Saturday, June 27, 2009

QUICK, DIAL 911 ...

WE'RE SETTING A FIRE WITH ROMANTIC TENSION!

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I am addicted to romance. I suppose that’s not as bad as being addicted to Twinkies or Ho Hos because at least it won’t slap extra pounds on my hips. But it does compel me to hunt down romance in every conceivable form like a heat-seeking missile. Books, movies, date night with my husband or just getting a “fix” by writing my own romantic novel—to me, it’s all good.

And God help me, I don’t think there’s anything I love more than writing romantic tension. Every writer has their own style, of course, but being a drama queen, I tend away from subtle and sweet to that heart-pounding, breath-halting emotional tension that, for me, sets the page on fire. I suppose you could label me a romance arsonist because you see, as an edgy Inspirational author, it is my goal in life to set the reader on fire—both for God and for romance.

So recently, when I had several people express an interest in learning how I create romantic tension in my books, I had to sit down and really think about it. And what came to mind for me is drama – “raising the stakes,” as Donald Maas taught me in his excellent novel, Writing the Breakout Novel. Taking normal, loving characters and ratcheting up their emotions to the next level with dramatic situations that push them to the extreme. Upping the ante, if you will, by infusing the page with emotions and words that escalate the heartbeat, cause the breath to still in your throat.

Now, every writer has their own methods of adding romantic tension, but how do I like to do it?

1.) Well, one of my favorite ways is with ANGER, because let’s face it—nothing is more tense than anger! Following is a scene from the third book in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied, which released May 1st. In this scene, we have the mother and father, Marcy and Patrick, who, by the way, have the best marriage on the planet, in a tense fight scene that is almost foreign to their characters (i.e. raising the stakes to the next level). Not only do I utilize gruff action to build the tension, but at the end of the scene, I use short, bullet-fire dialogue to escalate it even more.

She was met with a cool blast of air when he snatched the covers from her body and flipped on the light. “Get up, darlin’, I’d like to hear all about your evening.”
Marcy sat up and put a hand to her eyes, squinting at the blinding light. “Patrick, have you been drinking?”
His laugh was not kind. “Yes, Marcy, I have. A man will often do that when he learns his wife has been unfaithful.”
She pressed back against the headboard, alarmed at the brutal look in his eyes. “That’s a lie! I have never been unfaithful.”
“Not physically, I’m sure.” His look pierced her to the core. “At least, not until tonight.”
Fear paralyzed her. “I fought him off, Patrick, I swear I did. He’s a liar.”
“Funny, he said the same about you.”
He took a step forward, and she cowered back. Her husband had never laid a cruel hand on her. But this man was not her husband. “Patrick, you’re tired, and you’ve been drinking. Come to bed, and we’ll discuss it in the morning.”
“Did you kiss him?”
“No, of course not!”
“Did he kiss you?”
She gasped for breath.
He gripped her arm and shook her. “Answer me!”
“Yes!”
His eyes glittered like ice. “Well, Mrs. O’Connor, and how do I compare?”


2.) Another way I like to create romantic tension is through the element of SURPRISE. Have the characters do something unexpected that jolts the reader as much as it does the character it’s happening to. Here is a scene from my current WIP, Refuge From the Storm, which is Katie O’Connor’s story, the fourth daughter in The Daughters of Boston series. I tried to build tension by implementing surprise with a touch of humor.

He nudged her chin up with his thumb, and her lips parted with a sharp intake of breath. And then he saw it. The gentle rise and fall of her chest, the soft rose in her cheeks, the skittish look in her eyes, flitting to his lips and then quickly away. Comprehension suddenly oozed through him like heated honey purling through his veins, quickening his pulse. Could it be? Was it possible that cold, callous Katie O’Connor was beginning to warm up? To him, of all people—Cluny McGee, the leper from her past? The thought sent warm ripples of shock through his body, thinning the air in his lungs.

