Monday, August 25, 2014

Guest Post by Erika Foxx

Try this 12-step process to build a crescendo of sexual tension in your characters!

I was seated in a large lecture hall with a few hundred other students, attending the first session of a required second year sociology class at college.  The professor had been lecturing for a few minutes, explaining the importance of sociology in the lives of young college students.  He used several examples of how our behavior fit sociological models and blah blah blah… 

I think he sensed he was losing us, and then he said something that caught us all off-guard.  He told us every single person in the class would have one thought--and only one thought--pop into their head when they saw a person of the opposite sex for the first time.  That thought, he asked? Would I want to fuck that person?

Those were his exact words.  Not ‘have sex with’ or ‘make love to’ or ‘mate with,’ but ‘fuck’ that person.  Part of it was shock value, I think, and the whole class erupted in murmurs of nervous laughter.  He continued to explain that this was based on solid research in the sociology of sex.  When we see someone of the opposite sex, our instinct is to think exactly that.  He told us it was a reflex from long ago, and was useful for determining if that person we saw might be a suitable mate.  We were all a bit skeptical I think, but then something unexpected happened.

The noisy back door of the lecture hall burst open, and two students almost fell into the room with a rushing wind of tardiness pushing them inside.  Every head in the classroom turned to look at the latecomers, a stunning young blonde dressed in short-shorts and tank-top and a handsome, muscular young guy with similar shorts and a bare midriff t-shirt.  There was a tremendous burst of complete silence as we all looked back and forth at each other, and then the entire class burst out in raucous laughter when the professor’s words popped back in our heads, ‘Would I want to fuck that person?’  To this day, I don’t know if these two were late from cheerleading practice or if they were plants by the professor.  But I’ll be honest, I really did think to myself, ‘I wonder what it’d be like to fuck him?’ because he was a really hot guy!  So there does seem to be some deep process that we all have when it comes to deciding whether we want to fuck a person we just met, whether we think about it consciously or not!

Enter Dr. Desmond Morris, the author of “Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist's Classic Study of Human Intimacy.”  This seminal book (pardon the pun…I just couldn’t resist!) explained that there is a process that we all go through on the way to sexual intimacy.  Care to guess what the first stage was?  Yep, eye to body!  Exactly what that sociology professor had said.  Maybe he was referring to Dr. Morris’ findings.  I don’t really know.

What I do know is that as I researched his twelve steps of physical intimacy after I first found out about them, things started to make a lot of sense to me as a reader.  I reflected back on my favorite romance and erotica authors I’ve read, and their stories’ characters do follow this progression of physical intimacy.  And what’s more interesting is that if they wanted to create some tension to develop between their characters, they just skipped a few stages and presto! Instant tension!  And then as I started to write my stories, it hit me how powerful this could be for my characters and the situations I could put them in!

Without further ado, I guess I’d better list these twelve stages by Dr Morris!

1) Eye to body
2) Eye to eye
3) Voice to voice
4) Hand to hand, or hand to arm
5) Hand to shoulder
6) Hand to waist, or Hand to back
7) Mouth to mouth
8) Hand to head
9) Hand to body
10) Mouth to breast
11) Hand to genitals
12) Genitals to genitals

Each of them is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t spend a lot of time explaining the obvious. If you Google “12 stages of physical intimacy” you can find a lot more information from more blog posts on the topic.  Instead, what I would like to do is to play a little with a couple of characters and see what they do when you put them in different situations to illustrate how much fun this can be!

For example, let’s see what happens when a man decides to skip from steps 1 & 2 all the way to steps 4 & 6:
Boone strode into the gallery and stopped in his tracks when he saw her.  Kendall Winters was staring at an original Jackson Pollock, and Boone studied every inch of her. Soft red hair, freckled bare shoulders, a little black dress that hugged every curve, and sexy legs that he would love to get between. He walked behind her and inhaled. Her scent was delicious to him, and he moved to her left side.
“I don’t know what the hell that’s supposed to be,” he said. Kendall turned with a start and crossed her arms.
“That’s what I’m trying to decide,” she said. “And you are…?” Kendall tilted her head to the side and her brilliant green eyes bored into his while she waited for an answer.
“Parker.  Boone Parker.” He grabbed her hand from where it was resting on her breast, grasping it in his strong mitt to shake it.  He put his other arm behind her back and rested his hand on the curve of her hip.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Mister Parker Boone Parker?”  Her eyes were instant fire and she shook her hand from his and pushed his arm away from her waist. “Just because I haven’t figured out this painting doesn’t mean I can’t figure you out.” He laughed at her and felt the sudden sting of her slap on his cheek.
See how that worked? I know, we’re all probably thinking, what an asshole! He grabbed her hand and put his hand on her hip, all before she even had a chance to do anything but look at him in the eye.  Big no-no on the part of Mr. Parker Boone Parker!  This is all very early in their “relationship” and so just about any advancing-to-the-next-stages will be met with some serious tension.  I can tell you that if a strange man tried to do that to me, I’d probably react the same way!

