Saturday, November 2, 2013

Romantic Tension in Whiskey & Gumdrops

It's here!!!!

I'm SO excited - my crit buddy Jean Oram is releasing the 2nd book in her Blueberry Springs romance series today! It's called Whiskey & Gumdrops and it's a companion book to her first release Champagne & Lemon Drops (a fantastic FREE read!).

Here's Jean herself to talk about Developing Romantic Tension in Whiskey and Gumdrops

I decided while writing my latest book, Whiskey and Gumdrops {LINK}, that I needed some significant romantic tension between the hero and heroine. But how could I do that when they don't even 'get together' in the book in an x-rated way? How could I give them a few kisses, but not let them get together? How could I keep them battling each other but not let the heroine give in until the end of the book? (Oh damn, that was a spoiler, wasn't it? Oh, let's face it. It's a romance! You know they're going to get together!)

First of all, I had to give them history. They'd dated in the past but had been 'just friends' for eons.

Then I had to give them different wants. Mandy wanted to remain friends and Frankie wanted them to get together.

But I had to give Mandy a good reason why she thought she shouldn't get together with Frankie. Give her some legit fears that had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with herself. You don't want the issues to be about him so much because it is easy to muddy the waters and water down your conflict. (Plus make the reader think she should move on to someone else and you don't want that!) So, she can blame him, but it has to be obvious to the reader that it is about her--not his flaws.

Then the fun part--letting her get over those fears! For Whiskey and Gumdrops, I tied it into Mandy's growth arc and the plot. So, in order to get what she wants--to be someone in the small town of Blueberry Springs--she has to figure out her fears and overcome them. In overcoming them, she is able to open her eyes to the man who has been waiting in front of her for years.

And I needed something to instigate it all. So, in goes one marrying ex-boyfriend. Instant ka-pow to her gut, forcing her to see that she needs to make a change and setting the story in motion.

Now… about that tension. I made these two friends (Mandy and Frankie) argue here and there. But when they were arguing, they were also really arguing about something else. About Mandy's fears. About Frankie's wants. Here's a little sneak peek:

“I won’t take that kind of risk with your money, Frankie.”
“What? I’m not good enough?” He thrust his shoulders forward. “You have to do everything on your own?”
“Look.” Her hands clenched into tight bundles by her side. “I’m not willing to ruin our friendship. I’ll happily be a waitress forever if it means keeping you as a friend. I’d rather do anything than hurt you.”
“Too late on that one,” he muttered.
Mandy’s eyelids flicked closed and she fought for control. “Frankie…”
“Why won’t you accept my help, Mandy? Why won’t you accept me?”
“Because—” she opened her eyes and gripped his face, staring him in the eye, needing him to understand “—you’re the one thing I can’t afford to lose.”

As you can see in the above bit we've got Mandy saying she won't take his money in order to pursue her dream and Frankie taking it as a personal rejection of his overtures. She wants a friendship. He wants more. They are at odds which creates tension. Especially if you add in bits like so where the character struggles internally:
Was it just her or was he brushing against her intentionally as he moused around her website?
Stop it! Just stop it, brain! He’s off limits! Just because you’re excited about the restaurant, don’t go projecting it onto him and his heavenly body.
She turned to face Frankie, pushing her chair away when his proximity threw her off again. His lips were much too close to hers if she wanted to avoid grabbing him and shoving herself into his lap. Her mouth was hungry for more of him than was right to want from a friend.
“He, um…they...” Damn. Look away from his lips. Be strong. He’s waiting for you to make the next move and you will not make it! Do you understand? And while you're at it, breathe, dammit. 

Can you see the tension? If you have those elements--fears (or a character's fatal flaw) working against what they want and the character's at odds with each other in terms of wants, you've got a great starting point for creating romantic tension.
You can get your copy of Whiskey and Gumdrops and enjoy the full version of Mandy and Frankies' romantic tension for only $2.99! Amazon  Smashwords  

You can find Jean here:
Facebook     Twitter     The Helpful Writer     The LoveBug Blog     Newsletter

Thanks Jean - I'm still struggling with adding tension of all kinds in my stories, so I appreciate the tips!

How about you - do you find it easy to add tension to your stories?


  1. Great stuff, Jean, and best of luck with your release!

  2. A little misdirection of real issues not only creates tension, it adds a little confusion in the characters' minds and send them in amusing circles.
    Congratulation and good luck, Jean!