His gaze gentled, taking in the vulnerability in her eyes, the fear in her face, and all he wanted to do was hold her, reassure her. As if under a spell, his gaze was drawn to her lips, parted and full, and the sound of her shallow breathing filled him with a fierce longing. “Oh, Katie,” he whispered, no power over the pull he was suddenly feeling. In slow motion, he bent toward her, closing his eyes to caress her mouth with his own. A weak gasp escaped her as she stiffened, but he couldn’t relent. The taste of her lips was far more than he bargained for, and he drew her close with a raspy groan. With a fierce hold, he cupped the back of her neck and kissed her deeply, gently, possessive in his touch. His fingers twined in her hair, desperate to explore.

And then beyond his comprehension, her body melded to his with an answering groan, and he was shocked when her mouth rivaled his with equal demand. Desire licked through him, searing his body and then his conscience. With a heated shudder, he gripped her arms and pushed her back, his breathing ragged as he held her at bay. “We can’t do this,” he whispered. He dropped his hold and exhaled, gouging shaky fingers through disheveled hair. His gaze returned, capturing hers and riddled with regret. “Believe me, Katie, as much as I want to, I’ve learned the hard way to take things slow. I should have never started this, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Forgive him? She stared at him through glazed eyes, her pulse still pumping in her veins at a ridiculous rate. She never wanted this, couldn’t stand the sight of him, and now here she was, tingling from his touch and desperate for more. Addicted to the “King of misery.” The very thought inflamed both fury and desire at the same time, muddling her mind. Dear Lord, she was torn between welding her lips to his or slapping him silly. With a tight press of her mouth, she opted for the second and smacked him clean across the face.


3.) Of course, One of my favorite ways to escalate romantic tension is through INTERNAL MONOLOGUE, those deep, dark thoughts inside the characters’ minds that tell you they’re heading toward trouble. In my opinion, nothing builds tension better than internal monologue. Here is a scene from book 2 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed, where the hero wants nothing to do with the heroine, but finds his defenses slipping as he helps her do the dishes. I start off in her POV and then switch to his to give the reader the impact of both of the character’s thoughts.

He moistened his lips, then slowly lifted his eyes to hers. “I need this.” His fingers skimmed across the towel on her shoulder, causing the air to still in her throat.

Dear God, what was happening? It was as if he had no control over his hand as it strayed from the towel to the soft curve of her neck. A tilt of her head, the blush of her cheeks, and suddenly he was two different men. One whose every muscle, thought and desire strained toward wanting her. The other, a distant voice of conscience and memory, quickly fading with every throb of his renegade pulse. Curse the effect of the wine! What else could explain this driving insanity pulsing through him right now? His fingers burned as they lingered, slowly tracing to the hollow of her throat. Against his will, he fixated on her lips, lush and full, staggered at the heat they generated. What was he doing? He didn’t want this.
Yes … he did.

All night he’d felt it mounting, a desire in his belly that grew tight at the sound of her laughter, the lift of her chin, the light in her eyes. A woman with cool confidence around everyone but him. Call it the wine. Or the fact he hadn’t been this close to a woman for well over a year. Or the intoxicating awareness that his very presence seemed to unnerve her. Whatever name it bore, it had him by the throat, taking him places he’d vowed he’d never be.

She blinked up at him, eyes wide and wondering. He was taking her by surprise and knew it. But no more so than him. He stared at her lips, feeling the draw and unwilling to fight it. His fingers moved up her throat to gently cup her chin, his eyes burning with intent. Slowly, carefully, he leaned forward, his mouth finally reaching hers, his breathing ragged as he tasted her lips.

A soft mew left her throat, and the sound ignited him. He pulled her close, his mouth demanding hers. She moaned while he pressed her to the counter, holding her there as he deepened the kiss. With a deep groan, his arms swallowed her up, drawing her small frame tightly against his. He pressed his lips to her hair, allowing her scent to flood his senses … to consume him.

Just like before.

His heart seized. What was he doing? The more he touched, the more he wanted. But she had ruined his life. Dashed his hopes. Destroyed his dreams. Dear God in Heaven, he wanted her … but he didn’t want her.


