Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Seducing the Reader: How do you do it?

I took a online writing course from Nicole North on writing sexual tension. Great teacher no matter what your genre or comfort level. Naturally, I asked her to talk about what she does best. Please join the Five Scribes in welcoming Paranormal Erotic romance author, Nicole North. For readers who leave a comment, Nicole will be drawing the winner on Friday for a 20-page double spaced critique of your work in progress. Here's a great opportunity to get an expert opinion on your sex scene or a chapter dealing with sexual tension.

Seducing the reader is about coaxing them--with your words and your voice--to suspend disbelief and become immersed in your story for hours. They never want to leave that story world. They can't stop turning the pages. Can't put the book down until they find out how it ends. Will these characters, who are like real people, achieve their goals? Will they fall in love and end up together? At the end, the reader puts the book down with a sigh and wishes the story could go on forever.

With your writing, you never want to do anything to jar the reader or yank them out of your story. Everything should flow smoothly, be logical and well motivated.

In romance, you also want to charm the reader into falling in love with your hero. Most romance readers are women who want to escape for a short while. A large part of that escape is fantasizing about a sexy, hot man who deserves love,a hero the reader finds irresistibly attractive.

In real life, not every woman is attracted to a given man, unless he's something spectacular and larger than life, like Gerald Butler, Hugh Jackman or Viggo Mortensen.

Those guys can seduce the viewer every time. These hunky men have a combination of a gorgeous face, a great body, intelligence, charm, confidence, and maybe a sexy accent or a sense of humor. These guys are real men, but they're also larger than life in some ways and they appeal to a broad range of fans. To seduce your reader into falling in love with your hero, he should have the same broad appeal.

The heroes in the novels on my keeper shelf are the ones I fell in love with. They are so real, and in most cases imperfect and damaged...in need of love and healing. Every woman wants to be THE ONE who tames him, heals him and captures his heart...the only one he thinks about. We want to see that strong, tough man's vulnerabilities because that's when he will touch our hearts most profoundly.

And perhaps your love scenes literally seduce the reader by making them wish their significant other were home at that moment so they can act out their fantasies. Making your reader feel all the intense emotions associated with falling in love will give them a natural high that is seductive and addictive...luring them back for more in your next book.

DEVIL IN A KILT in Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures will be released in July 09: A trip to the Highland Games turns into a trip to the past when modern day psychology professor Shauna MacRae touches Gavin MacTavish's 400-year-old claymore. What she finds is a Devil in a Kilt she's had erotic fantasies about for months. Can Shauna break the curse imprisoning this shape shifting laird and his can before an evil witch sends Shauna back to her time?

Nicole North writes sensual and erotic romance novels and novellas. She is the author of paranormal erotic romance novellas Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures, July 2009, Beast in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Volume 29; and (contemporary) Kilted Lover. Nicole lives with her husband in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, but wishes she lived in the Scottish Highlands at least half the year. She teaches writing workshops on various subjects including sexual tension and love scenes. Visit her at www.nicolenorth.com


Mona Risk said...

Give me a Hugh Jackman anytime or a Pierce Brosnan.LOL. I agtree with you. The right sensual tension is a powerful ingredient that keeps the reader reading. I've tried to put a good dose in my latest release Babies in the Bargain at TWRP. Great post.

Donnell said...

Mona, congratulations on Babies in the bargain. Nicole, thanks for being here today ;)

Terry Odell said...

Nothing makes me happier than when readers tell me they want my heros. I've only written one who's really 'gorgeous'.

It's not about the looks (and sorry, but I don't have the hots for any of the three examples you gave. Maybe I'm older, maybe I don't get out to the movies, or watch enough television). It's about the character.

Teresa Reasor said...

Great Blog!
I agree that showing your hero's vulnerabilities, is the first step in making your reader connect to him. Even if he's an Alpha.
I think putting readers into your heroine's shoes with the emotional response to him adds to that as well. How deeply you can immerse yourself into the characters psyches plays such an important part.

Do you find it easier to write from the male POV in your love scenes or the female?

I think your book sounds great and congratulations on its release!!
Write on,
Teresa r.

Donnell said...

Hi, gang, just have to leave a note for Terry about the three guys, Nicole mentions. I'm around your age Terry (very young ;) and I don't know two of these men. My daughter does, however, and she brought up Viggo Mortensen yesterday as one of her favorites. So it definitely is the age thing.

However, Hugh Jackman. I'll go see anything with this extraordinary talent. He can sing, dance, and act. And his body is amazing. The last x-men was incredible, Australia...he's a terrific role model for our characters because he's so versatile.

But looks aren't everything. Tommy Lee Jones in the Fugitive is still the guy I think about when I'm writing Alpha males.

Thanks for stopping by!

Brenda said...

Wow, great post Nicole. Makes me miss your class even more! Can't wait to see how Gavin, your "Devil in a Kilt" embodies all these qualities. :) Best of luck with this release!

Nicole North said...

Mona, thanks! Pierce is another of my favorites! Congratulations on your release!

Thank you Donnell, and thanks to the other Five Scribes as well, for allowing me to be here! You guys have an awesome blog!

