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:~: Thursday, February 22, 2007 :~:

The Senses

I'm finding that the bad thing about going second to last on theme week, is that the blog posts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have pretty much covered everything I wanted to say. lol

I will say, that in my opinion, the key to killer sexual tension is making use of the senses. It's through a fleeting touch, a whisper of a sound, or a tantazlizing scent, that you can bring the attraction to life and build on it as the story progresses.

The visual sense is probably the one most often used in building sexual tension. Usually, we'll have one character watching another and finding something they are doing incredibly sexy. With men-- this is usually something physical. His soon to be mate might be biting the bottom of her lip, or curling her hair around her finger. Or it could be something even more sublte, like the way she walks or smiles.

Interestingly, with women the visual cues hold as much of an emotional attraction, as a physical one. That's not to say that heroine isn't sexually attracted, but that its often for more of an emotional reason. Say she is attracted by his sense of humor, or his confidence, or a sense of safety/protectiveness she feels while in his presence.

Layering in the other senses, can really add depth when building the sexual tension, though. Everything we notice is through the senses. The whisper of silk as she walks past him. The rasp of denium as he walks past her. Her husky voice, his deep one. The silky texture of her hair/skin, calloused fingers or palms. The key is to use these senses to engender a sudden sharp sense of one character focusing on another. One character really noticing and reacting to another.

I do like Joan's explaination of a forbidden attaction. Or an attraction that if acted upon, will have unwelcome repercussions. My favorite writers mix characterization, use of the senses and some kind of conflict to build killer sexual tension.


Blogger Edie said...

Theresa, I LOVE the use of the senses in sex scenes. It's a great help in building the sensuality, and so true to what happens in life. When we're in that heightened sexual state, our senses are heightened too. We're focused, noticing everything about the other person. LOL, just thinking about being in that state gives me chills.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Ditto to what Edie said. ;)

The use of senses adds dramatically to the sexual tension in a book. Great reminder. I always forget denim "rasps".

8:23 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Oooh. I'm a fan of the rasp of denim myself :)

I agree, Theresa. Using all the senses creates the best sexual tension. As Edie says, our senses are all heightened.

I love finding great sexual tension in a book. Don't find it enough, actually :(

11:22 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...


The senses are essential in love scenes, aren't they? It's what gives those key scenes that extra pizzaz.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...


I have to go back and remember to layer in all those extra details, somehow I miss them on the first go through.

Then I go back and layer those sensual details in and the difference it always makes is staggering.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...


Exactly, when we're physically attracted to someone every little sensual detail is electifying.

chills and tingles...lol... that's what we're aiming for.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Liz Kreger said...

I love using all the senses in a scene. It's that love of description that gets me in trouble all the time and tends to slow down my books. LOL.

I think that a lot of writers really pare down the use of all the senses. Don't know if they think it makes the book tighter, faster ... whatever. But I think they're really missing out on capturing their readers.

Just my personal opinion.

1:35 PM  

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