4.) Now I know this will shock some POV purists out there, but I find that POV shifts within a scene are an effective way to escalate tension. To me, there’s something compelling about being inside the hero’s mind, then immediately switching to the heroine’s reaction. Here is a scene from A Passion Denied that relates what the hero is feeling but doesn’t want the heroine to know he is feeling, then switches to reveal the heroine’s reaction. Brady is teaching Lizzie how to fish with a rod and reel.

He put the rod in her right hand, then circled her from behind. He grasped his hands over hers. All at once, the scent of her hair and the nearness of her body distracted him, sending a jolt of heat searing through him. He fought it off, chewing on his lip as he forced himself to concentrate on the casting. “Okay, you hold the rod here, then release the button, then lift the rod like this …” His arm gently guided hers up and out, landing the lure in a perfect cast that rippled across the water.
“I did it!” she cried.
“Yes, you did. Now press the button release again so you don’t lose your line.”
She notched the button and turned, her face flushed a delicate shade of excitement. With a giggle, she threw herself into his arms, almost gouging his eye with her rod as she hugged.
He closed his eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat.
“Oh, Brady, this is so much fun! Can I do it again?” She pulled away and stared up. Her violet eyes brimmed with excitement.
He smiled, and then his gaze dropped to her full lips, forcing the breath to congeal in his lungs. He cleared his throat and stepped back. “Sure, Beth, you try it this time.”
Lizzie blinked, feeling a flutter in her stomach. What on earth just happened? One minute Brady was teaching her how to cast, and the next … She spun around to hide the heat that crept in her face and quickly swallowed her shock, desperate to focus on the rod in her hands. But his eyes … sweet saints, they’d had the same dreamy quality she’d seen in Michael’s, a kind of half-lidded stare that settled on her mouth, causing her heart to stop. She drew in a ragged breath and steeled her jaw. No! It was nothing more than her imagination, playing cruel tricks on her. “Focus, Lizzie,” she muttered under her breath, squinting at the lake as she swung the rod. The lure plopped into the water with shocking precision. Her lips flattened in grim satisfaction. Good! Maybe I can hook some fish, if nothing else.


5.) And, as with all writing, I find that strong, dramatic verbs are a must to conveying tension of any kind. Whenever I write a tense scene, I literally pour over my literary Bible, The Synonym Finder, by J.A. Rodale, to come up with the most powerful verbs I can. Here is a scene from A Passion Redeemed in which the hero realizes he’s falling for a woman he doesn’t want to fall in love with. Uh, you think he’s ticked?

He wheeled around and bludgeoned his way through the crowd, riling customers on his way out. Outside, the bitter cold assailed him, tinged with the smells of burning peat and the slight whiff of horses. He could hear the faint sound of laughter and singing drifting from the various pubs tucked along the cobblestone road. His anger swelled.

He hurled his car door open and tossed the bottle on the passenger seat. Mumbling under his breath, he rounded the vehicle to rotate the crank, gyrating the lever with such ferocity that it rattled unmercifully. The engine growled to life, its vicious roar rivaling the angst in his gut. He got in the car and slammed the door, slapping the headlights on with a grunt. With a hard swipe of the steering wheel, he jerked the car away from the curve and exhaled a loud breath.

It was happening again. He was finally past the pain of one sister and now it was beginning with the other. He gunned the vehicle down Lower Abbey Street, nearly hitting a pedestrian who probably wouldn’t have felt a thing, given the near-empty bottle in his hand. He gritted his teeth. That’s what women did to you—drove you to the bottom of a bottle where you drowned in your own liquid travail. He yanked his tie off, loosening his shirt to let the frigid air cool the heat of his anger. Thoughts of Charity suddenly surfaced, and a heat of another kind surged through his body. He swore out loud, the coarse sound foreign to his ears. He turned the corner on a squeal. The bottle careened across the seat and slammed into his leg.