Nicole North said...

Hi, Terry, I agree. A hero doesn't have to be gorgeous. So long as the heroine and reader find him attractive, that's all that's needed. And of course personality is of vital importance. Thanks for checking it out!

Hi Teresa, thanks!! It is fun to uncover those vulnerabilities and see what's beneath that gruff exterior. Great question, but a tough one. :) I enjoy writing from either pov during love scenes. And I find male as easy as female. In general, over the course of a book, I do find male pov easier and more fun to write. But it is also fun to write a love scene from the female pov because of letting the reader in on all the great things the hero is doing or what he looks like. His expression, his muscles, etc. It adds a certain hot factor! :)

Nicole North said...

Thanks Donnell! I brought up Gerry Butler because he inspired one of my heroes, Torr from Beast in a Kilt, (here is the pic which inspire me if you'd like to see Gerard Butler as Attilla) and because a lot of women in my online chapters were talking about him before I knew who he was as well. That's how I figured out he has broad appeal. He's Scottish; so for those of us who write Scottish heroes he's fantastic inspiration. He has been in a lot of movies now and seems to get more famous every year. He also has a great sense of humor. You might remember the movies PS I Love You from last year or Phantom of the Opera.

Viggo was in Lord of the Rings

95% of the heroes I write have long hair, so these guys are some awesome inspiration. :)

Nicole North said...

Brenda, thanks!! I'm so glad you liked my classes! Hope you like Gavin as well. He definitely is a tough guy with a lot of vulnerabilities. :)

Liz Falkner said...

Fantastic post, Nicole and obviously a subject in which you excel!!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom!!

Arkansas Cyndi said...

I agree with becoming immersed in a story because of the sexual tension. For me, it's all about the words..The beauty of the sentence structure. I love to read a story that I hate to end. :) Make sense? LOL

I know many people don't like first person, but one of the reasons I do is that it seems so intimate. I can BE the character.

Great blog. Thanks for letting us know, Donnell

Ari Thatcher said...

Wondering about the age thing - I'm probably close to you ladies who don't respond to the three choices, and I think they're all hot. But maybe I'm just a perv for younger men!

Kathy said...

You are the first one I know that mentioned Viggo Mortensen. Once i saw him in Lord of the Rings I had go find his earlier movies. I saw one of his older movies on TV one day after I had watched the LOTR movies and I went oh that's the king it's Aragorn. He's an an awesome actor. I use him for the hero in my writing.
I have a question and any of the authors on the loop might answer it but I was interested because Nicole writes erotic. How did you find the confort level for your sexual tension? Does it bother you that people who know you other than as an author might judge you for your writing? I'm not stating this very well, but I was curious where the confort level fits in with you when you run into some people.

Jeanne Ryan said...

I decided to write paranormal romance over urban fantasy because I enjoyed writing the relationship stuff over the fight stuff. Verbal fights I love doing, but the physical actions stuff, not so much.

When it comes to sex scenes, it's new territory to me and I'll admit writing them still puts my heart in my throat. The only way I can get through them is to put my heart on the paper.

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

I had a contest judge tell me she wanted to marry my hero. A bit further into the story, he became a bit autocratic, and she added, "Well, maybe not MARRY..."

Found those comments really gratifying. He'd come to life for her.

I have to agree with a few other of your commenters: Hugh is the only one worthy of hero status for me---oh, and Pierce Brosnan. (Definitely an age thing.) The others are pretty much "Huh?" But then, I like men that look like men WITHOUT needing a five o'clock shadow to tell me they've grown up! *g*

Best of luck with you book, Nicole.

Nicole North said...

Hi Liz! Thanks!! Great to see you here!

Arkansas Cyndi, thanks!! Sexual tension is my favorite element of a romance novel. Absolutely. I've read several stories I hated to see end. First person is great for that intimacy. One of the exercises I have people in my class do sometimes, if they're having a hard time achieving deep POV in 3rd person, is to convert it to or rewrite it in 1st person and see if that allows them to go deeper (it usually does.) Then convert it back to 3rd person, which allows them to get into close 3rd deep POV.

Ari, a perv LOL! I don't think so. I think it's fine for any of us to appreciate a younger man, or any age man we find attractive. As writers we always need that inspiration.

Nicole North said...

Kathy, yes, I think a lot of us fell in love with Viggo as Aragorn. He had most of the qualities we love in a romance hero. He's hot, honorable, intelligent, strong, confident, and has a heart of gold. About your comfort level question... it depends on the person. If it's someone who I know is open-minded, like a good friend, then I don't worry about it. We all have sex right? Unless we're virgins. :) If it's someone who is offended easily by sexual topics then I'll warn them ahead of time. This might be too spicy for you. Or if you use a pen name, they don't have to know you write the really erotic stuff unless you tell them.

If we're talking regular romance and a love scene that isn't too graphic, then this is what's expected for much of romance. The only way to not write sex scenes in romance is to write sweet, inspirational or YA romance. When you're writing love scenes, don't imagine your mother (or the person who would be shocked by what you've written) reading over your shoulder or ever reading it. It's just something you gradually become more comfortable writing, especially after your critique partners or contest judges have read it. Sex is just a natural part of life and if sex didn't exist we wouldn't either. So I think it's just a matter of accepting sex as a beautiful thing rather than something to be embarrassed about.