  3. oooh, Blueberry springs! Sounds delish :)

  4. Thank you, Jeff and Alex.

    I do love adding confusion to the minds of my characters. :)

    And thank you for having me on the blog, Jemi!

  5. Thanks Jeff! :)

    Alex - exactly! And Jean does all of that so well! :)

    Dezzy - it really is :)

    Jean - you're always welcome here!

  6. Hey Jemi!
    I just realized that when I moved my blog ... I somehow managed to mess up my RSS subscriptions. E-mail subs are fine. If you would be so kind as to resubscribe I would be ever so thankful!

  7. Funnily enough 'tension' comes very easily when I'm writing. Perhaps that says a lot about me!! Crikey :)

    Congrats, Jean!

    Hello, Jemi :)

  8. Three of my favorite things: whiskey, gumdrops and sexual tension!

  9. Beth - will do! It's been crazy busy around here and I've not had time to dig! :)

    Wendy - I wish! I'm forever letting my characters solve their problems far too easily!

    MP - great stuff, isn't it? :)

  10. Good examples of tension. Often people create the tension themselves.

  11. Congratulations to Jean! Great thoughts about tension in her interview.

  12. Diane - yes they do!

    Beth - it's really hard to put down Jean's stories!! :)

  13. With all the more explicit stuff out there (which is totally fine, by the way), it's refreshing to see a more subdued romance. This looks absolutely adorable, and if I didn't have a pyramid of books already on my list I'd go out and buy it!

  14. Ethan - Jean's book is terrific! I think you'd enjoy it a lot! :)

  15. Aww I love this! I'm one of those readers who fall into the writer's confusion trap all the time! And I love the bit about tension, totally just learned a lot from that! Thanks!

    *sigh* I love blogs.

  16. Clarissa - me too! I've learned so much over the last couple of years from my bloggy buddies! And Jean is a very savvy writer!! :)

  17. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the introduction, Jemi.

  18. Congrats to Jean. Great covers and descriptions.

  19. Medeia - I agree! And the stories are just as awesome :)

  20. This sounds great!! Gotta love romantic tension. It's one of my favorite things in a story. :) Thanks for sharing, Jean and Jemi!

  21. Shelley - me too! Gotta love that build up :)

  22. Lynda - they're so much fun! I think you'd love them :)

  23. Congrats and good luck on this latest one. Love the combination of flavors in your titles. :-)

  24. Lee - I know! Jean has a fantastic brain for these things :)

  25. Both of these sound great! It is interesting to think about the way authors create the tension between romantic interests. :) Best of luck to Jean!

    The titles are lots of fun!

  26. Jess - I love Jean's titles too! And the stories are awesome! :)

  27. Thank you Jemi! <3 You are too kind. (She's an awesome cheerleader, isn't she?)

    Thanks Wendy. Glad to hear the tension comes naturally. That's awesome!

    Missed Periods: I aim to please! Glad I got three great things together for ya! It's like that country song--rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, whiskey makes my baby a little bit frisky. ;)

    Thanks Diane and Beth!

    Searching for the Story--thanks. It is more subdued and light-hearted fun. :) And I totally understand having too many books stacked up to read. I have that problem!

    Clarissa, I'm glad to hear my tips helped! Romantic tension can be so difficult.

    Carol, I hope you enjoy Mandy's story. She was a bit of the bad guy in the first book (Champagne and Lemon Drops) so writing her and giving her tension between her and her best friend was a lot of fun.

    Medeia--thank you!

    Thank you Shelley and Lynda!

    Clee, thank you. Jemi and my other critique partner convinced me to change up the titles a bit and I like what ensued. :) (In the story Mandy makes some whiskey and gumdrop brownies as well. I love that about writing--you can make up fun things!)

    Thank you Jess!

    Sorry I fell behind on the comments, everyone. No real internet for over a week. Ack!!! Talk about tension!

  28. Hi Jemi and Jean,

    Wish you all the best with the book, Jean. I downloaded your earlier book sometime back and intend to read it soon. I'll grab your new one after that.

  29. Maria - yay! They're both terrific stories - I'm sure you'll love them! :)

  30. Congrats, Jean! Your books sound great, and I really like the covers!

    Jemi, it's so cool when a crit partner has a book coming out! Thanks for introducing Jean's books to us!

  31. Dawn - it is awesome! I know people will love Jean's work and it's great to help in getting it out there! :)

  32. Congratulations Jean! And all the best!


  33. lovely to meet you Jean! Congrats on the release of your second book!