He’d been without a woman way too long. Once, his appetite had been voracious. But Faith had changed all that. Her sincerity, her purity, her honesty. She had ruined him for other women. Since she’d left, he’d had no inclination, no interest. No desire.

Until now.


6.) Finally, for me, the key to writing romantic tension is to FEEL the scene before hand. This happens a lot while I’m on the treadmill listening to worship music. All at once, a dramatic line or action will pop into my head, and before I know it, I’m scribbling a scene down with the pen and paper I keep close by. I think on it, imagine it, plot it in my mind. And when I’m finally writing it, I use everything at my disposal to feel the scene—from personal memories to movies to song lyrics—anything that will help me to intensify my feelings and therefore heighten the drama. Heck, I even keep a hand mirror by my computer to study emotions on my own face, as well as jumping up to enact certain scenes. Although, this has become somewhat awkward since my husband has started his own business and now sits behind me in my home office. Sigh.

So, what do you do to build heat in your romantic tension? Go ahead and tell me ... show me with examples ... because I’ve got the fire department on speed dial and a fire extinguisher close by. And frankly, I’d like to learn a few more tricks for stoking the fire, because as far as I am concerned, when it comes to romantic tension, there’s no such thing as too much heat.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Julie will be giving away one book from her Daughters of Boston series as seen in this photo - winner's choice. Just leave a comment today with your name to get in on her draw.

You can contact and find out more info on Julie through her website at
http://www.julielessman.com/

Julie Lessman is a regular contributor of Seekerville which you can find at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/

33 comments:

Ban said...

Welcome Julie, you're talking about my FAVORITE part of any story (esp. when there's romance involved) TENSION !!! To me, there's nothing like the build up to that first kiss ... sigh ... You give some wonderful examples BTW and I'm particularly glad to meet someone who finds PoV shifts in such scenes a positive. In my own WiP I use a lot of anger - The MCs are 'supposed' to hate each other (for a number of reasons) and they take every opportunity to 'prove' how much they do but ... well, love my ultimately be a decision but it usually starts as an emotion :D

Jeannie Campbell said...

okay...you already know that i LOVE this post. :) don't enter me in the contest...b/c i enjoyed your writing SO MUCH that i absolutely HAD to go buy book three! So i'm the happy owner of all three...

jules...your talent for making me turn the page (esp. for those sexual tension scenes!) is unparalleled. seriously. can't wait to start book three...which, from the looks of what's left of book 2, that'll be tonight sometime. :)

Amy said...

Oh, BAN, we are blood sisters for sure!! I could seriously read nothing but romantic tension (as long as I took short breaks to settle down here and there! :)).

I've had several readers ask me if I could writer "sweeter" romance instead of the heart-pounding tension I like to explore and I said, "Uh ... no." It's just not in me. And it doesn't sound like it's in you either, girl, which is good. Long live romantic tension!!

Hugs,
Julie

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

My favorite way to create romantic tension is having the hero accidently see the heroine naked. He will never get that image out of his head. It will haunt him. Would this be too edgy for you or for Inspirational romances in general? (What happens when the hero finally learns that the heroine set-up the ‘accident’ in order to get him to see her as a woman?)


***

Like juggling chainsaws, frequent changes of POV within a scene can be very exciting – but not everyone should try it. (LOL)

BTW, is it just me or is Book Four edgier than the first three books?

Vince

Julie Lessman said...

OH-OH ... My daughter Amy was on my computer while I was out of town, so the Amy comment above is actually mine -- me, Julie!

JEANNIE!!!!!! You bought book 3???? Oh, I am SOOO honored!! And since you are a licensed "character therapist," I'm anxious to hear who you think has bigger issues -- Charity or Brady!! :) Thanks SO much for your comment, my friend.

Big Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, VINCE, having the hero "accidentally see the heroine naked" is definitely one way to create romantic tension, I'll give you that, but ... uh, YIKES, not in the Inspy market, I'm afraid!! :) Trust me, I did well to incorporate some glimpses of my heroine in her chemise!

