Writing Sexual Tension – Tammy Lyn Carbol

Tammy Lyn photo

Calgary writer Tammy Lyn Carbol presented a fabulous workshop on Sexual Tension at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association meeting last week.

Using examples from the movies Zorro and Pride and Prejudice (2005), she reminded us that sexual tension is NOT about the sex act.  It’s about anticipation.  It’s slow, deliberate and can take time.

How to achieve that?

1) Make the attraction each character feels for the other blatantly obvious to the reader.

2) There must be conflict between the couple.  No conflict = No tension.

3) Use internal dialogue. Does the hero have to clench his hands at his side to prevent him reaching out to touch the heroine?

4) Even when they are not together, they should be thinking of the other.

5) Be patient. Take it slow.  Build the anticipation.

6) Then… give them a taste… then pull back.

7) When it looks like their relationship is going to work, pull them apart again. (Perhaps through the external conflict.) Tease the reader.

8) Try not to resolve their relationship until the very end.

Tammy cautioned us to be very aware of the different reactions between a man and a woman in a sexually charged situation.  A man will respond in a sexual manner while the woman’s response will be more emotional. As writers we must remember that if our characters are going to sound ‘real’.

Tammy also recommended that we watch the proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice (2005). It crackles with sexual tension. Watch Darcy and Elizabeth. They can’t take their eyes off each other.  And watch (around 2.37) where they lean in and – just for a moment – we think they might kiss.

Thanks, Tammy Lyn, for a GREAT workshop! And if you would like to check out more of Tammy Lyn’s writing, please visit her website: http://www.tammylyncarbol.com