Nicole North said...

Jeanne, I'm with you I love the relationship aspect of romance over the fight stuff. But I also enjoy writing action to an extent. I agree, immersing the sexual content in emotion is the best way to go for romance.

Gwynlyn, what an awesome compliment you received! Yes, I'm sure it's an age thing. 20 yr olds are going to find men in their 20s far more attractive. Women in their 50s are going to find men in their 50s more attractive. I think the men I mentioned are in their late 30s early 40s. Not everyone is going to find the same man to-die-for. Just as some readers will love your hero and others may not. You can't please everyone, and there's no need to try. I've entered contests before where one judge would say I love your hero. When another judge who read the same thing would say your hero is too bossy and alpha. ?? Oh well, c'est la vie! :)

sheandeen said...

There are some larger than life stars that have broad appeal. Often when I read about a hero that really works for me I 'see' one of those larger than life stars in that hero. Great post! And I can't wait to read about your devil in a kilt!

Nicole North said...

Hi sheandeen, thanks!! There are several larger than life stars, athletes, musicians and other celebrities. I hope you enjoy Devil in a Kilt! :) Be sure and let me know if you do.

Dorrie said...

Thanks for a great pithy summary of what's needed to seduce readers, Nicole. I really liked the comment about giving the hero vulnerabilites that the lucky heroine can help him with. Thanks. Dorrie

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Loved this post. I am working on a scene right now where I am trying to up the temperature to boiling. It's a challenge, but I am having fun and of course, my heros all strangely resemble one particular Scot in particular that you showcased first. Nice choice.

Nicole North said...

Hi Dorrie, thanks! I'm glad it struck the mark for you. Vulnerabilities can give the hero great depth and three-dimension, especially when we see that tough exterior and his alpha qualities. Then we see he has problems or weaknesses he needs help with.

Paisley, thanks!! Yes, Gerry does inspire us, doesn't he? He's so mischievous and funny but also a bit of a bad boy! I wish he would get to use his beautiful Scottish accent, like in this interview, in more movies. I've noticed in the commercials for The Ugly Truth he's using an American accent. He's incredibly talented!

Loretta said...

I always found Sean Connery to be one of the most sensuous men I'd ever seen. Oddly enough, it wasn't because of his sexual prowess..or even his looks... I found his mouth to be very seductive. I still watch him in movies and find him to be quite enticing with those lips:)
I don't particularly like "pretty boys" I like my heroe's to be manly,strong...and with a good heart (even if it's hidden:)...an attractive man who is compassionate is a blend I love.

I've tried to incorporate this in my WIP...I never mention that the male lead is extremely handsome, I just create him in the style I find most attractive:)

Nicole North said...

Hi Loretta, yes, I've always loved Sean Connery! (And he's Scottish!) ;) You hit on another thing I love as well, an attractive man who is compassionate. I've gotta have that! :)

Evie said...


I'm a big fan of yours, Nicole, and can't wait to read Devil in a Kilt. Your class on sexual tension is excellent.

For me, "handsome" isn't necessary-the character of a man makes him great.

I love to read stories with great men in them. Heroines are important, but it's more of a way for me to experience the hero. Males are fascinating! Their POV, their humor, their reasoning, everything about them is incredibly interesting and very different than females. I have brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and have been married for 30 years, plus I've worked with the public for a number of years. Suffice to say, it's the men that surprise me, tug at my heart, and make me laugh. In books, I WANT to fall in love with the hero but I'm much too hard on the heroines. I don't care for them if they come off in the least as eye-lash fluttering or conniving.

I agree with showing the vulnerabilities. I didn't fall in love with Mr. Darcy until he lowers the tough fascade and the man beneath is glimpsed. (Lizzie is one of my fav heroines, along with Elizabeth Swann in Pirates)

I love Gerard, Vigo, and Hugh, but they're not what I would personally call drop dead handsome but they've got that certain something, making them larger than life and drool worthy. I would toss in Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Leo diCaprio. Heath Ledger, to me, was the most handsome man in Hollywood, may he rest in peace. Such a tragedy.

Seems I'm rambling on with girl talk!

Good luck, Nicole! I loved the post!

Nicole North said...

Evie, thanks!! Wow! You're my first fan! :) I'm glad you liked the class and hope you like Devil in a Kilt as much. I agree with you about males. They're fascinating, which is why I love doing male POV. Their contrasts are interesting, tough yet tender. I tend to like heroines who are very candid and stand toe to toe with the hero. She may be shorter, but she's no less fierce. LOL

I also agree with you about the guys. Oh yes, I love Johnny Depp. And Heath Ledger was one of my absolute favorites. He was so talented.

Thanks for commenting!!

Nicole North said...

Hi, the winner of my critique is Evie! Please email me at nicole (at) nicolenorth (dot) com

Thanks so much everyone for checking out my guest blog and telling me about your favorite real life inspiration for heroes!! And thank you again, Five Scribes, for allowing me to be here!!