And nope, it's not just you -- book 3 (not book 4, which hasn't been published yet), is definitely the edgiest of the three novels in The Daughters of Boston series. But the primary reason for that is that book 3 incorporates substories about each of the other married couples, so there are more bedroom scenes depicted.

I can't thank you enough for reading my books, Vince and for the great reviews you wrote as well.

Hugs,
Julie

Cynthia said...

What a lot of great ideas to build up the tension. I'm still learning how to do this in my own work. I like to use the circumstances in the characters lives to help build it up--things or other characters prevent them from coming together, but even when they do it's still not the right time yet.

I've read the first book of the series and can't wait to start reading the other two.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Julie and warm welcome to the Prairies Chicks today.

Romantic tension is so satisfying to create. ;) I love getting in the zone and cranking up the tension. You've listed some excellent ways to develop it. I think my favorite way to fan the flames is the use of internal dialogue. When you're deep in POV and your characters are struggling within themselves, that's my favorite thing to write. And I totally agree that you have to feel things along with your characters. That's key for me anyway.

Thanks for a great post today, Julie.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey, welcome Julie and everyone.

Vince - It's always interesting to hear what a real guy thinks and if it's one thing we can count on, it's you letting us know. Thank you for that.

Julie, you know I've read and loved all 3 of your books. They are a level above so many other inspirationals on todays market and it's because of your edgy writing. You portray us as God made us with all our foibles and emotions whether 'marketable or not'. Thank goodness Revell Books had the good sense to snap you up.

But please, tell us how many times you tried to sell A Passion Most Pure before Revell took the chance on you...

Julie Lessman said...

CYNTHIA ... Thank you SO much for reading books 1 and 2 in the series -- I REALLY, REALLY appreciate it!

And circumstances are a key way to build tension, for sure!! Thank you for stopping by and good luck in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thank you SO much, KARYN, for the warm welcome -- it's fun to be here with you very talented gals.

And, ooooooo ... I TOTALLY agree about internal dialogue ... there's LOTS and LOTS of means for heating up romantic tension there, especially when we can get inside the heads of those sexy hunks we write about ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

ANITA!!!! Thank you SO VERY MUCH, my friend, for inviting me to be here today with the Prairie Chicks!! And, YES, I do know how much you "loved" all three of my books, because your reviews pretty much blew me away!! Thank you again for not only taking the time to read my books, but to write such amazing reviews!

And how many rejections on A Passion Most Pure??? Uh, well, let's just say I won the booby prize for the most rejections in a year at the ACFW Conference the year before I sold! All told, I garnered 45 rejections on my debut novel, three AFTER I sold to Revell, so obviously those three didn't hurt quite so much ... :) And since I started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind, I take great pride in the fact that I came close to that amazing novel's 38 rejections! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Tina M. Russo said...

Just cruising by to say hello to Julie.

Carolynn W. said...

Please enter me, I would love to win Julie's 3rd book! Thanks for the chance to win!
carolynnwald[at]hotmail[dot]com

Alli said...

WOW!!! Julie - I thought your books were amazing BEFORE reading this post, and now...the details BLOW ME AWAY!!! There are so many different aspects that I didn't even notice before!!! Somewhere in the very near future - I am going to have to sit down and re-read all 3 books again to really see (and appreciate) all of those details. (Like the assertive verbs!!) I would have to say that I think my favorite way of creating tension is changing PoV within the same scene!! I absolutely LOVE to be able to find out what not just one, but BOTH characters are thinking and feeling about whatever is happening in that scene!!! Julie - as far as I'm concerned - you are the MASTER of creating romantic tension!!! You are truly amazing! :D

chey said...

Hi Julie,
As a reader I find it tnteresting to learn how to create drama. By raising the stakes. Makes sense.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Hello Julie, and welcome to the Prairies. I think my favourite type of tension to write is verbal repartee, I love seeing two characters going at it in a verbal sparring match. Writing it, there's a point where the dialogue just flows, and reading it always gets my heart going a little faster.

