into a storage closet for a quickie, what are they going to inhale in there?

Touch: Are the hero’s hands rough from physical labor or soft? Does he have stubble? What’s the heroine’s reaction when that stubble drags over her neck? Her tummy? Lower yet? How about when their legs twine together? What’s that feel like to the heroine and hero? Are they on satin sheets or the grass of a field? How about the old vinyl of a classic car with original equipment? Bring the environment into play.

Hearing: What kinds of things do they say to one another? Write it down, make it part of the action. It doesn’t have to be “dirty” if that’s not your style. But even if it’s only a sigh or a whimper, putting those vocalizations into words can really up your heat factor. Is the hero encouraging (cough) the heroine and what she’s doing? How about her? Instead of simply saying something like, “She gasped for breath” in narrative, make it dialogue that corresponds with an action.

Jennifer James is published with Decadent Publishing and Etopia Press. She’s married to a wonderful man who indulges her book addiction, plays referee to two Tiny Divas, a dog, and a cat from the shores of Lake Erie. Never actually intending to write erotic romance hasn’t stopped her from infusing high levels of steam into her manuscripts. You can find her on the web at:
Twitter: @JenniferJames34

Love, romance, hearts, flowers, cupid…. Rubbish.
Abby Fine still hasn’t gotten over the pain of a year-old betrayal and plans to spend this Valentine’s Day drowning her sorrows with a ménage of men named Ben, Jerry, and Riesling. 
Her plans are diverted when she drops and breaks her new iPhone and gives in to a momentary hormone surge, agreeing to let office hottie and tech god Tom Walker squirm his way into her condo to fix it.  
Tom shows up with his Xbox, spicy Chinese food, and a habit of stealing kisses every time she lets her guard down.
Can a weekend of laughter, video games, and movies change Abby’s opinion of stupid Cupid? 


  1. As a reviewer, I had to laugh since I use the "show, not tell" phrase often when I interact with authors or write my review. But I must say that this does indeed apply for emotions! LOL Enjoyed the article and am sharing...

  2. One of the best how-to articles for sex scenes, I must say. You nailed the emotional importance and showed just how to raise up the heat level! Great stuff.


  3. Thanks for visiting my blog, Jennifer. What a terrific post!

  4. Thanks so much you guys! Sorry I wasn't around yesterday, unfortunate family circumstances....

    And "show don't tell" still makes me groan when I see the note from one of my critters or editors - I still make the mistake. But when you do it right, it makes a scene so much better. :)

    Especially sex scenes. ;)