Now just for fun, let’s imagine what might happen if they’re a little further along in their relationship.  A jump ahead to a later “stage” might provide a sexual tension, and not a negative tension as in the example at the museum:
Boone and Kendall danced while “Moonlight Serenade” washed over the dance floor.  They had enjoyed a wonderful dinner after the exhibit closed. Even though they were rivals in the art world, they had found a mutual respect, and maybe even more.  As they danced, the other couples on the dance floor faded from their awareness.
“I love the feeling of how your hips sway under my hands,” Boone said. Kendall’s soft lips opened in a wide smile. She lay her head on his chest, feeling the soft satin lapel of his tuxedo on her cheek.
“I’ll bet you do,” she said.  Boone dipped his chin and inhaled the sweet scent of her soft red hair.  His hand found its way under her chin, and nudged her head up.  She lifted her head and she fell into the depth of his black eyes.  His other hand slid to the small of her back and he pulled her tight against him.  She felt his hand caress its way up her side, and he cupped her breast with a soft squeeze. His thumb slid between their bodies and came to rest on her nipple.  He felt her purring against his chest and her hips gave an almost imperceptible thrust into his.
“What else would you bet, my love?” She felt his deep voice resonate against her face while his rough fingers stroked the freckled skin of her other cheek. His thumb rested in the soft flesh beneath her chin, and pulled her head up. The brilliance of her green eyes pierced through him, revealed him, and made his knees go weak.  He squeezed her breast harder and lowered his mouth to hers.
Much different, don’t you think?  Even though the steps aren’t in the “correct” order, it’s OK for Kendall at this point.  Boone goes out on a limb and risks squeezing her breast and even being so bold as to put his thumb on her nipple, and it seems to work. Bingo…sexual tension! This has been so much fun to do with my characters, and I hope you try to play with these stages to see what they can do for your story and your characters, too!

In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I have to tell you that this is apparently nothing new for many romance and erotica authors.  It’s just new to me, a revelation actually!  So I’d like to share with you how I tried to use this progression of stages, purposefully, with an erotic poem I wrote for my blog recently.  Here’s the link to my poem, “Beach Dream” on my website.

I decided to try to follow the “formula” of the 12 stages of physical intimacy just to see how it turned out.  I was happy with it, but then I am probably just a little biased!  Please check it out, see if you can see where I used each of the stages above, and leave me some comments about what you think of the poem and the whole idea of using this “formula” in your reading, or in your writing!

While you’re on my site, be sure to sign up to receive my book “Breaking Her Biker” as my gift to you!  From time to time I’ll send you updates on new projects I’m working on and let you know of the deals I have from time to time!  And if you’ve got anything you’d like to ask or share with me, just fill out the “Contact Erika” fields at the bottom of my site and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Love and kisses!

Erika Foxx

About Erika:
My favorite stories are always the ones that have characters that I can relate to, and they're in some situation that makes them believable people that somehow tests their love, or causes them to fall in love. And then hopefully along the way they end up having passionate, hot sex! And those are the kinds of books I like to write, too!

I remember the first time I realized that my mind was such a powerful source of arousal. I was sitting in the grass studying during my first year of college with a girl that was taking the same class. She kept pointing out the hot, shirtless guys walking by, muttering things that I thought "good" girls would never say! And then she said something that has stuck with me to this day..."He's my fantasy for tonight, Erika." I must have looked like she was speaking in a foreign language and she asked, "Don't you ever fantasize about hot guys like that?"  I felt my cheeks flush and I shook my head 'no' because I really never HAD fantasized like that...yet ;)

After that day, I began to think about men and sex in ways I never had done before. Since then, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've had a lot of "fantasy" nights with some of the hottest guys I've ever seen (and honestly, a few hot girls have slipped in here and there, too). 

But nothing ever can take the place of a warm body, and fortunately for me my high school sweetheart came back into my life about this time. I not only got to fantasize about him before we eventually got married, but now I get to fantasize WITH him, too! We are madly in love, and he is so supportive of my writing. And over time, I found my muse for writing romantic erotica. And she can be a very naughty, slutty girl!

In our free time we love spending time together outdoors (and indoors, too ;) ), and we enjoy spoiling our three Yorkies.

Be sure to check my website! You can sign up to read free chapters of my new books, get notified of new releases, new projects and book reviews I've done, read some of my short-short stories posted in my blog, and send me comments or questions about my writing!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook, too!


  1. This is funny, witty, brilliant and just damned interesting. Thanks Erika and Christina.

    Thomas Ullman

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Thomas! Thank you!

  3. It's funny to see the 12-step process here, broken down in small parts. But I can see the logic in it as the tension starts small in the beginning and builds up as the steps are moved through. And I can see how it works, as the suspense and tension grows -- until the big pay-off. Nice to mix it up, too, though -- in having a little bit of tension and going right for the jugular. Good post!

  4. As a romance writer I appreciate the steps and the examples you gave. Sex scenes and sexual tension are difficult to get right. Thanks so much.