In a romantic context, I think it shows the hero and heroine are worthy of each other, that they're appropriate mates, so to speak, and equals, rather than a superior/inferior (in either direction). I really value a partner who can push back rather than give in, so I love to see that in a novel.

Oh and please leave my name out of the drawing, as I just won a guest blogger's draw :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

45 rejections, Julie! I don't know if I could do that. It seems like I have lots of rejections but they're just contest entries that never won. I've only been rejected twice and that was for 2 different books and I've already shelved those books for later revisions. I can't imagine your strength to keep resending it.

Hey - are there even 45 Inspirational pub houses or were some of those secular?

dolleygurl said...

I think that tension is important in a romance novel. It makes the story feel more real and not contrived because that is how it happens a lot in real life. I also agree that POV shifts can be used very effectively to learn the opinions of both characters during these scenes which can be very interesting.

I would love to be entered for the book as well. dolleygurl@hotmail.com. Thanks!

Julie Lessman said...

TINA!!!!! Thanks for dropping by, my friend -- always great to see a Seeker bud in the comments ... :)

CAROLYNN ... Gosh, girl, you mean you haven't won A Passion Denied yet???? We'll have to see what we can do about that, I guess ... Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest, sweetie ... :)

ALLI!!!!! It is SO good to see you here, my friend, and I am TOTALLY with you on the POV shifts because I LOVE to see how both characters are responding in a given scene! And THANK YOU as always for your kind words and encouragement -- I cannot express just how much they mean to me.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HAYLEY ... ooooo, yeah, verbal repartee is particularly good -- I totally agree! Like a fierce and tense ping-pong volley of rapid-fire response, cranking that romantic tension WAY up -- I love it!! Which tells me I would probably love your writing style as well, I'm guessing ... :)

ANITA ... Yeah, I tend to be pretty persistent, but those R's did take a toll once or twice, trust me. And those 45 rejections were a mix of agents and publishers, which taught me a very important lesson -- always go for an agent first ... :)

DOLLYGURL SAID: "I think that tension is important in a romance novel." Oh, amen to that, my friend -- REAL important, in my opinion, which pretty much explains why my books are jam packed with tension. So much so, in fact, that a friend (who doesn't like tension) asked me why I couldn't just write "sweet" romance that didn't keep her on edge so much. Uh, because I would fall asleep on the keyboard, that's why ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

adge said...

Hey, please enter me for the contest. thanks.

gasweetheart211[at]netscape[dot]net

connie said...

Hi Julie,
Welcome to the prairies.
I go along with Hayley. In real life, I love to talk to a man who not only talks about interesting topics, but also puts more reparte than discussion into a conversation...even a little off-the-wall or on the spur of the moment wit.
Dolleygurl's name struck me. I would like the look of 'gurl' as opposed to 'girl', which would work in some situations.
Unusual turn-ons raise the tension for me too, e.g. his wrists are sexy.
Truly hope I win your book. The last good bookstore folded here at Xmas. They even carried books by locals and on local topics! Now, we only have Plastic (Coles). connie

Renee said...

Please don't enter me I already have the books! I just had to say I'm totally the same way I love ALL things romance whether it be in the form of a book or movie or whatever!

Let me just say that scene with Katie and Cluny was something else! Can't wait to read their story!

Janet C. said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Julie. It's great to have you here and what an amazing post. To discuss tension, or POV, or whatever is always much more powerful with examples :)

This is going to be another post I come back to often as I work on my own stories. Tension, romantic or sexual or emotional, all help to move a story along - and I would hestitate to say that even 'sweet' romance employs tension.

And thanks for sharing the rejection story. As a fellow multiple rejectee, it's good to know that persistence pays off. And I agree 100% with you about querying agents first - don't burn your bridges!

Again, great to have you here today. And a great discussion taking place - nice to see some new visitors to The Prairies :)

sugarandgrits said...

Hey Julie!

Speaking of TENSION, if Cluny & Katie are going to have a story, I'm sure there will be PLENTY to keep everyone happy! LOL After reading the excerpt from Katie's book, it's going to be even harder to wait for it to be released!

