Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Capture the Mood

Yesterday I had lunch with an author friend who also writes and publishes her young adult vampire stories.

She brought along her work-in-progress and asked me to read over a sensuous scene. She was trying to keep the right balance between making the reader feel the moment without being explicit.

She nailed it.

Now in adult novels, authors have more freedom in the specific details. But the basics still hold true.

One mistake we writers sometimes make in writing scenes with any sort of sexual tension is focusing in the physical details. As I told my friend, those details are, overall, fairly consistent, if one really thinks about it.

However, an individual's response, their emotions, their thoughts, as the action escalates (or does not), is what makes the difference. And an implication or hints of graphic can be more impactful than blunt words.

Here's the example I shared with her from Visage:

John stayed just as quiet on the return trip. Tonight, however, he did not pull into the back of the cafeteria. Instead, he swung the car into the staff parking lot and stopped at the far end, in front of the tall hedges bordering the empty road.
“I’ll walk you to the building,” John said. “The car’s staying here overnight.”
“How will you get home?” Melissa asked in surprise.
“I live across the street.”
“Then why do you…?”
“Drive to work? I don’t always go straight home.”
Melissa’s face grew hot. She knew that. He went to Shelby, of course. She blindly groped for the door handle. She had to leave, now, even if only to hide the bitter disappointment and frustration filling her eyes. She had misjudged John’s intentions again! Why did she keep torturing herself?
“Melissa, stop.”
He leaned near, cupped her face with one hand, and gently turned her. Melissa quickly blinked away tears and melted into John’s warm fingers. Her mind whirled. It’s a dream, she told herself, expecting to awaken in the next moment. This is just a twisted Bryony dream. The hazy light from the distant lamp pole illuminated the frenzy in John’s eyes as they searched hers. Melissa sat rigid, scarcely breathing, anticipating the impending jangling of her alarm clock.
“It’s strange,” John said, “but I feel we’ve met in another place, or....
John paused and inched closer. “....another time.”
Melissa throat tightened. The stillness of the night roared in her ears. John’s breath grazed her mouth.
“Does that make sense to you?”
She nodded, too astounded for words, petrified she’d pierce the elusive magic. Sleep, sleep, stay asleep, she silently begged, as John closed his eyes and swept a feathery stroke across her lips. This can’t be happening, Melissa thought. Oh, God, this is real!
Taking her head in his hands, John kissed her in earnest this time, gently, then harder and faster until Melissa released her pent up desire for John and met those kisses with a fervor that astonished her.
She touched his face and ran her fingers through that glorious hair, then to his shirt and down, farther than she had ever touched him, not even in Munsonville, not even when she was playing Bryony. By the time John opened his eyes and smiled at her, Melissa knew what she wanted to know.
If John Simotes had ever been a vampire, he wasn’t one now.

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