Please don't enter me in the contest. I finally have all 3 of Julie's books, and have read them all as well! They are wonderful! If you haven't had a chance to read them, PLEASE DO, you will not be disappointed!!

Great post, Julie! :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Wow - I have to admit this is the first time we've had a guest where so many people didn't want her book. LOL

Thank goodness it's because they already have your books, Julie. You've created a wave and it's spreading out across the inspirational market. Just lead the way and I'm there behind you.

BTW - you will be at the conference in Denver, eh? Keep writing like this and you'll be holding a workshop. :)

Pepper Basham said...

What an excellent post, Julie. Wow! Why do I suddenly feel my WIP is in black and white after reading your post....sigh.

I wouldn't mind being part of the drawing, but I have all of your Daughters of Boston books except the first one - A Passion Most Pure :-)

Pepper
pepperbasham@yahoo.com

Helena said...

I'm glad to catch the discussion today -- no access to the Internet until this evening when I got home. Welcome, Julie! You have 'heated' up our Prairie with your tips for creating tension.

I'm interested in looking at how tension can develop through ordinary activities, unusual surroundings or external atmosphere. Some things that could unexpectedly up the ante: stoking up a fireplace or campfire anticipates 'heat' of the scene to follow; a storm or other acts of nature can increase the intensity of the emotions if they parallel the feelings of the MC (panic, fear, uncertainty, whatever mood of the moment is driving their passion), particularly if their reactions are in opposition to one another or there is disagreement how to respond to the situation.

In a movie, these tensions will often be conveyed through the music chosen or by particular landscapes that mirror what the characters are going through. With words to work with, we have to paint those landscapes of emotion on the page for our readers.

Would love to read your books, Julie. Thanks for the excerpts (otherwise known as teasers!)

Julie Lessman said...

ADGE ... Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck in the contest!

Thanks, CONNIE, it's sooo good to be with you gals today! And ooooo ... "unusual turn-ons" like sexy wrists, eh?? I like that and I think I'll have to try that in my next book ...

RENEE!!! I got to meet Lori this last week in Atlanta and boy, how we wish you were there too!! Thanks for stopping by to lend your support ... you are such a sweetheart!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JANET C ... Thank SO much for letting me join you guys today. What a great bunch of ladies you all are, and I am excited to be here. Yeah, and rejections are pretty universal on the road to publication, aren't they though? I wear mine as a badge of honor, let me tell you ... although I have so many that I could wear them as a suit of armor!! :)

LORI!!! You are SOOO darn cute!! Thank you for popping in to lend support, my friend -- always love to see you!

ANITA ... grin, yeah, I am blessed with incredible readers who become good friends that lend endless support, stopping by to encourage instead of to win a book. I consider them (and bloggers like YOU!) to be one of God's greatest blessings in my writing career. And, YES, I will be in Denver in Sept. -- will you, I hope??? If so, I owe you a great big hug, my friend!

PEPPER!!! So nice to see you here, my friend! And honey, don't be putting your WIP down. We ALL start out at the same place ... looking to improve and grow and get to where God wants us to be. And with Him at the helm, we ALL get there in His perfect time ...

HELENA ... excellent points!! Your comment that "things that could unexpectedly up the ante: stoking up a fireplace or campfire anticipates 'heat' of the scene to follow; a storm or other acts of nature" ... is SOOO true and so good!! It's fun to see how you Prairie gals pump up the romantic tension in your own books.

Hugs,
Julie

Pepper Basham said...

Julie,
You are sweet as chocolate pie...hmm, I must still be thinking about the Seekerville's weekend addition :-) Thanks for your encouragement. I picked up A Passion Denied to read AGAIN, just because of your post here. Fabulous writing and filled with...tension :-)

Pepper Basham said...

oops, Seekerville weekend edition...See what chocolate does to my brain, not to mention the 'addition' it will give my hips. :-)

Sorry, I digress

Blessings,
Pepper